How I Won the Gay War

[UPDATE: I'm aware this post has an obnoxious title.]

On this blog I (a straight Christian) have written and published about 250 pieces in favor of Christians fully accepting LGBTQ people. I did that because the idea of Christianity being synonymous with the condemnation of gay people is repulsive to me. So I wanted to do what I could to change that.

I thought I might take a moment to share with you some of the posts I’ve written on this matter. Most of them did well: they were championed by Dan Savage, picked up by the Advocate or LGBTQNation, went large off Huffington Post, or whatever. It was all good. They helped effect the change they were meant to. Yay!

This was the first such piece I published on Huffington Post. I figured I couldn’t go wrong just asking a simple, innocent, Bible-informed question. (*snerkf*)

What Would Jesus Do If Invited to a Gay Wedding?

In some of his parables, Jesus wasn’t exactly fortune-cookie clear, but he didn’t even almost waffle about his “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He very explicitly declared that the “first and greatest commandment.”

If there’s any wiggle room there, I just don’t see it.

When it became clear that simply condemning it wasn’t going to work anymore, conservative Christians developed a new response to the question of homosexuality. In response to that I wrote this:

Like Wings on a Pig

Nowadays the Christian refrain isn’t, “Stop being gay.” Now it’s “Stop acting gay.” They’ve given up trying to argue that gays can change their sexual orientation: the complete failure of Christian Fix-a-Gay and Homo No’ Mo! programs — not to mention a universe of anecdotal and empirical evidence — have left them little choice in that.

So they’ve changed their approach. Now their argument is that a homosexual struggling against the temptation to act homosexual is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a “sinful” temptation. ….

The “sinful temptation” that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.

Being, of course, the one thing Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others.

I next really sunk my teeth into the role played in the suicide of any gay person by any Christian who holds homosexuality a moral affront to God. So the next four are pretty self-explanatory. The one about Jeremy Rodemeyer went massive: again, Dan Savage featured it on his blog, for which of course I was and remain grateful.

The Gay Teen Suicide Rate and the Christian Condemnation of Gays

We Christians can say that we’re only trying to follow God. We can say that we personally would never do anything to hurt a gay person. We can say that we love the sinner, but hate their sin. We can say anything.

But let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays. We deserve better than that.

God knows LGBT folk do.

Christians and the Blood of Jeremy Rodemeyer

If you’re a Christian who believes that being gay is a morally reprehensible offense against God, then you share a mindset, worldview, and moral structure with the kids who hounded Jamey Rodemeyer, literally, to death. It is your ethos, your convictions, and your theology that informed, supported, and encouraged their cruelty.

Another Teen Bullied To Death; Another Reason for a New Christianity

If Christians would actually read the Bible, instead of daring to insist that three or four isolated phrases within it justifies a theology that has no more to do with Christ than the KKK has to do with equality, we would arrive at a popular Christianity that is not, as so much of our Christianity is today, a pure affront to anyone with half a conscience.

Tell Me, Christian, That You Hear This Boy

Tell me that your belief system didn’t help put the hot tears on this kid’s cheeks. Tell me that the bullies who torment this kid aren’t in any way encouraged or empowered by your tacit approval of their actions. Tell me that the shame this kid feels about himself has nothing to do with the shame that you believe all gay people should feel for themselves.

Those quotes, I know, make these pieces sound primarily angry. But if you read them you’ll see they’re grounded in sorrow—which is necessarily grounded in love. Simply hating is too easy, and of course accomplishes nothing.

This next one and its follow-up were also championed by Dan Savage. They quickly became central to the wide-spread controversy that resulted in the general consensus that no Christian leader who waffled on the gay issue could any longer be said to speak for Christian progressives. To my mind this is where the whole national conversation about this issue changed and opened up.

An Open Letter to Famous Christian Progressive Jim Wallis

Can you imagine someone working for you declaring that video to be too radical or controversial for Sojourners to be associated with? It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? Hasn’t that person even read the Sojourners Diversity Statement?

Mr. Wallis and His Big Gay Waffle

Mr. Wallis, I implore you to consider that saying that it is your long standing, deeply rooted conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman is tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God. That is necessarily the correlative truth to “the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman.” That’s what those words of yours mean, friend.

You are saying that gays and lesbians are, in every way that really matters in life, inferior. You are saying that the Bible says that. You are saying that is what God believes. You are making that statement as large and true as anyone possibly could.

So. You know. Stop doing that.

This next one had a simple premise, captured in its pull-quote:

Making a Brokeback Mountain Out of a Molehill

How in the world would anyone judge when acceptable brotherly affection between two men living together crosses the line into unacceptable sexual relations between them? The only way to do that would be to set up some kind of actual, clearly defined, behaviorally specific no-no criteria.

Forget it. It’s a fail. There’s just no applicable system of assessment, no way of clearly determining when acceptable, wholesome platonic love becomes unacceptable man-on-man action.

Another self-explanatory one that I thought would be basically impossible to argue was:

Gays and Hell: How Can God Break the Great Commandment?

The idea of a God who would condemn all non-Christians and/or homosexuals to hell forever is logically, diametrically opposed to the idea of a God who loves mankind. It would mean that God himself is not obeying the very law about which God himself, as Jesus, said there is none greater.

Simplest point ever (you’d think, anyway: but dang do people not like you screwing with their money) is:

Christians: No Fair Heeding Paul on Gays But Not Jesus on Wealth

I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid the conclusion that there is something very definitely wrong with any Christian who is not himself as poor as the proverbial church mouse pointing to the Bible as grounds for his condemnation of gays and lesbians. How can any self-respecting Christian take literally what Paul said about homosexuality, and at the same time ignore or seriously waffle on what Jesus Christ himself said about money?

This next one was in response to (yet another) resurgence of the fallacy amongst some Christian leaders that when it comes to committing to the idea that it’s okay to be gay, a waffle is as good as a meal:

Christians and LGBT Equality: There Is No Middle Ground

No matter how strenuously he or she might deny it, the fact is that any Christian who does not forthrightly and unambiguously assert that there is nothing whatsoever inherently immoral about same-sex relationships has chosen a side in this conflict. To a starving man, the person who can’t decide if they want to share their food is no better than the person who refuses to.

Thought I’d write this one by way of cutting to the heart of the matter:

The REAL Reason Christians (and Other People) Get So Crazy About Gays

Gay men threaten the traditional power base of straight men. Men are going to kiss men. And that will always seem intensely weird to straight people—just like men and women kissing will always seem intensely weird to gay people.

It’s a new world. And it’s time to be brave about it.

And mostly, of course, it’s time to realize that when it comes to men loving men and women loving women, straight people have nothing—nothing—to fear but fear itself.

I think this is one of the strongest points about this issue that can be made:

The deciding LGBT issue that Christians cannot ignore

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

I’ll let the rest of these speak for themselves.

To Christians Who Still Believe That Homosexuality is a Sin

Christians today who take seriously the search for truth must admit that the old axiom that homosexuality is a sin has been forever reduced in status from objective truth to subjective opinion. From fact to belief. From beyond question to unquestionably dubious.

Believing that homosexual love is a condemnable sin, in other words, is now a choice one must make.

And what Christian—what person at all?—would choose ignorant condemnation over enlightened love?

It’s not about the gay issue; it’s about restoring our devastated mountaintop

I don’t write about gay people because I love them so much. I don’t love gay people any more than I do anyone else. They’re just people. But they’re an entire class of people who are every day being cruelly maligned, denigrated, bullied to death, and in every way dehumanized—by Christians. People representing the faith to which I ascribe are, in the name of that faith, purposefully, consciously, and even gleefully tending to the destruction of people whose only “crime” is that they love in a way that’s barely different from the way the majority of people love.

How can I live with that? It’s so wrong. It’s so hideous. It’s so inexcusable. It’s the crudest, most damaging kind of transgression.

The Inevitability of the Rise of Progressive Christianity

The world is rapidly changing. And as surely as one day follows the next, Christian theology, as it always has (slavery, anyone?) will change right along with it. As our world grows smaller, our Christianity will grow larger, broader, more inclusive.

Come Out of the Woods, Christian Soldiers: World War Gay Has Ended

It’s as obvious as a stunning rainbow in the sky that within, say, ten years, any church or denomination still fighting against the marriage of gay couples and the ordination of gay clergy will be like those recalcitrant Japanese soldiers living amongst the mangrove trees of Lubang Island long after everyone else has accepted peace as a fact and adjusted to the new world order.

And that’s ten years tops. At the rate things are changing now, I wouldn’t be surprised if by Thursday the Pope was a drag queen. … The bottom line on the whole gay/Christianity issue is that, in an astonishingly short period of time (yay Internet!), we have reached Ye Oldyee Tipping Poiynte. And that seesaw will only continue to further tip in the direction it is now. Which (let’s face it) is to the left.

An Open Apology From Christians to Gay People

For a grievously long time we have treated gay people in a way that we now understand brings nothing but shame upon the God we purport to emulate. With bilious fury have we systematically maligned, denigrated, condemned, cursed, shamed, and bullied you literally to death.

For no reason beyond animal ignorance we have tried to obliterate you: to rob you of your identity, crush your self-worth, destroy your hopes, turn you against yourself. We have harnessed our almost unimaginable power to bring to you the singular, unceasing message that God finds you reprehensible.

Shamefully, we have turned the way you love into the way we hate.

And finally, ultimately, I wrapped it all up with this next biggie, which my genius of a wife Catherine helped me write:

The Best Case for the Bible NOT Condemning Homosexuality

So that’s a bit of what over the last five years I/we contributed to the Gay War. That war hasn’t yet been won, by a long, long shot. But it’s now clear that on that issue history has decided.

So. Onward Christian soldiers and all that—or at least, you know: onward Christians with keyboards and mousepads.

P.S. I’ve no plans to stop writing on the gay issue. I mostly write about it in the context of answering letters written to me about it, and of course I’ll continue responding to such letters for as long as I receive them.

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Richard Jones

    I really find the title for this piece upsetting. Although I agree with your positions about gay issues (and held those positions before I ever read anything you wrote), I think you need to think before you publish or tone down the rhetoric a little. In this article, you say “I did that because the idea of Christianity being synonymous with the condemnation of gay people is repulsive to me. So I wanted to do what I could to change that.” I agree 100%! But the title “…Christian vs Gay War”, makes me extremely angry. You are doing exactly what you say you are against: your headline is equating Christianity with anti-gay sentiments. There is no Christian vs Gay war. There is a fundamentalist vs Gay war. Or an extremist vs Gay war. Or a right-wing Christian vs Gay war. But I am deeply offended when you lump me in with the fundies and call it a Christian vs Gay war. I am a Christian, and I am not in any kind of conflict with gay folks. At all. Your headline misrepresents me and many, many other affirming and inclusive Christians. If you are goingt to speak for us, get it right.

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

      See? Can’t you just feel the love?!

    • DrewTwoFish

      Of course there are exceptions, Richard, but the generally speaking the reputation is well deserved.

      (Sometimes I’m not sure which has been more damaging: the outright condemnation or the “ex-gay” movement which ultimately extinguishes hope and produces condemnation from the failure to achieve an”ex-gay” status.)

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

        Drew–

        I used to be a volunteer for Exodus’ ex-gay ministries for six years “helping” people un-gay themselves. Yeah… And now I’m here to lend support to ALL people accepting themselves completely as they are. Amazing how we can’t predict who we’ll become but hopefully that God will always answer our prayers for changing us into the likeness of him in the most sincerest of ways–ways we could never fathom; ways that are beyond our own understanding. I can stand here and tell you that he has done just that within me and has answered in ways I would have never believed him to do. Maybe there really is a God afterall. Maybe that God is completely different than I was taught that he was. Maybe that God really is love afterall.

        • Trina

          Oh and to my lovely welcoming committee and fellow wedding crashers, sorry I didn’t include that important tidbit in my intro. Believe it or not, I had forgotten about it (not my participation, but just remembering that fact).

          • n.

            That just means you know whereof you speak. Or whereof you come out, for that matter.

    • mike moore

      Richard, I think you’re missing a large part of John’s message and in your reading of John’s post, you’re seeing the glass as half-empty.

      From the outside looking in, it’s difficult for the LBGT community to discern between you and the exceptionally large majority of Christians who would suppress them.

      Example: it’s not unreasonable for LBGT person to assume a practicing Catholic is anti-gay, given the words and actions of the Pope and Catholic Cardinals and Archbishops. I follow this closely enough to know that many polls say 50+% of Catholics have no problem with same sex marriage, but it doesn’t change the fact that their allegiance is to a church that, in short, wants to blame the fall of Western Civilization on us homos. And the same can be said of many Protestant/Evangelical churches.

      For me, I read this post and see the glass is half-full … John is big-voiced part of a larger chorus that is, in fact, making it clear that there are many Christians, like you, who are not haters.

      And as for John’s headline, whether you like it or not, and speaking as someone who this year watched 60+% of my neighbors vote against same sex marriage, I believe it is very accurate.

    • DR

      We are Christians. We as a whole represent to the world, what all those subsets of our people do, whether we like that or not. This isn’t about *you*. Please consider getting over yourself and focus on the larger point that’s being made here, not everything is about how you or I feel every second of the day which includes how we are being validated (or not) every given second of the day.

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

        Maybe I should just go back to my first title, “How I Won the Gay War.” I mean … [bad word] it.

        • Elizabeth

          That’s such a *badass* title.

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

            I knew I’d get fried for it. But I hate this klonkey title I’ve had to sub in. And I’ve known for days I’d never get a good title on this one. At least “How I Won the Gay War” has nuts.

            If I change it, though, I’m forwarding all resultant complaints to you, Elizabeth.

          • Jill H

            Guest blog for Elizabeth– answering complaints? So much fun!

  • DrewTwoFish

    Sigh*…I think it’s love!

    It may be too late for me (51 year old gay Canadian who is finally stepping out of the closet and, for good or bad, away from the church) but I’ll always be grateful to straight Christians like you who spoke for us (and others) with compassion and intelligence.

    Thank you.

  • Jennifer Edwards

    You do realize that the United Church of Christ (UCC) approved same-gender marriage in 2005? That would be 2 years BEFORE you started blogging. I’m pretty sure (actually I know) you were the only Christian who held that position.

    You are an important voice in this struggle, but you are not the only voice, nor were you the first.

    • Jennifer Edwards

      I meant to say you aren’t the only voice…

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

        I meant only what I said: when I began there were no BLOGGERS that I knew of writing on this issue. Again (as I also said): I assume there were others out there. I just … couldn’t find them.

      • Jill H

        I suppose that’s an interesting debate, but I’ve been looking for quite a while for Christian authorship that has been willing to stand out amongst the mediocre representation dominating the scene. Majority of it has been “love the sinner, hate the sin” rhetorical nonsense. Otherwise the support had been lukewarm at best, in my opinion.

        Frankly this is why it took me so long to find any reasons to reconnect with my Christian roots. Couldn’t stomach the hypocrisy of that message. So if it existed elsewhere in this cohesively representative form as this space, I didn’t find it.

      • DR

        Good Lord. That’s so obvious (this is why I need to take nice, long breaks from this blog!)

        • Trina

          DR–

          Are you still involved with helping kids in the community? I tried to follow an older link of yours but it doesn’t look like it’s still there. I’d like to ask you some questions and run some thoughts by you. How can I contact you?

          Thanks, Trina

  • Jill H

    Deeply. Caring. Community. My three favorite words of the post.

    This place is a whole ‘nother world. It is a buffer, it is an oasis, it is a challenge to the status quo of a person’s ideas about life, it is compelling and mystical. Game-changing.

  • charles

    John, you weren’t the first, and hopefully not the last to write on the issue of gays and Chrsitianity- but thing that you did, at least for me, was to humanize, and put logic behind the concept of the issue being one of human rights, and how that ties into God’s love and what I see as Jesus ministry. Thats pretty awesome to me, and I applaud you for your courage in declaring it in a manner which is allowing many Christians (me specifically) to be able to wrap their heads AND theology around it. Unfundamentalist Christians is not about gay rights- its about human rights, and the notion that indeed God so loved the world that he gave his only Son in order to save EVERYONE who would hear his voice.

    thanks for that. It means everything to me.

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

      Thanks for this, Charles, very much. (If I could, though: Again, I didn’t assert that I was the first Christian to write on this issue. I was the first Christian blogger of any prominence at all to do so that I knew of. And all I mean even by saying that is how very, very much that’s now changed. Which is obviously great.)

      • charles

        well, you can be the modest one John, but for me- you kicked the door down on the matter. THANK YOU for that…..and for everything you have done here. I am in your debt substantially.

  • Richard Jones

    I hesitate to re-comment, since the only response I got last time was dismissive sarcasm. Truly, though John, you SHOULD feel the love. I have liked and shared and re-posted so many of your articles. I have even purchased a book or two. But that does not mean you are always right in everything. Isn’t that the attitude that is killing Christianity? And I try to offer a little constructive (yes constructive) criticism, and this is the response? I really am sorry to see this response. And yes, Drew, your point is correct. But as long as we who are in the faith continue to assume that Christianity is anti-gay, how can we expect anyone else to get the message that we are not?

  • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

    Not sure if you’re aware of this already, but Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network will be hosting a “Synchroblog for Sanity” tomorrow on exactly this issue.

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

      Yes! I’m supposed to be participating in that. But it slipped my mind–and now I’ve published this post. So … I’m not sure … if that’s good, or too early, or what. (Man, I have got to get some kind of calendar I … ever look at.)

      • http://www.faithpermeatinglife.com Jessica @ Faith Permeating Life

        It’s OK, you should still be able to link up this post to the synchroblog tomorrow if you want to. You probably just need to add a link to Justin’s site at the beginning or end of the post.

  • David S

    Thank God for you and your efforts to change the world, John Shore. I am deeply, deeply appreciative; and I hope to join you in the cause (that cause being showing Christ’s love and compassion to a hurting world).

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

      Thank you, David. And thanks so much for your monthly contribution to my work.

  • Elizabeth

    I was unaware of any other blogger tackling this subject, and, um, I read a lot. I’ve heard a sentiment repeated privately over the years. We stumbled across your work in our various ways, and a light switch clicked on. Instantly. Or maybe it was more of a sonic BOOM. There he is! The guy who writes what I was thinking! That amorphous dissonance between the Bible and ‘the gay issue’ we alone heard and couldn’t put into words just ceased to exist. It turned out we weren’t alone.

    In hindsight, it’s easy to say the current was already shifting. I was looking. I didn’t see it. Back then, it was easier for others to justify smoking pot or cheating on their taxes than it was for me to describe myself as Christian. The hatred implied in the word made it an epithet. So, yeah. It really was you. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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

      Thanks for this, Elizabeth; I really appreciate you and the vibrant role you’ve long played on this blog. (It was always so weird to me, when I first started, that there DIDN’T seem to be any other Christian bloggers writing on the gay issue. I knew I’d get my ass handed to me for here saying that I was the first–and of course in something so fast and real-time there is no legitimate “first.” But at the time I looked around hard for any other Christian writing online for the unequivocal acceptance of gay people–which I just assumed was there–and I didn’t find squat. And I definitely checked the work of all the progressive Christian leaders at the time. Nada. Anyway, the only reason I mentioned it at all was by way of marveling at how much that has changed. Which of course is wonderful. That’s all the doing of social media, which is just an astounding thing. What power.)

  • Krissy

    I’m gonna be a jerk about grammar (sorry, it’s the writing center tutor in me!) but almost every time you use “affect”, I believe you mean to say “effect.” e.g. you *effect* change and dialogue; you also have an *effect* on politics but you *affect* what happens to it.

    I only bring this up because I know there are people on the Internet who are like “HA! You made such and such a grammatical mistake, therefore your entire argument can be dismissed!” For the record, I’m not one of them. But fundies tend to find any reason they can to discount a rational argument.

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

      Oh, see, now, I was (quickly, quickly) going by the ol’ “affect”= verb; “effect” = noun. So doesn’t one “affect” change? Wait, that does look lame. Lemme just not think about this and go change as you’ve suggested. Nice! Thanks! (And please, nobody drive me crazy by debating this here. It’s just too boring. And I say this as the co-author of a bestselling grammar book, if at this point you can believe it.)

      So I changed I think all the “affect” to effect. Lemme know if it’s right. Too busy to figure myself. thanks again.

      • Krissy

        Yep, the only one that should be “affect” is “You can affect what media dominates the culture.” No problem, I know how easy it is to make mistakes when writing a long post!

      • Allie

        Complicating matters, “affect” is sometimes a noun, as in “That boy’s affect is typical of schizophrenia.” As a noun, it’s a psychological technical term meaning the visible expression of emotion.

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

          An AFFECT can be EFFECTIVE!!! (I have a Speech degree)

  • Bevie

    For years I have been saying that God’s hand is on the internet. People have looked at me strangely when I say it because they think of all the negative and bad sites on the net. However, I see the positiveness that abounds. I see Christ proclaimed, I hear Grace proclaimed and I hear God’s real love for the whole of the world proclaimed. There are so many who have been stuck in the quicksand of bad theology are now finding the truth of the living branch reaching out to them to pull them out of the mire of lies and condemnation. Thank you for standing up and speaking out for those who have been told to sit down and shut up.

  • DR

    Proud of you and all of the amazing people here. Have learned so much.

    • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

      Couldn’t agree more! :)

  • mike moore

    I love what Dan Savage said this past week. Here, he is referring specifically to the approval of R-74 in Washington, but for me, his sentiments are true in regards to the broad spectrum of the LBGT community’s fight for equal rights, and I would put John at the top of my list of straight heros:

    “I know so many straight people in Seattle who worked unbelievably hard to approve R-74. They gave money, they volunteered their time, they reached out to friends and relatives and coworkers, all in an effort to make it possible for same-sex couples to marry. Gays and lesbians are a tiny percentage of the population. We couldn’t do this on our own. A majority of the legislators who voted for same-sex marriage? Straight. The governor who signed the law making same-sex marriage legal in Washington state? Straight. The majority of the folks manning the phone banks for R-74? Straight. The overwhelming majority of people who voted to approve R-74? Straight. The president who took a huge political risk and came out for marriage equality before his reelection campaign? Straight. It has gotten better for us—better, not perfect—but it hasn’t gotten better for us in a vacuum. It’s gotten better for us because straight people have gotten better about us.”

    Thanks to all of you, straight and gay.

    • Lymis

      Amen!

  • Allie

    The best feeling in the world is seeing someone turn from hatred toward love. I think, anyway. Good job, all.

    • Trina

      Allie–

      It’s also the best feeling in the world to turn from hatred to love oneself. This site has really helped rearrange my thinking on LGBT issues.

      John–

      You are so right when you say that one cannot argue with logic. You have provided logic and reason on a very human-blood-coarsing-through-veins level. Putting hearts, minds, experiences, names, faces, hurts and pains and real life struggle to the faces of many who are so precious has really changed my heart and mind for the better; as well as my relationship and thoughts and beliefs about who God is. I really have learned a lot from you and have learned also how to bring the same message to others in the same way. Thank you for what you do here each and everyday. And thank you to the members of this community who are loving and gracious and who have accepted me and brought me into your fold. I really like being here.

      -t

  • Martha J

    koyaanisqatsi: (n.) nature or life out of balance; a way of life so unbalanced that you need a new way. I think the koyaanisqatsi of Christianity has given birth to voices like yours John. You were the one I found who spoke most clearly and matched what I thought Christ really meant. (ps , if it’s OK

    to mention, that was today’s word on Otherwordly…very serendipitous.)

  • Susan Rogers St Laurent via Facebook

    Can we call it something besides “war”?

  • Robert

    John… I want to thank you for your support of GLBTQ people over the years. I have found your blog interesting and enlightening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/natalie.jones.3348 Natalie Jones via Facebook

    After winning the ‘war’……..can i take a cat nap on the couch?

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

    The war isn’t won yet John. When it is though you’ll deserve to be mentioned in the dispatches.

    One love John. Thank you for being the man to make me believe in that.

    Your atheist friend

    Richard

  • Mary

    Well done thou good & faithful servant!

  • Dan(Chicago)

    I’ve enjoyed the blog. Took me a while to get used to a Christian space where I wasn’t going to get clobbered(unless I was being an ass), or patronized. Not sure how much good my Like on Facebook has done, but you’ve been Liked.

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

      You’ve been great here, Dan.

    • Jill H

      Like

  • vj

    As followers of God we are called to “break the yoke of oppression and set the captive free”. John, your work has done so much to free me, personally, from the yoke of thinking I had to condemn homosexuality (logic for the win!) – thank you :-) And, from the other side of the world, it seems to me that, to whatever degree the oppression of LGBT people is lifting in US law/culture/society, you have played a part there too. Keep up the good work!

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

    Ah, yes. I remember that post about the gay wedding. What fun, what fun.

    You’re still doing a good thing, here.

  • mike moore

    Why My Gay Readers Want to Award Me a Silver Star* in the Gay Wars.

    Subtitled: (But will only agree to it if I use Brad Goresky as my stylist, as they think I’d look super cute in a plaid bow tie and skinny jeans.)

    * Gallantry in Action

    • mike moore

      oh, damn, I just got demoted … Brad’s last name is spelled “Goreski”

  • http://bonafidemagic.com Kelven

    I think I first found your blog through a Huff Po link. I read it regularly to remind myself that there are intelligent, funny, compassionate Christians in the world who are not automatically condemning of me because I am gay or have different beliefs about spirituality than they do. In my life I have learned to be very cautious around people that identify as Christian, including family. Your blog and the posters here give me a strong sense that the core of Christianity really is love and acceptance and that will eventually and surely win in the end.

    Oh, and Happy Diwali everyone!

    • Trina

      Hey Kelven–

      Nice to see you here today! I have come to feel exactly as you have about other Christians. Sometimes it feels like I’m trying to dip my pinky slowly into a hot cup of tea to be sure I can drink it now. The tape in my head plays “proceed with caution” moreso now than ever.

      • http://bonafidemagic.com Kelven

        lol! I have to say your analogy is perfect. I can’t count the number of times I’ve used that exact phrase “proceed with caution” when meeting a Christian for the first time.

        • Laura Bradley

          And this is why I never wear a cross — I don’t want people to see the cross first and assume all kinds of right-wing-fundamentalist things about me. I want them to see acceptance and love, first and foremost. How sad that the cross doesn’t bring those thoughts to mind.

  • Gordon

    I like the title. It’s blunt and the use of the word “war” is absolutely appropriate in this context. Those of us who have been casualties of that war understand it perfectly.

    John, I wish I could express to you how much your writing has affected my own spirituality over the past few years. (MS Word just recommended I change “effected” to “affected” so blame Bill Gates if it’s wrong!) When I was in the sixth grade I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. At the end of every Sunday service the minister at the American Baptist Church that my family attended always invited people to “come forward” if they wanted to accept Jesus. One day I got up from my seat and walked up the aisle. There was a prayer, smiles, some hugs and a few weeks later I was baptized. Presto! I was a Christian. I was also 13 years old. I had always known I was different, but I didn’t know exactly why yet. By the time I finally came to grips with the fact I was gay, I was married and a minister of music at a very fundamentalist church. Coming out of the closet meant breaking my wife’s heart as well as ending my career. I that it’s the hardest thing I will ever have to do.

    My wife loved me and we are very close more than 25 years later. But, the level of sheer hatred showered upon me from so-called Christians was shocking to me. It drove both of us out of the church. It is interesting how we each handled that situation. I became an angry, bitter atheist and my dear ex-wife went to Unity Village and is now the minister of a Unity church in Illinois! We both read your blog and discuss a lot of the posts and comments in great detail. The wisdom and logic of your writing as well as the comments from the John Shore.com community are enlightening and provocative. I actually believe that a reconciliation between Christianity and gay people is possible now. That’s something I never would have even dreamed of a few years ago because I didn’t know there was such a thing as an “Unfundamentalist Christian”.

    All I can say is thank you. It doesn’t seem like enough, but it will have to do.

    • Gordon

      Oops. I was not 13 years old in the 6th grade!!! I was 11. Ugh.

    • Jill H

      Gordon, I love that you say a reconciliation between Christianity and gay people is possible. I straddle the fence between both worlds when there ought not be a bloody fence at all! But it’s like what the Berlin Wall was–people lived around it, but we all knew it was there until it wasn’t anymore.

      I’ve said I’m a cautious optimist, but now I think that’s bullshit– I’m probably more likely to be called a skeptical idealist. Whatever. I’m just impatient.

      • vj

        ooh – ‘skeptical idealist’! I think that’s me, too ;-)

  • mike moore

    hi guys, check this out from Dan Savage …Tumblr account thanking straight friends who work for gay civil rights … http://straightupthanks.tumblr.com/

    John, we need an awesome pic of you to post! like the one of you in the blue t-shirt

    • Jill H

      Thanks so much for sharing this… I’ll read through it when I have time, but just seeing it brought some tears. Good stuff, kids.

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

    John, thank you for your contributions to this! You entertain me, you challenge me, and (as a gay Christian myself), you encourage me.

  • Michelle Nichol via Facebook

    If I were to meet you, John Shore, would want to: shake your hand, hug you, and give a big sloppy kiss on your forehead… Thank you, bless you…

  • Brandi Bickell Todd via Facebook

    I agree, Michelle.

  • Melody

    Hey John, I’m baaaack! After a long hiatus due to the need to give my nerves a serious break and feel happier instead of being pissed off all the time at people’s inane comments. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to spend as much time here as I used to, due to the fact that I let it get too much under my skin and it ruins my whole day. (Especially during election season, when I’m already on edge due to ultra-con relatives and friends.) But I’ll certainly read your posts and occasionally the comments, long as there aren’t too many troll comments to raise my blood pressure. Anywayyyyy…

    Unlike some here, I laughed when I read the title. I know perfectly well what you meant, and people need to stop being so touchy and literal and PC all the time. Having come back after a few months, I’m happy to see the tidal wave of positive comments regarding this issue, whereas before, my nerves would get on the ragged edge from Frankenstein and other numbskulls.

    Oh, yeah. The article. I think the pieces you listed are incredible, and the process is super inspiring. God bless you for your part in promoting equality.

    • Jill H

      Hi Melody! I missed you, but not in the fundy where-have-you-been? kind of way. The genuine kind of way.

    • Gordon

      I missed you too, Melody. I’m sorry to hear that the trolls raised your blood pressure, but I have to say it was great fun to watch you take them on!

      • Jill H

        Oh yes! I’ve learned much about how to stomp down stupidity from you. A good education for all!

    • Matt

      Welcome back, Melody! I think a combination of John’s judicious modding and trolls simply learning they won’t be listened to are why things are brighter around here. Glad to have you back.

    • Bones

      Glad I found you guys. Feel like I was ready to give up on Christianity as I’m over debating literalists on hell, homosexuality, Obama…

      G’day from Australia and keep up the good work, John.

      Well done to the US for re-electing Obama and not falling for the religious Right.

    • Melody

      Thank you guys! It’s good to be missed. ;)

      I’ve missed you guys, too. I hope to spend more time here again and laugh with your awesome, profound, and often hilarious comments. It feels familial.

  • Lymis

    Thanks for all the great work, John!

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    John,

    You certainly inspired me to comment here, blog about homosexuality and Christianity, like your page on Facebook and Like several blog posts of yours (much to the dismay of many of my more conservative friends). Thank you for your blog, your voice, your words, and your friendship over these years.

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

    Hi John. Add my deep gratitude to you for all your good work. I write too and I understand how time and emotion consuming it can be. I have something to relate that might interest you.

    Two days ago a man commented on an article in Huffpost: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/antony-merkel/an-open-letter-to-my-republican-voting-family_b_2096631.html in which he lamented his estrangement from his parents and siblings because he is gay. No age, but the way he wrote made me feel like he was middle aged. (I’m 68) I wrote back to him, commiserating and encouraging. He responded. He’s only 23!! And wise beyond his age. But what he told me nearly had me in tears. He had seen my other commenting on the gay issue over time and told me that it helped him grow and find some peace in himself. OMG!! I’ve been a gay advocate writer for more than a decade and I understand what you say about every little (or big) thing making a difference, but we seldom get responses so directly and with such gratification. It’s wonderful ! Anyway, I let him know that I wished we could communicate somehow more directly but, of course, could not put my email on HP. Too many hater trolls would get it there. Some here too but I’d reveal it here quite comfortably. So I directed him to your blog with hopes that he might see me and we can connect. (Here I am, young man. Let me hear from you.) And, of course, get soaked in your and your commenters’ wisdom in the bargain.

    So you see, John. YOU and we all, CAN and DO “make it better”. Much love to you. Damn, I’m crying. How I wish all this change had been happening when I was his age and could have avoided all the mistakes and lost time and love. But each generation misses out on something good that comes with later change and each has to learn to be content with that reality. You have surely made it so much easier for THIS generation.

    • JanvierNoir/Trina

      SM–

      THIS: Damn, I’m crying. How I wish all this change had been happening when I was his age and could have avoided all the mistakes and lost time and love.

      This is something that when I do get down that I think about. It’s the one thing that breaks my heart… the could-have-been. How have you learned to deal with that? I mean, I know that having a grateful heart and looking at your present blessings is a good thing. I try my best to focus on that. Because I cannot change the past or take back things. But regret is hard, isn’t it? You write as if you are much older than me, I’m 35. So it seems that maybe you’re far along than I am in dealing with these things. Even at 35 though, I have so many regrets and I’m not sure what to do with them all but to continue to move forward. But if I think about the love that I have missed out on or could have had, it makes my heart a bit weary. Am I assuming that there would have been love? Am I assuming that I’ve missed something I should have had? Am I assuming that the future doesn’t have that for me? Thanks for letting me ramble.

      I’m glad you reached out to this young man. Young people, we need those older and wiser to help us along more often that we’d like to admit. The world can seem such a scary and uncertain place all too often.

      Regardless, here’s to acknowledging the blessings we do have, I’ll start: I lay my head down in a climate controlled home every night where there is heat if I need it and cool air if I choose, with an abundance of food and refinements. THAT is beyond goodness.

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

        My wife and I divorced after 23 years with two sons, now both military officers, successful and mostly insulated from economic concerns, tho one has three daughters. Since than I’ve been thru 3 partners. The first for one year when he left me due primarily to his alcoholism and chain smoking. The second after 8 years when he got religion and reverted to his safe Catholic blanket where he didn’t have to think, just do what he was told. (That didn’t last. Now, 10+ years later, he’s all gay again but alone and still hung up in fetishes). The third was lost to a richer, younger man and at 32 he’s still a “kept boy” (but won’t admit it) . I loved them all deeply and the first two were agonizing, flat on my face losses. My very soul felt ripped out. I literally thot I was gonna have a heart attack more than once. The third was Marilyn Manson to my Andrea Bocelli, taken off the streets in ILL and tho I loved him to death, I realized there were too many differences…..and I couldn’t afford him in any case. So I encouraged that and we have remained best friends since. I gave him a new life and promised to love him always and I’ve kept that promise to this day. He feels like a real son to me now. I’ve been alone since(10 yrs). They were all 30 years younger.

        In the process, I lost religion and gained spirituality from all the agonizing introspection. I read voraciously from the increasing myriad of books and writings on gay and other history, psychology with gay focus, personal stories, fictions, religious history and epistemology, personal development, other books that provided historical understandings of human development, and even related Biblical writings until I have a personal library longer than twice my arm span and could probably take on men like Huckabee. It’s really quite simple. If you know enuf about the Bible, you can throw it right back at them. They make witless targets of themselves. And for the decade of the 90′s, I was THE “out” gay writer/columnist in the local/regional newspaper. Thru all the years of such distraction, I never had a career tho I had a degree. I lost jobs, got jobs, was never financially successful.

        So how did I get thru it all? Well, I faced many dark blanks at each loss. I would open a door in my mind and see a dark void where a future should be. It was indeed scary, but there’s only two choices at that point; suicide or keep on keeping on. One thing that I think helped a lot was the sloughing off of all the religious trappings until I came to the prayer point of “Just you and me now, Jesus. Just you and me.” I came to faith in that, NOT in religion and NOT in what others tell me to believe vis-s-vis the Bible. Each step made me stronger and more able to know that when I face another one of those blanks, I know I will go on…..somehow…..and I always have. “Faith” does work, but not in the “traditional” way we have thought of it for centuries. That always lets one down eventually and that’s the problem the “religious” anti-gay people are facing now. They do not have “faith”, they have “tradition” without realizing, indeed, refusing to accept that tradition has always changed, as it is changing now, and they have fear where they think they have faith.

        You read, you write, you comment on blogs, you talk with others, you scream and cry, you find someone to hold on to and love if only for one night, you learn, and YOU FORGIVE YOURSELF for your mistakes. In all this you grow in knowledge and understanding and begin to accept the pain that wisdom brings with it.”For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” Ecc 1:18 It does not come easy or overnite. It will take you a lifetime and if there’s one thing I have learned, it is that it really never ends.

        But you NEVER, NEVER give up on Love. Not necessarily the love of another person, but the Love in your heart. While at my age (68) I am almost resigned to never love again I keep dreaming. You are young and you have time. Seek and ye shall find but you gotta put yourself out there.

        Some Bible verses have sustained me. 2 Corinth4:8-9. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.”

        And you decide for yourself your definition of God of which Jesus provided the best example. For me God has become this:

        1John 4:16 – “God is Love and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in them.” AND

        Romans 13:10 – ” Love does no wrong to anyone. That’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements. IT IS THE ONLY LAW YOU NEED.” (emphasis mine)

        Keep always in mind that God is in you, not OUT THERE somewhere. Jesus admonishes us to be perfect as the Father is perfect which I concluded means that Jesus believed we have that potential; that each of us is not separate from, but A PART OF GOD.

        That truth made me free.

        Stay with this blog. You will learn much from John and there are good people here, all for each of us. I invite you to my facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bill.steffenhagen

        I need others too. And so much I like to share.

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

          And sometimes I ramble too. Forgive me everyone for taking up so much space. I should get my own blog but I haven’t learned how.

        • Allie

          Hey, thanks for sharing. I know a lot more about where you’re coming from now.

        • vj

          “They do not have “faith”, they have “tradition” without realizing, indeed, refusing to accept that tradition has always changed, as it is changing now, and they have fear where they think they have faith.”

          THIS is the really tragic part – I worry that it is these people, who are missing out on faith in God rather than tradition, who will face Jesus at the end and discover that He tells them ‘depart from me, I never knew you’ :-( It is so easy to fall into rule-following instead of faith-living…

        • JanvierNoir/Trina

          SM–

          Wow! I can’t thank you enough for sharing. I have no words but to say thank you. I will look you up on FB.

      • Lymis

        Yes, you’ve missed some things you could have had in a different world, where these changes happened sooner. But there’s no guarantee it would have been better, just different.

        Soulmentor gives some examples in his life. Everyone has them. You might have found the one true fairy-tale love of your life – and then lived happily ever after, or lost him six months later in a tragic accident. You could be dead because you were somewhere different than you were.

        I’m 52, and remember reading the first newspaper articles about a new disease that was starting to kill gay men in New York and San Francisco. If I hadn’t been in the military and deeply in the closet, I have every reason to believe I would have been out having all sorts of (now known to be unsafe) experiences, and could easily be a statistic. Now, I’m married to a wonderful man, who himself only came out about 10 years ago. You never know.

        • Jill H

          I like to think that my regrets have an equal flipside of positive outcome that I just failed to notice. Of course just typing that comes off smug, but I just know personal tragedies have had both effects in my life. I don’t know the person I would’ve/could’ve been had things sorted out differently, but I guess this is the person I’m intended to be so it’s good that I’ve arrived.

          Since we’re talking age, I’m 37 and hoping that I achieve the insight and wisdom of the people here like Lymis and Soulmentor and John, among others. You gentlemen make me believe in a better world in which you are impacting the positive change.

        • JanvierNoir/Trina

          Lymis–

          Thank you. Your story is comforting in many ways. I is so true that we just never know.

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

          A year after high school I went into the Air Force for 4 years. I married immediately after that for 23 years and tho in the later years I “fooled around” I attribute all that to the fact that I too escaped the plague. I figure marriage saved my life.

  • Blake

    Gene Robinson.

    There are others, whole denominations even, who were on the side of gay folks full acceptance.

    But still. You’ve made a huge contribution. Thank you. I’ve tried even playing 6 degrees of separation type game with your name and some of my straight, Christian, Pro-gay friends. It’s not really fun though because you come up pretty quickly…

    Thank you Rev. Shore.

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

      Yes–and, again, as I said, it’s that I was the only Christian blogging about it, or regularly writing online about it, that I knew of. So. But. Yeah. Anyway, thanks for kind words, Blake.

  • Matt

    Thank you so much for the work you do, John.

    Your blog is one of the very few places in my life where I can be who I am, be known by my proper name, speak my truths and talk to wonderful people. It’s the only place I know of where my extensive Christian background and my LGBTQ identity can be happily married (wordplay completely intended).

    At first I was frustrated that same-sex marriage was made a “states’ issue.” I thought, There is no way all 50 states are ever going to actually pass same-sex marriage, real marriage and not “civil unions.” Now I see hope. It’s helped me realize that we are America, but are also 50 states. We’ve been trying to keep that balance for so long, and this is just one more manifestation of that. So, you know what? USA, you do it how you do it. I want it done the right way, or not at all.

    And transgender people will fight, too. We’ll fight to allow our birth certificates to be changed (currently impossible in Texas and Tennessee). We’ll fight to educate. We’ll fight to combat cruel gatekeeping for hormones and surgery. We’ll fight for our places in the mainstream LGB community, to have our voices heard. It’ll all be worth it, in the end.

    Just thank you again, John. I can’t say thank you enough.

  • Bones

    Melody, I understand so much your frustration.

    But then I too was a literalist until I repented.

    • Melody

      Oh, I was, too! I was a staunch conservative and Baptist until I was about 24 or 25, when I actually became good friends with people on the other end of the spectrum. That made me really step back and question my obstinacy on a lot of issues and my narrow interpretation of the Bible. I’ve done a 180 in the last five years. And I’m glad to be around people, even if only virtually, who can relate.

  • Erin D.

    John, blessings to you for all that you have done for the gay community and Christianity! After the elections last week, I was so disappointed I won’t make it back for Thanksgiving with my family this year. It would be awesome to walk into that room of homophobic Catholics and just beam from ear to ear all evening. I told my parents ten years ago that I was leaving the Catholic Church because I couldn’t abide by their marginalizing of gay people. I finally feel justified for leaving the Catholic Church, for taking a stand even though it pitted me against my family. Now they are learning that their beliefs are on the way out and maybe we, the ones who spoke up against religious persecution of gay people, were on to something all those years ago. I’m just so darn happy for everybody who wanted this to happen! So darn happy I don’t have better words for it than “darn happy.”

  • n.

    Just got your book in the mail for my student/friend, thanks for writing a perfect dedication in it!!

    • n.

      probably meant “inscription”.

  • http://www.justbeingthere.org briank

    Excellent post! Thank you for pioneering! I recently “came out” as a Christian gay rights pacifist. I blog openly about it now:

    http://www.justbeingthere.org

    http://www.priestlynation.com/archives/1169

  • tkdcoach

    As a young man in the 80s I was among those who probably would’ve or easily could’ve hidden his true nature, but then I was assaulted by 5 cowards in a public park, and due to the spiritual turmoil that created in me I was spared that fate. Because it separated me from any ability to live in denial.

    In 1984, I came out to my large Catholic family, all the members of my college fraternity (who’d elected me to offices every year I was an undergrad), and whomever else I could legitimately confide in Ancient Mariner style. However, I stayed away from the RC Church and I wasn’t about to enter progressive Protestantism either–because I felt its moral ambivalence towards accepting the human rights of LGBT people as inviolable also indicted them.

    So, as a desert wanderer, I wrote poetry that questioned the then-still common (perverse IMO) interpretation of Genesis 19 as having anything to do with adult sexuality, lived on John Boswell’s “Christianity, Homosexuality, and Social Tolerance” (which was then at the vanguard). I soon realized that the anti-homoerotic patent of Christianity was far more recent than I had been led to believe. It was a cultural cul-de-sac, a Velvet Elvis image of Christ that was neither justifiable or real. By the time I got to “Byron and Greek Love: Homophobia in 19th Century England” I was able to extricate myself entirely from the enemies of Love posing as Christian.

    If you ever feel compelled to understand the depths of the homoerotophobic violence that took over Anglo-American culture, and its toll on individuals and the gay community in toto…I highly recommend the Byron book. But it’s not an easy read, you’ll see the suburban brand of homophobia popular in some American circles for what it is–Savagery cloaked in Christ’s robes; rape and pillage, robbery and murder, atrocities in Christ’s name; you’ll never be the same.

    A few years ago I was baptized in an affirming (meh, that word, but yet..) Baptist congregation in Louisville alive with the intellectual influence of Brueggemann and others, which also happens to lie at the doorstep of the SBTS (home of Rev. Al).

    I’m glad to see y’all catching up (affecting a So Bap drawl); what took you so long? Thanks for your good work, John, it was the only right thing to do.

    cheers, Jim

  • MCLight

    Just wanting to seek some clarification…I followed the rabbit trail of the internet to this blog and didn’t get very far into it before I had to seek clarification…you state the greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself, but from what I have read and studied the Bible actually say that loving God (with all your heart, soul, mind and strength) is the greatest command and that the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. Do you actually feel that Jesus “clearly” says loving your neighbor is greater than loving God?


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