Their House of Mirrors

 

Every Christian who believes that homosexuality is an abominable sin against God invariably points to the Bible as justification for this belief. What else can they do but that? Such a person isn’t about to blame themselves for their bigotry. The Bible is all they have: there exists no other “proof” that gay people, just by being gay, offend God. Challenge a Christian to make one single argument for homosexuality being wrong that does not quote or reference the Bible, and suddenly they’re in a house of mirrors; suddenly, the only thing they can point to is themselves.

So they’ll only close their eyes, and scream into their self-created darkness, “It doesn’t matter! Because the Bible does condemn homosexuality!”

They’re flat wrong about that; the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. (For more on that, see this book’s final chapter, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.”) But suggesting that such a Christian think rationally on that particular matter is like suggesting that a shark think rationally after you’ve spilled blood into its tank. It won’t do that. It can’t do that. All the shark can do is follow its most base instinct and ignorantly and blindly thrash about, looking to feed its fury.

So let’s instead talk to our imaginary anti-gay Christian about the one thing that we know he or she most cares most about in the whole world: Jesus Christ.

And when we read the Gospels, what do we find to be the primary quality of Jesus Christ? Compassion. Jesus cared for nothing so much as he did relieving the suffering of others. Relieving the suffering of others is what Jesus came to do. That was his mission. That’s what he was here for.

One of the most famous incidences of Jesus relieving the suffering of another is the story, told in John 5, of the time he healed a man who for thirty-eight whole years had been a cripple:

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

On the scene at the time were some Jewish religious leaders. They responded to Jesus’ miraculous healing of the man by objecting to it.

Why? Did they really have so little compassion that they actually preferred for the poor man to remain a cripple?

No. What they were so outraged about was that Jesus had disobeyed the Bible. And not in any small way, either. In healing the man, Jesus had violated number eight of the Ten Commandments: he had worked on the Sabbath. (“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy … on it you shall not do any work.”)

The religious leaders found Jesus’ disregard for the letter of the law an offense too egregious for them to abide. And they were deadly serious about that:

So because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him.

Persecute him. Because he didn’t wait until the next day to heal the crippled man.

So let’s recap, shall we?

When faced with suffering, Jesus did not hesitate; he did not prevaricate; he did not obfuscate. He acted. He was perfectly aware that in alleviating the lame man’s suffering he was breaking a primary, explicit command of the Bible. But he didn’t care. He did it anyway.

Jesus chose compassion over legalism.

He ignored one of the most significant and weighty laws of the Bible, because it interfered with him doing the right thing.

Again: Jesus chose compassion over legalism.

Thus do we learn that any Christian who chooses to obey the letter of the Bible’s law over extending compassion to another is utterly and blatantly failing Christ by failing to follow Christ’s example.

Gay people are suffering, and have always suffered, because legalistic Christians use the Bible as justification for at best treating them like second-class citizens, and at worst viciously persecuting them. Such Christians disgrace the God they purport to emulate by ignoring the example of His only begotten son.

The response of the dedicatedly legalistic Christian to this clear and simple reasoning is as predictable as it is inevitable. He or she will claim that just as the lame man whom Jesus healed was physically sick, so the gay person is spiritually sick.

“See?” they will say, “Both need Jesus to heal them!”

Which I suppose sounds reasonable enough. Except for one thing: it ignores the fact that there is something objectively wrong with the lame man, whereas there’s nothing whatsoever objectively wrong with the gay person beyond what the Christian uses his Bible to claim there is.

But when we turn to our legalistic Christian in hopes of a response to that point, we will find that he or she, having made their argument, has disappeared back inside their hallowed hall of mirrors, where they will spend countless hours rapturously gazing at grossly distorted images of themselves, all the while mistaking them for God.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is co-founder of The NALT Christians Project and founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here). His blog is here. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Carol B.

    “Never try to teach a pig to sing….you frustrate yourself and you seriously piss off the pig…”

    I am sooo tired, so bone-weary, soul-weary TIRED of trying to teach that self-righteous, holier-than-thou, fundamentalist pig to sing…..is it even going to happen in my lifetime? My kids’? My grandkids’?

    We might as well condemn anyone who was born into any family named “Smith”, because they had just as much choice as I did being born gay/genderqueer.

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

    Again I think you have hit the nail on the head and I will proudly share this and try to soften some hearts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.layton.7 Randy Layton via Facebook

    Christians derive the majority of their world view from the bible..including basics like Jesus being the Son of God. So why wouldn’t many of them draw that conclusion…seems like a strange argument. That doesn’t mean one can’t develop a theology that works around the few passages that are there to conclude gay people don’t defend God..mine does lean that way..but to ask christians to ignore the bible in addressing this..or how they view art . .relationships…social values..etc is a fairly weird proposition to make.

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      Hmm. Asking people to think for themselves, rather than blindly accepting everything written in an ancient text is “a weird proposition to make”? Show me where it says I should do that, Randy. Or why.

      • Mike

        Al, you are saying someone should craft God to fit their world view instead of crafting their worldview to fit God.

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        Mike- I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that people should read their holy books with a critical eye. All holy books are written by people. As such, they can’t help but bring their cultural prejudices and personal biases into their writings, even if you allow for the wisdom that is also there.

        The notion that what is in a holy book is wholly and completely true isn’t something I accept. It’s an assumption that people of blind faith have and explains a lot of the evil done in the name of Christ and other religious figures. If people read and practiced what was actually in the Bible we might actually restore the world to the state of paradise it once was.

        • Mike

          Who gets to pick and choose which parts are true and which parts are not true?

          • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

            I think you’re demanding absolute truth. Until you achieve perfect wisdom you may have to settle for your own guidance.

          • Elizabeth

            It’s called proof texting, and it’s when a couple of sentences in Leviticus and Paul are used to condemn homosexuality in contradiction to the overall message of the Gospels — and the Ten Commandments, for that matter. It’s why you can’t take away my Christianity or my legal rights because I eat shellfish and my head’s uncovered. You’re supposed to love and accept me as your neighbor instead.

          • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

            Who gets to pick and choose? That would be these guys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea

          • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

            Way-ell, I should’ve read that whole Wiki article. Don’t you love learning? :) The following is a better reference for all the lovely people over the centuries who decided what would be in the Christian canon and what wouldn’t: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Christian_biblical_canon

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.layton.7 Randy Layton via Facebook

    That’s offend not defend..typing this on a cell sucks for me.

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

    Brilliant as usual John. Saved it to my facebook where many of my anti-gay relatives might see it.

  • Lamont

    “The Christian who believes homosexuality to be an abominable sin against God invariably points to the Bible as justification for this belief.”

    Shocking John! They also point to the Bible to condemn “adultery!” And “lying!” And “Blasphemy!” And “Drunkenness!” And “Murder!” And “Idolatry!” and “Stealing!”

    And lusting after your neighbors wife! I even heard X-tians believe that Bible teaches that Jesus said that anyone who is angry w/his own brother without cause, has committed murder in his heart and guilty of hell! Where’s the compassion?

    If you were going to call yourself a “Chrisitan” what book would you recommend a Christian should read?

    • Christy

      About which John wrote: “They’re flat wrong about that; it doesn’t. But suggesting that such a Christian think rationally on the matter is like suggesting a shark think rationally after you’ve spilled blood into its tank. It won’t; it can’t. All it can do is follow its most base instinct and ignorantly thrash about, mad with desire to propitiate its fury.”

    • Allen Barefield

      Lamont … It’s obvious that you simply dismiss and disregard what John is saying … period. At the very least, I think he’s trying to persuade Christians to practice what they preach. For example, if you “hate the sin but love the sinner,” then why drive them away from the church.

      I have a group of gay friends who began attending a large Baptist church in a small southern city; they were drawn by the apparent inclusionary words of the church members, who wanted to reach out to those who felt unwanted. As soon as the began the process towards church membership, they were told they could not join the church. Several months later, one friend received a letter [obviously part of a mass mailing] asking for a gift of at least $3,000 toward the construction of a new worship center.

      Not the best way to market the Lord!

      • Lamont

        @Allen.

        Of course I dismiss what John is saying! I believe John to be in error. The Bible does condemns homosexuality, as it does the other sins I’ve noted.

        John sets himself as an authority above scripture instead of submitting to scripture, therefore, John becomes God’s judge. The Bible also condemns fornication. If John doesn’t like Christs word, perhaps he shouldn’t be a Christian? Perhaps John needs to change professions (literally)!

        Christ turns no sinner away. But again, one must acknowledge their sin, and repent of it! And, yeah, we all got horror stories from the “darkside.”

        Had a man in our church that left his wife and two small children for another man. My sister in law started using drugs, left here husband and five children & for another man. I love her dearly, and want to help her. If she doesn’t repent, what can I do? Sin is devistating, and God hates sin! So should the Christian. I don’t know any Christian that doesn’t struggle w/sin. But “woe” to them that call evil good, and good evil.

        • Lymis

          No, the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality.

          It seems to condemn gang rape. It clearly condemns straight people having gay sex for fun. It condemns using underage children as prostitutes and being the people who pay their pimps for their services.

          It says that lying with a man the way you lie with a woman is a crime if you happen to be an Israelite wandering in the desert with Moses, but that same section condemns eating shellfish, touching pork, or wearing two different fabrics at the same time.

          There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that condemns a pair of loving men or a pair of loving women making a faithful commitment to each other and living a life that includes faithful and loving sexuality. Not without warping the text beyond recognition.

          The Bible also says quite clearly that in Christ there is neither male nor female, that nothing you put in your body makes you unclean, and that anyone who knows love is born of God and knows God.

          • Mike

            “It says that lying with a man the way you lie with a woman is a crime if you happen to be an Israelite wandering in the desert with Moses…”

            It does not add the stipulation you added to it. The Law does only apply to those we call Jews today, but the desert portion and having to be with Moses is all added by you.

            There are portions of The Law which only apply in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), as well as those which only apply when there is a Temple, but most of them apply regardless of where a Jew lives and regardless of whether Moses is alive or not. You are correct that they only apply to Jews, though…and to those who willingly accept the yoke of The Law upon themselves.

            Just wanted to clarify the misconception to put forth. :)

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            “You are correct that they only apply to Jews, though…and to those who willingly accept the yoke of The Law upon themselves.”

            You mean, the people who willingly place themselves under a curse? (Galatians 3:10)

        • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

          John is just giving his thoughts and opinions on what is written in the Bible. Why is that so threatening?

    • Christy

      Except that Adultery, Bearing False Witness (not the same as lying), Drunkenness, Murder, Idolatry, Stealing, and Lusting (envy not appreciation) all cause harm. Blasphemy is only an issue in theocracies. And that bit about Jesus and anger – gonna have to go with a metaphor for the problem of the shadow self of the unconscious and the unexamined life. It’s not meant to be taken literally. It’s a wisdom lesson. It goes along with the “if thy right eye offend thee cut it out.” It means address problems early on and refers to the harm of undealt-with emotions allowed to grow and fester.

    • David S

      Lamont –

      Leaving the snarkiness of your comment aside, I will offer you my unsolicited two cents. There’s a difference believing the bible to be a moral guide and using the bible as a bludgeon against people you don’t like.

      Many conservative Christians go further than a belief that homosexuality is sinful (a view that, as a gay person, I don’t share but is, admittedly, the traditional view on homosexuality). They declare it to be an “abomination” – lifting the language of Leviticus and completely ignoring the good news of the gospel. They act as if people who are gay are the worst of all sinners. They justify incredible cruelty towards gay people with scripture.

      This is not hyperbole. Think about the AFA and the hate-filled lies that they spew about people who are gay. Think about the “Christian” resistance to anti-bullying legislation which churches have characterized as “endorsing homosexuality”. Think about the shame and guilt that certain churches heap on gay kids and their parents. Think about the church-based efforts to disadvantage gay people at every turn including destroying their families.

      The belief that being gay is an “abominable sin against God” is based on a selective and abusive reading of the bible. It flows from a prejudice that “gays are bad people” and that homosexuality is a depraved choice rather than an innate characteristic. It focuses on abasing a whole group of people rather than loving them as the children of God that they are.

      • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

        Honest Christians need to ask themselves why their focus is on the “abomination” of homosexuality but not on the numerous other transgressions they so easily turn a blind eye to, such as gluttony, drunkenness, the abuse of women and children, divorce and never mind the prohibition against the eating of shellfish or the wearing of mixed-fibre clothing also referred to in Leviticus as abominations.

        • Christy

          Al, I hazard a guess that it is because that would require uncomfortable self-reflection and a willingness to consider, “What if I’m wrong?”

      • Mike

        To God, all sins are equally bad and cause a separation from Him. Most Christians forget this.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          Nothing can separate us from God, not even sin.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Lots of books Lamont. Read Philosphy, History, Biographies, books on science, sociology….read a comedy, a farce, a tragedy. Read about life, humanity…get perspectives on how people think. Many Christians read books from a wide variety of authors, and don’t expect the bible to be the ALL THERE IS TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS book.

    • DR

      I always love the mocking and sarcastic posture Christians like Lamont take on when they believe they are battling for the higher moral ground. It always makes me feel sick to my stomach but it has now ceased to surprise me.

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

        Ha! I knew this post would bring you back!

        Whoo-hoo! Mission accomplished!

        • DR

          You temptress. Wait, that’s for the ladies. I’ll think of something better.

          • Lymis

            John’s not for the ladies?

          • n.

            not to subscribe overly much to the gender binary illusion, but he doesn’t look like much of a temptress to me.

          • Lymis

            Maybe if you squint a little?

      • Jill H

        Some days, when it doesn’t set me off, I’m curiously befuddled by the psychology of absolutism that serves to judge, label, and otherwise separate. Why does that behavior have such a ‘pay-off’ for people and why is it so commonly seen among the devout (of any belief system)?

        It’s true, I mock hatred and bigotry and other forms of power-mongering. I call a spade a spade, but I’d much rather talk with people and not at them. Share, not exclude. Find common ground. Damn, that’s a kindergarten lesson! I wish it didn’t get harder to live that lesson as we get older. It shouldn’t have to be so hard to play nice, and I wish more devout people understood that.

        • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

          You have to prove your own fidelity to the belief system. You’re scared that other people will call you a heretic unless you’re virulent enough in fulfilling the doctrinal loyalty tests. It’s kind of like gang initiation where you have to beat people up except it’s for a religious gang. I wrote another piece trying to grapple with the “pay off” of a hard-ass God. http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/why-a-hard-god-is-more-attractive/

          • JanvierNoir

            Morgan,

            I really like your blog. I like this comment by Fred that you quoted: Fred Clark responded to this mentality on his own blog: “They believe that God’s actual character is, in fact, distasteful — that God is exclusive, condemning and oppressive. And that any attempt to portray God as otherwise is a liberal lie.” Some might say that Clark is flogging a straw man, but I think he’s put his finger on something legitimate. Certain Christians have a stake in God’s ugliness, not because of a reluctant commitment to “objective truth,” but because a hard God is actually more attractive to them.

            That is so true. I think if one truly could examine one’s own heart, he/she would see that they feel/believe they have a stake in God’s ugliness, and then should identify what those “stakes” are and see what the payoff is for them.

            For me, as I look back at the ugliness that I once believed to be God and examine what some of those stakes were for me, they go to the bottom of core human needs and desires, that then get disordered in a way where we try to meet legitimate needs illegitimately. In the case of dehumanizing those who are LGBTQ and going even further in regards to racism, classism, sexism–to devalue others and have religion backing us earns us acceptance, validation, love, belonging…altogether, a greater sense of being and belonging. It is hard to discover that what you once held as gospel and as the voice of God was your own hatred fueled by the hatred that others helped to instill in you, teach you and “shepard” you into harboring in the name of your precious deity.

            The blindness is unbelievable. Religion is a strong disease; a stronghold and blinding force that many deep within it can never escape. Thank God for His Grace and Mercy and His willingness to deliver us from religion. It’s really a matter of let those who have ears hear what the Spirit is saying. Yet, they believe they heart Him yet are deaf. That used to be me.

          • JanvierNoir

            …and I say all this with the recent realization or shall I say, acceptance, that I am bisexual (thanks to this blog and its lovely inhabitants). How all of the things I once spewed and hatred, and self-righteousness I pinned against others now bites me in mine own arse! ha! It’s bittersweet and rather ironic. But there is a certain joy in being wrong that can be embraced if one can see the greater gain there is when being wrong means that there will be more joy, more acceptance, more love… Being here and a part of this community and a few others have helped me to see the greater gain that there is to see God and even Scripture from a place of compassion rather than legalism. To also learn and come to an understanding that everlasting torment and judgement is probably not very likely also helps me to let go of feeling condemned if I dont believe exactly as I was taught. Fear of hell is a real thing and a serious thing; because embracing these different non-traditional ideas about God and His Word means eternal hellfire for those who believe in it. So there is a lot of study in regards to getting to the place where you don’t fear God and His wrath or torment which frees you in your faith and reconciles the idea that God can be all-l0ving and condemning of none.

            I rejoice in the fact that I was wrong because it has opened up love to me in greater ways. Yet, I do know that it would be “easier”, for me, to continue to deny what I know about myself, because it would be easier to avoid the discomfort and hardships that lie before me that I KNOW I will face. Yes, I am afraid in many ways, but in others, I am absolutely happy, bold and more beautiful because of this.

          • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

            Lovely post Janvier. :)

        • Christy

          Hey Jill!

          The psychology of absolutism that serves to judge, label, and otherwise separate has a lot to do with tribalism and ego.

          Humankind’s consciousness level at its most basic is concerned with self-protection. At the reptilian brain level we concentrate on the four Fs: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Reproduction. As we evolve (consciously, spiritually, literally) our circle of concern expands to include others outside ourselves: offspring, kin, tribe, village, city, state, country, world and outside our tribal alliances based on language, culture, ethnicity, region, religion, customs. This is how humankind has flourished: evolving beyond tribalism, by cooperating with others outside our immediate group, by building alliances. Being of a tribal mindset, of a tribal worldview, looks at life as kill or be killed, convert or be converted, win or lose: a zero sum gain. Those who attend to this kind of absolutism do so because it reinforces their ego and their worldview. Like + Like = Good. Like + Unlike = Bad.

          It is based on fear and distrust of “the other,” an aspect of tribalism. It is based on survival mentality vs. cooperation which requires trust and vulnerability. It is based on a belief system of dualism and absolute truth: There is only one right answer. I know may way is correct so that makes you, who stand in opposition to my belief system, wrong. And when my belief system is God and you are wrong, you must represent evil. It is a system that does not tolerate relativism or subjectivity or individuality.

          Fundamentalsim is rooted in separation from the world and purity – thus no ecumenicalism and a strong desire for “others” to integrate fully into their culture, no tolerance for differences of opinion. There is only one right way and if you deviate from that – you are “other” and outside the tribe. It is ultimately rooted in a fear of the unknown, an intolerance of vulnerability and the “pain” of having to consider and tolerate mystery and uncertainty. This is why some religions have to make everything so absolute and certain. It is insulation against the mysteries of life. The pay-off is so high because it is self-protective behavior of the ego: I’m ok and right, and I’m certain of it.

          • Jill

            Yes– this. I keep running into my anger at this behavior, found in religion, politics, families, popular culture. Hell, I’m running square into my disgust at it like I’m slamming my face into a brick wall, over and over. Doesn’t move that damn brick wall even an inch, and yet I keep colliding with it. Obviously this is not a terribly successful activity on my part either.

            I’m aware that fundamentalism, for one of these issue that most touched my life, doesn’t compute the damage done. Doesn’t notice, care. If it cared, it would change direction. It would stop causing harm.

            Yet all my efforts thus far has been to learn what Christ meant on the cross, when he had the courage I wish I possessed to say: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

            My always-ready response is: why don’t we all know? Is the human conscience standard-issue or isn’t it? But that’s another conversation for another day…

    • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

      This would be a good example of snarky. You’re not engaging in good faith conversation. You’re mocking.

    • n.

      yes but how do you talk to your atheist friend and agree about ethics? cos you can, you know…

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        It is really cool to know that wonderful compatibility in thoughts about ethics is often the norm with Athiests, or Wiccans, Hindi, Muslims, and so many other configuration of religious (or not) thought. The trick is to discover and appreciate the similarities.

        • Jill H

          Exposing yet another of the Grand Lies told in still some Christian circles– that the Nones or the Others couldn’t possibly hold reverence, couldn’t possibly know sacredness, couldn’t be engaged in holding up the humanity on this planet. It really, truly sucks when you find out your brand of indoctrination lied, lied, lied. And you spent all those years buying it.

          It makes you want to know each and every lie that you were sold and hold it up to the light of day. It makes me want to say I’m sorry for a thousand years.

          • Christy

            Yes. It does feel like the great violation it is to be deceived in such a profound way.

            My “THEY LIED” a-ha happened at learning that the denomination of money called a mite, as in a Widow’s Mite, was not from first century Palestine but seventeenth century England. Cultural insertion in the time of King James. So that line about every jot and tittle became all the more chaffing.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            wait?? Translators used modern terminology, interjecting their own ideas and culture into the bible?

            Say it ain’t so.

          • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

            Wow. Did not know that.

          • JanvierNoir

            Yes. This. I do, Jill. I want to say I’m sorry for a thousand years. And I want back all the years I gave to it and all the parts of me that were lost because of it.

          • Jill H

            Just remember Janvier that while years have passed, we didn’t lose any parts of ourselves. We may have lost some time, but we haven’t lost our true north, our center, the integrity of our spirit. It becomes about excavating and drawing out, removing what stands in between us and our divine essence.

            And we, as so many here have done, have fought hard for our faith, for a grander vision of purpose because of what we have felt has been ‘lost’ to us. It becomes that much more precious and worthy of our attention.

            Everyone that you touch with your life experience, everyone that you infuse with hope and determination because of who you are, is a life changed, a story with a new beginning. I think this is a more effective way of saying I’m sorry than anything else we can do.

          • JanvierNoir

            Thank you, Jill. I must remember your words of encouragement and truth.

  • Brian Workman via Facebook

    I love reading your work. So inspiring.

  • Lamont

    A challenge for John…

    How do you know what is morally right, or wrong?

    • Christy

      If you cannot distinguish right from wrong, you lack empathy, not religion.

      That which is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and learn. – Rabbi Hillel

      Jesus rephrased it into the proactive.

      Harm is the determining factor.

      • Lamont

        @ Christy.

        That’s not an answer.

        • Diana A.

          Looks like a pretty good answer to me!

        • Christy

          It is an answer. One you apparently find insufficient.

          • Lamont

            @ Christy.

            “If you cannot distinguish right from wrong, you lack empathy, not religion.”

            I am asking how do “you” distinguish from right or wrong?

            I know, that you know right from wrong, because, my worldview teaches that…

            1. God has made man in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:26ff), and

            2. God has put His law in the heart of man (Rms 1: 18ff, 2:14ff).

            Therfore, I (as a X-tian) can account for universal moral laws.

            The Bible is my objective standard of measure. So, question I am am asking you, is, what is the standard of morality that you use to determine from right or wrong? How do you know that it’s right?

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

            Tread carefully, Lamont. I’ve let you stay here because you’re new. But don’t get rude (not that you haven’t been already, but, as I say, everyone gets a free few passes); don’t get snarky; don’t get … smugly condescending. If you’ve got a real and valid point, treat it with the respect it deserves–which will allow others to also treat it, and thereby you, with the respect you deserve. Thanks buddy.

          • Lamont

            Thank you John. Will do!

            I don’t exactly see where I’ve been “snarky” or “condescending.” I’m quite sure that I’m ‘less’ easily offended then others are. Someone had made that comment earlier but I didn’t see a connection? I don’t recall any ad-hominem attacks on my part.

            It’s 8:00 p.m. and I have already responded to a couple comments. If you see anything in them bothersome to you please point it out and I take a different tact.

            Lamont.

          • DR

            Are you serious? Whoa.

          • Lamont

            John,

            After 2nd thought, I see exactly what you’re saying. I apologize for my snarky condescending tone toward you in my very first response.

            Very bad! You didn’t deserve that!

            Sincerely,

            Me!

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

            good man. thank you.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

            First, I note that your phrasing seems to suggest that you think you’re addressing a group of non-Christians and, thus, need to explain the Christian viewpoint of the origin of morality. If that is your assumption, you are sadly mistaken. While John’s readership runs the gamut, I’d guess the majority of them to be some flavour of Christian or Christ follower.

            Second, to largely reiterate Christy, morality is determined by whether the act or failure to act is loving or not. What I would call the passive Golden Rule– don’t treat others in a way you would not wish to be treated– is almost universal in world religions and philosophies. Though each phrases it differently, it’s a universal thought.

            Christianity is a bit unusual in that Christ took it a step further, taking Rabbi Hillel’s position and extending it– postulating that an apathetic absence of harmful acts isn’t fully moral. Instead, the Christian is called not just to avoid harm, but to be actively helpful– to be loving, forgiving, full of grace and goodwill; to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, seek justice for the oppressed, stand for the widow and the orphan, and do good even to those who mean you harm.

            Jesus himself established that the Old Testament law was imperfect when he healed on the Sabbath, ate without first ceremonially washing, and rejected Moses’ rules for divorce. Make no mistake, Jesus’ law of love was radical in rejecting the legalism of the old law and in requiring an active rather than passive regard for the needs of your neighbour. It was also radical in rejecting the old tribalism and being inclusive, even to those who were regarded as filthy and immoral enemies of the law of God like the Samaritans.

            Given his example, how could Christ’s followers do anything but embrace the LGBT community and reject the old laws that excluded them from fellowship?

          • David S

            Lamont

            My, oh my, how I hate proof texting. The Bible is rife with contradiction. Anyone can cut and paste out-of-context scripture to make any point they want to. Scripture is only valid in the context of the Bible as a whole. That is the basis of scriptural authority.

            To your proof text number one: I’m a Christian who is gay. I am a child of God, created in His image. However, you condemn me – God’s creation. Why do you do that?

          • Christy

            My atheist and agnostic friends use the harm vs. benefit rubric as well. To many, this is self-evidnet or learned through acquired wisdom. There is a reason that the Golden Rule is Golden.

          • Christy

            Re: “1.God has made man in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:26ff), and

            2. God has put His law in the heart of man (Rms 1: 18ff, 2:14ff)”

            If we bear God’s image – God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s justice, God’s forgiveness – if we contain that Divine spark – and God put moral law in the heart of man – then humankind will figure out moral law and ethics irrespective of Scripture as authority because it is innate in us and because humankind existed before Scripture.

        • John Clemens

          Lamont, then you aren’t listening. It is the ONLY answer. The secret of eternal life is not rocket science or magic. The Bible may be inerrant, but if something seems wrong it probably is a result of our literalism, selfishness and shallowness. God lives in our heart and God is intent on teaching us what the Bible means if we choose to listen.

          John Shore is right on in this essay.

          • Lamont

            @JClemens.

            Re-read what I asked? She did not explain “HOW” she determines “Right from wrong.” So, I restated my question for the sake of clairity.

            “The secret of eternal life is not rocket science or magic.”

            I’m listening?

            “The Bible may be inerrant, but if something seems wrong it probably is a result of our literalism, selfishness and shallowness. ”

            How about deception John? Doesn’t Paul also say that some “destort the word to their own destruction? Sometimes the seed falls on fallow soil. Or perhaps the birds of the air i.e. Satan?

            I hold to inerrancy. So, if the Bible teaches that Homosexuality is a sin (which it clearly does in both testaments), then the literal interpretation is correct! So, if that interpretation “seems” wrong to you, perhaps you have a broken “seemer” due to your fallen nature, and should trust God’s word above your own, since God cannot lie.

            John Shore comments: “Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation…”

            First of all, God clearly excludes/condemns homosexuality from the congregation of Israel (Ref Lev 18:22, 20:13), then it is reiterated in the N/T Rom 1, 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim 1:10. Those who “practice those things will be excluded from the kingdom…” How much more explicit does God need to be? I didn’t write the scriptures, God did.

          • Mindy

            No, Lamont, MAN wrote the Scriptures, about God. You can say they were filled the Holy Spirit and therefore speaking for God, but if that is the case, then God tends to contradict himself.

            God did not condemn homosexuality as an orientation. Such a thing was not understood in Biblical times. God condemned idolatry, adultery, sex without love and commitment, perhaps – lots of things, but not BEING LGBTQ, not loving in response to how one is physiologically put together. Do a bit more research, sir, before speaking with such certainty.

            As to your original question not being answered, you are simply being stubborn and obtuse. It most certainly was answered. Clearly. Should you not be able to find the answer in what was given you, you might be lacking the compassion Jesus expects of his followers.

          • Christy

            Or, perhaps, your seemer is blocked by tribalism and ego and can only see what one wants to see, rather than taking, in context and in light of the teachings of Jesus, the text in the most compassionate rather than the most legalistic way and trusting your own interpretation above another.

            The references to distorting the word to one’s own destruction and seeds that fall on fallow soil cut both ways. All good spiritual journeys begin with the humility to ask oneself, “What if I’m wrong?” And the courage to follow the Spirit where that question leads.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

            The Bible does *not* teach that homosexuality is a sin in either testament. In order to draw the conclusion that *all* same-sex relationships are sinful from the 8 or so scriptures that are thought to be about same-sex relationships, you would then have to argue that heterosexuality is actually much more condemned, for there are hundreds of scriptures condemning opposite-sex acts. In order to condemn all same-sex relationships using those proof texts, you have to twist and misinterpret scripture in a way that you do not do for any other human relationship.

            Before you go claiming that scripture “clearly teaches” that all of any group are excluded from the kingdom, you’d better be darned sure you haven’t imposed your own biased interpretation on the text.

            There are hundreds of books, articles, websites, and media presentations by Bible scholars– experts in the languages and cultures of the Bible– that cover the difficulties inherent in the eisegesis necessary to draw the conclusion that all same-sex relationships are sinful. And I happen to know they’ve been available for at least 30 years because that’s when I first started reading up on the question and discovered them.

            In order to make the assertion you’re making, you have had to ignore all that research in order to maintain your own bias. Now, it’s entirely possible you’re simply ignorant of its existence. If that’s the case, I would think a brief google search, if nothing else, would be in order to make sure you’re right in your assertion before you go being contrary on someone’s blog and accusing them of being deceived. Or, you know, you could have actually gone and read the linked article and pondered it for a while with some humility and prayer before declaring John to be someone distorting scripture. But instead it appears you rushed to judgment.

            Understand this, Lamont, that judgment is killing people. And worse than that, it’s driving God’s beautiful children out of communion with him– not just his LGBT children, but those who see the spiritual abuse being heaped on their LGBT friends and family and say, “If that’s God, if that’s Christ, if that’s love, I don’t want any part of it.” That judgment is millstone around the necks of those who proclaim it, for you have caused God’s beloved children to stumble.

          • Mike

            The Law does clearly say homosexual acts are sinful. No more or less sinful than a host of heterosexual acts are, though. The Law also only applies to a small group of people (which we call Jews today) and not to all the other nations of people, so it should not be used as a condemning tool against non-Jews.

            A common problem most Christians have is they pick and choose portions of The Law and say they are in force while ignoring the vast majority of the rules. The Law is a package deal, if you subscribe to some of it, you subscribe to all of it – even the wool-cotton blend part. :)

          • Mike

            Of course, even those who follow The Law and also believe in The Way will make it to Heaven if they fail in following The Law.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            No, the Law says lying with a male in the beds of a woman is to’ebah, just as many other completely unsinful things were to’ebah. To’ebah /=/ sinful. A better translation would be “taboo”. It does not specify any and all homosexual acts, only lying with a male. Female-female acts, for instance, aren’t included at all.

            To imply the Levitical law applied to women and that it specified all acts were “sinful” is to grossly misquote the Law.

          • Donald Rappe

            Thanks Lyn. Good to hear the clarity again.

          • David S

            You may believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but please don’t say the Bible is absolutely clear. The Bible is rarely absolutely clear on anything. Not even salvation. I mean, are we saved by grace through faith; or, as Jesus said, will God separate the sheep from the goats (based on our actions toward humankind)? So, instead of basking in your moral certitude about the sinfulness of homosexuality based on a half dozen clobber verses, you should go read the hundreds of verses that command us to love one another then go speak to your fellow inerrantists about the church’s treatment of people who are gay.

          • DR

            Lamont, the wages of sin are death. That’s what Romans tells us. And it’s clear, adultery kills marriages. Addiction destroys the physical body and the mind. Lying destroys trust. It’s easy to spot the fruits of a sin because sin always destroys.

            Please be specific and tell us how being gay – gay sex in particular – destroys anything. Please show us the specific “wages of death”. We know it’s not physical, no one is harmed by being gay. We know it’s not emotional, millions of gay men and women are in devoted, loving relationships raising kids who are awesome. We know it’s not spiritual – there are actively gay men and women who are deeply devoted to Christ.

            So show us the fruits of the sin.

    • Maria

      I would hazard John might let the Holy Spirit guide him….

      I might even go further and hazard that he might take into consideration ancient and modern documentation of humanity’s interaction with the Holy Spirit or any of the other parts of the Trinity…

      I’ll even go way out there and hazard that many (most? all?) times the ancient compilation of such documents generically known as the “Bible” might enter the equation….

      the above are just conjectures….

      but what I am pretty sure of, however, is that, like Jesus, when John considers said documents, he “chose(s) compassion over legalism”…

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

      Lamont: how do you not know what is morally right or wrong?

    • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

      All right and wrong just like everything in the Bible can be related to the two greatest commandments: love God and love your neighbor. And by the way with Romans 1:18-32, Paul was just recycling a very common 1st century Jewish proselytism text. The point of Romans is to demolish legalism. Unfortunately 2000 years later, Christians would still rather be Pharisees than vessels and vassals of God’s mercy.

      • http://www.enesvy.com Nicole

        Not to mention that Jesus himself said that in those two commands (love God and love your neighbor) was contained ALL the law and the prophets. He distilled it all down…no more cherry picking of OT laws required.

        • Jill H

          Succinct and lovely.

    • Lymis

      See, Lamont, the problem is that you aren’t asking this question in isolation, and you aren’t asking it without a context.

      You’re asking it firmly in a discussion about the invalidity of Christians misusing the Bible and the teachings of Christ to condemn gay people merely for being gay.

      Asking how one knows what is morally right or wrong in the context of an unambiguous statement that it is morally wrong to condemn gay people IS making a stand that you feel that moral stand is unacceptable and is unsupported or unsupportable.

      Subsequent claims that it’s just an innocent question tossed into the discussion therefore aren’t fooling anyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dean.akrill Dean Akrill via Facebook

    I guess some Christians when cornered in such a way might make a case citing “natural law”, and thus make the case that homosexuality is not a natural ideal, or some such waffle…

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      “Natural” is an ambiguous term when applied to human beings, since so much of human activity is unique to our species. It’s not “natural” to put serial killers in jail, or to fly in planes, or to drive a car, and yet we do all this and more.

      “Natural” doesn’t have to be something that applies to the the entire species, since we are both individuals and members of the human race. It’s natural for all of us to breath since we’re mammals and we need oxygen to survive. On the other hand, we all have skills and aspirations that are our own, so it’s natural for me to build and repair houses but it wouldn’t feel natural for me to work in a store selling women’s clothes, for example.

      Ultimately, what is natural is doing what it is in one’s own nature to do. Hence, it’s natural for people who are gay to express themselves sexually with people of the same sex, but that wouldn’t be natural for someone who is straight.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Excellent response Al.

  • Wayne Chilver via Facebook

    Randy, I hear what you’re saying, it was my first thought when reading this post. But consider the fact that in history Christians have rarely had the Bible to get their beliefs from. For the first 300 years of Christendom the Bible did not exist in a form even remotely similar to what we have today, and it’s only been in the last 200 years or less that Christians have misplaced the Bible in the place of authority it seems to have today. And for what reason? Could it be that we give the Bible the authority it has because we need it because we believe it to justify our western patriarchal heterosexist ideology?

    John’s argument is pertinent because if any idea is true, it is true even without the Bible to support it.

  • Michelle

    First of all, a disclaimer – I do not consider myself a Christian, although I do follow many of the moral teachings of Christianity. I also strongly agree with what you’ve written here about using the Bible to justify the mistreatment and/or persecution against homosexuals. My question is in regards to your claim that the lame man had “something objectively wrong with him”. I’m not familiar with that passage – was the lame man born with that disability? And if so, then how is it any different than being born a homosexual? My point is not that homosexuality needs to be “fixed”, but that maybe disabilities don’t need to be “fixed” either. It seems like one of the main problems with having a disability is that it goes against our societal norms, much in the way that homosexuality does. Are you any less of a person because you cannot walk, or hear, or have Down’s syndrome, etc? Granted, I don’t have any disabilities, so I’m not trying to speak for those that do. And I don’t know the answer to my question. But I guess I’m wondering if instead of focusing on why people need to be “fixed” to fit in with society, we should instead be focusing on accepting these people for who they are and including them in our societal norms. Any thoughts?

    • David S

      Michelle –

      You raise a really interesting question. There’s a great play in NY right now called “Tribes”. It explores (among other things) the “disability” of deafness. It’s really powerful.

      Should a parent try to raise their child as a hearing child: forcing lip reading rather than teaching sign language? Is it “better” to be hearing? Should parents try to “fix” their deaf child with cochlear implants?

      I’m also looking forward to reading a book called “far from the tree” that explores this topic too.

      When I look at these questions through the filter of my life as a gay man, I think I agree with your suggestion we should be “focusing on accepting these people for who they are and including them in our societal norms.”

      From a Biblical perspective, I’ve got to believe that our fully divine Christ understood that the man’s physical ailment was keeping him from becoming all that he was intended to be. I think the episode is partly a commentary about Christ’s power to transform our lives – not a value judgement about invalids. But to your point, the reason the man was an invalid for so long was that no one would help him down into the pool that would heal him. So, perhaps this account is also a commentary on helping those who live outside of the social norm.

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

      Well, we know the man couldn’t walk. (In the KJV Bible we’re told he had an “infirmity”; in the NIV he’s called an “invalid.”) If I couldn’t walk, I have no question whatsoever but that I’d greatly appreciate being able to. But if I were gay I don’t know why (save the bigotry it engenders in others) I’d want to change that about myself.

      • Rachel

        Oh, this is a minefield of its own, John — trust me when I say that this would be a separate topic to tackle on its own. Suffice it to say for the moment that in the modern world, the biggest obstacles I’ve run into with my physical disability stem from failures of imagination on the part of the majority. This is improving, but we’ve a long way to go — especially the perception of disabled folks as the Other. We’re not. We’re you in the future. We’re your kids or grandkids, child or adult. We’re your parents or grandparents due to aging.

        Needless to say in Biblical times being disabled would have been far more disabling (ha!) than it needs to be these days. Please note I said “needs to be.”

        • Rachel

          Woops, I can’t edit! I wanted to add that I’m not trying to sound bitchy or lecture-y, but there are some deep issues surrounding Christianity and disability, that to me seem pretty closely related to issues with gay folks and Christianity. But they’re not quite the same, either.

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

            No, I didn’t think you sounded bitchy at all. I 100% agree and seriously appreciate what you said.

          • David S

            Mr. Shore -

            There is a ton of meat on this bone. I would love to hear your thoughts about this and hear the input from this community. I, for one, have a lot to learn in this area.

          • Christy

            It is clear from the story that the man wanted to be healed and in 38 years or so of trying to get to the water – no one had helped him. Jesus didn’t offer to have one of the disciples sit with him so that the next time the stirring of the water occurred he could help him down to the water; he did it: boom. Healed. No reason to wait a moment longer, even in the face of it being the Sabbath.

            There is a lovely picture book for children (and adults) called the Three Questions by John Muth based on a story by Leonard Tolstoy. In it the boy “sometimes felt uncertain about the right way to act.” He has three questions: What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?

            Jesus answers these questions in the same way: Now. The one before you. Whatever they need.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            This is awesome. That picture book sounds like one I need to add to my amazon wish list.

          • Christy

            John Muth has several lovely books…Zen Shorts, Old Turtle. Wonderful moral lessons with beautiful illustrations.

          • Mike

            It is not a violation of God’s commands to do God’s work on the Sabbath. The priests who cut the animals and placed the on the alter worked hard on the Sabbath – but it was allowed for it was God’s work.

            One cannot butcher meat for normal eating on the Sabbath, for that is not God’s work.

          • Elizabeth

            Specifically religious rites on the Sabbath: that’s your explanation for why John’s parallel doesn’t hold up? Because the religious leaders in the community ostracized him for healing the lame man. With “However, it appears he (or at least you) thinks the Bible has a prohibition against either doing the work of God on the Sabbath or against healing someone one the Sabbath; neither is true,” from above, you’re the one contradicting yourself.

          • n.

            one time i asked a christian Trans friends about this… like i can see a parallel between being gay or bi and having neurological differences, being differently wired. so gay or bi could be seen as having parallels with being autistic (which i am) … we’re just “born that way” and it has its pros and cons just as, on a larger scale, being human does.

            so i asked them what about Trans, do they feel that God put them in the wrong body for their gender (whereas gay christians usually feel that God made them that way, the way they are supposed to be) and one answer was that (although you have to get diagnosed with dysphoria, which is mental, to get a sexual reassignment treatments or surgery), they felt more like it was parallel to a physical disability that a person has to deal with. i guess we didn’t get as far as whether or not God made a mistake in which body God gave them… which would also be an interesting question.

          • Elizabeth

            Trans is no longer considered a mental illness (ie, dysphoria) according to the new DSM. There is a legal and often therapeutic component to transitioning. I think it’s more a matter of people perceiving them as they perceive themselves. That’s a struggle for everyone, isn’t it?

        • Allie

          With all due respect, in that future, when I’m disabled (and you’re absolutely right to point out that it comes to most of us if we live long enough), I don’t expect you to pretend everything is just fine with me. It won’t be.

          • Rachel

            It’s not a matter of pretending everything’s fine — what is, is. And it’s a huge pain in the rear sometimes. But going around pretending everything’s awful and my life is ruined because of my disability is just as counterproductive as going around pretending everything’s just peachy keen. Been there. Won’t go back. I try to strike a balance for myself.

            Part of the difference in viewpoint here may be that I have always had what I have. I can’t imagine not having it. Of course it’d be nice on occasion not to, but it’s my body. So I deal.

        • n.

          YES! i came to appreciate gay rights through disability rights; so many parallels.

          one writer, i think in Ragged Edge (or Mouth?) magazine, said that the disability rights movement is related to the gay rights movement because all of our parents wish we had been born somebody else.

          • vj

            ” all of our parents wish we had been born somebody else”

            Wow. I am so grateful that I never felt this from my mom (my dad is a bit of a different story), and I hope I NEVER come close to feeling like this about my kids….

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            As a parent of two neuro-atypical kids (well, they were kids, though they’re 22 and nearly-15 now)– one who is non-binary genderqueer and pansexual and the other who is a person with Aspergers / autism spectrum disorder), I’ll admit it’s a struggle to deal with, but it’s not so much that we wish our kids were someone else as that we wish they could be themselves but somehow still magically have an easier life than what they’ve been dealt. I’m a firm believer that neuro-atypical people are a gift to the world, to the human race, to their societies, and to their families, but their existence challenges our drive toward the safety of conformity in ways that take their toll.

          • Jill

            Lyn, I firmly feel the same way. These are powerful people that force us to face our collective reduction of human beings into categories and their attending expectations. The paradigm shift is in play, but we’ve got a ways to go. It makes me sad what they and their caring families endure, and yet I am grateful for awesome parents like yourself who know all your tireless efforts are not in vain.

    • n.

      definitely medical model of disability going on there. (as opposed to social model)

      • Rachel

        This is the last time I will post in this thread about this — but yes. I hadn’t really thought about it but I guess I go straight to the social models rather than the medical models considering my own experiences. Which explains a lot of the disconnect I see in the Biblical descriptions of disability vs my life experiences in the 20th and 21st centuries!

        • David S.

          Rachel – Thanks for your perspectives. I hope we will have a chance to continue this conversation sometime. Best to you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.layton.7 Randy Layton via Facebook

    Well, it’s lot longer than 200 years in terms of authority..ever hear the history of Catholicism? So add some centuries to that. In terms of how Western Christians view it, that might be closer to what you’re getting at. But again, my point, and it would have been more at length if not tethered to a cell at that time, is that faith, or even lack thereof, generally drives how you view the world. This is true of Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and agnostics.

    So to ask, in this case, a Christian to step outside of the Bible and look for other examples..again, a weak point. I’m not going to ask a believer to find places outside the Bible that backs up Trinity theology, for example..you either arrive that through study of the bible or you don’t. It’s common to deride anyone quoting Old Testament text to support the idea that homosexuality is a sin..because one can point to a lot of things in the OT that are obviously not in play today-I’ve even reposted some of the more ridiculous examples.

    What Jesus made clear when asked about the laws of the OT was most important, you’ll recall it’s “love” given in a couple of different contexts. That such thinking was finalizing what all those laws were trying to get people to. It’s harder to ignore the couple of verses in the New Testament that also seem to say it’s a sin, and you don’t even have to twist the words very hard to get there. But, we also know Jesus talks a whole lot more himself about a whole lot of other things that don’t address that either.

    Don’t misunderstand me..I would like to think as a Christian that being gay is not a ticket to hell..and we can debate what hell is…but not here :) But I can see where many would pick that up from. What I do have a hard time with is how the religious right approaches that issue, and others, in a way I think God finds offensive.

    Again, getting back to my original point..I don’t think you can ask most Christians to step outside the bible to “prove” things that are, and I’m not a fan of the word, dogmatic. Following that same line, the concept of anything is true even if the Bible doesn’t support it..eh…slippery slope. That’s essentially saying ANY idea is true, if x amount of people support that idea. Whole lot of people thought the Mayan calendar was IT. If enough people believe capital punishment is “true” does it make it true or right?

    I think where I have to rest is that asking Christians to support theological viewpoints outside of the bible is a bit silly. The bible isn’t going to tell me what album I should buy today. It does tell me that God has supported artistic expresson, since the beginning. (One would think the Creator would support that.) For the christian, that is taking bibical viewpoint and extending it into everyday life.

    Ok, long enough!

    • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

      Wow, Randy! Do you really believe that the Bible has the final word on everything? There’s not much room for discussion if that’s the case.

      • Brian

        Al,

        Just curious, what and where is YOUR final authority?

        • Mindy

          Brian, where do you think us folk who aren’t Christian find “final authority?” In moral and ethical compassion, for starters. Does it hurt anyone, physically or emotionally? Does it cheat anyone, diminish anyone, take anything away from their quality of life? If it does any of those things, it is wrong, or at least should be seriously reconsidered.

          There is so much more I could say, but I am short on time – know, simply, that God is my final authority. I close my eyes and ask, silently, for guidance to do the right thing. I don’t have to read it. He helps me understand, and first, more than anything, I choose love.

        • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

          Brian – what makes you think there is such a thing as a “final authority”? The Bible and every other sacred text are incomplete documents, culturally biased to suit their times, and written by imperfect, but sometimes insightful human beings. Sometimes there’s wisdom there and sometimes there’s the worst distorted thinking.

          People who choose to make their holy book the final authority on how they and others should live their lives are lazy, uncritical, and irresponsible. They are also more likely to use their interpretation of their holy book’s meaning to judge and punish people who live their lives differently from their own.

          I prefer to live my life with uncertainty and with a commitment to finding the truth. I don’t have a great commitment to a lot of what I “believe” since beliefs are a kind of opinion and opinions are(and ought to be) subject to change. Unlike a lot of people I’m not bothered too much by uncertainty, since I don’t consider my areas of ignorance as flaws but as places for exploration . I don’t discount the experiences of others I’ve met on my path but can see that maybe I can learn from them; if John Shore and others have been blessed with an epiphany that has brought them some measure of clarity, I accept that, especially if their epiphany has led them to reform their lives and to perform good deeds.

          This may not be a satisfactory answer for you, Brian, since I suspect you may be looking for something you can target. Good luck with that.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            I think about the verse in 2 Timothy where the author says, “All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, exhorting,” etc. Thwt verse gets used a lot to defend the inerrancy of the Bible, but when you think about it, that * can’t* be what the author meant. He can’t have been saying, “All the things I’m writing in this letter to you, and in some of my other letters that people will keep around, and in other texts that have been and will be written and bound with this letter in a couple hundred years are God-breathed, etc.”

            No, what he must have been saying is that when you encounter something that is God-breathed and useful for teaching and etc., you should recognize it as a valuable revelation. He isn’t defending scripture, he’s giving a guideline for recognising it in the first place.

            Jesus said all authority was given to him. So for a writing or an interpretation of a writing to be authoritative, it must line up with what Jesus taught. (I realise that’s a little circular, since we only know Jesus said all authority was given to him because it was written down in texts that we regard as being authoritative about that statement. Sometimes you just have to trust the eyewitness account.)

            So that’s where I am on the question.

          • Jill

            So Lyn, if you could put together a short cliff notes style booklet on how to not to get the wrong message from the bible and the like, pretty much compile everything you’ve just said here over these last days, print it and send me over a few copies to share, that’d be great. I’ll look forward to seeing that come through shortly, ok? ;)

            Or you could just become my spiritual tutor? I can pay you in gluten free cupcakes.

          • JanvierNoir

            I want in on this class. I’ll bring gluten-free lemon poppy cookies and lots of hugs ; )

    • Lymis

      John’s far more frequent point is that you don’t have to step outside the Bible for support that homosexuality is not condemned, or at least not condemned outside of the particular circumstances of the historical moment described in the Bible.

      The vast majority of the things that “everyone knows” condemn homosexuality in the Bible are either clear and unambiguous mistranslations of entirely different concepts, clear support for heterosexual relationships among heterosexuals, or condemnations of outrageous behavior that is only incidentally and superficially homosexual.

      In other words, the condemnation of the attempted same-sex gang rape in the Sodom story can’t be used to condemn loving committed same sex relationships any more than the fact that Lot offered his virgin daughters to the crowd can be used as Biblical support for heterosexual gang rape.

      There is plenty of Biblical support FOR loving same sex pairings, and very little to indicate that homosexuality is worse than eating shellfish or touching pigs.

      Christians don’t get to complain about theological viewpoints from sources outside the Bible until they can reconcile the clear viewpoints INSIDE the Bible.

      That, of course, sets aside the whole idea of actually listening to the Holy Spirit, who by any rational standard is “outside the Bible”, but I’ve found the people most frantically glued to the Bible are the most deaf to the Holy Spirit, or claim that in their lives, the Holy Spirit is only allowed to speak to them through the Bible.

      • Jill

        And thank you for reminding us the fact that Lot was considered a man of God who had no issue with sacrificing his daughters, and yet that glaring point remains mostly overlooked when discussing the Sodom story.

    • Donald Rappe

      I think it’s interesting that you think Trinitarian belief comes directly from the Bible.

  • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

    There are several things going on with this issue. It’s a proxy war in which the real issue for the conservative evangelicals is a feeling that the Bible is under attack. They define their universe as consisting in a perpetual conflict between God’s word and “worldly wisdom.”

    There is some basis for this dialectic in the Bible: “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” But the way that “the world” was defined by Christians for many centuries was essentially equivalent to the concept of “privilege” we have today in progressive-land. If you’re in love with your money and power, you can’t be a disciple. I think that’s definitely true. Of course, if you want to keep your money and power, then you have to redefine “the world” to mean something other than the system that supports your privilege.

    That’s where sexuality comes in. Sexual propriety is the bourgeois virtue par excellence. Because people who are middle-upper-class often get there by growing up in stable, safe homes, they decide that their stability and safety are what God cares about the most, especially when it has to do with sex, which is dirty and unsafe. People who aren’t sexually moral fall out of the stability and safety of suburbia and become poor, the corollary of this being that poor people are poor because they’re sexually immoral.

    I really think the reason there’s such a ferocious investment in sexuality in conservative evangelical morality is because if sex ever stopped being the absolutely most important thing in the universe, they would have to face other aspects of their morality that might be deficient, like selfishness, greed, contempt for the needy, and so forth. The battle against homosexuality is really a battle for the preservation of bourgeois self-justification through sexual propriety.

    In any case, I wrote something similar to what you’re saying called “Sabbath healing as a paradigm for Christian morality.” https://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/sabbath-healing-as-a-paradigm-for-christian-morality/

    • David S

      Morgan –

      Yes, but….

      I somewhat agree with you insomuch as biblical sexual ethics in general are concerned.

      But there are many kinds of sexual impropriety in the conservative Christian worldview – none scorned and loathed as much as being gay. I think it’s because people who are gay are a sexual minority. It’s always easier to demonize the other.

      If sexual purity has become a proxy for holiness, then being gay has become a proxy for man’s evil nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wendt.brian Brian Wendt via Facebook

    Randy, I agree. Christian theology, beliefs and practice are derived from the Bible. Where issues arise is in the interpretation of the Bible. Some say that to commit homosexual acts is sin, others say it is not – both based on their biblical interpretation. Christ has compassion on sinners, but never condones sin. “I have not called the righteous, but sinners to repentance”

    • DR

      Being gay is not a sin.

    • Lymis

      I don’t recall the part where Jesus took a referendum among the faithful to decide what it was and what it wasn’t that people were supposed to repent for.

      I do recall quite a number of places where he made it clear he would hang out with those people declared to be sinners – lepers, tax collectors, menstruating women, the occasional blind person – who weren’t particularly sinful at all.

      And I don’t think that quote says what you seem to think it says. It says nothing one way or the other about condoning sin. That would require Jesus not accepting someone until after they gave up their sin – which is not supported by the record.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

        Isn’t interesting that the concept of a woman menustrating used to be considered unclean in the Jewish culture, or sinful, if we want to use a modern term. She wasn’t to be touched, she couldn’t visit a house of worship, for that period she was an outcast to society, and percieved to be an outcast from the communion with God.

        Today, most of us know that a woman’s hormonal cycles is a natural part of being a woman, an annoyance at times, but it is part of who and what we are. Few consider a woman in such a state in her month as sinful, unclean, abhorent, to be kept apart from the congregation. Few do so, because the concept is ridiculous.

        Being one of the percentage of humans on the planet who make up the LGBT category is no less sinful than being a woman just past her PMS time of the month. To consider a person whom God adores, and God adores all of us, as sinful, to be kept apart from the congregation, abhorent, is to me ridiculous.

        • Mike

          There are various kinds of unclean, and unclean does not always mean sinful. The women were placed in a guarded camp outside the main living area during menstruation. This served many purposes – the biggest of which was to give the women time to relax and rest during this hard time of their month. They could not do housework, cooking, cleaning, washing, et al. The next big benefit was to reduce arguments in the home – hormones cause woman to be moody during their period and a separation is a good thing for all involved.

          The uncleanliness was not sinful, it was a status that meant they had to be separated from the group. Same thing happened if a man touched a dead body, even if it was his parent and he was burying the body.

          • Jill H

            “hormones cause woman to be moody during their period and a separation is a good thing for all involved.”

            What prooftext are you offering to justify this one, Mike?

          • Elizabeth

            It’s the surge of testosterone (or drop in estrogen and progesterone) in the last days of a woman’s period up to ovulation. Messy women who were more aggressive and interested in sex. It had to scare the hell out of those illiterate shepherds.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            There isn’t one. A large part of ritual purity involved blood. Menstruation involves blood. Blood that is not specifically dedicated to God is unclean– you can’t eat it, you can’t touch it, you can’t take it into the temple in competition with and opposition to the blood used to purify every freaking thing in the temple.

            People try to assign motives for the ritual laws (those things one did to express one’s love for God, as opposed to the justice laws that one followed to express love to neighbor). While certainly the consequence of following the laws may include actual physical benefits (such as avoiding eating pork or improperly cooked or stored meat would avoid many diseases like trichinosis and food poisoning), it’s a mistake to assume that those blessings of following the law were the motives God had in making them.

            God gave ritual importance to blood. Menstruation involves blood. Therefore, in honoring the ritual importance of blood, menstruating women were not allowed in the temple. Women who had given birth and were sloughing off the extra blood the body builds up to support a pregnancy were not allowed in the temple. One followed these laws not because they made sense, not because they gave any tangible benefit, but because God said so.

            That the men and women who observed them experienced tangible blessings for doing so says nothing of God’s motives for requiring them.

          • Matt

            Speaking as someone who experiences those hormones, it makes one’s emotions more intense sometimes, but actually fighting with your family is on you. You argue, not your hormones.

            I imagine it was simply hygiene–even in the modern days, it can simply be hard to keep one’s body clean during one’s period. Imagine not having running water or other things to help!

          • Christy

            Re: “Same thing happened if a man touched a dead body, even if it was his parent and he was burying the body.”

            Which is why the parable of the Good Samaritan, along with the origin of the story’s hero, was particularly powerful: Jesus was challenging the status quo to teach the higher moral imperative which is what this post of John’s was about.

  • John Clemens

    Thank you for this John. The diocese of Georgia will be voting on a revision to a canon that discriminates specifically against lgbt’s pursuing ordination at its convention in February. It goes without saying this canon violates national Episcopal policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but we will need a more nuanced discussion and this helps. I’m certain this case will be brought up along with Church of England’s strange rational for celibacy. God help us for we know not…

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

    Ever wonder how many of those Christians are in the closet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleen.isabell Kathleen M Isabell via Facebook

    There has been much well-written material that contradicts the blind spew that ignorant so-called Christians repeat ad nauseam regarding gay people. Some rest on translation discrepancies; other issues center on contextual matters and still others relate to cultural/societal mores which were important at the time of writing. The summary is that gay people were around back then, it wasn’t a huge deal or else there would have been a lot more written about it, and today we still have gay people. Woo. Really. So we need to get with the program, start using the New Testament and its messages of love and acceptance, and just get on with it. Amen.

  • Linda Rose Ferlito via Facebook

    Totally agree with Kathleen…….GOD LOVES ALL HIS CHILDREN….regardless of who they lay with….. :)

  • DR

    Thankfully this is, more and more, becoming a generational issue. Most Christian kids find the insanity a d cruelty of this interpretation to be ludicrous. This will just be another shame of our church we will have to apologize for unceasingly in a decade or two. My sense or urgency for seeing it happen faster makes it hard to write that but this is not a battle to be won with the baby boomers. Too set in their ways, too scared of being wrong and losing control.

    • Elizabeth

      Thankfully, it is. Gens X and Y will be the last to struggle with this preconceived idea. For most 20-somethings, at least in U.S. metropolitan areas, it’s no longer a question. Good to ‘see’ you, DR.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com Dan Wilkinson

    Thanks for this post and for keeping up the good fight!

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

    I propose we start a pray away the homophobia campaign.

  • Drew Meyer

    Lamont,

    I grew up fundamentalist…I lived that way until I was in my early 30′s…when I finally started to think for myself. I do not believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality and I came to that position using the fundamentalist “logic” that I was taught.

    I finally realized that my hermeneutics prof was correct…you can not extablish any doctrine of scripture with just a few verses. All of the clobber passages amount to less than fifty compared to the 31,000 or so that make up the book.

    The prof also stated that there is ambiguity and that interpretation must allow for that. The text in the English can be read in several ways (those pesky commas!) and that also reflects the orginal languages as well. We simply do not know what several of those greek words mean-therefore any interpretation must reflect that uncertainty as well.

    We were also taught about the law-grace barrier that exists between Malachi and Matthew. Christ summed up the entire law into two succinct commands – then the author of Hebrews spends the entire book “proving” that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law and thus has the right to set it aside (or at least reduce it to a secondary status.)

    For all of these reasons (any many more), I changed my opinion. The faith in the Person stayed the same. I still believe that the original manuscripts were without error and therefore authoritative. I believe that God has supernaturally maintained Scripture to this day-none of the important doctrines have been corrupted and I can trust the book I hold in my hands.

    I went through all of this to show that a person can consider the Bible the final authority and still not believe that being gay is sinful. I used all the fundamenalist teaching and came up with a totally different answer. 2+2 does not have to equal 4!

  • John Doe

    Honestly, I think this article was written with one view point in mind and that was to defend a certain view. Not to say look at the arguments for both sides but to create witty but loose analogies and similes. What makes me question this is that there is no looking for common ground it is just doing the same as it blames “devout” Christians of doing, closed minded and one sided. This article makes great counter points but is much more balanced. http://www.str.org/site/News2?id=5702

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

      Allow me to reply exactly as I did to you on the Unfundamentalist Christians’ Facebook page:

      Um. The claim that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah wanting to commit GANG RAPE has any bearing on loving, committed, consensual same-sex relationships implies that those making the argument do not understand the difference between rape and consensual relationships, which immediately disqualifies anyone so arguing from discussions of morality or ethics.

      The Sodom and Gomorrah story has *no bearing* on the question of the morality of same-sex relationships. People who think it has some bearing need to understand that they come off as creepy, amoral potential rapists who should not be trusted with children, women, or, well, anyone, really.

      So, you know, just stop that. Because it’s really, really skeezy.

      Also, this was not an argument for or against. If you had taken note of the links in the article, you would discover that John has already reviewed the arguments for and against. This was something else, namely a discussion of our duty as Christians to follow Christ’s example by ignoring legalism when it interferes with our ability to show active and unconditional love to others.

      That you followed such an article with a legalistic treatise would indicate you might need to do more active and unconditional loving and less judging and legalistic nitpicking.

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

        Thanks, Lyn.

      • John Doe

        Then I shall rebut a condensed version of mine. For you to call me a potential rapist for having a different view than you epitomizes the fact that you yourself are quite judge mental without knowing anything about me. Shall I return the favor? I thought this was a forum to discuss not accuse. If you have something to discuss I shall respond further but you lady are a nut.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com/ Lyn

          I did not say you were a potential rapist. I said to make such an argument presents you in an absolutely horrible light and that, therefore, you should not do it. Because, you know, of all the things I want people to think when they hear the word “Christian” the phrase “doesn’t understand the difference between rape and consensual sex” is not one I want my fellow Christians promoting.

          So, please, for the love of God, STOP IT.

          • John Doe

            You prose leads me to believe you are quite passionate on this issue and you write with great expression and conviction toward it. So, now that you have gotten that out of your system, care to stop making assumptions as to who I am, act like, and what my argument actually is. Or shall the condemning continue?

          • Elizabeth

            http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=troll . I mean, unless you think, “Honestly, I think this article was written with one view point in mind and that was to defend a certain view,” is such a revelatory statement that it deserves more time.

          • John Doe

            Revelatory…no…am I a troll…no…flamer…more so yes. I think I have nothing more to say on the subject. But the more I am attacked, the more I feel the need to defend and clarify. Because instead of asking if something was my intended message, it was pounced upon and taken as incendiary homophobic rhetoric (FYI not my intent). Commenting on how i found that article in terms of composure the two broached the subject very differently so I was merely taking composure of message not message itself jnto account.

          • Maria

            Revelatory, yes. Prefacing a statement with the word “honestly”, insidiously imputing the blog with false intolerance by using intolerance (thereby making the statement all but “honest”) and then citing an article that viciously achieves the same thing albeit in a total new level of intolerance masking as “study”. An article that, by the way, felt, well, slimy, to say the least.

            Being unable to stop attacking those who try to explain how things are. Being unable to not play the victim when no one agrees in your wrongness. Promulgating incendiary homophobic rhetoric while protesting the obvious intent and the more obvious results.

            Maybe, just maybe, IF not a flaming troll, it might be able to stop itself from posting any longer. To look back upon the history of its postings here and realize the hurtfulness of the words it propagates and the ideas it tries to subjugate.

            Having nothing better to do with one’s life other than going through cyberspace looking for the adulation of the masses by playing the bully.

            It is a sickness.

            I shall pray for you.

          • Christy

            Nobody gets to tell writers how or what to write except their editors and publishers. And since this is a personal, voluntary blog and not a for profit subscription… the editorial policy is pretty much controlled by John, himself, and John…and what the Holy Spirit lays upon his heart to share in the way he has been gifted to share.

            You seem to presume that he should have written a “balanced,” neutral piece. Why is that?

          • John Doe

            Here’s the thing. John expressing himself is a great thing. I applaud it. I was making an observation as to how he wrote it. That style as we all learned groaning up is a good way to write. I just stumbled into here and then did some research of articles written and found that piece up until the end, had a devil’s advocate feel. Looking from both sides rather than one. This is my first time ever posting on the Internet like this and if this is how all blogs go then yeah, I should stop talking because when one expects a discussion and instead gets polite(at times) bashing for having opposing views. UC was succinct and plight making his/her point and was much appreciated. And thank you for asking a question rather than outright condemnation. :)

          • Christy

            Your initial post is correct to a degree: this article was written with one view point in mind and that was to defend a certain view. It was not to look at the arguments from both sides, and, yes, John does the witty.

            John has been writing about this for quite some time now. He has a rather large and dedicated following. Since you said you were new to commenting on blogs, as a matter of course, it’s usually not going to be met with rapturous applause nor even polite discussion when you go to a writer’s blog and suggest maybe they should have written their piece differently. Lyn makes salient points about why when a position is considered inaccurate and unjust it isn’t given airtime (and those articles have been written previously in other posts).

            If you would like to talk about the content rather than the style, I am sure you would have more than a few takers.

          • John Doe

            Thanks christy. Yeah consider initiated. Just imagine if I had been somebody questioning and did not know Christ but was stumbling along and landed here. The lack of forgiveness and open distain and name calling that goes on here. It is no wonder ghandi hit so close to home…”i like your christ but you christians are so unlike your christ”…i did not quote exactly…but A blog that calls people to be open and accepting of everybody yet somebody who may not think the same way gets crucified.

            And finally a couple people are opening up to discussing and actually trying to talk to me like a person and not a skeezy, potential rapist, ungodly jackass of a person.

          • Christy

            Would you like to talk about something else?

          • John Doe

            In the New Testament, I have been seeing Romans being talked about with regard to Lgbt(?) relations, do you know of some different translations to this? From what I’ve read it does not seem too ambiguous.

          • Christy

            You can’t properly read Romans 1 in context without reading Romans 2. As Lyn said above: dislike for “non-reproductive behaviours was pretty strong. Paul actually played on that distaste to rile his readers up about how bad the orgiastic pagan idolaters were, only to gut punch them with Romans 2:1. People who use Romans 1 to judge and condemn others and stop short of chapter 2 miss the whole point of chapter 1.”

            Short answer: Romans 1 in context is about Pagan orgy rituals during worship. It is definitely not about two people in a mutually exclusive loving, committed relationship. Paul mentions all these things as a way of playing on his audience’s piety and dislike for “the others” of their day to say: All these things you find so abhorrent… (and then in 2:1 he turns his audience on their heads) “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

            It’s a treatise against pious judgement of others.

            Here’s a longer answer: http://www.donmburrows.com/2011/10/romans-126-27-clobber-passage-that.html

          • Elizabeth

            I consciously practice a confrontational and cerebral brand of Christianity more thieves in the temple than, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If I misinterpreted your intent, I apologize. Stick around. Christy will teach you a few things.

          • Christy

            Elizabeth has taught me a thingertwo. Don’t write us off yet. We’re a good group.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            Oh, I see. So, like, if John had written a post on how white Christians should make an extra effort to make people of color feel welcome in church and to combat the social injustices of imbedded discrimination that still results in a pay gap between white and people of color, you would feel that he should, instead, have written a more “balanced” piece that dealt with the question of whether people of color *are* actually equal to whites in God’s eyes by linking to an article about the interpreting Noah’s curse on Ham to have cursed people of color to a lesser social position. It all makes so much sense now!

            Yeah, no. Just because there are hurtful, destructive interpretations of biblical texts out there that are or have been held by large swaths of people does not mean John has to “balance” his call for love and inclusiveness with other opinions, like balancing the sweetness of honey with equal parts horse manure.

            Just because people are equal. Just because people have an equal right to hold and express their opinion does not mean all opinions are equal and should be equally presented. In a news article about a solar eclipse, one does not need to feature both an astronomer sharing the science of orbital mechanics and a shaman claiming the sun is actually being devoured by the demon Glug. In a blog post about the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, you don’t need to include the opposing view that all you need to eat is ramen noodles and scurvy is actually a sign of superior health. And when calling for Christians to follow Christ’s example to love and include everyone, one doesn’t need to include harmful, destructive opinions that some people do not deserve God’s love and grace.

            Lgbt people have gotten enough crap from too many Christians. If every Christian for the next fifty years wrote nothing but loving, positive, and inclusive words about lgbt people, it would still not balance the damage that has been done since the time Christianity became the official state religion of Rome and the emperor decided the eunuchs had too much power.

            John does not need to “balance” love with hate.

            We have been debating this stuff for decades now. It’s time to admit the exclusionary and hateful interpretation of the clobber passages was wrong, and move on rather than revisiting the topic ad nauseum, as if injuring our lgbt brothers and sisters again with these sickening comparisons will provide us any more insight than we already have. It is time to bind up the wounds of our lgbt brothers and sisters, and encircle them in a wall of protection against the poisonous barbs of those who would build their fortune on the bodies of these oppressed. To everything there is a season. This is the season to build up, to gather, and to love. There has been enough of the opposite.

          • John Doe

            Sorry lyn but you seem to just want to spew from the soap box. If you must take what i have to say and apply them to obvious nonsequitors to make your point and as out of context as you are taking my words. Which the post ur referring to I feel is quite clear. Then I’m sorry you are not worth talking to anymore. Anybody else that would like to discuss politely please do so.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            No, sorry, you don’t get to excuse posting a link to a hurtful, hateful article equating lgbt people to rapists and then get away with claiming you were only promoting the form of the article and not the message. That is not polite, so you can complain all you want about me being impolite and soap boxing because you’re trying to weasel your way out of owning the harm that the message of the article you posted does to lgbt people. You’ve been told your behaviour is unloving and hurtful. It’s up to you to prayerfully consider what John, Lymis, Maria, Christy, others, and I have said about the harm you’re causing and modify your behaviour in the future.

          • Lymis

            You have a gift for poorly chosen words that reflect a seriously passive aggressive stance.

            Lyn’s points are not non sequiturs, they’re the very point of the whole discussion. And while I won’t dispute your opinion that YOU d0n’t have anything to gain from her posts (mostly since you aren’t reading them), that’s dramatically different from the value of what she has to say and the extreme worth involved in paying attention to it.

            The sun doesn’t go out just because you close your eyes.

            You start with the premise that a balanced discussion of the lives of gay people has to include serious discussion of our inherent evil, vileness, and the fact that God himself might hate us, and you have the nerve to demand “politeness” from others?

            As I said, passive aggression.

          • DR

            I find it kind of shocking that you don’t understand the reaction you’re getting and your victimized “I’m being bullied” after you – proactively – made the decision to promote that rather vile article quite unsettling.

          • DR

            So in other words, you’re being held accountable for your choices of what you’ve posted and instead of dealing with that discomfort, you’re using this as an excuse to avoid it.

          • JanvierNoir

            John Doe,

            As an African-American, I find your approach to a discussion about human rights very revealing as to your privilege as being one who is neither a minority in any sense of the word (race, gender, and so forth)… People who argue from a privileged POV generally shout the same “ideals” when it comes to issues and discussion about race and racism–you know, the ideal that there should be “balanced” discussions and “polite” tones. It seems to me that you can afford to take that approach when the offense, hatred, exclusion, marginalization, etc… is not directed towards you or doesn’t affect you personally.

            It is almost cruel to try and force or temper the anger, passion, and outright offense of the offended just to make others comfortable. Sometimes you might just need to man up and listen to what people have to say without getting all bitchy that they’re not having the discussion in the tone that best suits you. Sometimes you need to listen to what people have to say and identify with their pain and subjugation to a sub-human status by others and try your best to even ponder and consider what it must be like to actually BE them. Sometimes you need to realize that the discomfort you feel in no way compares to the extreme hurt, self-hatred, depression, anger, sadness, and invisibility that the abused feel. If you were able to do that, it would be obvious and your concern wouldn’t be so much about what makes you uncomfortable. You would choose to endure whatever discomfort you felt in order to have the privileged to be invited to share in the pains of others who are very less fortunate than you. Your first directive would be to sympathize and show compassion to the abused, first and foremost.

            As others have tried to best communicate that to you, it seems that you would rather focus on being offended rather than actually taking into serious account what is being said here. At the end of the day, it isn’t about you. It’s about the wounded. Effective discussions dont always need alternative viewpoints to be completely true and relevant. The truth exists and stands on it’s own two feet apart from any view that would challenge it. If the goal is to seek the truth, then the focus isn’t really on how well balanced or polite the discussion is. The focus is on uncovering all the shit around it in order to see it for what it is.

          • JanvierNoir

            In addition, in the future, if you think you want to contribute to or participate with strong viewpoints in discussions this SERIOUS and life-altering for the many involved, you might wanna come in with thicker skin, open ears and a closed mouth and first listen. And when you have listened, listen some more. And when you have listened some more, then maybe consider adding your views. But always first listen. And don’t be so weak. You’ve said some pretty strong things yet you seem weak and feeble as if you can’t take that others are challenging you on the very things you think you know. Interesting…

          • John Doe

            JanvierNoe,

            How do u know who I am and where I come from and what I’ve been thru? Im sorry but Your statement does have validity until you label me with it. Find me something I have typed that has to do with human rights and tell me how I have offended you……if you want to talk about human rights, what is your take on Syria?

          • Maria

            Lynn, your words are beautiful. You are a beautiful person. I want to thank you again and again for your kindness and demonstrations of true christian love. I also wanted to let you know that I am very, very sorry that you have to put up with, well, with “despicable”, all for the sake of truth and love.

            God Bless You!

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            Hey, once you’ve been called a satanist for standing up for lgbt people’s rights and dignity, being accused of being impolite is laughable. Thanks and God bless!

          • JanvierNoir

            Lyn–

            You are amazing. I am learning so much from you! Your daughter is so incredibly blessed to have you as a mother. (yes, I have been reading your blog). Bless you!

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            You posted a “balanced” article that equates lgbt people with rapists as your introduction to yourself and in fact felt so passionate about people’s need to see this “balanced” approach that you posted it both here (as John Doe) and on the Unfundamentalist Christians Facebook page.

            If you wanted us to think you were a loving Christian who was more interested in seeking to love lgbt people as Jesus did, you wouldn’t have introduced yourself to the readers of John’s blog and the members of Unfundamentalist Christians as someone who thought equating lgbt people with rapists was a good, balanced, and loving thought to present.

            And, yes, I am passionate about this because God laid it on my heart 30 years ago to seek his will in this matter, even though I didn’t know anyone (or, at least, know that I knew anyone) who was gay.

            He has taken me on a journey and at the end, my criterion is this– What is the fruit of this teaching?

            The fruit of excluding lgbt people from the kingdom is that 25% of all lgbt teens are kicked out or driven out of their homes; that lgbt people have spent millions of dollars to be electrically shocked and poisoned and isolated and hypnotized and fondled and drugged and denigrated on the sliver of a chance for a “cure” which has made a bunch of charlatans very wealthy and not one lgbt person truly cured; that lgbt people suffer more hate crimes of a more violent nature per capita than any other minority in America by at least a factor of two; that parents of lgbt children have been accused of abuse and neglect and being too cold and being too clingy and just plain being bad parents; that nearly half of all lgbt teens report being assaulted or threatened with assault in school, including by fellow students, teachers, parent volunteers, and school staff; that lgbt teens are six times more likely to give in to the despair and bullying and isolation and spiritual abuse heaped upon them by attempting suicide and are more likely to use more lethal methods to do it; that in over half the states in the US, it is perfectly legal to fire, not hire, or refuse housing to an lgbt person; that people are fleeing the churches in droves and leaving their relationship with God because they have been told they cannot be a Christian and believe that God created lgbt people the way they are and has a plan for them in his kingdom; that in Uganda right now, because of the efforts of several American “Christian” organizations, they are considering a bill that would make “homosexual activity”– which is quite broadly defined– a death penalty offense; that Christianity is now seen as a religion of hatred and exclusion. The fruit of this teaching is death, pain, despair, hatred, and a growing disbelief in the good news of Christ Jesus.

            Jesus called me to love– actively, passionately, unconditionally. None of the fruits of the exclusion of lgbt from the kingdom results in love.

            Therefore, I know from scripture that this is a false teaching and those who preach it are false prophets.

            This is not some interesting intellectual exercise. This is not some neutral debate. People are dying. This message of hate is killing people, it is ruining people, it is hurting people, it is driving people away from the love and grace of my lord Jesus Christ. I am not called to apathy. I am not called to a spirit of timidity.

            So, yes, I am passionate. I don’t apologise for that.

          • Maria

            Wow, Lyn! Thank you. That was beautiful and powerful.

          • John Doe

            What does igbt stand for? I know it from gaming but it had no connotation to people, but a place.

          • James

            it’s LGBTQ

            Lesbian

            Gay

            Bisexual

            Trans (-gendered or -sexual)

            Queer (or Questioning)

          • John Doe

            Gotcha. Thx.

          • Lymis

            And thank you for your passion. It’s well placed, and beautifully expressed.

          • JanvierNoir

            Okay, ummm… (whispers) marry me? But seriously, Lyn, you’re amazing. I really appreciate your words. You are a great teacher!

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            LOL! I think my husband of 25+ years might object… ;)

            But thank you (and Lymis and Maria) for the encouragement!

          • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

            Thanks, Lyn, for your passionate commitment to helping LGBT people. We can’t change the world without the help of people like you.

            And John Doe, please take more care in reading what is written here before you respond. Knee-jerk reactions to what you perceive as personal attacks do nothing to further dialogue. You may have a point to make but you don’t make it by muddying the waters by taking and causing offence.

          • JanvierNoir

            Ha! You’re welcome.

          • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

            The only time I really appreciate trolls is when they bring out a beautiful and moving response like this.

          • Matt

            Thank you, Lyn. Just thank you. I have never heard a straight person get across the pain, the anger, the constant secrecy and fear of being discovered–and without resorting to vicious attacks.

        • Allie

          There really aren’t two sides to this, and there’s no need for a balanced point of view. Gay people are people, therefore you must treat them well, or you are a jackass. It’s that simple. There isn’t another side with any validity that explains why it’s okay to treat people badly.

          • John Doe

            Agreed, to the middle and last point Allie. First is opinion. Later are fact, agreed?

          • Christy

            That sounds like something the “middle ground” people might have tried to finesse at the Galileo trial and in the facebook and blog discussions that followed his recanting the truth so he could live. There weren’t two sides of the story to the Heliocentric theory necessitating a balanced point of view. There were people who adhered to dogma and literalism who ignored reason, rationalism and science in order to cling to cherished notions and convictions about which they felt morally certain who refused to see with new eyes and hear with new ears what was so patently clear right in front of them…

            and there was the scientist who was right.

          • Lymis

            Excuse me? The fact that gay people are people is an opinion!?!?!

            I have some rude remarks for the horse you rode in on.

            If your intention is to say yes, facts are that gay people are people who deserve to be treated well and that there is no side with any validity that explains why it’s okay to treat people badly, but that it is therefore just an opinion that there’s no need to balance the point of view, Well, I question either your logic or your compassion.

          • John Doe

            Apologies I was not clear. Saying that there are not two sides to this is the opinion. The rest is indisputable fact. “Gay people are people, therefore you must treat them well, or you are a jackass. It’s that simple. There isn’t another side with any validity that explains why it’s okay to treat people badly.” There is no side that should treat anybody badly.

          • Lymis

            Then what in the world do you think the other side of the discussion is?

    • Dan(Chicago)

      Every now and then you just have to stand back and chuckle. Here we are in 2013 and we still have people condemning others using a story which ends with a woman being turned into a pillar of salt. (An ending I am guessing was borrowed from other ancient literature, but I haven’t researched this. Anyone?)

      • Lymis

        The story doesn’t end there. It ends with the only virtuous man in two prosperous cities getting drunk off his butt and seduced by his two daughters – the ones God saved while axing Mrs. Lot for turning around – so they could get pregnant, since they believed God had just destroyed all of humanity.

        Apparently, the angels who saved Lot didn’t explain things quite carefully enough…

        • Jill

          It all sounds like a reality tv show found on TLC.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          In, well, not Lot’s defense so much as a stepping back and realizing how different the sexual mores were, we do have to keep in mind that Lot’s daughters grew up in a city where sexual abuse of and non-consensual use of others may have been pretty common and that incestuous relationships were everyday occurrences. I mean, Abraham and Sarah were half-siblings and Abraham sent a servant back to his family to get a wife for Isaac. It’s all pretty skeezy from our perspective, and I have to think the daughters knew it wasn’t right (or they’d have just told their dad, “Hey, we need to continue the human race, just like Noah’s family had to. We’ve got some wine if you don’t think you can do this sober”).

          I also think it’s important to note that none of the “righteous” people in the Bible were anything close to perfect. They were often fearful, selfish, stubborn, impatient people who didn’t listen. To some extent, I find it comforting that God still worked through them and that the Bible writers didn’t try to pretty up their stories and make them epic, perfect heroes. It makes it feel a bit more real and honest.

          • Dan(Chicago)

            “got some wine if you don’t think you can do this sober.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard those words, I’d be a rich man!

          • Elizabeth

            This take on Abraham made my day.

      • Christy

        I don’t know about other literary references, but I once had a Jungian analyst explain it in terms of metaphor: That if one is unable to focus on one’s present and instead returns one’s attention to the past, it is often difficult not to become hardened and bitter…like a pillar of salt.

        • Dan(Chicago)

          I’ve heard this also. Thanks!

  • Jerry

    I don’t totally disagree with you. My reasoning is somewhat different though. I think everyone person born is born with a sinful body simple because it’s flesh. This comes from generations of living on this earth. I believe gay people are born gay. I also believe this is a sin but not anything any different than any other sin. I think we as Christians place a value upon this sin that makes it unbearable for our brothers and sisters to bear.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      See, the problem to me with this thinking is that straight people have love, but gay people get defined only by sex. A gay person can be monogamous, polygamous, celibate, promiscuous, virginal, and so on, just like a straight person. Just like straight people they had the experience in third grade or fifth or seventh or ninth of meeting a person who made them tongue-tied, lightheaded, heart-pounding, palm-sweatingly crazy– their first crush, their first love. Is that sinful? If a gay seven-year-old announces when he grows up he wants to marry Chris Colfer, is that sinful? Why do you insist on focusing on sex and not on the whole relationship package, love and commitment and joy and overlooking the little things and getting angry and making up and holding hands and just looking into the other person’s eyes and waking up and thinking you’re so unbelievably happy with this other person, your other half, your heart-song, that you almost can’t contain it, and, yes, with sex and kissing and touching and sharing in a deep and physical intimacy that is almost mystical? Why is that only for straight people, and gay people only get lust and sex? And why is sexual desire and pleasure within a committed, covenant, consensual relationship so dirty? Do gay people never get to gaze at another and exclaim, like Adam, “At long last! This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”? Why is “It is not right for a person to be alone” — the first thing that God identifies as less-than-good — not true if their soulmate has the same gender? Why is being alone good then? Why is “In Christ there is no male or female,” not taken literally to mean that we don’t worry about gender? And why do people who are privileged to be the sexual majority get to decide what is and isn’t sinful for the minority?

      • Maria

        Can’t help it, just had to say “wow” once again. Thank you so much, Lynn! Beautiful and powerful indeed!

      • Susa

        Exactly! THANK YOU!!

      • JanvierNoir

        My God this is good. VERY good indeed. Thank you, Lyn! I want to tattoo those words on my heart. They mean so much.

      • Robert

        I will have to second the “WOW” for Lynn.. you hit the nail on the head. My feelings for my partner were of love and not of lust. What we shared were all of the little things that straight people shared… candle lit dinners, walks through Central Park, eating breakfast at a cafe, reading each other’s books, discovering his world as he discovered mine. Sex was a part of the relationship… but it was not what the relationship was about… it was about relating to each other as two people.

      • DR

        This is so great.

      • Matt

        WOW Lyn. Perfection indeed.

      • Ric

        This. So well stated. Thank you, Lyn.

    • Lymis

      Unless you believe that heterosexuality is also a sin, your views are warped.

      Gay people are no more nor less sinful than straight people, and being gay is not one of their sins.

      This is like saying that you believe that left-handed people are born left-handed and that it’s a sin, but no more than any other sin. Wrong for so many reasons.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        I’m breathlessly waiting for Jerry to come back and explain that being straight is as much of a sin as being gay.

        I’m not much of an Original Sin subscriber, personally. Being human isn’t a sin: being a dick probably is.

        • Jill

          :)

        • Lymis

          Well said.

        • http://kingmaalbert@hotmail.com Al

          Ha Ha! Thanks for making that distinction, Barnmaven. The whole “Original Sin” concept doesn’t make much sense to me either.

        • Mark

          Hah! Amen!

  • Robert

    Hi John…

    Thanks for the post….

    For me… religion, any religion, can be used as a spiritual tool to bring one closer to God. It can be used to deepen one’s compassion, love and understanding of the world, of the people in the world, of ourselves, of life… it can be used to strengthen our souls… to deepen our laughter… to sooth our sorrows. It can be used to expand our minds… to allow us to fearlessly move forward… to feel less alone… to love… all as the miracle it is.

    Or it can be used to control. To control the faithfull’s fears, to project them on others, to simplify their lives, to ignore the complexity of the world, of people, of themselves. It can be used to shut down questioning minds, to silence thoughtfulness, to reduce God to a thing that is only found in the pages of an old book… and not in the hearts and mind of men. To turn sacred texts into fetish objects… usually not read… often not followed.

    And it can be used to create the illusion of specialness. My religion is the “right” religion and all other religions and ways of life are “wrong”. Having an enemy, an other, creates group cohesion. We are this (and special); they are that (and evil, damned, cursed, etc). All religions have a tendency to do this. It is nothing new… even baseball teams do it.

    And it can also be used as a marketing tool… holding the keys to heaven is a very powerful position to be in… it has build palaces, bought governments and allowed a priestly class to live like princes… this practice continues even today. There are numerous example right here in the United States.

    Many people have a vested interest in propagating the myth that the bible is the literal word of GOD. These same people have a vested interest in condemning Gays and Lesbians, in denying the truth of evolution and in ignoring science. They are being well paid to keep the flames of fear fanned.

    The problem is not that these people can not see the humanity of Gays and Lesbians, the problem is that they are paid a lot of money NOT to see our humanity and to keep up the lie that the bible is a book with no errors. It is how they maintain their power and how they keep the money flowing into their pockets.

    The issue is not about Gay and Lesbians. It is about the maturity of the individual and their church. I have been on the planet for over 50 years… and I long ago stopped equating maturity with age, education, success in business or positions in a church.

    If the church is following a mature path towards God then it doesn’t really need to or want to condemn anyone and will usually open its arms to gay and lesbian parishioners… and all the other stuff falls away.

    If it is about the ego of the minister or “building the church” or bettering the “life style” of the minister… then it is likely a very immature church. There will be lot of “us vs. them”, fear baiting and very little real spiritual growth.

    Life is not black and white… life is complex… the universe is ever expanding and the creator of it all is not trapped in a book written a few thousand years ago. Jesus never said that anyone had to read the bible (it was not written yet), he did not say that anyone had to join a church (they were not formed yet), he only said that we had to know him… and I do… and he would be appalled at the way his name is being used today.

    Thanks

    Always interesting to read your posts… and the comments.

    • Robert

      By the way… it is my understanding that there is absolutely nothing about lesbians in the bible at all… not one word, sentence or passage. So, that must mean, according to the legalistic christians, that lesbian sex and relationships are ok…. right?

      • Allie

        There’s Romans 1:26, which says something God causing women abandoning the natural use of sex to have sex with each other. Apparently since the verse says God did this, God approved of it… (funny how no one draws the obvious conclusion, instead preferring to think that God is the kind of person who prefers to punch himself in the head.)

        For the most part, though, the men in the Bible don’t care enough about what the women get up to to notice that there WERE lesbians. After all, procreation goes on apace whether the woman enjoys it or not.

        • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

          Actually, it doesn’t say they had sex with each other, but merely that they gave up natural relations for those contrary to nature. It’s an assumption of some translations (like the New Living) that this means they were having sex with each other (in parallel to what the men were doing), but it could as easily be that they were indulging in bestiality or “unnatural” heterosexual sex acts (such as using sexual hardware, shall we say, to take the penetrating role on their male partners). That the passage mentions female-female sex acts is an assumption we’ve imposed on the text.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            Also, included in “unnatural” relations would be any sort of m-f anal or oral sex. (I note that the original meaning of the Latin phrase “acting the Lesbian” was actually to provide a man with oral sex.)

          • JanvierNoir

            So maybe in reality, anything other than missionary style hetero sex was out of the question? Then it probably follows that they were a bunch of prudes? IDK. Just wondering though. It really makes you think what was considered “unnatural” in that context. Hmmm…

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            I think anything that didn’t have the possibility of producing children (especially if it involved the spilling of semen) would have been regarded as “against nature” among the Jewish and Christian people of the time period. Keeping in mind that many OT laws were written at a time when they were a ragtag nation headed into hostile territory, it makes a certain amount of sense to promote reproduction. Likewise in the early church they were also facing possible extinction, so reproduction was important, though less so among apocalyptic-believers who expected Christ to return very shortly. Nonetheless, the distaste toward non-reproductive behaviours was pretty strong. Paul actually played on that distaste to rile his readers up about how bad the orgiastic pagan idolaters were, only to gut punch them with Romans 2:1.

            People who use Romans 1 to judge and condemn others and stop short of chapter 2 miss the whole point of chapter 1.

          • Lymis

            Don’t forget, though, that the exact same word that Paul used when describing this “against nature” in terms of this sexual desire that God inflicted on this women was the word Paul used in a positive sense when he talked about splicing a better fruit tree onto old roots – that Christianity itself was an example of being “against nature” as it was grafted onto the roots of Judaism.

            So the concept itself is not a negative thing in Paul’s eyes, merely a description of something that doesn’t happen all by itself. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing still has to be evaluated independently, since he uses the same word for both good things and (presumably) bad things.

            And, the whole idea goes a bit out the window once you realize that just about every species of higher animal, and darn near all of the ones that mate for life, have some members of the species in the wild form same-sex pairs that are otherwise identical to that species’ opposite sex pairs. So some forms of homosexuality are clearly and obviously NOT “against nature” in any sense of the word.

        • Lymis

          I’ve personally always hoped that a significant percentage of Solomon’s wives and concubines were at least bisexual. There’s no way the man had time for anything resembling a healthy relationship with any but a tiny number of them.

          • JanvierNoir

            Lymis,

            I love this. It made me seriously laugh out loud. But it’s so honest.

          • Elizabeth

            This blog makes me so happy.

      • Donald Rappe

        The old testament says nothing noticeable about Lesbians. In Luke we learn that in the night which begins the Day of judgement, two women will be grinding together and will receive different verdicts. This is probably about what we now call Lesbianism.

    • JanvierNoir

      Robert–

      I’ve read your comment more than once. It is very rich in thought and content. Thank you for sharing.

      • robert

        Thanks JanvierNoir

  • Blake

    Preach it Rev!!

  • Jesse Jones

    I just read your blog and what I have read and some of the comments I have been reading infuriated. Please understand find the right Christian stop focusing on the hate filled “Christian” and focus on the ones who love you just as Christ does, As a Christian I have a problem with homosexuality it is truly unnatural to Gods plan. What you have been talking about Jesus healing the cripple on the sabbath is completely not relivent to homosexuality. You are picking and choosing, read the rest of the scripture Jesus goes on to say The Lord Jesus replied to their anger by pointing out, “My Father works on all days to do good works to men and I will follow His example.” I ask you what does this have to do with homosexuality? As a Christian I’m not full of hate for someone that has a same sex attraction. I hate what you DO but I in full love for you. Jesus loves you just as much as He loves me.

    Romans 5: 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    If some one is full of hate toward a person, are they really acting Christ-like? Thank you if you read the whole comment.

    • DR

      You trying to separate what a gay man and/or woman does when they have sex from who they are is like trying to separate a fish from swimming in the water. That’s what makes it a fish. Stop creating gay people in your own image so you can perpetuate the “hate the sin, love the sinner” theology that Does. Not. Work.

    • Stephen Smith

      “Picking and choosing”…?!?! THAT’S what John is doing? I’m sorry. If I tried really hard to agree with you, I would still have only my boyhood memories of the Evangelical Church picking and choosing its sins…the ones that mattered the most, you could say. Smoking, Drinking, Dancing, and, of course frequenting the movie theater. But we’ve progressed, haven’t we? We now have picked the once unspoken hatred of an act and turned it into a spoken, religiously intoned and righteously worded naming of the latest, newest, most despicable SIN of all….and, once again, we have the Bible to stand upon…which makes us right…and the sin only forgivable if entirely rejected and demolished once and for all in the life of the poor, pathetic sinner. Nothing has changed. We are still the righteous few…the sinless ones. Casting stones is our way of declaring that…and PROVING OURSELVES THE MODERN INCARNATION OF THOSE WHO MOCKED JESUS.

      • DR

        Exactly. I’m fascinated by the Christians that give such permission and “grace” when they get divorced one, two, three times and shatter their children and their family in the process. But because somehow, the penis goes into the vagina, that’s all ok and forgiven over and over and over and over and over again while men and women who are in same-sex relationships – devoted to one another ,raising great kids, who stay together for 20-Plus years – are “against God’s plan” and are actively sinning.

        WAKE UP Christians. We are the ones ruining marriage according to scripture by our constant cycle of being cool and forgiving with the sin of divorce. It’s not the gays. You’re fooling yourselves.

        • Jill

          And this is exactly why there are people (believe it or not, we do exist) who have heard the good news, have turned away from it because of the blatant hypocritical adoration of doctrine in the face of the damage it causes, and are criticized and labeled as None and accused of being faithless, amoral. Wait, really? Is that really how faith in Christ works? Because that, I want no part of.

          Some of us have given up trying to find the Christianity of Christ because they tire of wading through the muck that’s in the way. Fortunately I don’t give in so easily.

    • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

      As a non-Christian, I am full of love for you. I don’t hate you, I hate what you BELIEVE. I think it is sick, twisted and depraved and wrong. I think that something that immoral should be illegal, there’s plenty of other religions you can freely choose from so it’s not a restriction of rights.

      I think if you engage in Christianity, you deserve an eternity of torture or pain.

      I say this with love of course. Love the Christian, hate the Christianity.

      • John (not McCain)

        That’s too limiting. A better general rule is love the stupid, hate the stupidity.

      • Donald Rappe

        This is well said.

      • DR

        Wow. That’s a powerful analogy.

    • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

      Wow. What ignorance! How can being a homosexual person be against God’s plan?

      1) The very first thing that is ever described in the Bible as being not good was loneliness.

      2) Jesus himself said that the natural-born eunuch (that was the phrase they used back then to describe gay men, transwomen, and asexual men) should not enter into a heterosexual marriage.

      3) God inspired Paul to write that in Christ there is no male or female, obliterating legalism related to gender.

      4) If God’s plan is that a gay man should not be alone, but that he should not dishonestly enter into a heterosexual marriage, and that we as Christians should not consider gender, then what does that imply to you is God’s plan for gay people?

      I would suggest you stop picking and choosing to focus on the tiny handful of verses that have been taken our of context and/or mistranslated to condemn lgbt people and instead give more attention to the hundreds of commands to love– not just a wishy-washy “feeling” love, but a proactive and sacrificial love where you consider the needs of others, feed and clothe and shelter and care for those in unfortunate circumstances, and stand for justice for the oppressed against those who oppress them. Do the dos, and you won’t have time to worry about don’ts or trying to do God’s job by being judgemental toward others.

      Then maybe people would believe you when you said you loved them, ’cause right now, I don’t see any indication in your screed that you love lgbt people or their allies, beyond your protesting attempts to deflect people from concluding by your words that you are intolerant and judgemental.

      • Darla

        @Lyn: I want to hang out with you!

        That is one of the most insightful expressions on this topic that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I hesitate to call myself Christian in the current climate, and I stopped attending church several years ago. It was because of the points that you make– how can I believe that you love Christ when you cannot follow the standard of behavior He demonstrated according to your own Bible?

        “Do the dos, and you won’t have time to worry about don’ts or trying to do God’s job by being judgmental toward others.” Ever hear of Mike Warnke? I listened to his “Christian” comedy as a teen, and he used a similar phrase, and it always rang true. While he was later proven to be dishonest in his ministry message, his point is still accurate.

        Love. Serve. Care. Support. Encourage. Uplift. If you’re not doing something that improves the quality of another’s life on this planet and call yourself Christian? You’re doing it wrong.

    • Lymis

      Being gay is not something I do. It’s something I am, something that is as true about me as being left-handed is true about lefties, and being female or male is true about women and men.

      Yes, there are some things we can do that make who we are more apparent to those who might not have noticed it otherwise, but I’m as gay eating a pizza with friends as I am when I am making love to my husband.

      Expecting me to either completely cut off my sexual expression and my deep loving connection to another person, or to try to force myself into a sham relationship with a woman would be demanding that I behave unnaturally, against my nature, and in defiance of the capacity for love that God has given me.

      Jesus saves gay people too. But he doesn’t save us from homosexuality, because there’s nothing about being gay (or bi, or trans, for that matter) that requires being saved about, any more than left-handed people require being saved from their left-handedness. (And if you think that’s a silly comparison, look up the origins of the word “sinister.”)

      • Jill

        Wow. Sinister = left-handed = being touched by the devil. How randomly exclusionary that thinking was! It’s zany how paranoic and superstitious people can be.

        But that’s all in the past now, right? We don’t make those kinds of generic assumptions about race, gender, creed, sexuality, eye color, hair, etc anymore. I mean, we’re above that now, right?

    • Robert

      Hi Jesse…

      I understand that you believe that you are able to “Love the sinner; but hate the sin”. I believe that you believe that is possible… and maybe it is… I don’t honestly know what occurs in another person’s heart… or mind…

      What I do know it this… that for me… it is impossible to separate my “gayness” from who I am as a person. Nor can I separate my “male-ness” from me, my “irishness”, my “whiteness”, my “new england-ness”, my artistic ability, my intelligence, my everything… because all of me… every single part of me… informs me of my human-ness.

      So for me… there is no separation between me being gay and me being human… just as there is no separation between your being straight and your human experience. We are all human, we just experience the world in a different manner… and we have more in common that not. We all want love, security, kindness, food in our bellies, a roof over our heads and a family around us.

      Also, I have not had sex in three years, but I am still “gay”. And I know that I am condemned by some people where I work because I am “gay”. I know that many parts of society condemn me for being me… I know this because it all started when I was a kid.

      I was a sissy… I was not great at sports. I was not one of the rough and tumble boys. I was quiet, thoughtful, artistic and preferred cooperation over competition. I excelled at swimming, tennis, running… but did not do well at baseball and football. So, I was considered a “sissy”.

      And I was targeted… by my father, mother, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches and most adults in my life… because I was a sissy…

      I was six.

      I was seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. It went on until I started to fight back… I learnt to punch the bullies in the face, to tell the coach to “F” off and to leave classrooms when the teachers were acting like “A” holes. I learnt not to listen to ministers and priests. I learnt that most adults around me were fools and I was going to have to figure this one out on my own. And I was twelve – thriteen.

      And I had not have sex with anyone.

      So when I hear Christians, even kind hearted ones, say… they love the sinner and not the sin… I think, based on my experience, that it is a load of crap. I think that they have not really opened their eyes much to how the world around them actually is treating kids that are the “sissies” and “tom boys” (which is code for “fags” and “dykes”)… and I believe, that even if they are kind hearted… they are lying to themselves it has nothing to do with the “sin” and everything to do with the “sinner”. For some reason… we frighten lots of straight people. We are not part of the “natural order”… (even though we are)… we are different… and that is unnerving to many.

      But that is not my problem…

      Again… you sound like a nice person. And you sound like you are doing the best you can do… which is all I can really asked… but I am going to ask one more thing… the next time you are at church or near a playground or school… notice how the “sissy boys” are being treated… and then you tell me that that it is all about the “sex/sin”.

      Robert

      • Elizabeth

        Nice one, Robert. Thank you.

      • Jill H

        These are moments when I believe that articulate, intelligently expressed compassion and wisdom like this is changing the world I live in. I cannot imagine how it couldn’t.

      • JanvierNoir

        Robert–

        Thank you for sharing about your experience. It is humbling. I am so sorry you were treated that way. There is nothing like being a child and being a target for the unkindness and hatred from others. I was my father’s target for anger and verbal abuse. When you’re small and no one advocates for you, your life seems meaningless. I am glad you held on; I am glad I held on. Life is so much better when you become strong, bold and self-protective.

      • Darla

        Well-stated, Robert.

        As someone who sometimes joined in those playground assumptions and attacks, I offer my apologies. As someone who previously spouted “love the sinner” bull$h!#, my apologies. I’ve learned better, so I do better. It’s a pleasure to have encountered “You.”

        Darla

    • spinning2heads

      Hi there Jesse,

      I guess you’re new to this site. Please allow me to turn your attention towards some of John Shore’s words on the “love the sinner, hate the sin” and “but it’s unnatural,” both of which you seem to think are loving positions to take.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore/how-is-being-gay-like-glu_b_747071.html

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/09/20/christians-and-the-blood-of-jamey-rodemeyer/

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/04/02/the-best-case-for-the-bible-not-condemning-homosexuality/

      And look, I’m sure you ‘re in earnest. Of course you are. You’re not a bad person, you truly want to be loving and Christ-like. And when your people get attacked, it is hard not to just come to the defense, however unreasonable. But think about it for two seconds. Say I said this to you (going out on a limb that you are a straight guy here):

      “I love you, it’s just that at the very core of your being, you are unnatural. I hate that your head turns to follow beautiful ladies. I hate that you love your wife. I hate that you want to hug her and when you kiss her it grosses me out. And that’s not all. God didn’t make you how you are, and he doesn’t like you either. that’s because at your core, you are unnatural, and bad. And I’m not going to stop telling you all about how unnatural you are. But hey, I love you!”

      Now, would that sound loving to you? Maybe if a stranger said it. Ok, put those words in your pastors mouth. Stings a bit, right? Put those words in your mother’s mouth. Your father’s. Your sister’s. Devastating.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwansitler Dennis Wansitler via Facebook

    the result of some using the bible as a rule book to crreate a human kingdom instead of using the bible to get to know the One whom the bible points to who has kingdom big enough to include to all people

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwansitler Dennis Wansitler via Facebook

    the result of some using the bible as a rule book to crreate a human kingdom instead of using the bible to get to know the One whom the bible points to who has kingdom big enough to include to all people

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwansitler Dennis Wansitler via Facebook

    the result of some using the bible as a rule book to crreate a human kingdom instead of using the bible to get to know the One whom the bible points to who has kingdom big enough to include to all people

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwansitler Dennis Wansitler via Facebook

    the result of some using the bible as a rule book to crreate a human kingdom instead of using the bible to get to know the One whom the bible points to who has kingdom big enough to include to all people

  • Mike

    What command did Jesus break in your claim “he was breaking a monumental and explicit command of the Bible”? Please post the relevant verse.

    Thank you.

    • Lymis

      Seriously?

      I know proof-texting out of context gets to be a habit, but come on. John was explicitly clear which command he was referring to just two paragraphs above your quote – the command not to work on the Sabbath.

      Keep up, will you?

      • Mike

        Can you list the book and verse then please? The Torah has a list of items considered to be work, and “honoring God” is not in the list of forbidden items. Healing is also not in the list of items. Cutting up bulls for sacrifice is not in the list of items – even though butchering bulls for normal food eating IS in the list.

        What I am highlighting is an error in the way most Christians think. Most Christians do not actually understand the Tanakh at all, relegating it to a second class set of books – except when they want to use it to support Jesus being the Messiah or to punish others for doings sins they personally do not do. Yes, there is a prohibition against working on the Sabbath – but what IS work? Even if we go with the most strict interpretation (which is Halakha as it includes things not in the actual Bible) the list does not include performing a healing miracle…or even natural healing.

        I bristle when people spread misinformation about Jesus being a sinner, but I am also realize I could have missed a set of verses, which is why I ask what the “monumental and explicit command of the Bible” is. I doubt something monumental and explicit could be easily overlooked, but such things have happened to all of us from time to time. However, it appears he (or at least you) thinks the Bible has a prohibition against either doing the work of God on the Sabbath or against healing someone one the Sabbath; neither is true. If it is something else, please post the book and verse(s) that show what it is so I can learn.

        • Mike

          An edit – the Mishna contains a list – not the Torah.

          • spinning2heads

            The Torah says not to work on the Sabbath (see Elizabeth’s verse citation). The Mishna lists 36 activities that count as “work. “And the Talmud, a document which was most likely compiled long after Jesus but records a long history of interpretation of the Mishna, including presumably that part of history which included Jesus, lists non-necessary medicine and healing as “work,” under the larger category of “grinding.” I wish I could quote you the passage, but I can’t off the top of my head. However, whether healing a crippled man is non-necessary would I’m sure be a matter of debate, as is basically every other legal decision in the Rabbinic tradition.

            Still, I think that the point here is not that Jesus actually violated a Torah commandment, but that the elders in the story thought he did. And that Jesus knew the elders of the community would think that, and that he still did it. John has, I believe, understood the point of this story, which is that Jesus wasn’t a Rabbinic Jew.

            Of course a story that makes that point would work to create an unsavory view of Rabbinic Judaism, as this does. Whether Rabbinic Judaism actually was, or currently is, as unsavory as depicted is beside the point. The story is polemical, designed to draw lines between two groups of people.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            I’m not sure we can read into this story that rabbinic Judaism is bad, so much as that at Jesus’ time, it had come under the influence of men who were more interested in legalism, appearances of holiness, and power than in true holiness, and that they rightfully saw Jesus as a threat.

            Jesus’ teachings and practices aren’t that far off the mark from Judaism today, for instance. He wore tzitzit, celebrated the feast days (including Chanukah), and often quoted from rabbinic sources as the basis of his teaching.

            While certainly toward the end of his ministry a lot of his encounters with the religious authorities were inimical, I believe it’s a mistake to suppose that all the times they approached him, it was to trick him. Most of the times where he was “tested” they’re simply trying to place him within the rabbinical tradition. Who was his teacher? Was he a Pharisee or a Saducee or a Herodian or something else? Was he in the Hillel or Shammai camp? What sort of reason did he have for taking disciples who were largely rough and uneducated men rather than rabbinical students?

            To their eyes, Jesus looked like a country bumpkin upstart who didn’t have the humility to teach in another rabbi’s name and surrounded himself with poor idiots who didn’t know they were being fooled. So, you know, when you encounter a guy wandering around carrying his mat against sabbath traditions and he says this other guy told him he could, it kinda gets your gander up. And them it turns out to be *that* guy.

            But we can’t forget Jesus had friends within the Pharisees, such as Nicodemas and Joseph of Arimathea. The Pharisees as a sect weren’t bad. They just had a leadership problem.

          • spinning2heads

            Oh, I don’t mean that Rabbinic Judaism is bad. Heck, I’m a Rabbinic Jew myself! I mean that the story, as written, is a polemic which describes differences between Jesus and the Elders of the time, as seen from the point of view of a Jesus follower.

        • Elizabeth

          Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (NAS, Exodus 20:8-11)

          Everyone is supposed to take a day off, as God did. A miracle worker ‘works’ miracles so it was a violation. At least, that was clearly the interpretation of the elders in the Bible. My Aramaic and Hebrew are rusty, but that’s the sticking point for legalists.

        • Darla

          @Mike…

          I fear the fact that you’re even making this point essentially throws you into the “legalism” camp which suggests that you have missed the point entirely– or worse, you are not willing to even have a discussion on the point being made.

          @John Shore– point proven.

          SMH

    • Mark

      I’m with Lymis. John 5:13-18 is pretty clear that it was illegal for Jesus for breaking the Sabbath and asserting his status as the son of God.

      Now, maybe John just made this up – that happened a lot in the Gospels – or perhaps someone else attributed this to “John”. There are plenty of contradictions in the Christian bible.

      Either it was illegal or there was a fallacy in the book of John – take your pick.

  • Donald Rappe

    I like the image of the house of mirrors. And the examples of it found in the comments.

  • Mark

    In this article you contend that Jesus’ message was one of love and reconciliation. Some scholars contend that his central message was a radical political statement against Rome, others contend that he was the son of God and was killed for our sins(!?), other (apparently progressive) Christians contend that he was a great teacher and an example for us all. How does a Christian reconcile these alternatives? (Or do you just pick the one that best resonates with your own beliefs?)

    Not a rhetorical question – I’m earnestly interested.

    • DR

      Why are all of these alternatives mutually exclusive?

      • Mark

        Because the term “central message” seems to indicate that one is more important than the others. If not, it degrades into meaningless pedantry.

        • Christy

          Love and Reconciliation still stand as the central message among all of those non-mutually exclusive alternatives. What’s at the heart of your discontent?

        • DR

          I disagree with that premise. Something can be central without being exclusive. The belief that Jesus is the Son of God is clearly a central tenant of Christianity. That He – as the Son of God – was an active rebel against a corrupt government (evil has always hidden in government) makes sense as a result. He was also a teacher and from many accounts that we use to *know* Him, a good, loving and gentle man. All of those things are facets to this “Jesus, the Christ”.

    • Lymis

      You only have to reconcile them if you feel that they are distinct from one another. Preaching love and reconciliation and a personal relationship with God that allows for diversity, even the diversity of religious tradition, IS a radical political statement when spoken to a people who see their politics through the lens of a rigid and exclusionary religious order. If politics IS religion in the minds of your audience, a radical view of religion IS a radical new form of politics.

      Not everyone who believes that Jesus’s death and resurrection were some sort of punishment for human sin, but even a substitutionary death for the atonement of Adam’s sin that is purely spiritual in nature rather than about human political systems still requires a sinless sacrifice who aligns himself fully with God’s will, or the sacrifice is meaningless. Even if that was the “primary” purpose of the life of Jesus, it follows fairly inevitably that someone who was both sinless and fully aligned with God would not sit idly by when he saw the pain and suffering around him and felt that people need to hear about love and reconciliation, and that his preaching a new form of relationship with God and a new understanding of politics in the world would be inseparable from the fact of his deep understanding of and connection to God.

      It’s somewhat like the story of the blind men and the elephant. You only have to “reconcile” whether an elephant is more like a tree trunk, a snake, or a fan if you aren’t open to all of them being different aspects of something larger and grander than any of its parts. What’s “primary” isn’t a matter of what’s more true, but what’s directly in front of you at the moment.

      It isn’t a betrayal of or denial of any of the other things that Jesus’s life and resurrection may have meant to focus on a particular aspect of it that resonates for you at this point in your life, any more than paying attention to what’s in the road ahead of you is a denial of the geography or population of the rest of the county. That’s just focus. It doesn’t require “reconciliation,” just perspective.

  • Molly Lyons

    Thank you for this loving and compassionate article on a thorny subject.

  • ehzimmerman

    When I’ve made the argument that we ought to try following Jesus’ teachings and his example, the argument I’ve gotten back is that it’s impossible for human beings to be like Jesus because Jesus and God are the same person. That we need Christ to save us from a condition of sin we cannot by any of our own efforts save ourselves from, and that people who think they can improve their character by attempting to follow Jesus’ teaching and examples are fooling themselves and haven’t come to the correct conclusion yet that they need Christ to be saved. It’s so frustrating! In fact, I’ve concluded based on my experience that arguing with fundamentalist Christians is an exercise in futility, since they already have a closed system of thinking in which they are right and I am wrong by judgement of the Bible, which was written by the ultimate authority God. So I sometimes wonder if much of the excellent and insightful analysis such as this article offers is mostly “preaching to the liberal choir.” How on earth can any productive dialogue actually take place between liberals and fundamentalists? That’s a rhetorical question I’ve tried and failed to answer, so far.

    • Jill H

      Some good points, and from my vantage point, a once fundamentalist-trained mind needs this kind of discussion. To break down the artifice and psychological land-mines still left over, and to build a new foundation of Christian belief. For me having spent 12+ years believing all sorts of destructive dogma (‘because being Christian has to draw blood’) and then nearly 20 years finding different ways of saying fuck all, these conversations are vital.

      But I agree– productive dialogue is pretty rare. The fundy has to want a better way of living than the self-sacrificial, overbearing, holier than thou yoke they labor under. I had to want a better way before I was receptive. But you can be the loving person they can’t find in their vengeful, jealous god, and you let go of the outcome. You plant the seed, you back off, and let nature run its course. You live true to who you are as the example, and that makes a vital difference as well.

      • ehzimmerman

        Thanks Jill H, that’s a helpful reply. I agree, I’d do better to try and model the values I believe in, as imperfectly as the results might be, if in fact I actually do believe it’s worth the effort to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. As such, I could focus more on how I treat others and less on reacting defensively to how others (mis)treat me. I could practice relaxing into trust of God, rather than stoke up indignation and worry over those Christians whom I think have been manipulated into supporting crassly hypocritical power politics against their own self-interest (and against the interests of most women, GLBT people, etc.). I ought to look for where I can learn from those I disagree with, and “bless those that curse” me and my ilk, and “love my enemies”…

    • Lymis

      I think it depends on your standards for productive dialogue. If the standard is “based on one conversation, the clarity of my argument will completely change their worldview” I think Don Quixote had a far more realistic thing going with his windmills.

      On the other hand, one thing I’ve found is that a lot of people are carefully taught that the only path to God and the only possible experience of God is through rigid fundamentalist religion, and that everyone else, especially anyone telling them that the tiniest detail of their religion is open to debate, is satanically-inspired, evil, and has no moral compass.

      From the non-fundamentalist perspective, a lot of us see the discussion as the choice between a rigid and closed-minded legalistic view of a judgmental God and a life-affirming, fluid, open-minded relationship with a loving God.

      But I’ve found that it helps to remember that for many of the people on the other side of the debate, that’s not the choice they see. What they see is the choice between recognizing the reality that God exists and a complete denial that there is a God at all. Given that choice, they’ll hold onto their beliefs like it’s the only wreckage from a sinking ship that can keep them from a horrible death by drowning, while some of us can see they’re in five feet of water ten feet from shore.

      Rather than trying to convince them, I try my best to model for them that they have other options. That they don’t have to deny God to let go of the fundamentalism that they are clinging to, and that their beliefs aren’t the monolith they think they are – they can let go of this or that (like being homophobic) while still holding on to other parts that still work (like loving your neighbor.)

      It’s not my job to convince them of anything. It’s my job to be that light on a hill and that salt in their underwear. Or something.

      • Maria

        “It’s my job to be ….. that salt in their underwear. ”

        That ought to get their attention! 8-o

        lol

  • Humanist

    Subject: Same Sex Marriage

    Dear Honorable Madam, Sir,,

    Invoking the English CommonSense, I pray that rationality and sanity may prevail in matters of Sex & Marriage Laws:

    AS different organs of human body have evolved over millions of years for particular functions called Natural Function of such organs, the male homosexuality through abuse of anus for sexual intercourse is un-natural; so is the Male Same Sex Marriage, and should not be allowed or legalized.

    Female vagina is naturally evolved for sex, it’s walls are resistant to sexual trauma and entry of diseases like AIDS/STDs. while human anal canal is not evolved for sex, its walls are not resistant to sexual trauma or diseases rather it is full of potential disease producing feces; in the same way bisexuality (use of bot vaginal and anal routes for sexual intercourse) also leads to spread of AIDS/STDs amongst the unsuspecting male and female partners of the bisexuals. Anal sex produces functional and/or structural damage to anal sphincters leading sooner or later to partial loss of control of smelly gasses & consequent loss of inherent human dignity. Moreover, sodomy-rape (homosexuality) was used by the Christian Nazis as weapon of war and repression against Jews, Gypsies and Germans alike, as had been used by the Roman & Christian monks and soldiers in ancient and medieval times and by the colonizing Christian missionarries, monks and soldiers in their colonies, in their attempts to break the souls of brave rebellious men by turning them into feminine-males, a technique later used by the Christian Nazis in Europe. Similarly homosexuality with minors is used by the pedophile-sodomite priests and Jesuits teachers (well protected by the Vatican and the Pope who impose their anti-natural-sexual fascism by denying the priests, monks and nuns their right to engage in the normal and natural sexuality as between man and woman, thus forcing them to un-natural gratification through homosexuality, sodomy-pedophilia and sexual abuse of Nuns): Up to 40% Catholic priests are homosexual while in Jesuits the percentage is higher, 10-20% Catholic priests and Jesuits are pedophile-sodomites in Ireland ; in Europe up to 10% children are victims of sodomy mostly the Catholic priests, Christian Jesuit and by the Islamic mullahs in the Islamic countries.

    Moreover, male homosexuality is totally against the female right of sexual orgasm which is only possible through the voluntary and adult frontal sexual intercourse between a male and a female, which if desired, may lead to pregnancy. While if majority of males of a race are conditioned, trained and convinced/allowed to engage in homosexuality and start sexing behind one another, it will be a cause of slow genocide of the race.

    As to the sexual choice : Usually the victims of pedophile-sodomy later become homosexuals and same sex marriage practitioners, therefore it is not a real choice : As the children victims are conditioned and trained into homosexuality by the pedophile priests and Jesuit teachers and this is the only sexuality they know of so no question of choice. Moreover there are biological limits to choice in matters of human body organs : One cannot choose to drink coffee through nose, or eat dinner through the ears or sneeze through the eyes, one’s choices are limited according to the biological structure and functions of different organs, the same is true of sexual intercourse and sex organs.

    Human Rights : Human rights are for individuals, family, community, society and the nation, therefore the application of these rights needs to be balanced : while each individual had the basic fundamental rights, he/she ordinarily has no right to abuse these rights of functionally or structurally harming other person’s bodies with or without their consent : An individual’s right of sexual route involving an organ not naturally evolved for sex, the anus – a reservoir of feces and filthy gasses ; a sexual act which functionally or structurally damages anal sphincter ; making the persons involved 10-40 times more prone to get infected and spread AIDS/STDs in the community ; thus causing increased morbidity and mortality, putting heavy burden on society and the state health services, is not really a genuine right, neither for individuals involved, nor for the family, community or the society. Any marriage based on such relationship is not only offensive but extremely dangerous for the individuals involved but also for the family, community and the nation.

    However, in the present multinational, multicultural and industrial environment often with long distance employments and afamily estrangement, one may be enabled to have a legal social union, to declare a friend as his/her next of kin ; and appoint, such a friend in one’s will.

    Words carry not only literal meanings, but also definitions, concepts and values as well as cultutral, social expressions, it is therefore necessary to keep this word « Marriage » for the customry meaning of [voluntary] union of an [adult] female and male, as all our literature, of Shakespear, Goethe and other great men of letters, the law reports, Parliamentary proceedings, our history, philosophy, linguistics and all other disciplines use the meanings of words in their custory meanings, and any change will only create intellectual chaos, uncertainty, ambiguity and confusion. If the custory meaning of the word Marriage is allowed to be arbitrary changed, then no word will be able to keep their meaning-an intellectual disaster. Moreover, nobody can restrict the abuse of word Marriage for the unethical socio-sexual union: polygamy, incest or the sexual relations/marriage with animals.

    It is of interest that Art 16 UN Human Rights Declaration defines marriage as between male & female.

    Humaniste international

    Switzerland

    (Detailed deliberations available)

    ——–.

    • Lymis

      Oh, good God.

      • You can’t declare that an organ evolved “for” one purpose and “against” another purpose if it works just fine for both. Anal sex feels wonderful when you do it right, so clearly, by your premise, it’s one of the purposes of the organs involved. And you can’t unilaterally declare that a specific organ only has one purpose – one presumes you urinate through your penis (or know someone who does.) If the penis can be used for sexual activity and waste elimination, you can hardly declare that unnatural.

      • See above. Anal sex only results in damage if you do it wrong. Please allow the people who are bright enough not to hurt themselves to engage in private adult consensual behavior. Anal sex also doesn’t result in disease unless disease is present – and it is far LESS likely to be present in the context of a committed marital relationship than in casual ones. Supporting marriage is supporting disease reduction.

      • Anal sex does not “inevitably” result in incontinence.

      • Rape has always been one of the horrors of war. You’re not demanding the end of heterosexual marriage because male soldiers routinely raped women. Loving intimate acts between consenting adults are not the same as torture, terror and assault, regardless of who’s committing them.

      • You can relax about the end of the human race. Homosexuality is not going to take over as the majority activity, and even if it were to do so, gay people are still fertile and often interested in having kids. Marriage, and support for our families, will only increase that interest in procreating.

      • Women have a right to orgasm? This is news. You’re saying that gay men are obligated to provide straight women with orgasms? That’s unhinged. Are lesbian women allowed to give each other those mandatory orgasms?

      You have issues beyond the scope of this website.

    • Jill

      The great wall of noise, and yet all I hear is futility.

      • Lymis

        Is “futility” what the kids are calling it these days? I’d use something a bit more… colorful.

        Don’t you love the claim that language hasn’t changed since Shakespeare or Goethe? (Not to mention the huge changes in civil marriage since their time.)

        • Jill

          I’d have used something more colorful as well, but I grew exhausted and gave up. I must be out of shape…

          What’s not to love about quantity (not quality) drivel like that?

          • Matt

            Man, someone does NOT know their female anatomy up there. Not their most grievous issue, but come ON!

          • Lymis

            To be clear, they’re pretty iffy on male anatomy, too.

    • Robert

      WOW… there really is no reason to respond to this post… reminds me of the una-bombers manifesto.

    • DR

      Internet Rule # 47:

      The longer the comment, the crazier the commenter.

  • Maria

    I was going to state that it is sad to note how “humanism” seems to have devolved into the same cesspool of philosophy as “Nazi-Christianity” (as evidenced by the ugly and baseless rantings of int swiss humanists, whatever that is). Then I figured, just as Christianity has to suffer with pseudo-christianity detritus like phelps, so must mainstream humanists have to put up with the maniacal ravings of a few pseudo-humanists as demonstrated below. Poor things!

    Meanwhile we can but pray for these poor misguided souls so that their irrational hatred for their fellow human beings, whether straight or not, might be replaced with true love for each other. And let’s make no mistake, denying same-sex individuals the same access to a loving relationship is nothing but irrational hate-mongering.

    • Maria

      Wanted to add, in the spirit of the blog, that there likely are several hall of mirrors out there, each containing it’s own variety of deluded individuals who “spend their hours rapturously gazing at distorted images of themselves”

    • Lymis

      Honestly, I’ve never seen a self-identified secular humanist spout this sort of drivel. Maybe the anti-gay bigots among them get shouted down by religiously motivated anti-gay bigots, but in my experience, its pretty rare.

      And, frankly, generally associated with being in the closet and desperately terrified to act on one’s same-sex urges. Most healthy and secure straight people don’t obsess about gay people’s anuses. Heck, most gay people don’t obsess about anuses to that degree.

      • Jill

        Exactly, which is why arguments that require the mention of the anus (singular or plural) isn’t really worth the spent energy to refute and highly likely not going to elicit any benefit. Just sayin.

        • Lymis

          Sometimes the benefit is simply not sitting idly by when people pee on your relationship. I never for a moment felt it might win him over, but a little piece of your soul can die when you let them spew this sort of fertilizer without comment.

          The kind of mind capable of even thinking that way is, in my experience, firmly prepared to feel that if no one argues, they’ve convinced everyone. Ever sat in a room when someone tells a grotesquely racist, misogynist, or homophobic joke and no one says anything? Compared to the energy when someone says, “Hey, not cool”?

          He came here and metaphorically crapped on our rug.

          Not cool.

          • Jill

            No disagreement here, and I’m not critizing your efforts or intent. You are what keeps this discussion honest. Always.

            I wasn’t clear– what I meant was that the maturity level obviously isn’t there to hear your artful argument. Unfortunately. But you knew that.

  • Lymis

    And Tennant used to play Doctor Who.

    • Jill

      Neil Tennant is one half of Pet Shop Boys.

      • Lymis

        True.

        • Jill

          No, that’s Spandau Ballet.
          ;)