Anti-Gay Christians: What’s in Your Wallet?

moneyvisionThe reason conservative Christians invariably give for asserting that homosexuality is an egregious sin against God is that the Bible says it’s so.

“God said it, I believe it!” is the conservative Christian’s credo.

The question that raises in my mind is this: If you’re going to look to the Bible generally, and to the words of Jesus specifically, for guidance and direction on how to live your life, then don’t you need to very assiduously attend to the actual words of Jesus? Especially when he’s perfectly clear on a particular issue (which, let’s face it, doesn’t happen nearly as often as we Christians are wont to pretend that it does)?

If you’re trying to live your life in obedience to Christ, then you’re all about anything Christ actually says, right?

Christ said it; you believe it. If you’re a Christian, that’s your deal. And if you’re a conservative Christian, you most certainly look to Jesus for critical input about anything in your life that’s especially important to you.

Like money, for instance. Talk about a core life concern, right? Who doesn’t care a lot about their money?

Here is what Jesus the Christ said about money:

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” (Luke 12:33)

“You cannot serve God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25)

Nowhere in the Bible is Jesus more clear about anything than he is about money. Talk about slamming shut the door on the wiggle room. And that’s not the mortal Paul giving financial advice, either. That’s Jesus doing that. That’s the very God of Gods, being as clear as language allows him to be. Which is very, very clear.

I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid the conclusion that there is something profoundly wrong with any Christian who is not voluntarily as poor as the proverbial church mouse pointing to the Bible as justification for the condemnation of gay people.

How can any self-respecting Christian take literally what Paul said about homosexuality, and at the same time ignore or seriously waffle on what Jesus Christ himself—who never said a single word about homosexuality—said about money?

 


I will be including this essay in the upcoming revised edition of my book UNFAIR. As you may know, I’m asking readers to help me proofread such essays. If you would, please leave any mistake you find in the text above—spelling, punctuation, syntax, anything at all—as a comment below. (Once I’ve incorporated your suggested changes into the text itself I may delete your comment, by way of keeping a clean pathway for those wishing to comment on the post itself. Thanks for understanding. And thanks so much for your help!)

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About John Shore

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

  • Lymis

    I have mixed feelings about the first quote.

    Given that the conservative Christian condemnation of homosexuality is almost entirely a matter of proof-texting out of any relationship to context, it probably does belong here – since the issue I have with it is entirely about its context. If one is willing to take condemnations of gang rape, ritual impurity, forced prostitution and sexual idolatry as reasons to condemn loving gay couples, then you have to be willing to stand by this quote.

    At the same time, in context, it’s Jesus’s specific response to a particular rich person, not a broad exhortation to all wealthy people, It was an invitation to one person to be come an apostle, and shouldn’t be considered a command to all rich people any more than taking Peter and Andrew counts as a Divine command to dismantle the fishing industry.

    But then, that’s exactly the point of the essay – that people are willing to consider context with regards money, and bacon, and marrying one’s rapist, but not about loving gay relationships.

    Also, doesn’t the story of Jesus getting testy with the moneylenders in the temple belong in this piece somewhere?

    • Tim

      I broadly agree, Lymis, except for this one little thing: this was the measure by which Jesus seems to have measured every rich person he encountered. See Matthew, Zacchaeus

      • Lymis

        I think it’s clear he encountered a whole bunch of other rich people without asking them to sell everything. Joseph of Arimathea and the wealthy women like Susannah who bankrolled the operation, among them.

    • DrewTwoFish

      I guess I’m lucky that I’m almost beyond caring what the bible has to say about anything anymore though it’s pretty late in the game for me. I’m not sure how it is that treating the Bible seriously and following Jesus’ example to the best of one’s ability became synonymous with slavishly clinging to every syllable. It’s awful to think how many millions of lives have been destroyed by the biblism.

      • Lymis

        I don’t disagree at all, but this is a discussion thread about Bible quotes about money, so it seems appropriate to discuss them. Please don’t assume that anyone who happens to be informed about the contents of the Bible must automatically be “slavishly clinging to every syllable.”

        sigh

        And a few discussions ago I was being accused of being a heretic because I didn’t believe every word of every text.

        • DrewTwoFish

          Hi Lymis,

          My apologies. My comment wasn’t directed at you or anyone in particular in this discussion but why would you think otherwise? My bad. Sometimes my buttons get pushed and I just sputter, sometimes inappropriately. Sorry that you got some on ya.

          • Lymis

            No problem. Thanks.

    • Allie

      I would mention also Jesus’s response to Mary Magdalen washing his feet with expensive ointment, which Judas said she should have sold for the benefit of the poor. “The poor you will always have with you…”

      Not as cut-and-dried as John indicates here. Still, it’s pretty darned clear not just in the words of Jesus but in the OT as well that making as much money as the market will bear is not acceptable to God.

  • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

    I feel like I would expand on this a little more. It’s a good start, but I would take it further. Talk about how if you have two coats one belongs to the poor. Talk about how there are people going without the very barest of necessities while our churches install movie theatre seating and have enormous fountains in their lobbies. Be specific.

    Unless of course your point isn’t to actually inspire social action, but instead to point out what hypocrites most conservative Christians are.. .

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Keshia! You might want to check out John’s “Ten Ways Christians Fail to be Christian” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/05/04/ten-ways-christians-tend-to-fail/; also available in book and Kindle form.) It’s the post that shot him to the top on Google News and introduced him to a wider audience, myself included. Christians and money are #1. (Although my personal favorite is, “The heathen class has just about all the good music. We might as well invite a few of them to our next party.”)

  • Scott Amundsen

    And don’t forget “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Meaning stop bitching, pay your taxes, and don’t mix religion and politics.

    And they say He was not a liberal.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    I’ve known pastors who worked full time at a outside job plus pastored a church just to feed his game family. The congregation gave him a small stipend and an aging parsonage to live in. I also know one who told his congregation that god had told him he needed a new house…. and they built him one!

  • SurveyPastor

    ““God said it, I believe it!” is the conservative Christian’s credo.” Never mind the fact that God actually didn’t say anything in the Bible, he was “reported” to have said a few things, and the credit for Christ’s existance is generally accepted to be due to his divine impregnation of Mary, but in the end, every word in the Bible was written by man’s hand. If in defense we want to do the divinely inspired routine, what happened to make divine inspiration stop with the Bible?

    OK, now that one of my personal rants is over, good idea for group input and discussion…

    since I had the brainfart on the input, DrewTwoFish and biblism strike a responsive chord with me…to continue to quote and mope over this verse and that is like continuing to read, study and memorize the menu in your favorite restaurant…

    instead of eating the meal…

    life is the meal…

    the Bible is just a part of the menu, and to me, a small part at that.

    • Jeff Lee

      It is a pleasure to hear this metaphor. The menu, indeed. Let us please stop referring to this Word of Man as the “Word of God.” And let us please stop being obsessed with cherry picking the parts of a book that justify my hates and fears when He tried to teach us, instead, to forgive and to Love! And let us refrain from using the n.t. as Jesus’ contemporaries used the o.t. They even created 505 laws and their entire religion was about the interpretations of the interpretations, and again and again He said that none of it matters, only the spirit of it matters and that the only authority you need is the Holy Spirit. Let us get back to eating the meal, and preferably without a menu!

      • SurveyPastor

        EXACTLY!

        Thanks Jeff, glad I could help your pleasure centers without exposure or chemical additives :)

    • Luke

      Love it!

  • de la Nae

    The Bible is a wonderful tool, I think. But, I also think we sometimes seem to have far too easy a time confusing a book with God.

    • Jeff Lee

      Well said! Thank you so very much for sharing this truth so succinctly.

    • Jill

      Absolutely, and I’m going to shamelessly quote one of the best comments ever written out here by Soulmentor, an astonishingly eloquent regular. It’s a comment I re-read because it is chock full of yummy goodness.

      “God is NOT the Bible. God is LOVE. That’s so simple, so much easier and makes life so much better all around. I think that’s what Jesus tried to show us.”

      The whole comment (definitely worth the look) is found:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/08/06/10-secrets-to-life-drag-queens-know-that-even-yoda-hasnt-figured-out-yet/comment-page-1/#comment-165782

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

        Thank you Jill. You made me click back to it to see what you are talking about. It’s kinda good if I do say so. I can’t remember if I saved it so I’m gonna do that. Thanks for the reminder and God bless you.

  • LovingJesus

    It saddens me to read these comments concerning Jesus, money and homosexuality. First Jesus IS the Living Son of God which most agree with. Second there is more to the Bible then just black or red ink written on paper. Do you ever get the Greek and Hebrew of the words looking for the message and the Spiritual message on any and all topics but since it money I will stick to that. The rich man who was told to go and sell all he had put more faith in in bank roll then he did in serving Christ. If you have money ok but if you can not part with it in help others, individuals or mission or what ever way God leads you to help with then yes money is dominating you and not the love of God. Zacchaeus did not give away all his money but he gave back that which he (my word) stole, by collecting more taxes that was actually owed and pocketing it. Joseph of Arimathea, was rich and so was Nicodemus a believe Pharisee even though at first he believed in secret. By the time Jesus was crucified they both where open followers in that they are the ones who buried Jesus. So yes one can be rich in money and still follow Christ. Doesn’t the Bible also given and it will be given back to you. Whether you give in money or time or any other worldly goods it will be given back in some form if not on earth surely in heaven.

    As for as homosexuality goes God plainly states in various books of both the old and new testament (my words) any sin apart of one woman and one man in marriage is sin in Gods eyes. That includes Homosexual, adultery, fornication, sodomy, rape, incest, masturbation and the list could go on and on. The problem is we as mere humans put degrees of wrong on sin. For example we will shout devil people who are homosexual but will greet open arms those who commit adultery and problem those who shout the loudest are probably guilty of adultery or some other sex sin.

    I firmly in loving everyone with the love of Jesus. He said If I (Jesus) be lifted up I will draw all mankind (my word) unto Myself. That happened first on Calvary and secondly it is what should be done daily by those of use who are believers of the Most High God, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ being led by the Holy Spirit. In doing so we will not be so focused on other sins and will instead be a beacon of hope and love to all who are broken by the burden of this fallen world regardless of whatever sin they are plagued with be it sexual, greed, or the myriad of other forms of sin running rampant here. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:34-35 NKJV

    • Scott Amundsen

      Spare me your sadness; you just can’t STAND the fact that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. I have met your kind before. And the Bible was written by MEN, NOT by God.

      So quit using a flawed book written by humans thousands of years ago to justify the fact that you think LGBT persons are “icky.”

      • LovingJesus

        Scott that is where you are mistaken, I do not think “LGBT persons are icky” I have very dear friends and loved ones who are LGBT and they know I care about them and love them but they also know where I personally stand on the subject with my belief in Christ. They also appreciate the fact unlike other “religious” folks in their lives I don’t try to cram down their throats the religious dogma on the sin of homosexuality. I am a vessel for Jesus to love them and anyone God brings across my path. In fact what angers me more is the so called preachiness of the religious dogma that has turned so many people off from a relationship with Jesus. He is my partner, my confident, He is my heart song. Yes I love the Lord my God! I do not know how I could have gone through the things I have with out Him. Life with Christ doesn’t mean easy street in fact He said there will be trouble, tribulation and persecutions. But He also promised “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 KNJV All I can tell you or anyone is that Jesus loves you so much that He gave his life for you and the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead 3 days later giving us our first Easter is at work to day shedding abroad the love of Christ to all who will come to Him. You see Jesus did not come to condemn the world that the world through Him might be saved. Again back to the book of John this time chapter 3 starting in versa 16

        “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” unfortunately people stop there if they continue they see Jesus also say “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemn already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come into the light, that his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” John 3 17-21 NKJ V

        So by this passage it doesn’t matter if your LBGT or not what keeps a person out of heaven is the rejection of Christ Himself. If someone who is a LBGT believes in Christ and ask Christ to come into their hearts they aren’t going to get a hard look from Jesus saying Me forgive you are you kidding look at the sexual live style you have lived.

        No instead He would open His arms and say welcome to the family. We erroneous believe we have to get our lives in order before we can go to Jesus for salvation. But Jesus loves us in our sins that why He came to die for us because only He can provide the holiness that will grant us a presence before God the Father and Creator of all things. When a person gets the realization of that fact they will fall so deeply in love with Christ and Christ will lead them out of what He sees as unholy (sin) in that person life. I am not to judge nor condemn but I am to love and point people in the direction to the love of Christ. But can’t make a person believe, and Jesus will not force a person to believe. Salvation is a gift. If you or anyone who reads this doesn’t know Christ as their person savior I hope you will check Him out and see He is good and will come to know Him and develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

        • anakin mcfly

          Hi. I’m 24 years old, a virgin, have never been in a romantic, relationship, and have never even done so much as exchange loving glances with another person in a non-platonic matter. I’m also gay, and would like you to explain what this sinful ‘sexual life style’ you speak of actually refers to, because if I do indeed have a sexual life style, sinful or otherwise, I’d like to be informed of where it’s been hiding all this while.

          Thank you.

          • Elizabeth

            Hi anakin. I hope you do find a fulfilling, loving relationship one day. I wouldn’t fret over anyone who says ignorant things like “I have very dear friends and loved ones who are LGBT and they know I care about them and love them but they also know where I personally stand on the subject” or “sexual live style”.

          • Grace

            And I’m a 23 year old, straight female who is unmarried but not a virgin. I wonder which of us would be judged more harshly by many in the church? If the answer is you, then that certainly seems unfair.

          • Scott Amundsen

            Grace, I do like the way you think!

        • Scott Amundsen

          “I have very dear friends and loved ones who are LGBT and they know I care about them and love them…”

          If I had a nickel for every time one of your ilk proclaimed how much they “love” their gay friends and loved ones, I could have retired years ago to a nice little condo in Key West and while away my days lounging by the pool and sipping frozen margaritas.

          I’ll just BET these people whom you claim to “love and care about” so much really feel your love, especially every time you feel the urge to remind them that they are going to hell.

          • LovingJesus

            Scott, It sounds to me that you have had some bad experience with people and probably family who in the name of Jesus has pushed you to change or go to hell on you so much. But please don’t transfer that to everyone who follows after Jesus. I have never told any of me LBGT friends they were hell bound. I will give you an example of how I have treated one specific friend I met in a rehab facility I went to after I broke my leg in an auto accident. Every night he would talk with his boyfriend. The next day, not every day, if he would mention his boyfriend I would ask how he was doing? I would ask sometimes when he hadn’t mentioned him in several days. Also when they broke up I hurt for him knowing the pain he was going through. I never said anything remotely like well you need to dump the feelings toward other men and start loving women. In this friends style his personality and dress was reminiscent of Nathan Lanes character in the “Bird Cage” yes that is stereotypical and not the norm. Where as a couple of the Nurses Aides were lesbians one carried herself with the manly look but because I have had lady friends who were tomboys and straight I did not automatically assume she was gay until I met her partner who worked another shift and she and another aid who was with her while in my room said something in reference to her being gay I ask surprised your gay and she said yes and said her partner was the other lady from the other shift. I said I thought she might be but wasn’t assuming anything. I never had any problems having them help me and I never went preachy on them “repent of your ‘evil’ ways or go to hail”. Yes there are folks that would and do go all holier than thou. People who do that do not generally have an understanding of the true love of God nor the freedom in being in a relationship with Jesus. I would rather be surrounded by a room of people who do not know Jesus’ love than I would being with 1 person who can’t see beyond their religious dogma and try to force everyone to bend to their view. Jesus is love, He alone can show me what in myself that he wants changed to bring me inline to the perfect will and plan He has for me. I am not perfect and sometimes I don’t listen to Jesus’ prodding, the good thing is He does not give up on me. He is that way with everyone. If a religious person would become teachable they then would learn of the great love and freedom we have in Christ and they will stop trying to bend and break those around them to fit in their narrow view of the Bible and of Christ love.

            To me people who are full of religious dogma trying to demand people to break and form into their ideology of Christianity or not much different then the Al-Qaida sect of the Muslim faith. Not all Muslim are Al-Qaida terrorist; and all Christians are not Religious terrorist.

          • DR

            Your mistake is thinking that your current thinking is not as dangerous as a terrorist. Truly. I’m not saying that because I’m angry with you or because I’m trying to hurt you it’s because I’ve been where you are. You have a choice here to either continue to cling to the impact you *want* to have and that you *believe* you have because you’ve got a few gay friends in your life or you can listen to the people here tell you the truth about how your theology impacts them. But decide quickly, gay kids are the #1 group of teens to commit suicide. We have blood on our hands as a church and there are a lot of us who are getting weary of those of you who would offer this theology in the name of God. We’re not allowing you to speak on behalf of what God says on this matter any longer, our priority is protecting the GLBT community from the destructive influence your beliefs have. I’m not being mean to you – I’m really not, though I know you’re going to receive this as though you’re being attacked. This is not about you, or your feelings. It is the emotional and physical survival of this community that is the priority.

          • Gordon

            It is a complete waste of time and energy to argue with someone who believes two things: One, that being gay is a choice. And two, that being gay is a sin. I’ve said this before and I have a feeling I’ll be saying it for the rest of my life, but how can we possibly have a meeting of the minds when we are starting from a standpoint of such profound mutual disrespect?

            Sexuality is a genetic trait. It is no more a choice than the color of your eyes or which hand you use to sign your name. But you CHOOSE not to believe this. Now THAT is a lifestyle choice my friend! And that choice earns you my contempt and lack of respect. And it is your loss, because I’m awesome! And so are my brothers and sisters.

          • Jill

            Everything you said is absolute perfection, Gordon. I want a neon arrow pointing to your comment. I want to put it on a bumper sticker or cross-stitch it on a pillow…something!

          • DR

            Thank you for reminding me this is a black hole of time and energy.

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

            DR! Don’t leave us again!

          • Allie

            With respect, the one thing we know for certain is that sexuality is NOT solely a genetic trait. There are identical twins, one gay, one straight, which proves this, since identical twins have identical genetics.

            However, identical twins are more likely to have the same sexuality than fraternal twins, which would indicate that sexuality has a genetic COMPONENT.

            Best research at the moment indicates sexuality is a trait determined in the womb, where several other traits are also determined, such as (in humans) handedness, finger length, and the direction of cowlicks. None of these three examples are particularly striking, but in other animals such as horses, markings are determined in the womb, during fetal development. I find that a particularly good example, because a horse’s markings are determined by a combination of genetics and development. Clone a spotted horse, and you will get a spotted horse, but with the spots in a completely different pattern.

            Yet no one would claim a horse got to pick the arrangements of its spots.

            This is way too complicated a technical explanation for most bigots to understand, but the problem is that bigots hear “it’s not genetic” and leap from that to “it’s a choice.” It is not genetic (at least not solely) AND it is not a choice. Those are not the two options.

          • Gordon

            And BAM! I just got smarter. Thanks!

          • vj

            “Yet no one would claim a horse got to pick the arrangements of its spots.”

            This is a phrase that I can definitely see coming in handy in all sorts of situations ;-) – what a great way of illustrating the difference between ‘innate & variable characteristics’ and ‘choice’…

          • Lymis

            New meaning to “a leopard can’t change its spots!”

          • Scott Amundsen

            Quit trying to psychoanalyze me; you don’t have the equipment for it and it is an unwelcome invasion besides. And don’t try to convince me how loving you are towards the LGBT persons in your life; I don’t believe you and it sounds to me like you’re trying to convince yourself, not me.

          • Gordon

            It would be fascinating to actually talk to LovingJesus’s LGBT friends, wouldn’t it? What a load of crap.

          • Scott Amundsen

            I could probably predict what they would say verbatim, but I shall not use that sort of language on this forum out of respect to John.

          • Allie

            I’ve been researching antebellum accounts of plantation life recently, and all the plantation owners insist they were very loving towards the slaves in their life, and that their slaves loved them in return. They say this sometimes in the same sentence with an explanation of how they just can’t understand why those slaves who loved them so much up and left at the first opportunity, spit on them in the street, spoke to them “insolently” when ordered around, or demanded wages.

            It’s amazing how the human brain can twist itself all up.

        • Luke

          When a person gets the realization of that fact they will fall so deeply in love with Christ and Christ will lead them out of what He sees as unholy (sin) in that person life. I am not to judge nor condemn but I am to love and point people in the direction to the love of Christ.

          So, it is completely unnecessary for anyone who believe s this to waste any time trying to figure out what is and is not sinful and telling other people what their sins are. Leave it to Christ and the Spirit to lead them. Like the Children of Israel standing on the shore, you don’t have to do anything. God will fight that battle. You don’t even need a book. And, what Christ sees as needing healed, and when, may be very different from what you expect.

          How do you point people toward the love of Christ? I hope it is by displaying that extravagant, accepting, forgiving, patient, sacrificial love yourself. If you love your friends, do you stand with them when they are maligned, or treated unjustly, or threatened with harm?

        • DR

          So if being gay is a lifestyle choice that gay and lesbian people are making, please tell me when in your life you chose to be straight. God would not create one path for straight people and another one for gay people. Because God would not allow a “sin” from which there is no escape – liars after Jesus have no desire to lie. Adulterers, after Jesus, stay faithful. Addicts live lives where they don’t crave their drug of choice every second. There is true freedom from sin in Christ – please tell us how gay men and women free themselves from their sexual desires for the same sex. Be specific. Thanks.

        • Scott Amundsen

          “Salvation is a gift. If you or anyone who reads this doesn’t know Christ as their person savior I hope you will check Him out and see He is good and will come to know Him and develop a personal relationship with Jesus.”

          Have you ever stopped to think what the underlying message of that particular brand of Christianity means? It means that, while we are God’s children, created in His image and presumably loved by Him, from the moment of our births our default destination is an eternity of damnation unless we do A, B, C, and so on. That is so incredibly Pharasaical it flies in the face of who Jesus really was. No loving God would do a thing like that to His children.

          Oh, and since you mentioned translations, the word that appears in English Bibles as “eternal” or “everlasting” with regard to hell (whatever that may be) comes from the Greek “aionios,” from which we get the word “eon” and meant a period of time the length of which was open-ended. It could have meant anything from a week to a thousand years, but it NEVER was intended to mean “eternal.” The Greeks HAD a word that meant “eternal” (which at the moment I can’t think of), so if they had wanted to convey eternity they would have. What happened in the translation was that they used Latin, a language that had no equivalent of “aionios,” so they were stuck with the word “eternam,” which means what it sounds like but which fails utterly to convey the sense of the Greek Scripture.

          As for the “personal relationship with Jesus” stuff, that is right out of the Jesus movement of the 1960s and has no basis in Scripture whatsoever.

          Incidentally I have been a Christian for forty-six years and while I never studied the Bible formally as one would in seminary I have spent a good portion of my life studying it on my own and with the help of scholarly works that act as guideposts, sort of the Christian equivalent of the Jewish Talmud. I was a Christian WAY before I knew I was also gay.

          With regard to John 3 17-21, all I have to say about that is that John’s Gospel was written nearly a hundred years after the Crucifixion and I am not at all convinced that Jesus actually said any of that. And don’t you DARE accuse me of picking and choosing unless you can prove to me that you do not do the same thing when it suits you. I know of very few who don’t, myself included, but proof-texting is a business fraught with pitfalls and when you elevate the Bible to infallible status you have created an idol.

          • DrewTwoFish

            Hey Scott:

            Thanks for touching on the “personal relationship” stuff. I think crushing disappointment with myself and then with God/Jesus was what started me on my departure from Christianity. I couldn’t seem to find any tangible expression of this apparent relationship. It got to the point where I found phrases like “practicing the presence of Jesus” offensive.

    • DR

      Sigh. There are a number of Old Testament commandments none of you follow who keep trying to use Scripture to justify your position against homosexuality. And a number of New Testament laws you all give a pass to/violate as well (divorce being one example). So please just acknowledge that many of you in our church apply a selective application on what the Old Testament and New Testament really say when it supports what you need to keep believing in order to put distance from what scares you (including the fear of being wrong).

      • Jill

        And I want to tattoo this on my forearm… so good.

    • Lymis

      As for as homosexuality goes God plainly states in various books of both the old and new testament (my words) any sin apart of one woman and one man in marriage is sin in Gods eyes.

      Cool! You must have that “never been published anywhere in the known universe at any point in recorded history” edition of the Bible.

      Because in the ones everyone else on this planet has, the Old Testament is absolutely full of polygamous marriages that are blessed by God, and somehow fails to record the marriage of, say, Adam and Eve (and where, precisely did the grandkids come from?). You’d actually, realistically, have to come up with some whole new word to describe whatever it was that Solomon was doing. There were wives, there were concubines, there were household slave. David loved Jonathan with a love surpassing that of women.

      Meanwhile, the Old Testament never even addresses anything resembling the concept of gay marriage, or any discussion of healthy same-sex relationships (and utterly zero about sexual relationships between women). It is fairly clear that in order to be ritually pure while wandering in the desert awaiting a new homeland and an eventual Messiah, there are special rules for Jewish people, like not eating shellfish or mixing your fabrics, and sleeping with you brother-in-law if your husband dies before you have kids, but with very few exceptions, we don’t consider that they apply any more, not even to Jews who live in deserts.

      As for the New Testament, almost everything that appears, in modern English mistranslations (maybe your version of the Bible has as different a New Testament as it appears to have for the Old Testament), that seems to condemn homosexuality doesn’t actually do so. When you look at what was actually written, it condemns sexual idolatry, prostitution, child rape, and straight people having gay orgies. It also speaks pretty highly of marriage for straight people, and even more highly of people who do get married honoring their marriage vows.

      Being gay, or bisexual is not a sin, any more than being left-handed or blue-eyed is a sin. Yes, everyone is a sinner, but a blonde adulterer sins by committing adultery, not by being blonde. A left-handed murderer sins by killing someone, not because they are left-handed. And a gay person who lies or steals or cheats on their spouse sins by doing those things, not by being gay, and not by having loving sex in their relationship.

      One think you did get right – when you fall in love with Jesus, it changes your life. It changed mine. But that led me into a deeper, healthier, holier understanding of my sexual orientation, not “out of it.”

    • Gordon

      I had almost forgotten there are “Christians” out there who actually write and talk like this. Talk about icky….!

    • http://www.thegreatfulmom.wordpress.com Keshia W

      Oh. . .my. . .wha. . .

      Have you ever actually read the Bible? One man, one woman? More like, one man, a handful of women and a couple dozen concubines. . .

      I just. . .don’t even. . .

      • Lymis

        Don’t forget the handmaidens and slave women!

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

          and possibly a former sister-in-law.

      • vj

        Exactly!! It just boggles the mind that people can read about David, Solomon, etc, and STILL insist that the ONLY marriage sanctioned in the Bible is between one man and one woman. Even in the NT the church is exhorted to appoint as leaders only those with one wife (for practical reasons, since a man with multiple wives would not have enough time/energy to spend on church matters) – why on earth would that be important to mention unless it was relatively common for a man to have more than one wife? And if it was common for a man to have multiple wives, and if *only* one-man-one-woman is ‘right’, why would not one single NT writer take it upon themselves to require that ALL men in the church could only have one wife? We can certainly observe in the Biblical accounts that when men do have multiple wives (and the resulting multitude of children), it generally ends in tears – but there is NO explicit prohibition of the practice, despite ample opportunities for this to be included in the text.

  • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

    Roman Catholic priests, nuns, monks and friars are poor as church mice…

    …and are anti-gay, to boot.

    Just sayin’.

    Gregg L. DesElms

    Napa, California USA

    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • DR

      That’s a very specific order of priests and nuns. While all do take the vow of poverty, the Catholic church is incredibly wealthy.

      • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

        Yes, the CHURCH is wealthy, but those espousing and anti-gay rhetoric are not… not by a longshot.

        Gregg L. DesElms

        Napa, California USA

        gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • Lymis

      Good golly, no. Most nuns and many monks take a vow of poverty, but priests generally don’t. I know some very wealthy priests.

      • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

        Not Roman Catholic priests, you don’t. There are obviously some who are in large and well-to-do parishes; and so they, on account of their trappings, might SEEM to be wealthy, but they’re not… not personally/individually, anyway.

        Even Bishops and Arch-Bishops and Cardinals, because of the mansions in which they sometimes live and the limos that carry ‘em around, might SEEM to be wealthy, but they, too, are not… not personally/individually.

        They’re personally/individually poor as church mice, to the last of ‘em.

        Gregg L. DesElms

        Napa, California USA

        gregg at greggdeselms dot com

        • Lymis

          Then we don’t know the same priests. Or maybe we just don’t know the same church mice.

          By and large, you are absolutely right, and maybe they had some sort of financial thing going on the side – I never said priests got big salaries for being priests – but I’ve met priests with a hell of a lot more money than I’ll ever see – and that was shortly after they left the priesthood, so we’re not talking parish or diocesan property.

          Regardless, Roman Catholic priests, other than those in monastic orders, do NOT take vows of poverty, regardless of how much money they may or may not manage to sock away.

          • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

            I’m not saying that they all take vows of poverty. I understand the difference betwee avowed and secular priests. But even the secular ones are not particularly well paid… even in large parishes. They do, however, get pretty much everything paid for; so they could, if they wanted, sock away nearly all of what they get paid. In enough years, and if well-invested, it can really add-up.

            And then there’s also the kind of thing that I described in my response to Robert, below. I’m originally from Chicago; so, believe me, I know of a few priests with untoward secrets.

            Rich priests, though — whether or not a vow of poverty was taken — are, by and large, rare, indeed.

            Funny line about us not knowing the same church mice, though! Ha! Good one. [grin]

            Gregg L. DesElm s

            Napa, California USA

            gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    • Robert

      Hi Gregg…

      Just to let you know… not all priests take vows of poverty… only specific orders do… my great uncle was a priest… I don’t think he was a bishop… but he had his own parish… when he died and his will was read, he left everything (including the house my grandmother was living in) to the church. Everything included well over a $1,000,000.00 and this was in 1969. He also left my grandmother homeless.

      Needless to say my family has very mixed reactions to his decision.

      Robert

      • http://www.greggdeselms.com Gregg DesElms

        Priests needn’t take a vow of poverty to be poor as church mice. Their every need is taken care of by the church, and so it’s actually possible for them to be personally and individually quite poor, but from all outward appearances they’re doing fine.

        If I had no bills to pay, had all my expenses covered, and earned an even HALF way competitive (as priests go) salary, and did it long enough, I could EASILY accumulate a million dollars… and, yes, even back in 1969. This would be especially true if I were a priest with good mob connections, as so many priests have. Such as they get no end of cash donations handed to them, and not so that they can be claimed on anyone’s taxes. Rather, as penance and to assuage guilt. Priests have been known to pocket such money, either all or in part. Sometimes the thug specifies that “this is for you, padre” and so the priest puts it into his personal account.

        Your recounting of his handling of the house, and making his grandmother homeless, suggests to me that he was likely PRECISELY the kind of priest who would pull stunts like pocketing cash donations. He could easily have left the house to the church with a deed restriction that that Church could do nothing other than maintain it, and keep the utilities turned-on, until she died. Yet he didn’t. My reaction about him and what he did would not have been mixed at all.

        Gregg L. DesElms

        Napa, California USA

        gregg at greggdeselms dot com

  • Lindsey Holmes

    Not to mention the other “deadly” sins…The day I see someone stop an overweight person from taking a piece of cake at a church function, claiming that as Christians, we owed it to that person not to tolerate their sin (gluttony) or to encourage the open transgression of God’s law…..same thing with women wearing diamonds, or guys driving fancy cars (vanity, greed) or make up or bla bla bla. Of course, this is wasted effort, as it is no secret to them that they are hypocrites, they just rationalize it. The ends justifying the means likely…

    • Nicole

      The “deadly” sins are a Catholic thing, right? They’re not biblical, right? I don’t remember ever seeing a scripture to the order of “thou shalt not be fat.”

      • Michael McKelvey

        The seven “deadly sins” were first written down in 4th century Greece and are retained in Catholic, Orthodox, and some Protestant traditions, but there is a lot of cultural baggage that isn’t part of any church’s doctrine. A better term for them is the seven cardinal vices, because they are not actually sins in an of themselves, but rather inclinations that can lead one into sin, or at least lead one away from virtue. There is no commandment “Thou shalt not be fat”, but gluttony (which is not the same as obesity) prevents you from sharing your abundance with those who are hungry. But that is a little too subtle for most Christians so they just call it a “deadly sin” and imagine it is in the Bible somewhere.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

      Woah…women wearing diamonds is a deadly sin??? I’m sorry, but what the hell? That would mean that my very nice wedding set is sinful, and so is the ring on my right hand which contains diamonds a large aquamarine and little sapphires! They were gifts, given to me by the man who adores me, and I wear them everywhere…along with my clearance rack jeans and tshirts….

      And what if that overweight person had been helping run herd over the congregations toddlers to give the moms a chance to eat one meal that week in peace, and that cake was her one personal sweet treat that she allowed herself? ANd she’d had arthritis and the prednisone prescribed caused her to gain weight?

      And you’ll pry my eyeliner out of my dead cold hands. Its the only thing that helps me to look like I actually have eyelashes. My mascara just softens the line.

  • Scott Amundsen

    And don’t forget “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” Meaning stop bitching, pay your taxes, and don’t mix religion and politics.

    And they say He was not a liberal.

  • Cathy Kinyon Egan

    Amen.

  • Joe Wyka

    A wonderful sermon! And the answer: both are wrong. I believe that Christians ARE called to sell our belongings and give to the poor! I believe that Christians ARE supposed to worship God and not money. Do we? Of course not. We try, and fail. We are tempted and fall. We consistently live a life of ease while our fellow man suffers. That in no way absolves us of guilt. Christ does that. He says, “Joe, even though I wished you had shunned the path of self-indulgence and spent more time chasing love for your fellow man instead of the almighty dollar, I forgive you.” He doesn’t say in either case “Gosh, I know it was unrealistic and too hard, so let’s just forget about it, shall we?” Again, pointing to Christian hypocrisy is fair game and I welcome it like I welcome the surgeon’s scalpel when it painfully cuts away dead tissue. Thanks for sharing!

  • Gabrielle Marsden

    I believe paper money violates Deuteronomy 22:11

    • Lymis

      “Deuteronomy 22:11: Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.”

      I have to admit I’m intrigued as to the connection.

      • vj

        I’m guessing it’s that ‘paper’ money is [was?] actually made from linen and other fibers?

        • Lymis

          Perhaps, but what’s with the wearing part?

          I was assuming it was a misdirected citation about making graven images, but even then, you’d pretty much have to be printing your own money to run afoul of that one in this context.

          • vj

            Yeah, I’m confused about that too! Maybe the ultra-orthodox position would be that even touching the money is tantamount to wearing it? There is a branch of Christianity (possibly the 7th Day Adventists?) who refrain from eating pork because when Jesus cast the demons out of the possessed man He sent them into a nearby herd of pigs, so I guess it’s possible that there are some who take this ‘extreme’ view of touching ‘mixed fiber’?

            It must be very hard to take everything so literally… I certainly wouldn’t be able to keep all the rules straight in my head.

          • Jill

            Exactly, because when a person is so f-ing busy following all the literal rules, not to mention the unspoken, implied ones, and spending the majority of your personal time in church to have those rules firmly pounded into your brain, so you don’t have any excuse as to why you didn’t follow the clearly delineated rules, your brain hurts too much to do things like pursue a degree, or a career best suited to your talents, or build a life that reflects your actual values, not just the ones implanted through a literal interp of a church’s view of what is ultimately a man-made book that attempts to approximate God’s intent.

            And no, of course I’m not working through any unresolved anger…

          • vj

            ;-)

        • Michael McKelvey

          American currency used to be printed on paper made of cotton and linen fiber blend, today it is made from cotton and vinyl (the exact composition is secret).

  • Edward H. Cox III

    Truth be told without money I don’t have a roof over my head. I don’t worship it, but it is needed to live!!!

    • SurveyPastor

      Hmmm, could “money” actually be “the” original sin…instead of the Athanasius via Augustine version…may be that it is time to change the paradigm to one less conducive to GREED…

      • Amy

        The way I’ve always seen it, the original sin is selfishness. When you have a brand new baby, they have an instinct for survival but little or no empathy. That’s something learned (at least for most of us) through interaction and positive feedback with family and friends. It’s needed for later in life when people don’t feed us just because we’re small and helpless.

        Selfishness as an adult would cover greed, hate, gluttony, violence and a long laundry list of bad behaviors. It’s also the antithesis of loving your fellow man.

    • Lymis

      I think there’s as much of a distinction between money and greed as there is between food and gluttony. It’s about the excess and hoarding (and, in a very real way, keeping excess for yourself when someone else is suffering a lack) rather than about having a healthy relationship to it.

      I certainly wouldn’t think of keeping a roof over your head as “serving money” or “storing up treasures on earth,” though with the wrong attitude, they could be.

      • SurveyPastor

        Thank you Lymis for detailing my sentiments almost to a TEE…

        the man whose house is so full of papers he can’t walk through it = kooky…

        the woman with so many cats they spill out the door like opening the over-full closet = crazy…

        the person who hoards tens of billions of dollars = put his picture on the cover of Fortune Magazine and turn him into a role model…

        Giving is all we have …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1XAF9zFEtI

        “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”

        ~ Pablo Picasso~

        • Grace

          What a lovely quote by Picasso! And yes, to both Lymis and SurveyPastor.

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

      Certainly true and I’m sure we all recognize that Jesus was quite aware of that reality. But that wasn’t John’s point. Read the part about the church mouse again, put it in the total context of his blog and see if you get it this time.

  • Matt

    You must have been very “on” when you wrote this–or had a lot of coffee! Again, no obvious punctuation errors that I can find.

    “I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid the conclusion that there is something profoundly wrong with any Christian who is not himself voluntarily as poor as the proverbial church mouse using the Bible as justification for his or her condemnation of gay people.”

    You seem to be going for inclusivity here–and so perhaps gender neutrality. Might I suggest using the singular “they”? So then, “…who is not [themselves] voluntarily as poor…” and “…[their] condemnation…” I can say for sure that to my ears, “himself” is never netural, and “his or her” takes away from the flow of the sentence. And I know for sure that your audience will not understand any variety of gender-neutral singular pronouns that have been introduced over the years (zie/hir, etc.).

    • Elizabeth

      Ha ha ha! I remember zhe, shi, hir, zhim, thon, co, and phe. The most conducive are “it” and “they”. English doesn’t do so well with gender neutral. I read “he” and I still see both genders. But a fun trip down riot grrl lane!

      • Matt

        Yes, they simply don’t fit in with the rest of the language, do they? Though because of my background, I can never read “he” as anything other than binary and masculine–which makes old texts somewhat jarring to read.

        (Hi, Elizabeth! It feels like forever since I’ve seen you around. I hope you are well.)

        • Elizabeth

          Hi, Matt! I moved to Berkeley so I was off the grid for awhile. Great to see your thoughtful comments again.

          • Jill

            I know…we’ve been missing your sweet voice of reason.

      • Jill

        And my question is, why don’t we? Merriam-Webster just added sexting, man cave, and gastropub to the dictionary, and no one can come with a viable gender-neutral English pronoun? Oh, priorities…

        • vj

          I don’t think it’s so much a question of priorities as of [un]familiarity. Neologisms such as ‘man cave’ are coined to name a new ‘thing’, so our brains take quite easily to finding/using a new word for it, whereas male and female pronouns have been around for quite a long time – the ones we learn as children become so ingrained, we use them without really having to think. My father has semantic dementia, and frequently ‘looses’ simple words, like ‘lunch’ – then he has to hunt around in his brain for another word to convey his meaning (eg. ‘food’). If English-speaking cultures could collectively ‘forget’ the gender-specific pronouns it would be easy to introduce new gender-neutral ones…

          [As an aside, there are many languages that DO have gender-neutral pronouns - and their speakers often end up using the 'wrong' English gender-specific pronoun in conversation, since the language centers in their brains don't particularly register that a personal pronoun is supposed to accord with the gender of the person being spoken of. I think that's similar to what happens to native English-speakers learning to speak French or Spanish, where it's not just people that have gender - it's really hard, unless you are basically at a mother-tongue level in a second/additional language, to always know if a 'table' (for example) is a 'he' or a 'she'...

          Sorry, language nerd on the loose!]

          • anakin mcfly

            Thanks for this. I know some genderqueer people who have been lobbying for individual pronoun sets for everyone, claiming that if everyone can have a different name and people have little trouble remembering it, the same should go for pronouns unless you were an intolerant bigot who refused to put in the tiny effort. But pronouns seemed fundamentally different from proper nouns, linguistically, to me, only I could never adequately explain why.

          • Matt

            Perhaps becausep pronouns, unlike proper nouns, must agree with verbs, objects, etc. They must be conjugated correctly in order to sound natural.

            In French alone, we have:

            Je suis (“I am”)

            Tu es, and Vous etes (“You are,” informal and formal, respectively)

            Il est and Elle est (“He is,” and “She is,” respectively)

          • Matt

            Got cut off there. The point is, there are more rules for pronouns. Should each person have their own conjugation rules? I think that it would rapidly become too complicated, personally.

          • Elizabeth

            Damn, French. Props.

          • Matt

            Thank you. I studied it for five years, back in school.

    • Lymis

      I’ not sure “themselves” works as a singular pronoun, and while I’ve used both it and “themself” before (the second, usually in a playful way), I don’t think I’d use either one for publication.

      In this case, though, if John wanted to specifically neutralize it, the pronoun isn’t required in the sentence at all:

      “… any Christian who is not voluntarily as poor as a proverbial church mouse….” works just fine without one.

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

        That’s a solid call, L. Done. Thank you!

    • Nicole

      I like using “they” as a gender-neutral singular since we don’t really have one. I know it’s grammatically wrong, but we SAY it that way often. “Did you hear about that person who drove into a storefront?” “What were they thinking?”

      I knew a speaker who gave a disclaimer in his written materials to let everyone know he would be using “they” and “them” in a gender-neutral singular fashion in his writing. As long as he put that disclaimer in, people didn’t razz him about it.

      • anakin mcfly

        It’s not grammatically wrong, actually (though I guess those things are subjective – who’s the authority here?). It used to be fairly common centuries ago, and Shakespeare used it himself a few times in his plays.

      • Lymis

        I read recently that “they” as a neutral singular pronoun was common and accepted usage until much more recently than Shakespeare, and it’s the “always use the masculine to include the feminine” is the newer rule, not the older one.

  • Grace

    This is the exact complaint that eventually got me out of the church. In conversations about the biblical teachings on homosexuality my pastor would barely hear my argument, he’d been taught one way and was sticking too it despite his gaping lack of evidence. It was a conversation I attempted many times, much to my frustration.

    One day I asked this same pastor how the church parking lot could be full of so many new cars. My own family was quite poor, social worker mother now disabled due to cancer and unable to work, her husband a very hard working but poorly paid welding repairman. A new car cost just about my family’s yearly income, and it amazed me to see every single car in that lot shining and new. I asked him how this could be how the Christians in his flock were spending their money, he responded with some spiel on Chrisitans of similar economic statuses flocking to the same churches. I wondered for a bit if he was implying I ought to go find myself a church with some more impoverished Christians so I could fit in! But his answer told me nothing of the moral or ethical explanation of every single attendee of that church spending their money on cars when there was plenty of need around them.

  • otter

    “How can any self-respecting Christian take literally what Paul said about homosexuality, and at the same time ignore or seriously waffle on what Jesus Christ himself—who never said a single word about homosexuality—said about money?”

    Great question….Gee, I dunno. This is a pretty tough one.

    How about this? They are ALL (expletive deleted) HYPOCRITES!!

    When I see people getting all up in arms about same-sex marriage, but saying nothing about rape, domestic violence, infidedilty or child abuse I know they are not serving Christ, but merely justifying their prjudices. When any of you see a sign that says “GOD HATES ADULTERERS ” OR “GOD HATES RAPISTS” let me know, will you??

  • robert

    Hi John…

    Thank you for this post….

    In it, I did not hear you advocating for christians to sell their possession and give all to the poor. What I heard you say (and please correct me if I missed the point)… is that christians that use the bible in a literal way to condemn others (gay included) and who do not follow the bible, esp. Jesus’s words, in a literal manner… are hypocrites.

    Thank you… this echoes something that… which is “what bothers me the most about christians… is the way the use the bible as some sort of chinese menu… they select this and select that… but ignore most of the rest”.

    makes it a little hard to take them seriously (the likes of Erwin McManus who seems like a fool for some many reasons).

  • Andy

    Liked a million times

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

    It’s impossible to shout from a keyboard except like this…….AMEN!!!!!


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