What today’s evangelicals are telling gay people

aloneOnce upon a time the evangelical Christian’s typical response to homosexuality was that gay people are just messed up straight people who need to become better Christians so that God can stop them from being gay.

The complete failure of the “pray away the gay” movement, however, in conjunction with endless evidence that people are simply born gay, has succeeded in finally tossing that hoary argument onto the ash heap of history. But has that stopped evangelicals from arguing against homosexuality? Of course not. They just needed a new argument, is all.

And they found one. Today the Christian argument against gay people is typically … well, this, taken from an email recently sent me:

Would you support a serial adulterer who leaves his wife, but is just attracted to other women, because that’s who he is and how he was born?  How about an alcoholic who just can’t help himself? Would you support him as he leaves his wife for alcohol? Would you support a glutton? A man of extreme pride? Why does homosexuality get a pass, and not any other sin?

A person with homosexual desires who resists temptation is exactly the same as a married man who resists temptation to carry on affairs with other women—which is to say, a human being battling the temptation to sin. The most compassionate thing that we could tell someone struggling with homosexuality (or any other sin for that matter) is to keep resisting temptation. Keep battling. Don’t give in. This is your badge as a Christian, that you fight temptation.

Now the argument is that a gay person struggling against the temptation to be who they really are is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a “sinful” temptation. Now, in other words, the refrain isn’t that gay people should stop being gay. Now it’s that they should stop acting gay.

Evangelicals are positively enamored of this new argument. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ten thousand times. We all have. You whisper “gay” into the ear of a sleeping evangelical, and there’s an excellent chance that he or she will start murmuring in their sleep, “Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist temptation.”

And putting your brain to sleep before you say that is the very best way to say it, too. Because it’s an argument that could only make sense to a brain-dead person. It’s just too lame for words.

But lemme try to find some words anyway.

Virtually all sins share a crucial, defining, common quality. Because that quality, which is present in every other imaginable sin, is utterly absent from being or acting gay, insisting upon putting homosexuality into the same category as every other sin—or in the category of sin at all—is like gluing wings on a pig, and insisting that the result belongs in the category of “bird.” It doesn’t. It can’t. It won’t. Ever.

Here is that Big Difference between homosexuality and all those other activities generally understood to be “sinful”: There is no sin I can commit that, by virtue of my having committed it, renders me incapable of loving or being loved. I can commit murder. I can steal. I can rob. I can rape. I can drink myself to death. I can do any terrible thing at all, and no one would ever claim that intrinsic to the condition that gave rise to my doing that terrible thing is that I am, by nature, unqualified for giving or receiving love.

No one tells the chronic drinker, glutton, adulterer, gambler, or any other kind of sinner that having committed their sin—that being the way they are—means they must stop experiencing love.

Yet living without love is exactly what anti-gay Christians insist upon for gay people.

When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them—what you really mean—is for them to be celibate. It’s okay for them to be gay; they just can’t live out their gayness.

What you mean is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life absolutely devoid of the kind of the romantic, long-term, emotionally and physically intimate love that all people, Christians included, understand not only as their birthright, but as just about the greatest part of being human.

Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone at your table to chat with over coffee in the morning.

Don’t have or raise children.

Don’t get married. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that fulfillment.

Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.

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

Now isn’t that funny, given that love is the one thing that Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others? It’s just so funny it makes you want to laugh till you cry.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Lisa Kratzer

    That sounds very similar to what Matthew Vines said. He was right, too. Good article.

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

      Yes, this is the essay that (as I understand it from him) originally informed Matthew’s thinking on this matter.

  • Michelle P.

    I don’t know if it is worth addressing, but I notice in the email quote, the scenario being described is one in which a person has made a choice (getting married) and their sin involves doing something that cheapens or invalidates that choice (adultery, etc). I don’t see anything in homosexuality that fits that framework. I suppose that the anti-gay people could say that choosing Christianity and then acting out their homosexuality is the same thing, but I don’t think so.

    • Nicole

      Also, all those other sins are either physically harmful to the individual sinning, or harmful to another person. Homosexuality in itself is neither of those.

      • James

        oh, but you apparently haven’t been blasted with the “delightful” list of horrible things that “gay sex” does to people’s health after telling some fundie troll how being gay doesn’t in itself cause any harm. *sigh*

        I need a really good response to that garbage that doesn’t depend on anecdotal evidence from mine and my partner’s life, that we’re in fairly good health despite being together for 12 years and counting.

      • DrewTwoFish

        I think you’re on to something here. I’m no longer a believer but I’d categorize something as “wrong” or “sinful” if it is doing harm to yourself or someone else over the long or short term. This has to be real harm, i.e. not theoretical or “eternal.” (It can, of course, be psychological or emotional.) I find it fascinating how those on the hard right are the ones that get to define that harm. (“You being in a loving same sex relationship is bad for my marriage, bad for your health, bad for the church, and bad for society.” Huh?)

  • http://www.andylong.org.uk Andy Long

    Thanks John, wise words as ever.

  • Barbara

    “Virtually all sins share a crucial, defining, common quality.” The quality that I, personally, would use to define a sin is that it causes harm. Every single example up there causes explicit, direct harm to another person or to himself. How does loving another consenting adult cause harm to anybody? The harm that these hateful evangelicals cause to gay people is far, far greater than the supposed “sin” of being gay.

    • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

      “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.” So says Michele Bachmann – she’s both conflating a supposed ‘gay lifestyle’, ie the ignorant view that all gay and lesbian people are constantly going to clubs and having indiscriminate sex with anyone and everyone (of the same sex, of course), can’t be faithful to a single partner, that gay relationships are all about sex and incapable of being truly loving, etc. – and she’s also missing the fact that the vast majority of the ‘personal despair’ comes from the attitudes toward us which are so prevalent in society, and the demands that we must change something that we can never do.

      The fact that bisexuals exist, and also a very small minority of people who are rather fluid in their sexuality and do change their preferences over time, does not negate the fact that the vast majority of individuals who identify as gay or lesbian cannot change, are in fact born with the inclinations that they have and do not ‘get over’ them or have the power to magically become attracted to the opposite sex, and the so-called ex-gay movement which she is so involved in has done far, far more harm than good. If there is any good, which I am still doubtful of.

  • Richard W. Fitch

    John, just want to say how pleased I am that this will be included in the new edition of “Unfair”. I have kept a link to it’s first posting, 10/01/2010.

  • Bob Rogers

    Thanks John.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly Knight

    Fantastic post John. I have another thought about the difference between the sins into which a basic element of my humanity gets lumped. The other sins listed in this post are all things that harm an individual – either the “sinner” or another party. A piece of someone’s humanity is diminished by the sin. Being gay, and acting on it in love, does not harm, does not diminish anyone’s humanity. No, by living into the way I have been created I am claiming my humanity. To deny me such is to diminish my humanity – and that is the sin.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/2012/08/murderers-terrorists-and-me/

    • Sue Harrington

      Couldn’t agree more – more sinned against than sinning

  • Lymis

    Should this be another “Sweatshop Edition” title?

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

      Yeah, that’s what it is. But I can’t get anyone to look at my posts that had “sweatshop edition” on them. So I tried this. More readers; less proofing. So …. there it is. But maybe I just have less mistakes in this one. (Sorry; I thought you’d said something about “till.”)

      • Andrea

        (fewer mistakes, not less mistakes) :)

      • Lymis

        I really tried to find proofreading issues in this one, John, but it looks really good, till and all!

  • John E Baker III

    BRAVO, John!! As a proofreader, not a single jot or tittle out of place!!

    As a Person, I anticipate throwing this argument on more than a few people… And watching them melt.

  • Lymis

    I don’t know if this is really a proofreading sort of comment, but I have a problem with the idea that this “new” idea somehow consigns the “old” argument to the ash heap of history.

    This isn’t a new argument. It’s the old argument with a new coat of high-tech paint in a trendy new shade.

    Because at its core, the argument remains the same – being gay is a bad thing, and that only God and Christian forbearance can keep you from engaging in the sin that results from it. The old twist was that if you prayed hard enough, God would make you straight. The new twist is that if you pray hard enough, God will help you not have gay sex.

    About the only thing that has actually changed is that unsuspecting potential opposite sex partners are no longer being sucked into this living hell at the rate they used to be – now, instead of a hell for two, it’s been carved into individual units, so every gay person can be in a celibate solo hell.

    • Andrea

      Well said, Lymis.

  • Leslie

    I loved this the first time and love it even more now. :)

    But you were looking for typos and such. Last line. “Till” should be “until.”

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

      Lymis said the same thing. But unless I’ve gone insane, “till” is an acceptable substitute for “until.”

      • Lymis

        What? Wasn’t me. I have no problem with “till.”

      • Leslie

        Well look at that. I learned something new today.

      • Nicole

        Shouldn’t it be ’til? Just curious.

  • Dan

    You’re implying that gays can never become straight.

    • Richard W. Fitch

      You have a problem with an “implication” that has been endorsed by almost every respectable medical and scientific organization in the world???

    • Julie

      They can’t. They can ACT straight.

    • Lymis

      I don’t think he was implying it – he was flatly stating it.

      One thing that seems to confuse far too many people is that there actually are bisexual people in the world – people who are attracted physically and romantically to at least some members of their own sex and at least some members of the opposite sex.

      Someone who is bisexual but has relationships exclusively with their own sex will appear to others to be gay, and if they subsequently choose to pursue a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it might appear that they have “become straight.” They haven’t.

      And, of course, the world is full of people who, because of the pressures on them from other people or from a misguided sense of what they’ve been told God wants of them, hide or suppress their natural orientation and force themselves into relationships that are unnatural for them. Again, though, that isn’t a matter of a gay person becoming straight through an act of choice.

      • http://twitter.com/soracia Kagi (@soracia)

        Thank you for pointing this out. I’m a 99%-lesbian woman who has only ever felt mild attraction to a number of men I can count on one hand, and none of them were personalities I cared about pursuing any kind of relationship with–or weren’t people I actually knew in real life. Does there possibly exist a man in the world I might someday be attracted to enough to want to marry? It’s a very slim chance, but it’s possible. Do I think it likely enough to call myself bisexual instead of gay? Almost never, except in cases like this when I am making a point.

        More to the point, I don’t particularly want to try and sift through a haystack to find that needle, because there are millions of women that I am attracted to and many that I am interested in having relationships with, and I would prefer to find the one of them I could be happy with long term than search endlessly for this theoretical man.

        However, I do know many bisexual people who have eventually gotten married to a member of the opposite sex, and that most definitely does not mean they have stopped being bisexual. They still find members of the same sex attractive and are happy to admit to it, although they stay faithful to their married partners because they are happy in the relationship they are in.

    • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

      Yes.

    • DR

      That’s not an implication, it’s an assertion.

  • http://www.littlebluesuitcase.com Lisa Charland

    The thing that so frustrates me about the email you received is that the majority of gay people I know are in monogamous relationships they don’t stray from. How is that comparable to adultery? How is a monogamous gay marriage worse than straight people who have divorced, or straight people who cheat on each other? My husband comes from a divorced family and it had a terrible impact on the entire family. Yet his mother, who initiated the divorce without even giving therapy a chance, doesn’t think gay people should be allowed to marry. I have also known other divorced Christians who disagree with gay marriage. I think they are the most foolish people I’ve ever met.

    • Ellsea

      great comments!

  • Sus

    I am sure I am jumping off topic here a little and I do not mean to agree or disagree with your defense of homosexuals. But, I find it a little disturbing that you, whether intentionally or unintentionally, implied that living life without the love of a partner is a lesser life. Plenty of gay and straight folks do not have a partner and still live a life full of love and companionship with friends and family AND by allowing the love of God to consume them. As a christian, who believes that our ultimate love is God, I find your rebuttal to the evangelical argument a little weak. Granted, God created human relationships but he did not intend for them to take away from His relationship with us. I am not saying that the LGBT community should stop being gay because the love of God should consume them. Frankly, the love of God should consume all of us but we cannot all be Paul. I am simply saying, a stronger argument than “gays deserve love too” is needed because for a christian (regardless of sexual orientation) Gods love is more than enough.

    Taking a deep breathe before I post as I am sure this will receive some heartfelt, strong responses. With love, Bracing for impact….

    • Johnny Parker

      Hello Sus

      Your argument doesn’t make any sense. You seem to be arguing that nobody, gay or straight, ought to need the love of a partner, as the love of God ought to be sufficient. Which kind of begs the question why God bothered to create and sanctify loving relationships in the first place – which you concede He did.

      Sorry, but the argument that ‘gays deserve love too’ is indeed the top and bottom of it. All people are God’s beloved children. God created loving sexual relationships for His children to enjoy. That’s all that needs to be said.

      Are you single and celibate I wonder? If you are, bravo for you. If not, well …

      All the best

      Johnny

    • DR

      I always wonder why those of you write this kind of thing and then say you’re “bracing for impact”. You’re almost setting people up to be aggressive and hostile in response proactively. Why do you do that? If you have an opinion, have it without any fear. If you really felt ok with what you were saying, it seems like that fear of a strong retaliation wouldn’t be present.

      • Sus

        DR,

        Rest assured, I am not afraid to have a healthy debate. I simply find that on blogs, where there is no face to face contact or accountability, folks can tend to be cruel. Meant to be a mood lightener but clearly misinterpreted. The only fear I have is that my opinions would offend a person beyond the point of wanting to know God. Thank you for your gracious opinion. I absolutely see your point and will reconsider adding such a line at the end of future posts.

        • DR

          Totally get it! Thanks for the clarification. :)

    • alexander hollins

      But that’s their choice. You are asking us to remove the CHOICE from people.

      Also, God cast us out of Eden, where we existed with him, and “cursed” us with coming together for creating children, and pain in childbirth. That sounds like a human relationship designed to take away from our relationship with God to me.

    • DR

      (Oh and one thing – I agree with you that one can be without a partner and lead a really big life filled with love. But those who are straight are given the religious choice to do so.) xoxo

      • Jennifer

        I tried for many years to be a “happy single Christian.” I have wonderful friends who are single and Christian. God does give the gift of celibacy to some of us, but not to all of us. I was miserable as a single person. I was deeply involved in my church, had many friends, and still cried myself to sleep over the ache and loneliness I felt every night. I prayed more than any one person should ever have to pray for God to take away the loneliness. I prayed for Him to fill that void with His love. I prayed for Him to make me straight. In the end, I had to accept myself as He made me, and move on from my believe that “God’s love” is enough. I am a much better, much happier, much kinder, gentler and loving person because of the gift of love that God gives me through my same sex partner. I know the intent of your post, Sus, and it is a beautiful sentiment. But it does not work for everyone. The wonderful, loving relationship that I have with my partner reveals God’s love for me in ways I could never imagine when I was single. This is my experience….others experience God’s love in other ways. Both are right, if it leads to a greater love of God and humanity.

        • David S

          Thanks for sharing a part of your story Jennifer. I appreciate your vulnerability.

        • DR

          What a beautiful comment and so perfectly stated.

        • Nicole

          Jennifer, I’m so glad you found your path and your happiness. :)

          I’m actually really comforted by your post for another reason. I’ve lived my life celebate and single and very content and happy that way. But I’ve wondered if there were something wrong with me. Why I didn’t want a husband and family and why didn’t I dream of a wedding day? Maybe because that’s just how I am. :) I love going to sleep at night, all cozy in my bed by myself.

          I’m comforted because it sounds like I would know if I didn’t want to be this way. That I’d want a husband and family and it would be an obvious desire. Thank you for sharing your story.

          • Luke

            Nicole, I have concerns, that I apparently have trouble properly expressing, that John’s essay could inadvertently hurt someone in exactly your situation. God made people gay and straight and everything in between, and that isn’t the only axis of sexuality. For example, there are people who are asexual, and among them some want romantic relationships and some don’t.

            What your life should be, and what relationships you should have, and how you relate to God, is a journey only you can take. Nobody has a right to pressure you to live your life as they see fit, or to tell you that God wants you to be something you clearly are not. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a beloved child of God.

        • Luke

          Well, said Jennifer.

    • Lymis

      It’s not that living without a single partner is good or bad – it’s declaring unilaterally that every gay person must automatically live without a loving partner in a sexual relationship.

      Plenty of straight people make that choice, or find themselves with that choice effectively made for them by life circumstances or by not having found the right person. That’s different from telling people from their youth that not only must they make that choice, but that any other choice is evil and effectively condemns them to hell for eternity.

      There’s a rough parallel to the idea of women having careers or being homemakers and housewives. There’s nothing wrong with someone making that choice when they are free to make another choice. But forcing them into a choice that may or may not be right for them, and putting the full force of law, or worse, of the threat of God behind it, isn’t okay.

      “Frankly, the love of God should consume all of us but we cannot all be Paul.”

      And yet, for straight people who don’t find themselves drawn to celibacy, love, marriage and partnership is so much an acceptable option that it’s held up as the ideal – and you aren’t willing to allow that to be an equally acceptable answer for gay people.

      Why is marriage and loving relationship okay for straight people who aren’t called to celibacy? That’s the reason it’s okay for gay people. Exactly the same reason.

    • Sus

      Thank you all for your kind responses. To answer the burning question – not single, not celibate. I agree that everyone has a right to be loved. I simply do not want to see a single persons life down played or to see the love of God down played. That is all.

  • Johnny Parker

    A wonderful article, thank you John.

    There is one small typo I’ve spotted, an extraneous ‘the’ in the first sentence of this paragraph:

    “What you mean is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life absolutely devoid of the kind of the romantic, long-term, emotionally and physically intimate love that all people, Christians included, understand not only as their birthright, but as just about the greatest part of being human.”

    ” … the kind of (the) romantic love”

    I won’t quibble with your transatlantic spellings, as I guess you were born with the inclination to miss perfectly good u’s out of words

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

      sweet! good eyes. thank you. will change.

    • http://cynthiabeard.wordpress.com Cynthia Beard

      I was scanning the comments to see if anyone else had commented on the extra “the.” And I concur: excellent essay. Thanks!

  • Susan

    It’s exactly the same argument they use about divorce. “Gee, sorry you married an abuser. Sorry you couldn’t pray it away, or submit to it well enough to make it stop. But, well, you can’t get married again because that would be adultery. So, tough luck, you’ll have to pay for your mistake forever. But Jesus loves you.”

    • David S

      Exactly!

    • Andrea

      Right on the money, Susan.

  • DR

    Here’s what happens time and time again with this approach. Being an adulterer destroys faith, intimacy and trust. Cheating on your spouse destroys a family and these kinds of people use this analogy of adulterers time and time again, trying to compare it to being in a gay relationship.

    But what they can’t ever demonstrate is the actual *harm* caused by being gay and being in a gay relationship. Not harm to God, not harm to children, not to society – not even harm to Christians, this accusation of gay marriage “threatening” straight marriage is straight up paranoia – no straight person is prevented from getting married and every single law passed in every single state allowing the legalization of gay marriage includes a very explicit clause that gives pastors an out from marrying gay men and women in a religious ceremony. There has not been ONE instance in decades where a church in the United States of America has been pushed to do anything regarding gay men and women, as a matter of fact it’s our Churches that have pushed the boundaries of our tax-exempt status by campaigning against gay marriage.

    So honestly, it’s time for those of you who believe this to – with all due respect – put up the facts and fruits of this “sin” or move on and find something else to be scared of and angry about. Not once has anyone ever been specific about the damage gay relationships cause when the damage caused by adultery is visible. So show us or please – stop talking.

    • David S

      I have been given the above lecture more often than I’ve ask my husband to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher not the sink…Let’s see if this writer got it right:

      Homosexuality is like:

      - Adultery (check)

      - Alcoholism (check)

      - Pedophilia (wait..wait…there’s something missing on his list)

      - Bestiality (oh, no! More points off!)

      - Gluttony (But Cool – style points for adding this one…we can totally overlook the missing pedophilia)

      - Pride (Oh, the irony…I’m sure it’s lost on him)

      I think the geniuses at the FRC would be irked that this guy went rouge on their talking points, but I gotta give him a solid B+ for creativity and presentation.

      • DR

        It’s repulsive when the GLBT community is compared to the vileness of your list. Pedophilia is especially evil, when I read that, my heart wants to take a shower.

        • David S

          “My heart wants to take a shower”. I love that. My heart usually wants to take a sledgehammer (or is that sledge-hammer) to something.

          If you really want to feel slimed, hop on over to the FRC website and look at the PDF called top 10 myths about homosexuality. Evidently, I am an unstable, diseased pedophile who is incapable of monogamy.

          With all of these conservative Christians who love me so much, you would think that at least some of them would refute these vile lies and denounce this hateful organization.

          • Jill

            I tried. I didn’t want to be slimed. I’m not tough enough.

          • David S

            Ugly is exhausting. Good call turning back. So many better , life-affirming ways to spend your energy;)

          • Jill

            Like, say, chatting with you? ;) back

          • DR

            It shocks me when people actually think they write these kinds of letters that John quoted and actually believe that you should believe they “love” you.

          • Jill

            There’s still way too much cowardice in our culture, the way we acclimate to whatever’s set up as normative without investigating–for ourselves–the reality, the heart of the matter. It’s easier to go along.

            Which is why I find it so amusing that for the 2 minutes I looked at frc.com to read Perkins say to stop donating to GOP campaigns that ‘capitulate’ on SSM. Even he sees the writing on the wall, the officials that no longer can play fence-sitters because real people are pushing them off those fences. He’s always secretly known he’s irrelevant, now the world is showing him just how much that’s true.

        • anakin mcfly

          Just a note – I’ve known of pedophiles who struggle greatly with their attractions and never put them into action because they never want to hurt a child. They, too, often end up extremely lonely, incapable of being attracted to an falling in love with another adult.

          • Jill

            It’s true. And for that I can feel genuine sorrow for such a plight, because a pedophile that does not act understands that a child is not capable of giving true consent and is not an equal peer. That person must find healthy, adult ways to relate to the world to keep their life in balance.

            Which has no relationship to our conversation about mature adult GLBTQ people who are consenting equals, of course. Just to cleanse the palate here…

          • DR

            I’m sure that is true and yet there is zero common ground here, there is absolutely no similarities between struggles with pedophilia and being gay. The former is a sickness of the mind and heart, most often caused by being sexually abused earlier on in life. There is a huge, huge amount of pathology that the pedophile is contending with as a result of the abuse. It’s awful.

            But one is not gay as a result of being abused. Being gay is not rooted in pathology. To talk a

  • Heather

    I’ve had something like this argument before, and the comeback I got actually actually comes full circle to the far right’s original response. “Gay people don’t need to be alone, they just need to be strait. Learn to change your ways and then you get all of the love and family that you crave.”

    • David S

      My favorite is “you’re not alone, you’ve got community”…

      First, community is important for sure, but it is not the same thing as, or a replacement for romantic intimacy.

      Second, the church (including myself) mostly sucks as supporting single people. I’ve been challenged on this recently and am looking for ways to do this better.

      • J

        The church STINKS at looking after single people. It is so absurdly bad that it doesn´t even deserve to speak. Looking after single people means trying to make us marry.

        • Jill

          *sigh* Just when I’m starting to like a church… don’t discourage me! (I’m half-kidding BTW, I know what I’m in for… I think.)

          • Seamus

            Which is why I finally went Unitarian. They are totally cool with my Jesus following ways and they are very real about what they are and what they aren’t.

            Good luck on your endeavor.

          • Jill

            Thank you. That is still an option I think about. I like mixing things up, so I go to Unitarian services every so often. I’m going to an Edgar Cayce retreat in June. I’m a restless soul.

      • Jill

        If you find an answer to that last point, just be sure to share with me! :) Life is certainly…unpredictable.

  • Kathy in KC

    I especially take exception to the bit about alcoholism. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation, with the possible exception that I was born an alcoholic (as people are born with their orientations) and didn’t find out about it until I started drinking at age 15. Now at age 52 I’m still battling this terrible disease and going to AA and all that. It’s physically, emotionally and spiritually destructive. Sexuality, being attracted to persons of either or both genders, can only be positive. It’s utterly dissimilar in that regard.

    • Matt

      “Sexuality, being attracted to persons of either or both genders, can only be positive.”

      I disagree. Sexuality, in and of itself, is neutral. It’s all about what you do with it.

      People have used their sexuality to bring themselves closer to their partners, for sheer enjoyment, to connect, to heal, to teach. Others use it to punish, torture, manipulate, or reject. It’s also possible to use your own sexuality against yourself, to horrible consequences.

      John’s point is more along the lines of rejecting the idea that (specifically) gay sexuality is always toxic and harmful, and that it can never be benevolent.

  • J

    This is 100% on the money. I was an evangelical missionary and in the end it was the loneliness and isolation of the “biblical” position on being gay which destroyed my faith in god and enabled me to come out. This bit almost had me in tears – it was ABSOLUTELY the message I got from church:

    “Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone at your table to chat with over coffee in the morning.”

    After all “Jesus was single. He gave up much more for you”. The damage that evangelicalism has done is enormous.

  • Darwyn Jenkins

    Many years ago before I come out I talked to my pastor about the fact that I was gay. He recommended that I put my feelings and desires aside and find a “good Christian woman and get married.” I suggested that perhaps I would marry his daughter, but knowing what I had just told him about my sexual preferences, he did not warm up to that idea! LOL! Funny that everyone thinks that gay people should just marry and fake it, but no one wants to be the one they marry and fake it with!

  • http://kathy@canyonwalkerconnections.com Kathy Baldock

    Funny John: “You whisper “gay” into the ear of a sleeping evangelical, and there’s an excellent chance that he or she will start murmuring in their sleep, “Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist temptation.”

  • Jill Lillis

    The odd thing about this, they don’t seem to really know what jesus said about this method. He brought the issues off of the tablets of stone and made them what is in our hearts—if you lust or hate in your heart, it is as if you had sinned in reality.

    So sad. Why this is such an issue for so many mystifies me. If evangelicals (and I kind of am one) are so concerned about sexual sin, there is plenty and more than enough in the evangelical church to keep them occupied with correction.

  • Robert

    Thank you for the post…. During my internet snooping of my ex BF (now an ex-gay, born-again christian who has seemingly founded his own church after the last church he joined wasn’t biblically pure enough)… I listened to one of his sermons (aka pod-casts) In his sermon, I heard him equate his being “gay” to his being a “sex addict” and then projecting his “condition” onto all gay people.

    I wish I could say that I was flabbergasted. But I wasn’t… I was saddened for many reasons. But the main one is… he failed… he failed utterly and completely to understand what it means to be a gay person.

    It is my belief that the most courageous act a gay person will do in their lifetime is to “come out”. For me, “Coming Out” is about facing your fear. It is about walking through your fear. It is about be willing to be yourself even though that may mean loosing everything…. loosing your family, loosing your friends, your job, home… and God.

    There is nothing in straight world compares… absolutely nothing. When does a straight person risk everything? When does a straight person decided that being honest is more important than their family and friends? When does a straight person put their job on the line in order to do the right thing? When is a straight person forced to choose between being themselves and loosing everything… or hiding who they are forever. Straight people don’t have to make that kind of choice… Straight people rarely have to put everything on the line… For gay people… it is a right of passage. It is like walking through fire… And thank god, it is getting easier every year. Cause 31 years ago, when I came out… it was devastating.

    I am sooooo glad I did it… and I am glad that thousands of us did… and I am glad that I dragged my parents through it all… and I am glad that my family has been able to own up to the truth… to go beyond our fears… and learn that the only thing that matters is our love for each other… it has been a blessing.

    One thing I have learnt along the way is that being “Gay” has nothing to do with sex… and it has everything to do with Courage.

    Some of the most courageous individuals I have ever met… have been the big fags that have ever lived. They are the sissy boys… the boys that in no way, shape or form could ever hide that they were faggots. They have been able to stand up to bullies their whole lives… have learnt to fight because punching a bully is the only way to stop a bully. They are my heroes… bigger and badder than John Wayne and a hell of lot more Fabulous.

    Being Gay is also about embracing the exta-ordinary… because we are not ordinary… and would really wants to ordinary. Mozart was not ordinary… neither was DaVinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Plato, Hadrian… all faggots and all amazing. Life in an of itself… every minute and moment… is extrodinary… is a miracle. I don’t really need walking on water when I have self reflection. I don’t loaves and fishes when I have a sunset. If people don’t learn to see and appreciate the fragile awe of life… then what is the point of all the art, literature, music and religion?

    And to have all of this amazing life energy being rendered into a sex act… or sexual acting out… gives proof to the term “the banality of evil”. To have my ex BF subscribing to, advertising and supporting these lies… is sad and is where the true sickness lay. He decided being accepted by a small group of narrow minded people made him acceptable.

    I don’t want to be acceptable. I want to be fabulous.

    And I am.

    • Robert

      I really wish I proof read this first…

      Being Gay is also about embracing the exta-ordinary… because we are not ordinary… and who really wants to be ordinary.

      • Matt

        It can be easy to fall into that, Robert. We LGBT people are treated so horribly, we imagine that we must be more special as a result.

        But that’s dangerous. We are people, just like straight people–no more, no less. Straight people show their courage in other ways. Some gay people are not brave at all, like your ex-boyfriend (I would argue).

        The entire point of our “movement” is to bring LGBT people into the mainstream narrative of human experience, and have that reflected in our laws, beliefs, society, and culture. Because that’s all that we are: Human.

        • anakin mcfly

          This. It’s a personal pet peeve when various people find out I’m gay and/or trans and start talking impressedly about how I’m so interesting and such a special rebel challenging the status quo, being *different* and all. And yeah, I like to think that I’m special and interesting, but I’d rather that be for who I am and what I’ve done, rather than for facts of my sexual orientation and gender identity that I had no say in.

          But great post all the same, Robert. One note though about straight people not having done all that stuff you mention – I think they would if they were trans.

          • Matt

            Thanks for reminding me, Anakin. Yes, straight trans people go through a lot of the things gay cis people do–and then some.

            Robert, by the way, I never want to demean your experience, or anyone else’s. The pain is profound, that much I can see from your writing. It’s simply healthier to realize that we are people, just like everyone else. It allows us to be easier on ourselves, as well as each other.

          • Robert

            Matt…

            It isn’t a trap… it is the truth. And it has nothing to do with sexual urges, whether we were born this way or the right to marry. It has to do with the fact that our life experiences as LGBTQ people are very different than straight people. (and I am speaking in generalities here… assuming that there is a degree of similarity in the “growing up LGBTQ”). The challenges that we faced are uniquely LGBTQ. This logically means that we bring something “different” to the table.

            The religious right would have us believe that this “difference” is evil.

            I believe that “it” is good. I believe “it” adds lots to our society. I believe that we add spice to things. And when I say we… I am not saying every gay person is Auntie Mame … I am say that collectively… the gay experience forces some of us to look beyond our little boxes… to challenge stereotypes… and to want more than “normal”. I think that going through the cauldron of coming out… standing up… facing your fears… and saying this is “me”… hate me if you want to… it powerful… and it changes you. It builds courage and character. I believe that we need to see things a little differently… we need to see ourselves not as second class citizens but as adding something unique and needed to the world. This doesn’t make us better… but it might make us essential.

            Yes, my Ex did not meet this challenge… he failed. And lives a poorer, more limited and fear/shamed based life because of it. Forever dependent on others for his self esteem.

            Anakin…

            I would say that you are special and unique for what you have done… coming out as a trans-person is an incredible courageous act. For you stating your “truth” may be the norm… (and honestly me being “out” is so normal now). But your being-ness is interesting to straights. I remember when I came out 30 years ago, I was the only out gay guy in my department at college and I had to field 101… more like 1001… questions about “being gay” as though I was some sort of expert. (I wasn’t.) And it can get a little annoying… but…

            But by being there, being gentle, being compassionate, being understanding, being strong, being decent… I became all those things and I was able to begin to shift people’s ideas of ‘gayness’. And mainly what I did was to “normalize” it.

            Because almost all the questions were not about being “gay”. They were about gay sex or gay relationships.

            Almost automatically being “LGBTQ” means that we are outside of the mainstream male/female paradigm. Our very presence challenges the patriarchal structure that our society is based on. It is healthier for us if we are aware of this. It tends to explain lots of the hostility. I also believe our presence is a gift to society. It forces society to re-think its assumptions. It gives room for ambiguity. It asks society to question itself… and society in general doesn’t like to question itself… look at what happened to Socrates. Look at what happened to Jesus.

            I am off now to help arrange for a kid in placement to do a school project tomorrow at a freind’s house… I work in the social services… helping put (mainly straight) families back together again…

          • Matt

            Absolutely we should celebrate our shared experiences, and acknowledge what we bring to the table. That’s what LGBT culture and community is about. It’s why we have Pride.

            And I get the frustration of education. As I am also a trans man, I educate every time I come out, here in 2013. I educate about what it’s like to be treated as a woman, what’s it’s like to be transgender, and what it’s like to live a “queer life.” I even educate cisgender gay men and women, from time to time.

            But not realizing how much we also have in common with our fellow human beings will lead to more violence, in the end. We can’t hurt or kill each other without creating an “us” and “them” dichotomy in our minds, I firmly believe. Right now, we’re the Other. Right now, we’re being kept firmly in “our place” with ignorance and hatred. But if we don’t start getting clear that we are being hurt by human beings, and not monsters, one day that dam is going to break. And I think it will be unspeakably awful, especially in the face of all that we have sacrificed thus far.

          • Jill

            I wish mainstream culture knew about transgender issues, for example, like they know who’s nominated for the Oscars, but they don’t. We do not educate human beings about being human (I know that came out weird…).

            I wish that people had a clue about how much hurt they cause by their chosen ignorance, and how much good they can create from getting clued in and just trying a different way.

            There is most certainly an us/them dynamic, and the more we can ‘normalize’ what is viewed to be abnormal, the more positive change we create that breaks down walls. It doesn’t mean, though, that we fail to recognize the brilliance and the strength of all LGBTQ. You’re not lovable because you’re unique, you’re lovable because you’re who you are meant to be. It’s always gonna be about celebrating people, as they are beautifully crafted to be fully themselves.

          • Matt

            To be fair, there is a lot to get–an entire college course could be made out of it easily and still not cover it exhaustively. And there is no way to truly “get” what it’s like to be transgender for a cisgender person because it’s such an extremely subjective experience, and because we are a diverse community in and of ourselves.

            “You’re not lovable because you’re unique, you’re lovable because you’re who you are meant to be. It’s always gonna be about celebrating people, as they are beautifully crafted to be fully themselves.”

            Nailed it, as you are wont to do, dear friend.

          • robert

            Sorry… just had to take care of getting a little girl to her friend’s house tomorrow so she can have a “normal” experience.

            But that is the problem isn’t it… this idea of “normal”. What is the norm but the average of… I am not “normal” because I am gay, because I am 6 feet one inches tall, because I have an IQ of 127, because I can paint and draw, because I have hazel eyes, because I…

            I am not “normal” for lots of reasons and lots of other people are not “normal”… olympian athletes are not “normal”; musical geniuses are not “normal”; theoretical physicists are not “normal”… Einstien was not normal… normalicy is a myth.

            Everyone has idosyncratic elements… and all of these elements contribute something to the world… what about Bill Gates… Steve Jobs… Mark Zuckerberg… none of them were “normal”….

            Trying to squeeze all of us into these limited little boxes of acceptability is the problem… saying “I will stay silent because you are afraid”… that is the problem. LGBTQ people kept on opening their mouths even when it made the world uncomfortable… and the world have grown because of it… and it will continue to grow… and there will continue to be reactionary elements that want to cling to the old way of thinking… this was true with galileo… and it will continue to be true… it is the process of change…

            (oh, I am also not normal because I LOVE history.)

    • DR

      This is a work of art and made me cry. Thank you.

    • Lymis

      I think some people are misinterpreting what Robert said, or at least misinterpreting what resonated for me in what Robert wrote.

      I hear this complaint not infrequently, usually in June, when the annual “What is so special about being gay that you have to hold Pride Parades about it?” rhetoric starts up right on cue.

      Let’s use a metaphor. Going to college and getting decent grades may be a pretty mundane thing for most people. Some people may have more challenges than others, some may have more natural talent for learning, some people may come from families where the money for college isn’t an issue. And regardless, successfully making it through college is an achievement, but for most people who do it, it’s a private success, and a relatively routine one, all things considered.

      But someone from a background that put huge obstacles in place that would prevent going to college or succeeding there, who worked heroically to overcome them and triumphed does in fact “get more credit” and does in fact, have every reason to take more personal pride in the accomplishment. Someone who was raised in a slum, had to care for their brothers and sisters, worked two jobs, and still managed to get a degree, or someone who overcame serious physical handicaps that made attending and succeeding at classes incredibly difficult, or someone whose life was locked into some pattern and who broke that pattern, left their past behind, and made something new of themselves – all those people are heroes in special ways, and if they didn’t have the support of the people around them, yes indeed, it took courage to do so.

      Whether people want it to be true or not, all of the forces society arrays against LGBT people, especially the forces that attack LGBT people in the name of God and family, create an environment of pain, humiliation, and despair that is every bit as much of a handicap as a physical or financial one. Far too many gay people are told in thousands of ways from before they are even old enough to understand what they are hearing, that they will only be loved if they hide who they are, and that if they want anyone else to love them, they have to hate themselves.

      So yes, coming out is always an act of courage, but for many people, it’s an act of outright heroism, especially because in many ways, the people most damaged by the closet can’t get the support they need that would make coming out easier until they have actually already come out. Even in today’s LGBT-resource rich world, far too many LGBT kids and younger adults have to come out alone, into a deeply hostile world.

      When in order to be yourself and experience love, you have to put every aspect of your existing life at risk, your family, your friendships, your home, your job, even your physical safety, to tell the truth about yourself and often burn the bridges, not only behind you, but while you are actually standing on them, many LBGT people directly and personally experience the process of “dying to yourself in order to be reborn” in ways that most straight people can’t even really conceive of.

      So, no, in the larger scheme of things, there is a truth in the statement that “being gay doesn’t make you special.” And there is certainly truth in the statements that there are some awful gay people in the world and some genuinely amazing straight people in the world.

      But, because of all the things that are arrayed against each and every gay person in our society, even if “simply being gay” isn’t inherently special, doing what it takes to survive and thrive, facing those obstacles, making those choices, paying those prices and going through the process of coming to terms with and being at peace with ourselves and then taking the risks and doing the ongoing work of coming out and being out, and simply living our lives is in fact a special accomplishment.

      People who don’t face those challenges or who face them and make different decisions about what to do with them don’t get to say, “Well, sure, I got to just stroll out here by avoiding a few things I might have tripped over and hearing a few disparaging remarks, and you had to dig your way out of a hole, climb a couple of cliffs, run through fire, and walk barefoot across broken glass while people threw rocks at you, but since we’re now in the same place, nothing about you being here is at all special.”

      No, being LGBT and coming out doesn’t make everyone who does it a deeper person, and it’s by far not the only way to have life experiences that create depth, compassion, perspective, and a fierce and solid grounding in one’s self as a person. But it is one way, and those who survive and thrive deserve the credit for doing so.

      So yes, Robert, embrace your fabulousness. You earned it.

      Other people can find their own fabulousness, and if that’s by a different path, that’s wonderful, too. It doesn’t take away from the uniqueness or specialness of anyone.

  • anakin mcfly

    I don’t know how common this view is, but I’ve known conservative Christians (including one bishop) who are okay – even supportive – of celibate gay relationships, and of a gay Christian couple that’s been living together for a while and committed to a life of dual celibacy. Such that they get the companionship and the cuddling and all that, while not being considered “practicing homosexuals” and thus not sinning by the standards of the Christian Right.

    Such that your argument would not work with those people, who would point out that they’re asking gay people to abstain from sex alone, not (romantic) love.

    • DR

      Can someone PLEASE show me how gay sex is harmful? It’s an actual question.

      • Matt

        There is no extra risk, except that which is forced up on us by secrecy, shame, stigma, and a lack of culturally sensitive resources.

        • Lymis

          That’s the critical thing. Gay sex and gay relationships are not in any way harmful. However, study after study has shown that gay people experience harms in living our lives because of the added factors that are a direct result of the constant disapproval and the practical consequences that arise from it – things like bullying, laws against us, being excluded from family, society, and religion, and so on.

      • anakin mcfly

        …the thought of it gives me too many feelings of passion and vulnerability and love and jealousy and fear that challenge my sense of stability and self-control?

        whereas the thought of straight sex is like… meh.

    • Lymis

      Anakin, John’s argument is that “the new evangelical” argument is that all other options are taken away from gay people and this sexless life is (by the argument) forced on all gay people, whether this arrangement would work for them or not.

      It’s not an argument that this wouldn’t work for anyone, but that it is a vile thing to force on to people and claim that is has to work for everyone.

      It tells gay people that their immortal souls hang in the balance and that choosing physical love damns them to hell, and it tells straight people that they are free to condemn anyone who doesn’t choose gay celibacy.

      And, quite honestly, if you think that there are any significant numbers of the people who condemn sex who are out there extolling the virtues of loving, committed same-sex cuddling and non-sexual fidelity, frankly, you aren’t paying attention. While individual people may be making that choice for themselves, none of the anti-gay voices are doing so. What they are telling gay people is exactly what John said – that we must live alone, never have human contact, and resist love, or risk our immortal souls.

  • http://abnthree.blogspot.com BarbN

    I was raised Evangelical, but left it behind years ago. The Evangelical attitude toward gays was one of the main reasons I turned away. It’s so hard to do (leaving behind the fundamentalist brainwashing). It took me years to get out of the mindset, and I still find residual traces every once in awhile. I’m so glad to find this blog and read intelligent discussion about this issue.

    http://abnthree.blogspot.com/2013/02/sojourn-part-3.html

  • http://bjunity.org Jeffrey Hoffman

    John,

    Thank you so much for the clarity of thought in this post. I, too, receive at least one message like this every week from a well-meaning person who is “concerned for my soul” over on our site.

    Personally, I do believe that some people may be called to celibacy (regardless of sexual orientation), and I want to affirm that call in the life of someone who is certain of it. The problem is that, as creatures of the Creator clearly designed to live our lives as sexual beings — sex may be procreative, but it is also life-affirming, comforting, playful, joyous, and profoundly intimate companionship — celibacy as a proscriptive rule for Christian life is an impossible and destructive standard that leads to depression and sometimes even suicide for those who are not in fact called by God to a celibate life. The late professor Walter Wink proposed that a sexual ethic is deeply personal for each believer and must be measured according to the Law of Love.

    At BJUnity, we affirm the right to self-determination for every believer and we proclaim the love of God which is measureless and unwavering for all his children.

    Thank you for giving voice to this very plain and simple message at the heart of the gospel: God is love.

    Jeffrey Hoffman

    Executive Director

    BJUnity

    the affirming alternative for LGBT+ alumni and students of Bob Jones University (and other Independent Fundamental Baptist organizations)

  • David

    Tell me why being gay is different from being straight? You are saying to us gays that we are not allowed to love. to care for another ,to only be in a straight relationship is the only way to love. Well I love my partner and he just proposed to me, and I accepted. you are not allowing us to LOVE, all you christians say marriage is between a man and a woman, so does that mean that I can marry the preachers wife because she is a woman, or the mayors wife because she is a woman, the only reason you married your wife was because you LOVED her, and so therefore you are saying we can’t LOVE

    • Jennifer Vance

      Hi David. Please re-read John’s post. He is one of the most ardent, well articulated supporters of the LGBT community out there. His comments are in response to what someone wrote to him. He tried to summarize their comments, then obliterate them with logic and love. I have been reading John’s blog for a long time now, and he has been a HUGE encouragement to this lesbian! Blessings to you, David!!!

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

        Wow. How lovely. Thank you, Jennifer.

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/03/gay-marriage-new-apocalypse.html J. M. Green

    Poignant and insightful. You cut past the spiritual b.s. to the heart of the matter. This atheist thanks you for writing such a compassionate blog post!

  • Richard Lubbers

    I’ve been thinking about some of these points since you first wrote this, John. One of the troubles with the new evangelical argument as you have stated it is that hetersexuals don’t have to resist being hetero, they just have to turn away from infidelity. A homosexual person should also be chaste, but the argument that they have to actually stop being gay begs the question. It assumes that homosexual desire is a sin in the same way that adultery is sin. To me, they are not alike at all.

    One of the best ways to overcome sin is to do something altogether wonderful and healthy. A straight man turns away from the desire to be unfaithful, and he can go home to form a closer bond of intimacy with his wife. The evangelicals shut the door on this opportunity to gays and lesbians. To speak of one being like the other only makes sense when saying the gay man should resist the temptation to be unfaithful to his partner, and go home to form a more intimate bond of love.

    There is no written account that Jesus ever told someone who they should or shouldn’t love, other than that they should love God and love one’s neighbor, but that’s a different love. On the other hand, He seemingly had something to say about infidelity.

    • Richard Lubbers

      In rereading, the second to the last sentence in the first paragraph sounds like I am saying that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t. It might have been better phrased:

      “They call homosexual desire sin in the same way they call adultery sin. It is not. Unfortunately, their argument is based on the assumption that it is.”

      If one follows reason, such as John has, the argument dies.

  • John H. Armstrong

    I’m sorry but this is a complete non sequitur argument. Because I have a sexual desire and want to exercise it genitally and because God made me for love then it is OK to love in “this” way. Seriously, have you really studied classical Christian ethical arguments about sex/fidelity/monogamy, etc.? What on earth is our Lord saying in Matthew 19 as well? You might make a decent enough case (I have not heard one and have read many and also have many great friends who would agree with your POV) but this is not a serious way, in my view, to make such a case brother. My view view aligns with the teaching of the Christian Church for the entire history of the ages until now. Would you not admit that you are the one making the “new” argument in this instance? Yes, I have read Boswell’s history but find it deeply flawed and most critical reviews agree on this point.

    • Seth Jones

      Seth Jones

      John also seems to have a very limited understanding of what it means to be alone. There is a christian tradition of community. Celebacy doesn’t equate lonliness, isolation does. Jesus was celebate but he was only really alone when he was isolated from God and from his friends. Married life doesn’t give you an automatic immunity to lonliness either. Trust me, I’m married with two kids who demand my wife’s exclusive attention at all times, I know.

      • Annie

        But have you been told to be alone for your whole life, voluntarily, in order to ‘resist sin’, Seth? We all have times when we are lonely, whether we are in a relationship with another person or not. Yes, there are seasons to all our lives, and sometimes being alone is a profoundly good thing, but that is not the same ‘aloneness’ as is being dictated by those who think gayness = sin. There are also those for whom being alone is a calling. But to expect an entire sector of society to live without the closeness of the human heart that we only get from a loved one (or soul mate), simply because of their sexual orientation, to me seems the utmost cruelty.

      • DR

        Good Lord you are completely missing the point. The type of celibacy you are speaking of is always accompanied by a CHOICE. One either chooses not to be married or is not married and has to contend with that lifestyle. That’s where the richness of the celibate life comes into play. What those of you can’t get through your (apologies, it’s the only way of saying this) thick brains is the church FORCES celibacy on gay men and women in order to remain in good standing faith wise. Can many who are gay and Christian do it? With joy and peace? I guess, sure, if they say they can and are then I believe them. But that is not what we’re discussing here, please please please stay on track with the discussion, this kind of thing derails the actual points being made regarding the injustice we’re trying to correct. Thanks.

        • Lymis

          Let me also add that how many condemning Christian congregations are going to be okay with the person who says “Yes, I am gay, but in Christ I have chosen celibacy” and respond, “They we fully support you! Be welcome!” or with the gay couple who says “Yes, we love each other, but believe us when we tell you that we have chosen celibacy and never have sex with each other (or anyone else)”?

          That’s a part of why this “argument” is such a crock in reality, over and above the conceptual flaws. Because in practice, the same people who are insisting that this is the only valid Christian choice for a gay person will be the the first to ostracize them. It will be yet another, “Oh, we approve of this in principle, but you certainly can’t do it around us!” situation.

          In some cases, it will be framed differently – as “If you are celibate, why do you have to shove your homosexuality in our faces in the first place?” but the end result will still be the same – get in the closet of get the hell out of Dodge by sundown.

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

            You are absolutely right. As someone who has struggled in this area quite a bit, sexual orientation is a part of who you are. If you believe that something so central to your identity is inherently perverse, it really has an impact on whether or not you are able to fully engage in community with others–especially when those others are repulsed by you.

            Regardless of whether they say “It’s fine to be gay as long as you’re celibate,” you are still pretty much required to stay in the closet. Girlfriends talking about celebrities they find attractive?

            You can’t participate.

            People talking about relationships, children, what they look for in a life partner?

            Just stay silent.

            You are not welcomed into the fold because nobody wants to hear about it. So not only do you have to live a life without a fulfilling relationship and the possibility of your own family and YES, a sexual outlet, but you can’t even really talk about it.

            Listen, as a bisexual, I have lived much of my life in despair. NOT because I don’t have a sexual outlet (I am married), but because of the idea that there is something inherently wrong with my ability to love and be attracted to someone regardless of their gender.

            These are things I don’t talk about. I just stay silent. I hide a part of who I am because I know what the reaction would be and I can’t face it. And if I were gay? I honestly would have probably left Christianity behind a long time ago, or I’d have committed suicide. I left someone I loved, years ago, because of the fear of eternal hellfire coupled with everything I would lose in this life, including my family, friends, what I then believed was my call to be involved in Christian ministry, etc, etc. And this choice almost broke me. I cried for years because I missed her so much. I literally broke my own heart because the bigots told me to.

            Thankfully I fell in love again and I was lucky enough that it was with a man and I could avoid all the unfortunateness of having to choose between being a member of the Christian community and living a life without a partner. But the funny thing about that, is that I’m not even sure I want to be part of the church community anymore. For what they did to me, and for being told that if I express any different opinion on the matter of orientation that I am not welcome and not one of them?

            I am just about ready to be done, because I can’t sit here and watch gay people who truly want a relationship with God be told they have to choose between God’s love and romantic love. It’s sick.

          • Jill

            Keshia, thank you so much for sharing your heartbreaking story here. Everything you said is SO important! I hope you have been able to find some peace, even in all this sadness. All the best, Jill

        • Annie

          Sorry, DR, were you responding to me or to Seth?

          • DR

            John H Armstrong! :)

          • DR

            (and Seth).

    • David S

      Yes, I love this line of thought: “it’s our tradition, so it must be true”. Tradition is important, for sure, but it is not infallible and should not be confused with God’s will. The traditional Christian Church teaching for 1500 years was that the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around it. One not even look at the tradition-based abuses of slavery and the subjugation of women to dismantle this weak argument. Tradition changes, thank God.

      • Steven Waling

        I agree with everything except that the church never believed that the earth was flat. That particular myth was invented by Washington Irving.

      • Linnea

        One reason I stay with the United Methodist church for all it’s shortcomings: we build our faith on the Wesley Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason and experience. Oftentimes the church hierarchy gets too hung up on the first two, but a lot of people in the pews (not to mention our more thoughtful clergy) are giving more weight to reason and experience.

    • Lymis

      “What on earth is our Lord saying in Matthew 19 as well?”

      Since the statements about a man leaving his mother to marry a woman was specifically in response to a question about the divorce of opposite sex couples, it’s as ludicrous to use this as a Divine command that only heterosexual marriage (much less heterosexual sex) is morally valid as it would be to take Jesus’s statement that a loving Father would never give a child a stone to eat when the child asked for bread to imply that the only thing God allows you to feed a child is bread.

      What on earth our Lord is saying is that a lot of people don’t thrive when they are alone, and that something important happens when two people bind themselves to each other in love.

      It’s ridiculous to use the verse as a claim that heterosexual marriage is the only allowable relationship when a few verses later, Jesus goes on to say ““Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.”

      I think it’s manifestly self-evident that gay people are not the people to whom the command to marry someone of the opposite sex has been given.

      Let’s also not pretend that a significant portion, if not the vast majority of “classical” Christian ethical argument about sex, marriage, and fidelity are set in a framework about the fundamental inferiority (and often, moral defects) of women, who simply were not seen as people on a par with men when they were treated as people at all, and also set in a world where birth control was not an option – making any discussion of heterosexual sex inherently a discussion about pregnancy and children in a society that was usually brutal to unwed mothers and bastard children.

      In any discussion, morality not excluded, when some of the central underlying understandings change, often, the conclusions that used to validly flow from them have to be re-examined in the light of the new understandings.

      Aligning your view with ” the teaching of the Christian Church for the entire history of the ages until now” includes aligning it with concepts like the idea that femaleness constitutes a birth defect, women are incapable of moral judgement or sexual agency, women are property (or at least, livestock) rather than people in their own right, homosexuality as an orientation does not exist, and a host of other concepts that don’t bear up under modern scrutiny.

      But before you start claiming that new ideas have no Biblical authority, you’ll want to review John 16. It’s unbiblical to claim that the Holy Spirit will not teach humanity new things. And things which set aside longstanding fear and prejudice and call people to new and deeper understandings of love certainly seem to be idea candidates for such teaching.

      • Nicole

        Lymis, if you write books on Christian philosophy and ideas, I WILL BUY THEM. I love your brain!

        • vj

          As will/do I ;-)

  • Carolyn Spath Frakes

    Very well said, thank you.

  • Margaret Bengtson

    Profound article. Thank you.

  • Christine McQueen

    Very well thought out article and very good replies so far. As someone else said, if it’s not causing harm, how can it be a sin?

  • Bee Pagarigan

    You whisper “gay” into the ear of a sleeping evangelical, and there’s an excellent chance that he or she will start murmuring in their sleep, “Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist temptation.” – John Shore

    Too funny until you realize, it’s so true.

  • John Rutledge

    I wish I had read this before this morning’s long conversation with the Jehovah’s Witnesses at my front gate. Not to worry. They always come back, and were reminded repeatedly God still speaks. We can only hope they listen before they harm another.

    • Muir Halleron

      There is a JW couple who come around to my home at least once a month. We’ve talked about homosexuality and they (surprisingly) said they see nothing wrong with it. I know (being a former JW myself) that accepting attitudes such as theirs is quite rare, but it’s very heartening at least!

      • Jill

        Wow, that’s news to me. My best friend had to stay in the closet to remain a Christian in good standing. Happily we both moved on long ago.

        I’d be hard pressed to believe they’ve changed their views 180 degrees. Oh wait, I just checked their website, and no, they remain ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’. Same as 20 years ago. Glad I left.

  • Mel Thompson

    This isn’t a comment on homosexuality, but on the use of the word “love” in the Bible as stated in the end of the article:

    “Now isn’t that funny, given that love is the one thing that Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others?”

    Do we know from the original text of the New Testament, when Jesus commanded us to love one another if he was talking about eros, storge, philia or agape?

    • Lymis

      In some very important ways, it doesn’t matter which he was talking about.

      Yes, it would be an obvious and direct application if sexual love was what Jesus was talking about.

      But most people who try to parse it this way really don’t seem to have given what they are demanding anywhere near enough thought.

      Demanding that a gay person give up all possibility of ever having a deeply intimate, loving, sexual relationship is not only demanding that they simply abstain from sexual activity – it is demanding that we buy into a particular interpretation of the meaning of some of our most fundamental, central, core experiences as human beings.

      To agree to this view, we have to agree, not only that explicitly sexual same-sex actions are morally wrong, but by extension, that every impulse toward those actions is either morally wrong or morally suspect. That our own sexuality is not just something wild we need to tame, but that is actually a hostile beast that lies waiting to ambush us at any moment of any day.

      The fluffy bunnies and unicorns idea that “all” gay people have to do is have a loving, cuddly, committed non-sexual lifelong friendship is a pipe dream for most people in practice, because if you believe that same-sex sexual feelings are morally suspect, you don’t dare put yourself in a situation where they will come up constantly, and if you do succeed, it’s at the cost of constantly hating yourself.

      Other close same-sex friendships? Occasions of sin. Close opposite-sex friendships chosen specifically and primarily because they are sexually “safe” – that poisons those very friendships because on a primary level, you’re using that person as a crutch, not engaging them as a person.

      Selfless non-sexual love, charity and compassion for others? When you start from the deep, permanent conviction that you yourself are fundamentally unlovable and incapable of love, because God Himself bars you from love in any form, just how able are you going to be to share yourself unconditionally with someone else?

      This is not to say that celibacy is impossible or unhealthy for those who are called to it. But celibacy based on the idea that the love you would experience if you weren’t celibate is evil and morally unsupportable isn’t an expression of a higher connection. It’s a conviction of irreparable defect, fault, fear, and damage.

      Love cannot be based in fear. Love casts out fear. And constantly policing ourselves based on a deep and irreconcilable fear of who and how we might accidentally open ourselves to love can never result in an untainted experience of any form of love.

      We are told to believe that who we are is inherently evil – and then blithely told that as long as we stay constantly on guard against our own inherent vileness, we’re free to share ourselves with other people in non-sexual ways.

      “Cut off your feet, and then feel free to dance any way you choose.”

      John has it right. This “new” evangelical argument is a command to gay people never to open themselves to love.

      And, I would say, that since God is love, in a very real way, it’s a command to cut ourselves off from an openness to allowing God into our lives at the deepest levels. Not because God is sex, but because the walls you have to build in your heart, mind, and spirit to cut off the possibility of sexual love block out far more than just sex.

      And, for what it’s worth, yes, I think that the constant focus by many straight Christians on sex as the ground of morality has the effect of cutting them off from the possibility of genuine love in a lot of very real ways. Sometimes I think that the reason homosexuality has become the ultimate sin is because they are afraid to deal with dropping their own walls against love.

      • Kagi

        “Sometimes I think that the reason homosexuality has become the ultimate sin is because they are afraid to deal with dropping their own walls against love.”

        Nail, head. You hit it.

      • JohnAGJ

        Wow. Well done. You said it far better than I could!

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

          Lymis pretty much always says everything better than anyone else could have said it. I have no idea why he’s chosen to ply his awesomeness here, but I’m eminently grateful that he has.

          • Nicole

            Agreed!

          • Mindy

            He does. He is a magical wordsmith. I am in awe nearly every time.

          • Jill

            Where have you been, young lady? I’m missing you…

          • vj

            Me too!

          • Linnea

            Total agreement! I think I’m fairly good at expressing myself, but Lymis outclasses me every time. :)

      • vj

        Wow, Lymis – this has brought me to tears. You express such wisdom, with such eloquence. I believe you have arrived at this point through pain, for which I am so sorry, but I am SO grateful that you are here to share…

  • Pearl Basehore

    Those sorts of Christians fail to recognize that sin does not equal immorality. It is baffling, and frankly, scary to think that these people find morality only in religion. To equate a man cheating on his wife or gluttony or alcoholism with being gay because both are “sins” is a false comparison — clear to any moral atheist — we can maintain basic morality without following someone’s presumed idea of what their god would call “sin” based on a book of stories retold and written by men decades, even centuries, after said stories “actually occurred.” In this day in age we can’t even agree on what happened a week ago. I certainly don’t take as “gospel” any story written a hundred years ago! While it might instruct me morally, I wouldn’t abide by it as a rule book.

  • John A. Mitchell

    This impassioned, straw man plea for the right to love is built upon the false assumption that sexual expression is the most important thing about us. This is the only way to arrive at the false dichotomy that someone who is attracted to the same gender must either live “without love” or have sex with someone of the same gender. But the notion that love is primarily or fundamentally expressed sexually is grossly reductionistic and ultimately, sub-human.

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

      And Phase III of the conservative evangelical’s argument against LGBT rights slimes onto the stage …

      I went to John Mitchell’s blog (I’ve since removed that link from his name), and right away found this on his latest post there:

      “Love” is no longer loving when it condones actions that have a deleterious affect upon the ones we claim to love. This is currently the most politically incorrect aspect of loving homosexuals as Jesus does, because God’s Word is so clear about homosexuality. Both the Old Testament that Jesus affirmed and taught from, and the New Testament state plainly that homosexuality (like all sin) is an aberration of God’s design, rebellion against Him, and therefore, a ruinous practice.

      Gee, what a surprise: another bigot posing as pious.

      He’s been put on moderation.

      • John A. Mitchell

        Thank you for reading my blog, John. How ironic you would proof-text one paragraph out of two long blog posts in which I plead with Evangelicals to treat homosexuals as Jesus would – with dignity, love and grace. I did you the courtesy of reading your article en toto. Would you deny your readers the opportunity to do the same in my case? Your censorship suggests that you, not I, are unwilling to address this issue fully and honestly. I invite the reader to read for himself what I write about the issue in these blogs at [link deleted cuz I'm about sure].

        • Nicole

          I’m sure we can find your blog, if we wanted to, John. You’re not being censored. Although, if you were, that would be fine because this is a personal blog and Pastor John has the right to pull anything off of it he would like. Censoring would be somehow removing your blog from the Internet.

        • JohnAGJ

          There is this thing called “Google” which makes finding blogs such as yours quite easy, especially if one has text from the blog to search. I found your blog in seconds. It would have been faster but alas, I’m a slow typist. I read the post that Shore quotes above and frankly I have to say that I don’t buy it. From your photo you appear to be in your late 30s to perhaps late 40s. If so, where the heck were you the past 3 decades when so-called Christians have done anything and everything to make gays the ultimate boogeyman out to destroy this country? Where were you when DADT was passed into law and gays were deliberately targeted by these so-called Christians for ostracizing not only from the military but all sectors of public life? These so-called Christians made life a living hell for gays all in the name of God and yet now you come along and claim you love us? Sorry, I don’t buy it and call bullshit. It’s the same BS in different wrap.

        • DR

          Oh good Lord, I read your blog and found the same tired theology wrapped into a “let’s use loving words” wrapper. It’s no different from what you essentially posted here. The bottom line is Christians are called to treat everyone with love and dignity, that’s what the kids call “old news”, and it’s your way of escaping the accountability you and others are now being held to which is actually proving that this is sinful as you equate it with other sin. Your blog post could be equated to telling a father who is beating his child with a pipe because the Bible says “spare the rod, spoil the child” to continue beating his child, but to speak to her with “love, respect and kindness” after he does it. Don’t you get it? We’re spiritually and emotionally abusing this community of people. We have taken a few scriptures and twisted them to fit our need to be right. It’s the same exact thing many Christians did when they claimed separate but equal was supported in Scripture. So as one who actually read your blog thoroughly, I’m happy to attest that it’s nothing new we’ve seen from a hundred commenters here who throw a temper tantrum when their attempts to wrap Jesus-coated love language around abusive interpretations of theology are dismantled. You’re not as unique as you think you are.

      • James

        that’s Phase III? I thought it was part of the old Phase I refrain. in my experience, it’s one of the oldest tricks in their bag to claim that love between LGBTQ people isn’t “really” love, that we aren’t ever “really” happy because we’re “living outside God’s plan” and to say that our families and our relationships aren’t “real”.

        how dare anyone try and tell me that they know more about me and my emotions than I do just because of some words they’ve (poorly) interpreted from a book that was written thousands of years ago before the word “homosexual” even existed!

    • DR

      John, those who claim that homosexuality is against God are actually taking this approach. They’f have chosen to interpret the Bible in the ways that deem being gay as being sinful so they have to redefine what “being gay” is in order for homosexuality to fit the definition. That definition relying upon equating “being gay” and/or “gay marriage” with “gay sex”. If you asked any married heterosexual couple if the reason they stay married and faithful is because of the sex, they’d laugh in your face. Yet that’s exactly what many who try to argue that being gay = gay sexual acts from which one can abstain attempt to argue (and fail as they do so).

      • Bill

        DR, you are soooo right. I’m so tired of evangelicals and fundies who continue to think of (and refer to) homosexuality as a specific sexual act, as if that act were the be-all, end-all of any same-sex attraction or relationship.

        I am not a sexual act.

        What I do behind closed doors (if I choose to do anything) does not have to be described in lurid detail in order to understand who I am.

        I am man, who loves another man. I want to share my life with him.

        ’nuff said.

        • DR

          Exactly this. xoxo

      • vj

        They also end up twisting/interpreting what the Bible says about ‘straight’ marriage to support their argument against ‘gay’ marriage! I read a commentary the other day that ‘explained’ that, because male and female together are made ‘in the image of God’ (as described in Genesis), when a husband and wife are sexually intimate they are somehow ‘completing’ each other in the image of God (in a way that 2 men or 2 women cannot do, since they do not have ‘complementary’ bodies)… Aside from loathing the ‘you complete me’ notion of romance (I think it’s better to be a whole person in yourself before you are part of a couple), I have always understood that the Genesis account of male and female both being in the image of God was more about the whole of humanity (and the non-inferiority of women), not any 2 individual people! As a woman married to a man, the evidence of my own experience is that we are not particularly thinking about the ‘image of God’ in the bedroom (or anywhere else). We got married because we wanted to build a life together, and I don’t see that our relative genders makes any difference to that desire.

    • Johnny Parker

      The moment somebody in an internet discussion starts bandying around the term ‘straw man’ they’re nearly always about to come out with a load of bollocks. Mr Mitchell does not disappoint.

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

        Yeah, what is with the “straw man” thing? You’re right: whenever anyone says that, I always know what I’m about to read is going to be completely obnoxious. How weird.

      • John A. Mitchell

        I am surprised at the ad hominem attacks here. When you begin attacking the person, it suggests you are out of ideas. I respect you John Shore and I want to dialogue with you about this because people matter. With you, I believe Evangelicals have largely failed in addressing this issue as Jesus would. If you want to influence those outside your camp with the arguments you present, you must be willing and able to dialogue with those who challenge your arguments without resorting to ad hominem attacks that make you seem unable or unwilling to engage them.

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

          John: I’ll let you know just the moment I’m concerned with your opinion of me. (Oh, and I like the name you chose for your email address, “hotjam.”)

        • Nicole

          Arrgh…can we leave all the debate and argument lingo off the table? “Straw man,” “ad hominem attack.” You don’t have to label everything with the technical fallacy terms…it just makes you sound arrogant. If someone insults you, then just say you’re insulted and move on.

          • Lymis

            The technical term in the gay community for what John A. Mitchell is doing is called “pearl clutching” – picture the oh, so proper matron, with her hand to her throat saying, “Why, I’m shocked – shocked, I say – that anyone could even think a thing!”

            It usually applies when someone says or does something deeply offensive, and then tries to claim that only someone devoid of intellect or any social graces could possibly have taken offense. Because, why, look, not a single word of their dismissive, hateful, hurtful, and untrue claims were uncivil.

          • Nicole

            Pearl clutching. I love it. :D

          • Linnea

            Me, too! Have to remember that one.

        • Jill

          John, this would be my challenge to your argument.

          We are not born of a vacuum, nor do we live in one.

          If we intellectualize Bible passages and doctrinal certitude, we have no vision or scope for the ramifications it creates. We have been given both minds and hearts for discernment of what God’s love means to a world broken by divisiveness.

          The only reason why I’m even here contemplating Christian scripture and doctrine and practice of faith is because of the overwhelming support of LGBTQ Christians helping me to find God again. They are the reason I’ve found a church. This is a debt I will never be able to repay. My gay and transgender brothers and sisters have done more for this straight, cis-gender person to reclaim my lost faith than I could have dreamed. Not you, not evangelicals. (Will that message ever get through?)

          And still they continue to have to fight for their rightful place at God’s abundant table as they are, with whom they love, and that has taught me everything about why Christianity is important. They have taught me that it’s something worth fighting for.

          People in your camp have missed out on the vast wealth of knowledge, insight, compassion, dedication, and loving-kindness that LGBTQ people bring to the table. You don’t get to claim you are welcoming, but say leave your homosexual spouse or partner at the door.

          You can have your harsh, rigid, (I call it inhumane) doctrine if you’re so attached to it, but you also must be willing to look at the consequences of it in this non-vacuum life we find ourselves in. The real world consequences are all around us, if you care to notice them. I hope one day soon, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

        • Johnny Parker

          Mmmm, nice use of ‘ad hominem’ Mr Mitchell. Double bollocks for that. Why not go for the triple whammy and lob in a bit of confirmation bias? Oh, you already did that in your blog, where you assert that, “God’s Word is so clear about homosexuality. Both the Old Testament that Jesus affirmed and taught from, and the New Testament state plainly that homosexuality (like all sin) is an aberration of God’s design, rebellion against Him, and therefore, a ruinous practice.”

          Oh really? My Bible does no such thing.

          In your blog posts on ‘loving homosexuals’ you go out of your way to parade your Jesus-like credentials in that regard, dazzling us with a declaration of how you shower your army of gay friends with “unrelenting grace, truth and love”. You even go so far as to affirm that, “Love acts in the best interest of the one loved, period”.

          Do you truly believe, then, that it is in my brother David’s best interest to give up the loving, faithful and sexual relationship he has with his life partner?

          Presumably you wouldn’t turn the light of your relentless grace, truth and love on me in the same way and urge me to give up having sex with my wife? Although you ought to, seeing as how you say we should “treat them (ie gays) like we treat anyone else”.

          The truth, of course, is that you are a homophobic bigot, and you are strong-arming scripture to bolster your bigotry. Why not just come out and admit it. I’d respect you more (not much more admittedly) if you fessed up to your aversion to homosexuality instead of soft-soaping us with your nauseating false piety.

          Please feel free to view my comments as an ad hominem. It might give you some small insight into how my brother feels every time he reads some Christian bigot telling him he’s an aberration for being in love.

          • Lymis

            It’s ad hominem when you measure the value of someone’s argument based purely on your perception of who they are, especially if you declare that “that sort of person” isn’t allowed to have a meaningful input to a discussion, and therefore attack them on who they are rather than what they say.

            It is not ad hominem when you actually review their argument and find it wanting, especially if you find the basis of it to be bigoted and logically flawed. It’s not even ad hominem to draw the conclusion that someone whose argument is grounded in bigotry is, in fact, a bigot. That’s just common sense.

          • Johnny Parker

            Good shout Lymis. I’m sick unto death with ‘Christian’ bigots like Mr Mitchell spouting homophobic bollocks dressed up as some weird brand of altruistic tough love. “Oh, I love homosexuals so much I can’t just stand by and let them ruin their own lives. The poor saps don’t know how much happier and healthier they’d be if they just stopped being in love. Now, where the deuce is my big stoning rock, my ‘skull crusher’? Little Jimmy next door’s been out collecting sticks on Sunday …”

        • DR

          Here we go – the victimization and tone-policing which will be followed by giving yourself permission to leave because you aren’t being spoken to in ways that make you feel comfortable (because for people like John, they bail when they get uncomfortable).

          Well guess what, John? People out there – and a few in here – are actually furious with you for the decisions you’ve made on what the Bible says and we’re saying so. We’re prioritizing the healing of those you hurt over the need many of you have to feel good about yourself. We are repulsed by the damage your theology does to gay kids and the gay adults who barely survive you and speaking for myself, it’s exhausting to deal with your petulant, self-absorbed insistence that you should be able to spew it unmoderated.

          I’m no longer shocked that you and others who believe as you do are completely disconnected from the actual damage your “theology” causes – so far, none of you have been willing to have an actual conversation about that or take responsibility for it. You just wander in to conversations like these with people who are cleaning up the mess that you’ve created and expect to be listened to. You’ve entered into conversations with gay men and women who have been so terrified of the christian community as a result of the theology you choose to embrace and teach and actually expect to be welcomed with open arms. It’s so shocking that I should be surprised, but I’m not any longer. If it’s not clear enough already, I’d suggest heading on down to your local awareness hall and consider adopting the belief that the sun doesn’t actually revolve around you. Let us know how that goes.

        • DR

          Don’t you find it fascinating that someone like John can actually state that being a homosexual is “ruinous” and then actually claim he’s being personally attacked? What is truly creepy to me and so deeply unsettling is the cognitive dissonance he and others display in doing so – people like John honestly don’t see the difference, they are so immersed in this illusion of theological and intellectual semantics they’ve woven around themselves in order to stay in control and not have to be wrong that I don’t think they really don’t see it. Somewhere in their heart and their spirit they have to acknowledge it quietly (unless all of them are sociopaths and I don’t think that’s true). What a scary thing in our church.

          • Lymis

            I don’t know if there is a recognized form of sociopathy that’s selective, but in practice there certainly is – people could look at black slaves and not see people. People could look at women and not see people. At foreigners, or Jews, or peasants, or, throughout history, whole groups of other people.

            If the ones you’re talking about aren’t people, then the conditions under which they live their lives (or die) can be an intellectual exercise that doesn’t actually touch real people. You don’t have to even think of “do unto others…” because there has to be an other there to whom you would be doing unto.

            So the lives, deaths, loves, relationships, finances, pains, joys, and realities of LGBT people can be just an intellectual concept you toy with over drinks, something worth considering as a mental exercise, but certainly not with being heated about. Of course you can “agree to disagree” when no actual people are harmed by the consequences of your views. When it’s purely intellectual, you have no moral obligation to question whether your interpretation of a Bible text is consistent with human compassion and the dignity of all involved.

            Of course you do consider such things when real people, and deeply significant moral issues – like whether it’s okay to eat bacon – are involved, but there’s no reason to put that sort of effort into something like whether a gay teenager is driven to suicidal despair by what they are told in church. It’s just another queer, after all. Not a real person.

            So, really, it’s distasteful to disagree with someone who condemns millions of his neighbors to a choice between a loveless life and eternal damnation. That just shows you’re out of ideas.

            No, John Mitchell. It shows we’re out of patience.

        • http://kellythinkstoomuch.wordpress.com KellyK

          Um…saying that what you said was “a load of bollocks” is not ad hominem. Ad hominem is making an insult against a person (e.g., he’s a liar, adulterer, he kicks puppies, whatever) and using it to discredit his argument.

    • JohnAGJ

      Notice how you immediately went to talking about sex when it comes to gays and completely missed everything else John was talking about? Typical. If your intimate relationships are based on nothing more than sex, which I suspect they are not, than I truly feel sorry for you. Yet with gays that’s ALL you can think about which really says a lot.

      • DR

        Exactly this!

    • Lymis

      Talk about straw man arguments.

      Recognizing that something is important, even critical, doesn’t require a claim that it is “the most important thing about us.” And, honestly, the only people I ever hear saying anything of the sort are the people who condemn loving healthy same-sex relationships.

      Actual gay people are vastly more likely to say things like “This is not the whole of my identity; it’s just something that happens to be true about me” and “My relationships are far more about love and companionship and getting the bills paid and food on the table than they are about some sort of constant obsession with sex.”

      But something doesn’t have to be “the most important thing about us” to be debilitating if it is denied us.

      Very few people would claim that food is the most important thing in their life, but take it away for a couple weeks, and the results are devastating. Air, water, shelter, clothes. None of them are “central” until they are absent.

      And, most disgustingly, this sort of claim is usually made by the metaphorical equivalent of someone having finished a lavish lunch with a car full of groceries explaining why “those people over there” should subsist forever on water and dry bread, because food isn’t a central part of life. But it’s certainly something they are unwilling to do without. (After all, they themselves only have “healthy” appetites.)

      Which wheel of a car is “the most important thing about a car?” None of them, until you take one away. And when you say to someone, “Everyone is welcome to have a car if they want one, so of course you can have a car, you just can’t have wheels on it like we do on ours,” you’d better have a pretty solid reason for doing so.

      No, John A. Mitchell, sex is not, taken in isolation, the most important thing in life. But it is, for the vast majority of people, certainly an important thing in life, and many people (at least, many healthy people), a life-enhancing, positive, and yes, necessary, part of their lives.

      • David S

        I’m stealing your wheels on the car metaphor. Brilliant!

        • Lymis

          It’s all yours.

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

        Thank you, Lymis!!!

      • DrewTwoFish

        Sigh*…Lymis, I’m falling in love with you all over again or at least your mind. Care to move up to Canada and make me an honest man? LOL.

        • Lymis

          My husband might object…..

          • DrewTwoFish

            Rats. Lucky husband.

          • Lymis

            Definitely.

    • http://Www.cindymurphythinkingoutloud.blogspot.com Cindy

      Talk about straw men. Interesting argument you’re setting up there. Before you go any farther, ask yourself this: who is it that claims that gay relationships are all about sex? It certainly isn’t any gay person I’ve ever met. And it certainly isn’t John. Seems like it’s you in this current scenario and only ever people who make your ridiculous straw man argument. Next you’re going to suggest that there would be nothing sinful about the relationship between my wife and I if we just abstained from sex. No? I didn’t think so. Say what you really mean and stop pretending it’s all about sex. Oh but wait, if you did that John’s argument would make perfect sense to you and we can’t have that…

      • JohnAGJ

        Exactly. I’ve never heard anything but condemnation from folks like Mitchell towards gays even when it comes to NOT having sex. That two persons of the same sex have an intimate relationship even without sex is enough to condemn them on their eyes. So that means no holding hands, cuddling on the couch, kissing or any of the million of other things 2 people in love do to express love for each other BESIDES sex.

        That reminds me, I recall reading somewhere about a study done on infants and how bad it is for them when they do not have human touch and love. Yet folks like Mitchell want to condemn gays to that kind of life not because they have a vocation for celibacy but simply due to the fact they have a “disordered” orientation. That frankly makes God out to be a sadistic monster IMO.

        • Jill

          John, your opinion, along with mine and SO many others. If these evangelicals are right about God, then God’s a cruel bastard. No, I don’t buy it anymore.

  • Brian

    It seems to me that the argument sent to you in the email still hasn’t wandered very far from the “chosen” border.

    “The most compassionate thing that we could tell someone struggling with homosexuality (or any other sin for that matter) is to keep resisting temptation.”

    The person who wrote the above hasn’t even bothered to change the view that the orientation is a sin! Come on!!! And to lump an alcoholic in with someone suffering from pride or a glutton!? WTF! Anyone who has suffered through the family “disease” of alcoholism knows only too well that it is both a spiritual problem with a physical component; an allergy. An alcoholic can find recovery through a 12 step program. Gluttony hardly qualifies as a physical problem – there may be an emotional angle to it, but a glutton can stop eating. As for the adulterer, he may well be dealing with an emotional wound, but even that can be helped…

    This Evangelical hyporcite absolutely refuses to consider that a person who is gay is dealing with an attraction that can not be overcome, and Jesus is OK with that! I spent 30 years trying to pray it away, date it away, counsel (psychologically) it away, and even went to Seminary for the purpose of having God change me if I gave myself to the celibate priesthood…

    NO CHANGE.

    This new argument is the same wolf in a new set of sheep duds. What a dud!

  • otter

    I have been arguing from the position that ” being gay is not a choice” for my whole life. Just recently I turned the argument around and started asking myself “so what if it was a choice? how does that even matter?” After all we all know people who have been in hetero relationships before gay ones, so arguing they “had no choice” is a bit of a stretch. What we are really arguing it they had no right to follow thier hearts into a relatioship that was more meaningful to them. When we argue from the position that the Bible is wrong because we are as God made us and in order to experience love we are compelled to be in same sex relationships, it makes us seem powerless. Fact is, the choice is irrelevant….love is love. The repulsion heteros feel about gay sex is what is at the root of all their twisted logic. If they really cared about harnful relatupionships they would be concerned about physically and emotionally violent hetero ones, wouldn’t they???

    When I see a sign that says “God hates batterers” I’ll let you know.

    • Lymis

      Otter, I agree, but I think in the middle there, you changed what it was that people have a choice about.

      Being in an opposite sex relationship and then leaving it to be in a same sex relationship is certainly a choice, but it doesn’t inherently reflect any choice whatsoever in the underlying sexual orientation of the person making the choice. The majority of people I know who did that express that the didn’t have a choice about their attractions, and the reason they made a different choice about their relationship was because they knew they were living a lie.

      The rest of your point is dead on. The fact that most people experience no choice whatsoever in their fundamental sexual orientation is simply that – a fact. It’s true, like the truth that some people are left handed or blue-eyed.

      But because that is simply a fact, it’s wrong to extend that fact into some sort of moral imperative. Whether or not the gender of the people one is attracted to is a choice is really morally irrelevant, because if it’s not a choice, then it’s not a choice, and if it is a choice, it’s a choice that people are free to make for themselves.

    • David S

      Awesome thoughts, Otter. In the “depraved choice” characterization of homosexuality, “depraved” is at least as offensive as “choice”. That’s often lost in the conversation.

  • Roger you know

    John Shore strikes again.

  • Luke

    John, I love you, but I have to agree with Mel and, to some extent, with certain other critics on this one. Your article flips back and forth between agape and eros all over the place. Also, there are many who chose a life of celibacy, either out of vocation or preference. To suggest that such a life is somehow intrinsically lacking has its own set of problems. Certainly it plays well preaching to the choir, but people who hold the viewpoint that gays should be celibate aren’t going to see celibacy as some sort of lesser way of living. (Of course there is an hypocrisy there too.) I just don’t think this argument works well, and cedes too much.

    Lets go back to the statement in the email:

    “Would you support a serial adulterer who leaves his wife, but is just attracted to other women, because that’s who he is and how he was born? How about an alcoholic who just can’t help himself? Would you support him as he leaves his wife for alcohol? Would support a glutton? A man of extreme pride? Why does homosexuality get a pass, and not any other sin? A person with homosexual desires who resists temptation is exactly the same as a married man who resists temptation to carry on affairs with other women..”

    Well, no they aren’t. The core problem here is the basis for defining “sin” and morality, not necessarily the same thing. If one adopts a “because the bible says so” approach well, is there a commandment against alcoholism, or drug abuse, or gambling? The writer seems to be taking an approach that sin is something that is tempting, but without much guidance about when a natural desire (e.g. hunger) becomes a sin (e.g. gluttony), or when pride becomes excessive. For that matter, in a nation consumed by gluttony and vainglory, when have they ever preached against such with the fervor they reserve for homosexuality?

    We should not accept the emailer’s definition of sin as valid. Many take an approach that what is harmful is immoral. Certainly that which is harmful should not be supported. The adulterer is false to his promise and so harms his wife. He may treat the other women as objects for his pleasure, a violation against their humanity. That alcoholism is destructive is clear. Gluttony is a bit fuzzier. In its literal sense pertaining to food it is physically harmful. It the broader sense of greed and lust for possession, it is damaging to the social fabric, but not may agree to that. The boundary between the pride of self confidence and the pride of vanity is often hard to find, and the harm as well. Fuzzier and fuzzier.Where is the evidence that homosexual relationships are harmful?

    The other definition of sin involves falling short of the mark, failing to do or be what God expects of us. Notice that they writer is very concerned about other people’s sin and has a clear notion of how they should respond to their failings. Please John, slam the daylights out of the assumption that other people’s sin, and how they respond to it, is any one else’s business, much less that it should be the preoccupation of Christians. Going back to my remark about celibacy, there is nothing wrong with a celibate life chosen freely for whatever reason. But, there is no right for one person to tell another that is what they must do. None whatsoever.

    When it comes right down to it, the writer believes that he is somehow acceptable to God, but that non-celibate gays are not, and that he has the right to make this determination. Tell him to stuff it. We are all acceptable to God, just as we are.

    • Lymis

      You’re doing that thing where you are confusing a freely chosen state with an externally imposed one. Saying it’s wrong to force every gay person into celibacy is not a condemnation of freely chosen celibacy that enriches the person’s life.

      You’re saying that for some people, celibacy works. Does that mean you’re condemning heterosexual marriage or insisting that it should be mandatory for all? Of course not. So saying that celibacy shouldn’t be mandatory for all gay people is not a condemnation of it for those who choose it.

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

        Thanks, Lymis (yet again). I get so tired of this, “How dare you suggest eros is the highest form of love!” argument.

        • Luke

          Except I wasn’t making that argument. Or, now that you mention it, wait a minute! Eros is a form of love, a gift from God to be treasured and valued. Does it have to be the “highest form of love”? What does that mean anyway? Is there some sort of scale I don’t know about that says one form of love is more or less than another?

          Anyhow, I just thought you got a little too dramatic, such that you could be read as implying that a celibate life is necessarily inferior. Not being in a romantic and physical relationship does not mean that one will “be alone, live alone, die alone*”. That is just a bit much. Pressure to engage in intimacy is just as bad as pressure to refrain from it. Certainly there are some people who would resent an implication that there is something wrong with not having children.

          Don’t get me wrong, I understand what you are saying and agree. I am sure you were not suggesting that someone’s life is somehow incomplete without these things, only that we all have a right to them as we choose and see fit, and not as someone else chooses and sees fit. I am just raising a caution not to get carried away.

          Eros is not the only form of love.

          * When I married my wife, it was with the hope and intention that we will be parted only by death. But we aren’t likely to die at the same time. Should she die before me, the me-that-is-married will die that day and be reborn as the me-that-was-married. And then (that) I will likely die alone, except that I will hopefully have family and friends. But then, even without marriage one can have family and friends. Too, we always are alone in the end, but we never die alone, do we? We die with the Lord and are resurrected with the Lord. That is the promise.

          • http://bjunity.org Jeffrey Hoffman

            This is such a tiresome argument, this idea that agape is somehow separate from phileo and eros. A good friend who is a classical Greek scholar of international repute once explained to me that the ancient Greeks did not view these types of love as being mutually exclusive or somehow separate from one another. But, of course, one only has to analyze any human relationship to understand that all three types of love exist in every relationship in varying degrees. (Before you go saying that eros doesn’t exist in platonic friendships, let me remind you that numerous scientific studies have determined that physical attractiveness — facial beauty — plays a role in all human relationships). Can any married couple with a healthy sex life honestly claim that their intimate love for one another does not exhibit all three of these types of love?

            Most people cannot live without erotic connection. That is a simple, biological fact. St. Paul even alludes to it when he says “it is better to marry than to burn.” Why would a loving Creator make something such an intrinsic part of our humanity and then demand that we never exercise it? That would make Him the worst kind of sadist.

            Some people, regardless of sexual orientation, are called to celibacy. Most are not. Those are individual vocations, not a proscription for living “a Christian life.”

            Jeffrey Hoffman

            Executive Director

            BJUnity

          • Luke

            What is tiresome is the assumption that anyone stating a disagreement with a particular premise or emphasis or phrasing must therefore disagree in full.

            Could we work past greek terminology? We aren’t really in any disagreement. I am in total agreement with your last two paragraphs. In fact, that last part was all I was ever saying, and it has nothing to do with orientation. Nobody has any business telling anyone else what that vocation should be, especially not based on orientation. I NEVER ARGUED OTHERWISE!

          • DR

            Luke, if you’re straight? I’d be careful in suggesting that any writing about condemning someone to a lifetime of loneliness is too “dramatic”.

          • Luke

            Careful? Sorry, but I am so over people trying to intimidate me or belittle me, which is what you are doing. Do you really think I am so empathy impaired that I can’t understand what gay people go through because I don’t experience it personally? (Except that, in some ways, I have). I also have empathy for people in other situations as well. That is why the overly dramatic “die alone” stuff jumped out at me. Again, I never said even one word in support of the notion the gay people should be expected to be celibate. I find that as repulsive as anyone, and anyone who knows me would find any suggestion otherwise completely absurd. So put away your rather prejudiced assumptions because you are seeing what you expect to see, not what is there.

          • Matt

            No, you can’t understand if you are straight. Just trust me on this one.

            Empathy can only get you so far, because it is inherently limited by your own experiences and emotions. Beyond that, you must listen.

          • DR

            And frankly Luke, that you’re actually – as a straight guy – feeling “belittled” in how someone is speaking to you on a thread that has shit to do with you or your sexuality is so steeped in self-absorption, I had a hard time knowing how to respond. Pardon me if I’m not prioritizing your feelings about how some of us reacted to your use of “you’re being dramatic.” it’s remarkable that you’d use this thread, this conversation, to start talking about your own feelings and how offended you are. If you aren’t experiencing someone calling you an abomination for the way you want to love a loved one? Then kindly consider getting over yourself and staying on track with the actual conversation about the actual injured party.

          • Luke

            I didn’t say I was feeling belittled, I said you were trying to belittle me. Big difference. You cautioned me to be careful. What did you mean? That I might offend someone important? Oh, that’s right, you are allowed to be offended at my “dramatic” remark, but I’m not allowed to be offended at anything. Well, you might try reading all several hundred words of what I wrote, or even the complete sentence, instead of that one fragment.

            Pardon me if I’m not prioritizing your feelings about my mere suggestion that there was something in John’s article that could be misconstrued. He did ask for feedback, you know. May I not speak honestly here, in my verbose clumsy way?

            Here is what is really rich: you and Matt acting like gatekeepers telling a straight married guy that I don’t have the special gayness it takes to understand what John Shore, another straight married guy, is saying about same sex relationships!

          • DR

            You appear to be having what can only be characterized as a temper tantrum and can’t seem to understand that how you feel is secondary to the issue at hand. You’re quite a piece of work. I don’t deal with temper tantrums too well, particularly from someone who is choosing to be so injured on the internet. Consider calming down and growing up – if you take a breath, what was said is that you aren’t demonstrating “empathy” which is much different than “understanding”. But you seem to be pretty comfortable at changing definitions when they suit you, so I don’t suspect you’ll do any deeper digging on how different those two things are.

          • DR

            Luke, it’s pretty simple. You offered an opinion that people reacted to pretty strongly, we were offering that you – like John – could never have actual “empathy” for a gay man or woman. You might be using similar comparisons to understand it because I bet you’re a really good guy who is educated and enlightened and wants to contribute to the solution. I believe that. Where I think things went wrong with you is how you made the conversation about *you* instead of just listening to what people were saying. You’re so focused on making sure everyone knows you’re one of the good guys. you’re missing a really cool opportunity to let the gay men and women on this forum give you the last word on who you are in this issue, what your opinion really means and how you can really help. Your privilege is showing quite a bit here and instead of continuing to defend yourself, make a 180 and stop with all of this injured, self-absorbed victimized “I’m being gaslighted” posturing. E

            Everyone’s feelings are important but that you continue to put yours in the center of this discussion and continue to talk about them as though you’re owed a response – on a thread that’s not even about you – is symptomatic of privilege. The gay community doesn’t owe us sh** at this point, they’d be far better off without us. That some choose to stay in the fight and educate us – even love us and be a part of our christian community – is a tremendous Grace. Stop trying to be understood in such a demanding way – it’s the internet and you’re *known” through time and consistency of comments.

          • Luke

            John’s whole article implicitly hinges on the fact that we can understand, because same-sex relationships are not fundamentally different. All the things he says that gay people are being asked to forgo are exactly what heterosexual couples experience in healthy, committed, lifelong relationships. If you thought it applied to homosexual relationships, well, it does.

            I think the “you can’t understand” thing is a form of special pleading. It could be turned on you. (I think it might be a form of special pleading.) HYPOTHETICALLY someone could claim there is something about heterosexuals that you just can’t understand if you are gay, and that special thing you can’t understand is what makes marriage hetero-only. Hypothetically. Your only defense in that case would be that your specialness is more special than their specialness.

            Of course life is a too interesting for everyone to be all-homo or all-hetero, but that is another discussion.

          • Lymis

            Luke, I don’t think that’s the claim that John is making, because I think you are conflating two very different ideas, whether it’s just in what you write, or in your actual understanding of things.

            One is the fundamental nature of being gay and being in same-sex relationships.

            The other is the lived experience of gay people living our society under the conditions that society imposes, and in this case, the argument about what society should impose.

            Being gay is not the same as being straight. Being a man is not the same as being a woman, and being in a relationship with a man is not identical with being in a relationship with a woman. But all those things have enough shared in common and each of them has a wide enough range of individual experiences that there is vastly more common experience than difference, and those similarities are so great that it really doesn’t justify claims that gay people and gay relationships are so different from straight ones that they should be condemned, or treated differently under the law, whether that is religious or secular law.

            That’s very different from discussion what living a life under the kinds of constraints and oppression that is routinely heaped on gay people is like.

            The color of one’s skin doesn’t make someone fundamentally different from someone else, but it doesn’t follow that the experience of being a slave is fundamentally the same as the experience of a life that doesn’t even have to consider the possibility of being enslaved, or that a couple of sweaty afternoons in the garden means someone a modern white person understand what being a slave was like.

            And yes, someone can claim that there is something about being white that a black person just can’t understand, and that the special thing they can’t understand is the inherent superiority of white people over black people. They could claim that it’s just a case of “your specialness is more special than mine” and that a belief that black people are and must be treated as equal is a claim that they are somehow special.

            And we have words for people who think that way.

            Whether or not there is something uniquely different between all same-sex relationships and all opposite sex relationships that warrants discussing them as a separate concept. But again, it’s an entirely separate question whether that difference justifies lifelong oppression rather than a simple recognition of diversity.

            Left handed people are different from right handed people, and beyond a certain point, it isn’t the responsibility of the right-handed majority to make everything in the world neutral-handed. But that recognizable difference doesn’t justify claiming that one’s immortal soul hangs in the balance, and that a left-handed person should be forced to use their right hand or be excluded from society.

            No, being gay doesn’t make anyone super special. But it also doesn’t make us subhuman, either.

          • Luke

            Lymis, thank you for responding at length. Really, I’m not conflating anything, we’re just not quite matching up in context. Nor do I disagree significantly with anything you have said here.

            Again, hung up on single words. “Fundamentally” opens up to interpretation of what is fundamental. It would have been better had I said “not all that different”. You did much better in your fourth paragraph. You really are way more eloquent than I. However, please note that you said “same” and “identical”. I never asserted anything of the sort. I really couldn’t speak to “fundamental nature of being gay and being in same-sex relationships” at all, and I suppose you are pretty much in the same situation the other way around. I thought we were talking what society should impose, and I think we are entirely in agreement on that. I didn’t notice any broader discussion of the “lived experience”.

            I will hold that our sexual orientation is not relevant to whether we are able to understand and empathize with each other’s lives, or at least should not be prejudicial. We are not labels, we have names. Whether you are gay/straight/black/white/lefty/righty, it is different being Luke than it is being Lymis. We have different backgrounds, different life experiences, and so forth. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t relate to you. All of those things are just a parts of a whole. You have no business assuming that I lack the imagination, or even experience, to exercise compassion. At the same time, I have no way of knowing if what I am feeling is accurate. We can only try.

            Likewise, nobody is in a relationship with “a man” or “a woman” in a generic interchangeable sense. Any person you meet is a unique creation, and likewise any couple. Like you said: ” a wide enough range of individual experiences that there is vastly more common experience than difference”.

          • Lymis

            The problem, of course, is privilege. It’s delightful to discuss things like “THEORETICALLY” into this sort of discussion, and to go on and on in depth about the distinctions between “the same” and “identical” – but only when you come at it from a position of knowing that, when all is said and done, it doesn’t actually affect you in the slightest. It can be an interesting intellectual exercise and a warm and fuzzy moral one-upmanship to look down from a high horse and talk context when it isn’t your value as a human being that you’re being asked to be tolerant about.

            From the position where your sexual orientation isn’t in question, it can seem reasonable and high-minded to inject little rhetorical reminders about the meaning of logic and begging oh, so reasonably for people to just understand that the finest and most punctilious distinctions of logic are critical to any reasoned discussion.

            But when you’re the one who isn’t welcome in most churches, when you’re the one whose legal marriage isn’t recognized in your home state, when you aren’t eligible for being included on your husband’s medical plan even though he’s paying the family rate already for the kids, when 38 states have felt it important to rewrite their constitutions because you are a menace to the very fabric of human civilization that must be fought with every tool at hand, when kids are killing themselves daily because they hear people like you say… stuff… like this, then it’s a bit more difficult to take such a high minded and balanced view.

            Seriously, you really want me to consider that maybe there’s something so wrong with me that I don’t understand how being straight is essential to a human romantic and intimate connection?

            Say hi to the horse you rode in on for me.

            Get back to us when it’s YOUR basic humanity that’s being attacked. Until then, you’re a part of the problem, not a voice of reason.

          • DrewTwoFish

            I meant to reply to Lymis’ comment but don’t see any way to reply to a reply. Once again, Lymis is singing my song. For so VERY many of those that weigh in on this issue it is just an academic discussion. While they remain comfortable in their certainty about things metaphysical (and how is that even #$#ing possible?!) real people are suffering and left adrift. I’d like to think I’m not the sort to exclude everyone from the conversation who hasn’t walked in my shoes but I think those who make pronouncements from on high about things they nothing about experientially should tread very, very carefully.

          • Luke

            Seriously, you really want me to consider that maybe there’s something so wrong with me that I don’t understand how being straight is essential to a human romantic and intimate connection?

            Wow. I mean. Wow. I don’t know where you got that from. Certainly not from that last post. In my reply to Matt, I put hypothetically in all caps and everything. I said might exist people that would suggest that, but that was in response to a suggestion that there is something so wrong with me that I don’t understand how being gay is compatible with human romantic and intimate connection. My intent was that we should not judge one another by our sexual orientation. Are you determined to take offense?

            I thought we were having a reasoned discussion. Or at least I thought I was. What is the alternative?

            Why are you attacking me? I am an ally! You are welcome in my church. I want your marriage to be legal in every state. I did my part in the fight against the marriage amendment in my state. I think you are a treasure, not a menace.I don’t want any young person to feel they are not valued. I was bullied myself, so I want them to know that it gets better and there is hope. I volunteer with Pride and PFLAG and Time Out Youth. I know it isn’t much, and you probably read this as a smug some-of-my-best-friends thing, but what do you want of me?

            I am getting really confused now. I keep looking back at my posts trying to understand why people are responding so negatively. Beyond what I tried to explain to DR about the way I read John’s essay, I just don’t see the connection between what I think am saying and what people seem to think I am saying.

            How do I say things like ” there is nothing wrong with a celibate life chosen freely for whatever reason. But, there is no right for one person to tell another that is what they must do”, and “We are all acceptable to God, just as we are”, and ” Nobody has any business telling anyone else what that vocation should be, especially not based on orientation”, and get told that kids kill themselves because of what people like me say? But there I go talking about how I feel, and DR says I’m not supposed to do that. But then you say we are supposed to talk about you feel. Because I’m privileged and you aren’t?

            Ack! It is too much for me! Maybe I am being gaslighted. I give up.

          • DR

            I get a sense Matt doesn’t really understand what empathy really means. But apparently we’re now “gatekeepers” in pointing out the difference of understanding vs empathy so make sure you give me a call so I can provide you with the blog password to keep the riff raff out!

          • DR

            Sorry – Matt, I meant Luke. You’re my gatekeeper-in-crime, I could never hate!

          • Matt

            Why thank you, DR! That means alot to me. And thanks for clarifying. I just didn’t have the mental resources last night to really get into it with him.

          • DR

            Yes, your words lacked a lot of empathy. As for prejudiced assumptions, consider looking in a mirror. You get what you give.

          • Luke

            OK, so maybe I was having a bit of a temper tantrum. We are having a failure to communicate, and that can be really frustrating.

            I think I see something I misunderstood, and something you maybe misunderstood. When you were cautioning me to be careful, I interpreted that to mean that I should be careful for myself, but perhaps you meant that I should be careful not to hurt someone else by being dismissive of what they are feeling. Doh! Gotcha.

            However, I think you lost a bit of context that made you react to what I said in a way that I did not understand. You said my words “lacked a lot of empathy” and talked about the “real injured party”. I really struggled to figure out what you meant. Maybe I see it.

            IF the article had been a first hand account of a person recounting their anguish at being asked to choose between their faith and marriage with all it entails, then you would be absolutely right. Sure, full empathy mode. I feel that anguish, that rejection. It ticks me off. Those folks want to control my life too. So then I would never respond to that by saying that they were “a little too dramatic, such that you could be read as implying that a celibate life is necessarily inferior”. (The entire phrase is important.) I would never had said anything that could be taking as suggesting that the celibate life isn’t so bad, or could be regarded as a gift, or something stupid like that.

            BUT, and I looked back to check, John’s article is an essay written to anti-gay Christians about what anti-gay christians insist on for gay people. That is 3rd person, not John Shore. Furthermore, he mentioned that the essay is a candidate for inclusion in a future book.

            SO, I did not respond to it as an personal testimony, but in a more analytical way. As a rhetorical device, John is sort of arguing to an empty chair. The danger of that, of course, is that it can become a conceit, so I tried to read it a little as an anti-gay christian might. After all, it is written to them, so it is a little important that it be persuasive to them. That was the basis for most of my first post. Another danger in this article, for me, is that it reinforces my beliefs. It is easy to fall into a bubble of constant reinforcement. To help counteract that, I have an odd habit of re-reading from alternate points of view. Imagine someone who was going from one bad relationship to another because they are afraid of being alone, or someone who lived their whole life celibate and was happy with that. That is where I got my objection that **John Shore** was being so dramatic, in that context, as to overshoot the mark. There is a subtle difference between being condemned to something negative and being denied something positive. I would like to see it phrased a little more to the latter in a couple places. As an essay in a book. That’s all. Unfortunately, I neglected to consider how someone might read that comment who identified so closely with what John was saying that they might read it in 1st person, and think I was dismissive of the gravity of the situation. Hence my confusion and yours.

          • Lymis

            That’s delightful and all, but let’s be clear. You’re the one saying that I have to be open to the possibility that I am so inferior that I don’t even know what love actually is:

            “HYPOTHETICALLY someone could claim there is something about heterosexuals that you just can’t understand if you are gay, and that special thing you can’t understand is what makes marriage hetero-only.”

            And yet you claim to be the injured party:

            “Sorry, but I am so over people trying to intimidate me or belittle me, which is what you are doing.”

            You’re demanding that in order to be reasonable, I have to be open to the idea that other people understand my heart and spirit more than I ever could, and that even though I have lived my life surrounded by straight relationships, in all their glory and all their incredibly messy tragedy and drama, that I may not even be capable of understanding what’s important about them. You demand that I acknowledge, just for the sake of argument, that my life is a sham and that I am inherently inferior to every straight person around me.

            And you claim to be the one being belittled. Seriously?

            See, the thing is, I absolutely believe you when you say that you could read a story about a dream of a sermon speaking to all gay people everywhere about how self-centered and blind straight Christians have been about the lived reality of gay experience and what the intolerance of straight Christians has done to damage gay people and not even have it dawn on you how gay people might hear it, and feel that the primary concern about is how anti-gay Christians might take it.

            Because of course, anti-gay Christians are people who matter, and their feelings in this situation are clearly the overriding concern.

            The fact that it didn’t even occur to you to question how gay people might hear it is precisely the problem. To you, it is just an essay in a book. As I said, nothing of any concern to any real people, except of course, the bigots who might be put off by it.

            No, Luke, I’m not confused by what you write at all. It’s absolutely crystal clear.

          • Luke

            Lymis, you are an intelligent man, and I’ll assume a reasonably charitable one. So, could you go back and look at that HYPOTHETICALLY sentence in the paragraph in which it appears, and as it is a reply to what Matt said to me about not being able to understand if I’m straight. Imagine that I felt about what Matt said pretty much how you feel about what you think I said.Inferior. So I replied back, well how would you feel? Responding emotionally, you only got half of that exchange. Now, calm your emotions for a minute. Accept as my honest word that “hypothetically someone could” is critical to that sentence and that I am not that someone and I wouldn’t. Accept that I mean well and am on your side. I am not the enemy in your mind. And please, don’t put words in my mouth and embellish with words like “inferior” and “don’t know what love is” and your entire “life is a sham” paragraph. I never said any of that, you conjured it up yourself. Now, re-read what I posted. Take only what I said, holistically. I don’t know how to write so that every word or phrase stands on its own. You won’t agree with everything. That’s OK. But give me a little credit. Am I really that horrible a person?

            The dream thing was one of John’s other posts. In this thread, the one about the latest evangelical argument, the word “you” refers to anti-gay christians, so it is addressed to them and yes, I thought about how they might take it. You don’t have to agree with me on that, but you don’t have to vilify me either.

          • Matt

            Telling Lymis to “calm his emotions” only continues to prove his point. He did respond emotionally–but that doesn’t take away from what he said. Demanding perfect “rationality” from those beneath you before you will listen to their needs is a classic way that the majority keeps their power.

            “Accept that I mean well and am on your side.” Sorry, no. Your choice of words implies superiority, because we are the ones who must accept; the burden is not on you to earn our trust.

            Actually, your entire presence has been condescending, like an adult so-very-patiently teaching children how to play nicely, despite the fact that we are all adults here. Like I said originally, you do not understand. This does not make you good, or bad, or deficient in some way. It simply is.

          • anakin mcfly

            @Matt – I actually didn’t get a sense of condescension from Luke’s comments, at least nothing significant compared to some things I’ve seen on this blog and elsewhere. I think this might be an issue of tone being hard to read over the internet, and in this instance would like to give him the benefit of the doubt because I’ve been in similar situations on the other side.

          • anakin mcfly

            oy, so much terrible communication going on in this thread.

            @Luke – I think (though I may be wrong) that a large part of Lymis’ issue with your hypothetical segment is the very fact that you consider it a hypothetical, when what it describes is basically what almost every gay person gets told by society on a regular basis. Lymis doesn’t have to consider the possibility, because it’s *not* just a possibility, it’s real life. A lot of people *do * think that gay people are inherently broken or wrong and lacking in that specialness that only straight people have which makes their relationships and marriages possible, and this message is constantly drilled into our heads from everywhere. So the suggestion to consider what it would be like if that were true came across – to me at least – as grossly ignorant of the realities that gay people have to face. To use an analogy, it would be if a white person told a black person: “hypothetically, let’s say someone might think you were inferior because of the colour of your skin”.

            But that was the only thing I found wrong. I understood the rest of your posts and how you just meant to point out the implication that, in a neutral context, a celibate life / a life alone is not inherently inferior to a partnered one, and that much is true. I think the replies just sought to point out that this *wasn’t* a neutral context: the notion of gay celibacy, even chosen, is not the same as the notion of straight celibacy, because the latter is free from all the baggage that accompanies the former. Gay celibacy that seems freely chosen might not even be truly free, due to years of social pressure and oppression that might have shaped that ‘choice’. And while yes, the same is true of straight celibacy, it’s nowhere to the same degree.

            Lastly, a sincere thank you for being an ally.

          • Lymis

            Luke, you seem to be an intelligent man too.

            Please consider that if you want someone to listen to you, condescendingly patting them on the head and telling them how to feel is probably not the most effective plan.

            I don’t see you as an enemy. But I see you as privileged and misguided.

          • DR

            When you were cautioning me to be careful, I interpreted that to mean that I should be careful for myself, but perhaps you meant that I should be careful not to hurt someone else by being dismissive of what they are feeling. >>>

            Yes, that’s what I meant and you chose to see it much differently. As for the rest of your comment, I’m not going to respond to it. You seem very intent on defending yourself and your point of view and that’s not what I want to invest energy in any longer, it’s exhausting to watch people think that this is some kind of theoretical issue when it’s people I love, kids that are killing themselves. It’s not some kind of theological/intellectual ping pong match where you get to put the paddle down at the end of the game and go sleep with your wife. Lymis wrote where he and his husband had an encounter where a woman actually refused to pick up a food item they had previously touched. Turn your ideation and your focused semantics on her.

      • JohnAGJ

        Let’s not forget what even St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:1-9…

  • Lynn Caverly

    Not everyone, not even most people that I know – gay or straight – get “the kind of the romantic, long-term, emotionally and physically intimate love that all people, Christians included, understand not only as their birthright, but as just about the greatest part of being human.” this is the Fairy Tale we have been brought up to believe is everyone’s birthright. It just isn’t so and continuing to hold it up as such is unfair to the majority of people who aren’t fortunate enough to receive this gift.

    What many people do is: “Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone at your table to chat with over coffee in the morning.

    Don’t have or raise children.

    Don’t get married. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that fulfillment.

    Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.”

    • Lymis

      Not getting it is not the same as being told that your immortal salvation hinges on never even seeking it.

    • DR

      Being without a partner – especially when one wants and craves it and it does not happen – is devastating. Being told by your church that the desire within you to even want it in the first place is an abomination is entirely another kind of devastating. It takes devastating to an entirely new level.

      • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi

        This.

      • Jill

        Beautifully said.

      • Mark Aldridge

        my church would tell a man who is married that their desire to lust after women is an abomination as well. That mans desire is just as much a part of his being as a homosexual tendency is for a homosexual. I think the problem I have with the original article is that it seems to be saying that if you can’t act on your desires of homosexuality, you are forbidden to experience love. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. The love that is described in the first and second commandment is not describing romantic love, it is describing the unconditional love that God has for us (Agape). A man or woman who have a desire to have a “romantic” love/relationship with someone of the same sex can still in fact experience the greatest of all loves (Agape). To infer that they are being asked to sacrifice love altogether is completely off base.

        Also, if you believe it is unfair to ask a homosexual to sacrifice romantic love, you must also believe it is unfair for God to call certain people to be celibate/single because these people are essentially being told (by God) that they are never to know the “romantic” love that I’m sure they would love to have as well.

        • DR

          When God “calls” someone to celibacy, they enjoy it. I know nuns and priests who celebrate their celibacy, it doesn’t cause suffering. That you’re actually suggesting that gay men and women denying romantic love is similar means you don’t understand the gift of celibacy at all.

          And with all due respect, give me an example of anyone who desires to be married whose marriage does not involve sex and affection, their connection had *zero* to do with what happens in the bedroom. It is PART of their devotion to one another but it’s certainly not ALL of it. To be so casual to suggest that those who are gay who also desire to be in a marriage and build a family with that married partner should somehow be content with other kinds of love – even though clearly, their desire means they’ve not been called to celibacy – is a horribly oppressive burden you place on someone in that situation.

          • Jennifer Vance

            Thank you, DR, for understanding it, and speaking it so elegantly and perfectly. I tried for too many years to “bask in the love of Jesus” as suggested by my former church. All the “agape” in the world can not possibly be a substitute for a warm hand to hold. ANYONE who thinks that a person can be happy and fulfilled living a celibate life when God has not given that person the grace to do so is a delusional fool. I have friends who are celibate and live wonderful, happy lives. Some of these friends are nuns and priests, some are in the laity, but ALL of them recognize that they have been given a special grace by God to be celibate. I would challenge anyone who thinks that a gay person should “take up the cross of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God”, to do the same. Move away from your spouse or significant other, cut all contact with them and your family and friends for a year. TRY being a stranger in a strange land for a year. THAT is what it is like to be gay and be oppressed. You will find that you want nothing more than a warm hand to hold, a loving smile from across the kitchen table, and someone to laugh with. Then, just maybe then, you will wake up and realize that our wonderful loving Father in heaven created us to be IN RELATIONSHIP with each other. By the way, I left an evangelical church to join the Catholic church. It was like coming home….and when I finally accepted that I am gay, it was my Catholic friends who have helped me sort through the mire and muck that had been crammed into my head by the Bible thumpers and understand and embrace what God had been telling me every day in my prayer time for years. Simply that He loves me as I am, and He created me as I am….a woman who loves another woman.

  • Andrew

    People are not born alcoholics…although some may certainly have metabolism that would increase this likelihood. The comparison from adulterer to a gay person is very different (and absurd) – it makes it seem like a choice. Someone who is gay relinquishes all relationships as they will never have a relationship with the opposite sex…and makes them celibate. The adulterer (if it’s an innate trait) controlling their urges does not condemn them to a life of being alone and celibate.

  • JohnAGJ

    I always like to remind folks how usury is condemned in the strongest terms possible in the Bible, yet the meaning of the word has noticeably changed in the past 500 years. We went from usury being the charging of ANY interest for loans to now, well just don’t charge TOO much.

    • Lymis

      I agree with you, but I’d be intrigued to see how you would express the parallel to homosexuality in, shall we say, “family friendly” language.

      • JohnAGJ

        Usury is perhaps the example I most use simply because it is still considered a sin today, we’ve just reinterpreted what exactly constitutes this dastardly practice. The parallel I would draw is that as societies changed over the centuries and as our understanding of the world around us followed suit, so did how we interpret what on the face of it should be crystal clear Scripture. It’s not just the Bible, go read about usury in the writings of the Church Fathers, decrees by pope and councils, etc. Charging interest was considered to be a VERY serious sin. Yet, the need soon arose to allow such practices, which arguably benefited all of us especially those without any wealth, so we first tried to get around the prohibition by fawning it off on non-Christians (ever wonder why Jews were so prominent in Medieval banking?) and then finally just reinterpreted what it meant to allow the charging of interest.

        We have other examples of this, many of which are talked about. One is slavery. The Bible allows the practice (never condemning it) and so did the early Church, though both placed certain restrictions on the practice. Down through the centuries the Bible especially has been used to defend and attack slavery, yet how do most Christians read it today? That slavery is clearly an immoral institution that is not consistent with the Bible and Christian teaching.

        There are many more like this such as the role of women in society, polygamy (never condemned by Scripture), divorce and remarriage (for many but not all Christians) etc. Probably one that isn’t mentioned very often is religious freedom. Today we consider this to be an inalienable or natural right, which by that argument means it comes from God. There is nothing to justify this in the Bible and it certainly wasn’t interpreted that way for most of Jewish and Christian history. Yet now we have Vatican II and popes take an approach on religious freedom which is actually an Enlightenment ideal.

        Finally, we have examples of how our understanding of science has changed how we interpret the Bible. The easiest to point to are the Creation story and the Great Flood (supposedly global). In fairness though, those Christians prior to advent of modern science did the best they could with the tools and knowledge they had on hand so I’m not as critical of them as I am of modern fundamentalist “Creationists”. Yet let’s not forget that even the Magi of the Nativity story would fall under condemnation for practicing an occult art. They were astrologers and while astrology was the forerunner of astronomy so it’s difficult to hold them to blame, conservatives certainly do those who practice it today. How can they do this when the Magi themselves were astrologers? Well, we know now that astrology is NOT a science thanks to many of the changes down through the centuries that some fundamentalists moan about.

        Take all of this and the change in how we view homosexuality today, and I see no reason why we should not do likewise. How it is done is another matter, but Jews and Christians have reinterpreted the Bible sometimes for bad reasons but many times for good ones since before the ink was dry on the first parchments its individual books were on.

  • Morgan Rose

    The cog in the whole works is the assumption, that, number one, everyone is a Christian or should be, and number two, that all Christians see homosexuality as sin. Both are far from the truth. The person I choose to love and share my life with is none of the Church’s business. I am all for the separation of Church and State! The definition of sin for me is any act that harms another person and causes them grief. Simple as that. The Church is still thumping that Bible of other people’s conditions as beneath theirs so as to elevate themselves to a higher plane of righteousness.

  • http://www.francisandclareyoga.org jamie brown

    Another great blog post! and I LOVE Lymis’ comments!

    With regard to celibacy: When I first became a Christian, I belonged to a [relatively] fundie church in CA. They were ok with long hair on men, rock & roll music, and some other “liberal” ideas, but insisted that to be a Christian, you HAD to believe that being gay was a sin (but one which Jesus could “cure” if one had enough faith and perseverance). I tried to go along with their dogma in order to fit in and be accepted although I found it dubious. But then when I felt that I had a vocation to celibacy, I was told that I was “shirking my duty as a woman” because God intends for women to have children. This made me even more dubious of their doctrines about sexuality.

    I ended up joining the Episcopal Church due to the sacraments and support of vocations. In discussing church doctrines I asked the priest, “What is the deal about homosexuality? Is it a sin like the fundies say, or what?” The priest, whose brother was gay, asked me, “What if it was? What would you have gay people DO??” I replied, “Well they could be celibate.”

    He smiled and said, “Easy for you to say, Sister! You have the vocation. For you it is a joy to be alone with the Lord. But for most people, it would be a terrible life of loneliness. Would you condemn your gay brothers and sisters to such a sad life? Or do you assume that every gay person has a vocation to celibacy? Because I can assure you, they don’t. My brother died desperately lonely and depressed for fear of being outed.”

    But this is exactly what the fundies expect gay people to do.

    BTW, I was happily celibate (voluntarily) for 14 years until I met the man who became my tantric partner. I would not dream of denying the happiness we share, to any human being.

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

      I’ve tried to see that petition before. But all it does for me is rapidly continue to load and refresh: so it just basically blinks on and off for me. But maybe it’s just my browser, or something like that. But I’m certainly interested in what I can see of the petition, given my They’re here; they’re queer; they’ve plenty to fear: LGBT students form secret club at conservative Christian university.

      • Amanda Bickel

        I sent you a message on your public Facebook page. Have you tried that? If not, go onto the Biola Queer Underground page or the Biola Allies page and it should be on there. If you don’t know, one of my professor at my school made some very homophobic, offensive comments about homosexuality and trans people during an panel call “Sexuality Matters”. He also likened homosexuality to racism. Let me know if you are still having trouble. Also, I read that article about Biola Queer Underground and I absolutely loved it! I am very thankful that the LGBTQ community has allies like you!

        Oh and if you cannot get to the link, here an article about the petition

        http://www.glaad.org/blog/take-action-biola-university-professor-equates-being-lgbtq-being-racist-students-demand-apology

        • Amanda Bickel

          And sorry for the typos haha. I sometimes write faster than I think haha.

  • Terry

    There is another way by which the two are different: Every other sin a man commits is damaging to someone. The emotional and physical damage rendered by murder, theft, and all the rest are tangible products, and often the intended goal, of those sins.

  • Tyler

    Just finished reading this post by way of a recommendation on Facebook. I also read about half-way through the comments.

    The fact is that anything not of faith is a sin. And we all “sin” thousands of times everyday. There is sin when we don’t even know there is sin. And we can be sinning when we are “doing” the so-called right things. Good behavior (if not of faith) is sin.

    With that said, I can’t buy the argument that homosexuality is not a sin.

    The good news is that God has promised not to hold our sins against us, and if you are okay with your lifestyle, then by no means – there is no condemnation from God. For this reason, we should be all the more grateful for the life we have been given – to live, to love, and to share.

    Let’s stop pretending we don’t sin. We all do. But let’s not act like our sins aren’t covered. We are all His children.

    Grace and peace to you!

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

      “I can’t buy the argument that Homosexuality is not a sin,” but “If you are okay with your lifestyle, there is no condemnation from God.” So … no offense, or whatever, but … well, you might want to see if your local junior college offers a class in logic.

      • Tyler

        Maybe you should re-read Romans 8 beginning with, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

        We have died to the law friend. It’s a simple as that.

        Let’s put an end to Old Covenant discussions and get on with our Kingdom lives.

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

          If you think God doesn’t condemn gay people, then I’m definitely on your side.

          • Tyler

            God doesn’t condemn anyone. Unfortunately, religious people do.

            Blessings.

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

            Then you don’t believe in hell. Me, neither! Cool.

          • Tyler

            My view on hell is this: it exists, but if anyone ends up there then that would mean Jesus did not accomplish what He set out to accomplish. I don’t think that’s possible.

            I haven’t completely written off free will yet though. The Good Book ends with a door that never closes (and people outside the city). That tells me they have a choice where they want to be.

            With that said – I think eternal conscious torment is not Biblical. Sorry to get off track, but you started it. :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan SteveCampsOut

            I thoroughly believe there is a Hell and it was created for Lucifer and all of his fallen angels. I don’t however believe that anyone who Christ died for will be sent there! His sacrifice was not a failure! His victory belongs to all of us as his gift!

        • DR

          Let’s do that Tyler, how about you start by finding our firsthand from gay kids how hearing that you think who they are is “a sin” drives them to despair and suicide. A lot of them get kicked out for their “sin” from good loving Christian families who mean awfully well. So how about you apply some of that Kingdom thinking, put it in action, get some money from the church and open up a few more homeless shelters for these kids to stay at. Then you can tell them all about your “Kingdom” theology all night long then like most shelters have to do at 7am, boot them back out in the streets again to get raped and exploited. Let us know how that turns out because all of this “Kingdom thinking” gets tossed around with my Christian friends in church and at dinner parties but I sure don’t see any of you volunteering in the shelters.

          • DrewTwoFish

            F**king A, DR!

            Swoon…are you trying to make me forget Lymis?

            Seriously, I get the impression many on the right (perhaps not the best label) use the bulk of their time posturing, pontificating, theologizing, and “eternaliz”ing. In the meantime, as you and Lymis have pointed out, real people are suffering.

    • DrewTwoFish

      If I hear that word “lifestyle” one more time I think I’m going to throw myself on a pointy stick.

      • JohnAGJ

        In the spirit of John’s newest post: “pushin’ it!” ;-)

        • DrewTwoFish

          Huh?

      • DR

        EXACTLY THIS.

      • http://www.lynnswayze.com Lynn

        Yep.

    • Lymis

      sigh

      I know you think you end up somewhere tolerant and lovely and all, but really, what your point comes down to is “It’s okay to be gay as long as you acknowledge that it’s wrong to be gay, but that you’re forgiven for it.”

      Homosexuality isn’t a sin, because it isn’t an action, it isn’t a moral stance, and it isn’t even a choice.

      What you’re saying doesn’t work any more than saying “Let’s not pretend that being left handed isn’t a sin. Let’s just acknowledge that God doesn’t condemn the left handed because Jesus died for all sinners.”

      I agre that we’re all God’s children. But that doesn’t make being gay a sin, whether it’s “covered” or not.

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

      I really don’t think you are right on this one. God is not cool with people doing whatever they want just because we are under grace. If God the divine parent, what the heck kind of parent just lets their kid get away with anything? What kind of parent doesn’t want their children to be good, loving people who take are of themselves and others, and make good choices? What kind of parent would just say “there, there, it’s okay” without telling their kid that they’re wrong or trying to correct their behaviour when they’re behaving in a way that is dangerous and inappropriate? If an Earthly parent did that I think they could be charged with neglect.

      That said, do I believe that homosexuality is a sin? Not really.

      • Jek

        I salute your belief. May God bless you.

  • GS2013

    As a gay man, I have received more love and acceptance in the gay community in the past couple of years than I have received in the church in over two decades.

    I have a good number of Christian friends who truly accept me for who I am, so I really don’t feel the need to set foot into a church again.

  • http://julienbrightsidesart.blogspot.com/ Julien Brightside

    I think this is a very well written blogpost.

  • http://www.zuberfowler.com Clyde Zuber

    Proof reading correction: (it’s a quote of an e-mail, so do you fix it like this?)

    “Would [you] support a glutton?”

  • Tom

    As a male Christian struggling with being attracted to men, I’m not here to judge anyone’s choice to pursue gay relationships – believe me, I understand.

    But the more I study the Bible, the more I’m convinced it really is from God. Amazing prophecies about Jesus in books like Daniel that later came true offer strong evidence of its divine inspiration.

    If the Bible really is from God, then I don’t believe I have the right to pick and choose the parts I want to believe. It would be far easier for me if I believed the Bible allowed gay relationships, but I can’t ignore passages like Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, and I Corinthians 6:9-11.

    The arguments in this article make perfect sense using human logic, but God says, “My ways are not your ways.”

    I also get annoyed when gay temptation is compared to how straight men shouldn’t have affairs, because ultimately the straight man is allowed to have sex with a wife per the Bible, while I can’t have sex under any circumstances with a man.

    But where in the Bible does God ever promise some of us won’t be called to suffer more than others?

    Some people are born with birth defects, some aren’t. Some people battle cancer at at a young age, some don’t.

    As unfair as it may sound, what if God is calling us to either celibacy or to await a miracle of falling in love with a woman?

    It even occurred to me recently that maybe God allowed me to be this way to strengthen my faith and reliance on Him. My feelings for men are completely out of my control, and He’s my only hope if I’m not going to give in to them. If God gets me through this I’ll come out stronger in faith than the vast majority of straight men — maybe God wants to use me for something big and needs me to have that kind of faith, I don’t know.

    I know many of you disagree with me, and like I said, if you choose a different path I understand. But I hope you’ll at least think about what I wrote. I read and respect many of your comments and hope you can do the same with mine.

    God bless all of you.

    i

    • DR

      I respect whatever decision you make for yourself, it really is your decision. My concern is always going to be with gay kids growing up in Christian homes who are desperate and very, very fragile. Please remember that none of us really have a clear “lock” on what the Bible says, we’re all relying on someone’s interpretation. Corinthians says we see through a cloudy mirror – we do. I respect what you need to do with yourself but if you encounter kids who are gay, please remember that your interpretation of the Bible is not the real “Word of God”. Don’t condemn them with your interpretation, don’t compare their sexuality with a birth defect. Please, please, I’m begging you as someone who works with these kids – it does not help them. It does not provide clarity. It destroys them. This is really weird for me to say this to a gay man who has undoubtedly experienced what I’m talking about, but I needed to write it anyway.

      • DR

        (If it’s not clear, I don’t know if my interpretation is right either. I believe it is, just like you do, but all I have to go on is someone else’s interpretation, just like you.)

        • Tom

          thanks for the comment, DR. I understand what you are saying and would not use a comparison like that with young people. I would share my experience and belief, but as you said not set out to condemn them.

          • DR

            Then much peace and love to you. :)

    • vj

      Tom, thank you for sharing your perspective – it is always helpful to be reminded that different people, all having faith in the saving work of Jesus, all filled with the Holy Spirit, can (and do!) have different interpretations of various parts of the Bible. I certainly cannot be sure that what I have come to believe is necessarily the ‘right’ way of interpreting the whole counsel of God as it pertains to homosexuality (or anything else).

      My only question to you is: you relate same-sex attraction to birth defects. While it is possible that your own same-sex attraction is a ‘trial’ that God is using to strengthen you (and I’m glad that you do seem to have found strength, rather than condemnation), and while birth defects may similarly constitute ‘trails’ that God uses to strengthen those who have them (as well as inspiring others with their grace in the face of adversity, etc), I must point out that there is no credible reason to regard a physical birth defect as a sin (Jesus Himself said that the man born blind was *not* blind because of anyone’s sin)… If same-sex attraction is, in fact, a birth ‘defect’, how then can we regard it as necessarily sinful?

      • vj

        *duh! ‘trials’….

      • Tom

        Birth defect may not have been the best choice of comparisons. I only meant to show that we are all called to deal with different hardships.

        But I don’t think being born with a gay orientation is a sin at all, no more than being born with a birth defect is. But based on my belief in the Bible I have come to the conclusion God doesn’t want me to act on it and have a sexual relationship with a man.

        I see it as we are all born with an inclination to do wrong, but whereas a kleptomaniac (sp?) may struggle with stealing, I struggle with desires for other men.

        that’s not to diminish what you, I, and countless others go through. If gay sexual relationships are wrong they have to be one of the toughest wrong things to say no to.

        Thanks for reading my comment and leaving your thoughts vj.

        • vj

          Hey Tom, thanks for your response. I have another question, maybe you could give me your thoughts on this as well?

          One thing I have been pondering lately is this: Solomon built the original temple in Jerusalem; when it was ready, the ark of the covenant was brought into it, because it contained the tablets of the law given to Moses. If I understand it correctly, these are the 10 commandments – which are considered to be God’s moral law. The only sex-related commandment is to not commit adultery (which seems like something we can all agree on). If homosexual relationships are indeed against God’s moral law, why is there no reference to homosexuality in the 10 commandments? A kleptomaniac acting on the urge to steal would obviously be in violation of ‘thou shalt not steal’ – but which of the 10 commandments is violated by a consensual, committed homosexual relationship? (The ritual homosexual acts practised by ancient Greeks/Romans would violate the ‘thou shalt have no idols’ commandment, which would make sense for the NT writers to prohibit).

          Similarly, there is a section in the OT (sorry, I read it quite some time ago and can’t quite find it now – perhaps you know it?) where a series of blessings (for doing certain things prescribed by the Mosaic Law) and curses (for doing certain things prohibited by the Mosaic Law) is prophesied over the Israelites/Promised Land – I was interested to see that the prohibition against man-lying-with-man is NOT in the list of curses.

          I can’t help feeling that these sorts of things provide some sort of Biblical basis for not automatically taking at face value the ‘Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin’ position. Have you pondered such things in your journey to arriving at your own viewpoint (which I completely support you in, if that is how you believe God has directed you)? I myself am completely unsure about any of it…

          • Tom

            That’s an awfully good question VJ, and one I’m not sure I fully have the answer too. I really don’t know why God didn’t choose to include it in either the Ten Commandments or the list of “curses.”

            But I do believe the commandments in the chapter of Leviticus that talks of homosexuality (that chapter also forbids things like bestiality and having sex with close relatives) are still in effect because of something Jesus said.

            He said he came not to get rid of the law, but to fulfill the law. The “law” seems to refer to the commandments in the first five books of the Old Testament.

            There are many ceremonial commandments like animal sacrifice and personal cleansing for the temple that I don’t believe we have to do anymore, because Jesus fulfilled what they symbolized.

            But since he says he came not to get rid of the law, that means the parts of the law that are “moral” and not “ceremonial” are still in effect. I believe that’s the case whether they are a part of the 10 Commandments and list of curses or not.

            Some say the command in Leviticus was directed at specific people and not everyone, but in context it seems to me it’s directed at everyone. God is telling the Israelites not to practice what people did in Egypt and Canaan, and he lists homosexuality as one of the things those nations did.

            The fact that the ban on homosexuality is repeated in Romans and I Corinthians in the New Testament also leads me to believe it was meant as a permanent moral law.

            I hope that made sense. I can’t pretend I have all the answers, but that is the best conclusion I’ve been able to come to based on what the Bible says.

            Thanks for the good comments and discussion VJ. God bless!

          • vj

            Thanks Tom – yes, it does make sense ;-) Still not sure that I come to the same conclusions you do (I have ongoing doubts about most things, really!), but I totally accept that it’s up to individuals to determine for themselves where God is leading them. The Scripture ‘anything done without faith is sin’ comes to mind – for those whose faith leads them to actively express their homosexuality, and to those whose faith leads them to celibacy, may they all be convinced in their own minds/hearts/spirits…

          • Tom

            Glad it made sense haha. Thanks again for the really good discussion.

        • Bill

          I think you meant exactly what you said when you used the term ‘birth defects.’

          And it leaves me feeling nothing but heartbreak for you.

          I can not even begin to fathom the self-hatred you most definitely feel for yourself.

          And I thank God for that.

    • Tristan Alexander

      Tom, I feel sorry for you, you have been brainwashed into hurting yourself for a God that you say loves you! You claim the Bible is so true because it predicted Jesus in the Old Testament etc…well guess what, the people who wrote the NEW Testament KNEW those prophesies and USED them, made Jesus fit them! They did NOT have any truth to them!

      And you mention Leviticus specifically..do YOU do EVERYTHING the laws of Leviticus say? Do you wear mix fiber clothing? (I bet you do) Do you eat seafood or pork? (again I bet you do) Do you sacrifice animals at the enmple? Do you stone blasphemers and adulterers? NO, YOU do not! Why? Because all of those things are either illegal now OR make no sense! So why is the ONE thing anyone still follows from those laws the one about a man having sex with another man? (which is NOT about a loving same sex relationship) You say you studied the Bible, well so have I and NOTHING you claim as proof it is the “word of God” is based in the reality of who and when the Bible was written. I am no saying you can not or should not belive what you want, I am saying toturing yourself because you THINK you know what “God” wants based on bad interpretation of an old book is NOT the way to live!

      I would recomend you look into the Episcopal church’s EFM prograhm (Education For Ministy) it is non dogmatic and not trying to make you belive anything, it is a very in depth 4 year course on the Bible and church history! Very very good and I know you would learn alot of facts about the Bible and the church and would be more honestly educated on what the Bible realy says and why.

      Good luck! (please forgive typos etc, I am very dislexic and my typing is terrible).

      • Tom

        I appreciate your comments Tristan, but you certainly don’t need to feel sorry for me, life’s a struggle and I can’t claim I have it all figured out but I’m doing okay.

        I do believe the prophecies came true in Jesus. There were so many I don’t see how the writers could have made Jesus fit them all (including where he was born) without being easily exposed as a huge fraud.

        I also don’t think some of Jesus’s followers would have been willing to die for what they knew was a lie.

        As for Leviticus, I do believe there was a ceremonial law (i.e. sacrificing animals, eating pork) that Jesus’s death made unnecessary, but there is still a moral law that has never gone away.

        You say I “think” I know what God wants, but how then do you know what he wants? I believe we all have to decide if we believe in him, and if so, how he wants us to live. I’ve made my decision based on my belief in the Bible and my many experiences in life that I know can’t be coincidences.

        A part of me really wishes I was wrong on the gay issue, and I do trust if I am God will let me know, but right now I really think God does not want us to live a sexually-active gay lifestyle. That’s not to condemn anyone reading who is in such a lifestyle — such a thing is between a person and God — but it is the conclusion I’ve come to.

        • Shaun

          Hi Tom,

          After 25 years of fighting being gay and believing and praying morning and night that I would someday be different, that I would be able to overcome ‘temptations’, I slowly and surely came to a thoroughly spiritual, logical and theological peace with who I am as a gay man in a long-term relationship, and a Christian. More astounding than my conversion is that of many of my formerly ‘homophobic’ family and friends who felt that God spoke to them and transformed their opinions and worldviews. This ‘journey’ has led me on to attaining degrees in Theology and Biblical Studies. I haven’t looked back much. It has been exciting.

          It took me a long time to come out from the self-flagellation that was a result of my upbringing – hearing and telling myself daily that I was wrong, living in sin, and needing ‘healing’ in my sexuality.

          I did, in fact, receive healing in my sexuality as the tender coaxing of God pulled me out of my house of regret. As Brennan Manning would say, I had to “be converted from the Bad News.”

          I haven’t had a chance to read each and every comment here in the discussion, and I’m not going to repeat all the things you already know (cloudy Greek translations, and all). But my food for thought would be as follows:

          1) Male-male sexual acts in Leviticus actually fall under ceremonial, not moral law. If you investigate Jewish sources you will discover this.

          2) Regardless of category, if moral law was still active, we would have to disallow contraception and enact slavery as normative, among hundreds of other moral laws.

          3) Lastly, and I think more importantly for Christians today, is that we need to recognize that what makes the Bible sacred is that God communicated with people — broken people just like us, across around 1,000 years of compilation and editing. These broken people wrote words — sometimes good words, sometimes bad. Often, the job of the interpreter is to ‘unmask’ the culture-biases, or even basic sociological/psychological/scientific understandings of the times. We don’t condemn or criticize the Biblical writers for their misunderstandings — they lived in a different era. We certainly don’t do everything the Bible commands — many of its edicts are, by today’s standards, immoral.

          So in short (too late), what I am saying is that it is possible to accept that the Bible condemns same-gender sexual acts, but recognize that this condemnation was and is erroneous — born from lack of understanding. This may be confronting, as we want to hold strongly onto the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. I believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of the arching narrative of Scripture — but unfortunately, the infallibility principle does not extend to our interpretations (perhaps mine included).

          My prayer is that you’re ever open on your journey and feel peace in your heart with who you are – whichever way you go.

          • Tom

            Thanks for sharing your story Shaun. I am trying to be open on my journey. I do, however, believe the Bible was inspired by God and there’s still some things I can’t get past about not just Leviticus but other passages on homosexuality. But please don’t think that means I don’t respect your point of view and the journey you’ve taken on this. It’s obviously something you’ve spent a lot of time researching and thinking about. I am trying to do the same. God bless!

          • Elizabeth

            Really not very many passages on homosexuality. Like four. But God bless you for your respect.

    • Lymis

      Tom, your journey is your own, and it is for you to listen to the voice of God speaking in your heart.

      But I could have written what you did when I was in my early 20′s. I have come to realize that I had some major misunderstandings that were actually getting in the way of my relationship with God. Please don’t assume that because I’ve lived my life and come to new conclusions that I haven’t seriously considered what you are saying – because I lived it in my own life for years. It is not the answer it appears to be.

      One thing that you seem to be hinging your understanding on is this idea that “It even occurred to me recently that maybe God allowed me to be this way to strengthen my faith and reliance on Him. My feelings for men are completely out of my control, and He’s my only hope if I’m not going to give in to them.”

      That’s one interpretation of your experience. It seems to make sense, because it’s circular – same sex attractions are bad, therefore there must be some other reason for them, and therefore fighting them must be strengthening you.

      But people with eating disorders could say the same thing about hunger, and feel that the more they can battle their appetite and avoid food, the more morally strong they will be. When food itself becomes the enemy, there isn’t going to be a good answer.

      Consider that your sexual feelings seem out of control because you’ve never given yourself a chance to learn to control them. Straight people who refuse to consider love and responsible intimate sexual relationships with people that they treat with integrity find that their sexual feelings get out of control, too. Because if you cut yourself off from and expression of healthy sexual relationships, all you are left with is unhealthy impulses.

      It isn’t that your feelings for men are evil or dangerous or unhealthy – consider that it is precisely because you are not dealing with them, not learning to have dates and non-sexual activities and appropriate levels of intimacy that could lead to a fulfilling sexual lifestyle that what you are left with feels so out of control.

      It’s wonderful that you are finding the Bible to be a rich source of connection to God. But if that will be your path, then you particularly owe it to yourself to do some research into those passages you quote as being so clear that God disapproves of homosexuality, because each and every one of them, once you understand what the people who wrote them meant when they wrote them are either shockingly bad deliberate mistranslations, or are taken out of a context that we’d never use to condemn heterosexuality across the board if it were reversed.

      There’s a story about a potential gang rape, and it’s used to condemn all homosexual relationships. But the story of David and Bathsheba isn’t used to condemn all heterosexual relationships – just that sort of misused heterosexual impulse. The New Testament authors wrote in words that condemn idolatrous temple prostitution and selling young boys into prostitution, and it’s translated by modern people to condemn homosexuality in general.

      It isn’t “picking and choosing” to understand what the Bible actually says, who it was speaking to, and in what context. It isn’t some sort of shell game with an agenda to dig into each of those apparent prohibitions and see whether they actually apply in the context of the lives we are living today. And once you tug on a few of those threads with an open mind, you’ll find that they all unravel, one way or another.

      God may well be calling any given person to celibacy. But people who are called to celibacy are not called to fight their fundamental sexual orientation or human connections. They aren’t celibate because their sexual feelings are out of control and have to be violently suppressed. The call to celibacy aligns your sexual feelings and directs them in a new direction.

      You don’t find God through fear. And you don’t become fully human by hating parts of your own humanity.

      • DR

        “You don’t find God through fear. And you don’t become fully human by hating parts of your own humanity.”

        This is one of the most powerful sentences I’ve read in a very long time. You’re a blessing,

        • Andy

          Hear, hear.

      • Tom

        I really appreciate your comments Lymis and am trying to keep an open mind.

        I’m in my mid-30s and obviously life’s been a struggle in this area. A part of me really wants to believe your interpretation, but when I study the passages, at least so far I’ve always come to the conclusion God is really saying he doesn’t want us to live in sexual gay relationships.

        I have heard the temple prostitution interpretation before and certainly respect your opinion on it, but it really seems to me the passage is saying sex with the same gender is wrong.

        That said, I don’t live in fear. I believe my sins are covered by Jesus’s death and that his offer of salvation is for anyone no matter what their sexual orientation is.

        I also believe if I go out tonight, meet an attractive man and do something I later regret, he will forgive me.

        But I also believe as a follower of Jesus that’s not something I should be doing, and to do it as a lifestyle is not what he wants for me.

        I am trying to base my opinions on God’s word. Even if some of my interpretations are incorrect, I have never found any verses that portray gay relationships/marriage in a positive light or deem them acceptable. I’ve got to believe if God was okay with say, gay marriage, there would be something about it in there.

        Like I said, though, I’m trying to keep an open mind and to be willing to listen if God is telling me I’m wrong.

        • Lymis

          David and Jonathan?

          In Christ there is neither male nor female?

          For love is of God and anyone who loves is born of God and knows God?

          The healing of the centurion’s body slave (a sexual relationship)?

          “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”?

          There is FAR more support for loving same sex relationships than condemnation of them – unless you consider the condemnation of things like gang rape and underage prostitution to extend to loving adult relationships.

          • Tom

            In context I don’t think any of the things you mentioned support same sex relationships. The Bible only indicates David and Jonathan were best friends and anything beyond that is guesswork. I’ve also never heard the relationship between the centurion and his servant described as sexual — again, it would be guessing to say so.

            The “male nor female” verse is only saying all followers of Christ are equal.

            The love verse is telling Christians to love each other, but is not referring to either same or opposite sex sexual relationships.

            And the defiling verse is Jesus saying the disciples don’t have to follow all the Pharisees’ legalistic rules about hand-washing before eating, because He’s far more concerned with the evil inside the Pharisees than their cleanliness on the outside.

            At least from my point of view, I still don’t see any part of the Bible that gives a thumbs up to same-sex relationships, and I see verses in the Old and New Testament that I believe, in context, are saying it’s not something God wants for us.

          • http://www.justjohnboy.com JustJohn

            Tom, I could easily have written what Lymis did in both cases.

            The original scripture, by the way, had no titles for each chapter.

            L18 was titled “Sexual Purity” by the Roman Clique. Three verses were deliberately altered to steer the mind towards sex, rather than the true meaning of “uncover nakedness” as well as other obvious alterations to original meaning. The verse about menstrual cycle uses the word for SEX whereas the one for neighbor’s wife doesn’t and v22 certainly doesn’t. This is proof that the ancient peoples did know of such words and knew when to use them and when not to use them.

            I come to my recent conclusions and anger through an Engineering Approach to the words and phrases.

            Read Yonatan and Dovid without the preconception that they are just besties. How often does a bestie just hand over his crown and step down, really? How often is it proclaimed that “Yonaton loved [ahaha, not rava] Dovid as his own soul” in the story? Far more than in any other story, including Jacob about Rebekah. Forget your pre-teaching and read the scripture for what it is, in as close to the original as you can. I will be more than pleased to send you the side-by-side comparisons I did on L18 as proof of deliberate twisting (by the Roman x-tians).

            At any rate, my contribution is this: Love and the sexual expression of it is part of Human Identity. Christ suffered for you. You are not to suffer for Christ, especially by considering your very Identity to be a personally inflicted trial. BTDT

            I’d pray for you if I believed that still. I’ll “hold you in the light” as I say now.

          • Tom

            Thanks for the comments JustJohn. I freely admit I can’t prove David and Jonathan’s relationship was not sexual, but I still think without the Bible expressly saying it happened it is making a leap to assume it did. I think it is possible Jonathan understood it was not God’s will for him to be king and was so unselfish in his love for David he was willing to not fight for the crown.

            Although it’s not popular to say, I believe we are often called to suffer for Christ. Paul says he was called to suffer for Jesus, and even Jesus himself says to “Take up your cross daily and follow me.”

            I do believe are sufferings in this life are rewarded in the next though.

          • Elizabeth

            Uh hunh. Pauline theology.

          • Tom

            And Jesus philosophy as well — they agree on this and other points.

          • Elizabeth

            Jesus says nothing about homosexuality and He hung out with prostitutes. Period.

          • Christy

            Hi ,Tom. Re: “but I still think without the Bible expressly saying it happened it is making a leap to assume it did.”

            There is a great deal in scripture that is not overt, especially when relying solely on English translations without cultural commentary. There are recent works about this which highlight the importance of “reading the text with Jewish eyes.” This, I think, was an important point JustJohn was trying to make.

          • Christy

            And, honestly, if we’re going to talk about making some leaps, there’s Ken Hamm. If folks are willing to consider the field of apologetics as accurate and holding some truth…then there is an evangelical precedent for leaps being acceptable.

          • Lymis

            “The “male nor female” verse is only saying all followers of Christ are equal.

            The love verse is telling Christians to love each other, but is not referring to either same or opposite sex sexual relationships.

            And the defiling verse is Jesus saying the disciples don’t have to follow all the Pharisees’ legalistic rules about hand-washing before eating, because He’s far more concerned with the evil inside the Pharisees than their cleanliness on the outside.”

            And you honestly can’t see how any of that would apply to same-sex couples, either in the positive sense of affirming the relationship, or in the neutral sense of wiping away gender based rules?

            “God says you’re so equal that in Christ you don’t even have gender, but we still have to treat you completely differently and deny you the rights we keep for ourselves.” Because, apparently, what God says “equal” it doesn’t actually mean anything of the sort.

            Sort of like the way you appear to use “keeping an open mind” – as in, not in the slightest.

            Gotcha.

          • Tom

            It was through keeping an open mind that I came to the conclusions I did, and yes I do try to keep it open still.

            When I look at it with an open mind and don’t try to make it say what I want it to say (which would be that gay relationships are not against God’s will), I repeatedly come to the conclusion that to use certain verses in support of gay sexual relationships is twisting the original meaning.

          • Elizabeth

            Which verses? Just curious.

          • Tom

            The following: Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, and I Corinthians 6:9-11. These along with the Bible never offering explicit support for gay relationships are what led me to my conclusions.

          • Elizabeth

            So ancient defilement law and two of Paul’s public relations campaigns? That’s about what I expected. Someone crucifies Paul, I’ll care. Not that God didn’t like him. He did bring Christianity to a whole new audience. He’s just not all that.

          • DR

            But we all at the end of the day rely on other peoples’ interpretations of Scripture, Tom, and how each fits with one another. While the Word of God is truly the “Word of God”, we all as human beings rely upon an interpretation from an authority on Scripture that we give power to. So for me, the way you believe these scriptures is serving you in a very specific way. When it doesn’t serve you any longer, then I trust the Holy Spirit will guide you at that point. We’re all a work in progress but to watch others try to convince you of something when you’re in the end, choosing to still see a specific set of scriptures through a traditionally conservative evangelistic lens? No one will be able to convince you. Nor should they! Reasoning together is much different than debate or trying to convince someone that the Bible leans one way vs another. It’s too sacred for that kind of thing anyway.

          • Christy

            Tom, what Lymis is asking is that we look at the heart of what Jesus is teaching in a big picture way rather than in a narrow way – which was kind of Jesus’ whole point. The Pharisees were more concerned with how people look on the outside, with following the letter of the rules but God looks at the heart – motives, the essence of a person. Jesus is asking us to look at the spirit of things. What’s the big picture? What is the spirit of what Jesus is teaching us rather than the letter of what the Pharisees were focussed on?

            Jesus tells us in the Greatest Commandment as expressed in the parable of the Good Samaritan: Love God. Love your neighbor. ***On this rests the whole of the law and the prophets.***

            Jesus told them they strained a gnat to swallow a camel. I think we are doing the same thing on the matter of sex. The big picture would be the spirit of the law: Don’t abuse people. Don’t use them for selfish gain. Don’t exploit them. Don’t use sex for power or abuse or manipulation or idolatry. It is an act of love. Enjoy it responsibly.

            An example: A married heterosexual couple engaging in sexual activity fulfills the letter of the law in terms of what some Christians would say is the right thing to do in following their interpretation of scripture. The outside of the bowl “looks clean.” However, if we learn that the marriage is in trouble and the husband only has sex with the wife because he wants to have a baby and the wife knows this so she routinely fakes it so that it can be over more quickly and she is lying about having stopped taking her birth control pills…and we apply Jesus’ teaching in a big picture way…

            then we can see that this married heterosexual couple following the letter of the law (Pharisees’ – “clean outside”) are actually not following the spirit of the law (Jesus) and the inside of the bowl is actually very dirty.

            By this Letter of the law standard, the sex this couple shares is approved of by God but that of a truly mutually loving gay couple is not. Whereas if we apply the spirit of the law: the opposite is true.

            This is part of the literalism that many Christians feel is blocking a fuller understanding of Jesus’ teaching.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan SteveCampsOut

        Very well said!

      • http://www.greensagetribe.com greensagemama

        Lymis,

        What you stated here was dripping with such depth and wisdom. Thanks for stating this (what I already agreed with) in such a beautiful way :)

    • Andy

      If you sense a conflict between what your body tells you and what a book (even if it’s purportedly divinely dictated) tells you, it’s probably worth investigating. Ask WHY the book says that, and WHY your body is telling you the opposite.

      I read a fantastic essay by a gay Christian that’s well-researched and makes a very good case. It’s long, but is absolutely worth reading.

      http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

      And of course, there’s John’s own piece, if you haven’t seen it yet:

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

      I hope this helps you put an end to your struggles, whatever you decide.

      • Tom

        Thanks Andy. I read the first one (have to wait to read the 2nd — the 1st was LONG haha). He makes a lot of good points and I can’t say with certainty he is wrong.

        One thing that nags me though is that he lumps homosexuality in with a lot of things we believe were cultural and just applied to that time period. Yet homosexuality is the only one that is in the Old Testament and then repeated in the New Testament, whereas the others are just in one Testament.

        That said, I will keep studying this. Believe me, a large part of me wants to believe what he wrote, but I’m just not there right now. Thanks so much for sharing though. I really need to keep exposing myself to points of view on both sides of this issue.

        • Elizabeth

          I’d suggest Augustine of Hippo if you like Paul. That’s how I learned it. http://www.amazon.com/Augustine-Hippo-Biography-New-Epilogue/dp/0520227573

        • Jek

          Tom, you are not alone. I support you in what you believe is true. And I also haven’t seen any context in the Bible that can ever support Gay relationship or marriage. Some of the comments above are from the philosophy of the humanity. How I wish that God has included in the Bible that “A MAN CAN LOVE A MAN AND HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS TO HIM” pretty like of a Man to have sex to a Woman. I also have not seen in the Bible that homosexuality was Okay. In my point of view, we cannot bend the teachings of our God Jesus Christ to the things that He, our Lord, consider SINFUL. It is a call for every gay, like me, about this gay issue. God has a reason for everything and we cannot question His judgment. If you are a genuine believer you will live for God even it hurts you each day to carry the cross of homosexuality. I am also a gay Christian, even I am 25 years old, i clearly understood that Homosexuality is a sin that we must face and battle. It is not a disease nor planned by a human to happen, but a trial, or hardship like you have mentioned, that we cannot question from Above. Like the Apostle Paul had said, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” The world has its own opinion and set of good things to do or to follow, but the Bible has Its own standard that a genuine believer will follow. I am praying that may God bless us with true wisdom and may our Lord, our God name Jesus Christ, may bless us through the Holy Spirit that we may see the real truth about life, especially to the area where we are going through.

          • DrewTwoFish

            Good luck with that, Jek. Let me how that’s working for you when you’ve doubled that 25 years. Don’t be certain that as a “genuine” believer that you’ve God all figured out. You might save yourself some pain in long run.

          • Jek

            I did not post my reply to condemn but to say what the Holy Spirit is giving me. To keep my fellow Christians to follow the truth because you and me are brothers and we might face the same problem. There are things that is really hard to explain in words, but the Bible showed us what to follow. I do experience a lot of questions in me but I have stopped questioning the Father above, because I partly know my purpose. to stay in the truth and fight for the truth.

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

            Good for you, Jek. I’m wondering if I could persuade you to please go fight for your idea of the truth elsewhere? I would seriously appreciate that. Thank you, brother.

          • DR

            That’s your choice! I see it as being an awfully painful and unnecessary one but yes, ultimately your choice to put your weight on the human authority that’s told you the Bible reads this way and not any other way.

          • Jek

            @John, I am truly sorry if I did offend anybody about my post. I apologize if I wasn’t helpful to you. But I do care for you because I, too, can partly relate to the gravity of the homosexual issues. Being bullied at school, even inside home, and up to the present, makes me a victim of these things. Not to mention, the mutual love that I am searching for so many long ago was only a dream. But if our hope are only for this world in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. I encourage you to lift it all up and let Him do the work as we do our job as His people. I know it is really really hard, I experience it now. But I am hoping we can get this through by the mercy of our God and be truly happy at the next life to come. I understand, this is my last post.

            @Dr, You are right it is a choice, my spiritual choice. If only can God make a new Bible for us and to legalize us to marry our opposite love one, I will surely be happy. I am suffering just like just anybody else, but I strive to choose to become positive and enjoy what are the other gifts that God had and continually has been giving me. My heart is in you Dr and John and to all the homosexuals and bisexuals. May God bless us all.

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

            I don’t care if you make this your last post or not; you’re welcome to stay here. I just don’t want you telling people God has a problem with anyone being gay. If you have to say that, move on. If you can drop that from the things you say here, pull up a seat and stay as long as you’d like.

          • DR

            It’s not a “new Bible”. It’s a choice *you* are making to believe the Bible tells you that and the reason you choose that is something only you understand.

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

            exactly right.

      • http://www.facebook.com/LostInSpaceMan SteveCampsOut

        You want to know what really jumped out at me from GCN/Justin’s View? The very last section on “Hints in the Spirit-Inspired Scriptures” where he talks about the three things that are not “In Christ”, Neither Jew Nor Gentile; Slave Nor Free; Male and Female! It really struck me that these three things have been the greatest trials that the body of Christ has ever had to over come! First the acceptance of Gentiles into the body, then the abolishment of slavery as an acceptable behavior of man for his fellow man and now in our age the realization that in Christ we should not make distinctions based on gender as a necessity for entering the Kingdom of God! I’d say when the body of Christ finally comes to grips with this last one, we’ll truly be near the time of his coming back!

        • Jill

          interesting thought…

    • http://www.lynnswayze.com Lynn

      Posts like this always make me wonder why conservative-minded Christians don’t ask why most Jewish thought (apart from Orthodox) leans very differently from Christian interpretation of the same scriptures. You don’t see Jewish groups rallying against gay marriage. Has any Christian ever asked WHY? :) (Food for thought.)

    • David in the O.C.

      Sadly, I think you’re the *poster boy* for how religion literally destroys people’s lives. I’m really sorry that you were indoctrinated into a belief system that condemns who your are. (Just a reminder… there ARE churches that support the LGBT community.) As a non-religious person, I have to wonder why God would condemn homosexuals, then allow them to exist in the first place. It’s really nonsensical. If a powerful being that supposedly created the entire universe didn’t want 5% of the populous to have loving relationships, don’t you think they’d have the ability to make sure that humans weren’t born gay at all? (This is aside from the fact that over 1,500 animal species also exhibit homosexual behavior.) If God really exists, I don’t think he wants his creations to live solitary loveless lives, then simply die. Why would anyone worship a being that could be so cruel and heartless? That would be the definition of evil, if you ask me. If that’s what God represents to you, I’m very glad I’m not religious.

      I remembered this video (link below) made by Matthew Vines (a religious scholar), where he explains how the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. I didn’t listen to the whole thing — since the issue doesn’t affect my life. But I have read numerous times that the *clobber passages* in the Bible are being misinterpreted. Something to keep in mind: The word “homosexual” didn’t even exist 200 years ago, so why is it in the Bible? …and same-sex relationships (like we have today) didn’t exist back in Biblical times. So obviously the Bible isn’t referring to how we live to today.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY

      • DrewTwoFish

        No wait…I’M the poster boy for religion destroys people’s lives. Ha ha…but not. Decades lost hanging on to this crap. Tom, Jek…please, don’t waste your precious lives.

  • Nathaniel

    John,

    I really like what you had to say, and was ready to share it when something in my head clicked. You are drawing a distinction between two arguments that are, at their root, no different. Historically speaking, homosexuality has been treated as a behavioral issue. Indeed today, we still see that argument when anti-gay people proclaim that no one is ‘born that way’ and declare that ‘it is a lifestyle choice’. This was the belief that supported psychologist shocking LGBT people in order to deter them from the behavior, as if that was sufficient to cure them of their deviance. When the BSA was still considering the measure to permit gay scouts, conservatives were horrified that we would be OK with scouts having sex. In other words, being gay and ‘doing’ gay have traditionally been the same thing, and if one could just stop having gay sex, then one could stop being gay.

    So now, conservatives has started accepting that one can be gay without engaging in sexual activity with other people of the same sex, but still demanding one not so engage. Ultimately, I don’t think this distinction is as substantive as you declare.

  • Susan Hartmann

    Since gays can’t resist the bathhouses and airport bathrooms for their love I think that “temptation” is adequate. If you guys want marriage – aprofound commitment if fidelity – then leave the hedonism behind and join society. Don’t demand that we change because you won’t

    • Rich

      Susan,

      There are straight women who are prostitutes; are you guilty of their sin? No, then why are you condemning all gays for the sins of a few?

      • Susan Hartmann

        Because with gay men it is part of their identity – a part they fight to keep. Look at the advocate of “monogamish” relationships. You are monogamous or you aren’t. The gays want to have it differently. Obviously…

        • Christy

          Damn. And I thought only “ministers of a certain sort” were monogamish.

        • Shannon

          Susan – you must not know very many gay people. What makes you think they all dress in drag or leather? Ssssh….there are straight looking Republicans even who are gay. Or what about gay soldiers? Are they fruity?

          Additionally how do you know that the heterosexuals in your church aren’t living hedonistic lifestyles? I live in a city where there was recently a swingers convention. There were tens of thousands of people visiting and there was no way to tell who was a swinger and who wasn’t.

          I think you might need to get out a little more. The stereotypes you are promoting aren’t really who the LBGT community is. Those stereotypes are no more accurate than the ones that I suspect many readers of this blog may have about you.

          I grew up in an evangelical church so I completely understand where you are coming from. This difference is I met and became close to gay people and realized that they were no different than me. I suspect you have gay family or friends and don’t know it. It would be a shame if you said these kinds of judgmental things to them without knowing it. Your words are very hurtful.

          As the proud daughter of a happily committed lesbian who is a leader in her church and community I find your words hurtful. I can only imagine how your homosexual family and friends feel.

          I’m not jumping on you and I’m not discounting your feelings. I just want you to know that you may be knowingly or unknowingly preventing yourself from having a close relationship with a loved one. Also I can’t imagine that its good for your spirit to carry all that anger and disgust around. I’ll pray for you.

          • Susan Hartmann

            I know some gay people. So what? They’re wonderful and kind people but that doesn’t make them any less sinful. If SSM became law I’d be happy for them but wouldn’t celebrate their union. Just because sonething is legal doesn’t make it right or moral. It is not sanctioned or structured by the church and thus is not and should not be considered anything but a secular legal arrangement. The gays themselves (almost made a Goethe reference) want

            nothing else anyway.

          • Elizabeth

            It is sanctioned and structured by many churches. As to what gays want, some want to get married. Some are already married. Some are content in long-term monogamous relationships. Some date around. Just like heterosexuals. The stereotype of bath houses and cruising is outdated. Most LGBT couples I know celebrate anniversaries and raise children like you or me. Truth be told, they’re pretty traditional except for how their parts fit together. Wouldn’t it be great if they got married in church instead of denigrated because they can’t?

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Not only that, but a lot of the behaviours the old stereotypes are based on came from a place of having to live on the edges, of being so marginalised and stigmatised by society, so limited in what was allowed to us, that those things were literally all we had. I’m young enough (30) that I may be speaking out of turn here, but I live in the Midwest, which hasn’t really come that far, so…correct me if I’m wrong, but it always seemed to me that was the only expression of who we were that was allowed to us, that the ways in which it was excessive or desperate were caused by the limits and fears and oppression and pain that were forced on us, that we faced in every area of our lives. Now we have, at least in some ways, in some places, options.

            Those things she’s saying, she’s condemning us on the one hand for things she has no way of understanding, the circumstances and desperations which fueled them, and at the same time she’s being snooty about ‘well, if they really wanted to have healthy kind of respectful relationships then we wouldn’t have a problem’, but those are exactly the options we never had. Far too often, still don’t have. She’s really making me feel ill and kind of shaky, I need to go do something else for awhile. And maybe unfollow this post.

          • Jill

            Kagi, I am very sorry this made you feel bad because no one has the right to do that to you and it is completely out of line. But THANK YOU for saying everything that you did. It was clear, precise, and SO perfect.

            Your message is exactly what is needed. Hugs and blessings to you! ~Jill

          • Dan

            When will you people learn not eveybody is religulous and susan i bet you dont know any gay people.. but it seem’s as if you speak for all of them. get a clue and a life stop hating.

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Wow, you are brutal and heartless, lady. I don’t usually let you people get to me, I’ve heard it too many times before, but you have a way of saying it that doesn’t even pretend to have any love or good heart behind it – I feel like someone literally just threw the biggest stone they could lift at me. Like I feel bruised, almost physically.

            Christians like you make me sick. There is nothing Christlike about you.

          • Shannon

            Susan – I guess my point was more that I worry for you that you are missing out in the loving truthful relationships with the homosexuals that are in your life. When my mom married her wife my aunt and uncle refused to attend. I called and begged them to come – not for my mom. She’d already given up on them. I called them because I didn’t want them to regret missing the wedding.

            I was right. It’s been several years now and recently my Aunt told me that there is nothing she regrets more than missing my moms wedding. My mom led her to the church. My mom helped her and my uncle get off of drugs and find God.

            The truth is all marriages are just legal documents that involve a ritual that some believe involves God. No one is asking you or your church to perform or attend a same sex wedding. I would just hope that your church would want to support all people who want to build a relationship and home with God’s guidance.

            I really don’t understand your bitterness and anger. I believe that God loves all of us and wants us to love each other. I believe that we are alive to feel love give love and serve others with love. What could be more loving than accepting and loving someone you disagree with.

            I really hope you change your mind. I feel bad that you seem so angry.

          • Shannon

            Ironically my mom’s marriage isn’t legal BUT was performed by her minister in her church. I’ve never attendees wedding with so much spiritual significance

          • Elizabeth

            Me too, Shannon. Friends traveled out of the country to get married — one to Canada and one to Nepal. The religious ceremony was more important than the nonexistent legal status back in the States. Susan’s gone, but I appreciate your testimony.

        • DR

          I think it’s hilarious that gay men and women have just fought (and won) for the right to be legally monogamous as people like Susan actually insist that they know better about what gay “identity” really is. It’s so vile, of course, but also so absurd that it feel cartoonish at this point.

        • KellyK

          Funny, I know straight people who practice polyamory as well, but no one insists that because they exist that other straight people can’t be monogamous.

    • Justin

      So, does your prerequisite to gaining society’s approval also apply to heterosexual people? Are you saying that straight men and women DON’T have to “leave hedonism” behind in order to “join society”? And who’s society are you talking about here, where do you live that everyone is so pure and chaste, because looking at the rate of failed marriages and the proliferation of pornography and open sexuality in our culture (an observation, not an indictment) it seems that there are plenty of straight people who are in marriages or other legal long term relationships who still cheat on their partner or look at porn or visit strip clubs; should they too be required to give up hedonism before they’re allowed to marry? Or are you just throwing around blanket stereotypes about “gays” to excuse your inability to accept the fact that they’re just as human as you are?

      • Susan Hartmann

        Wow, ya got me. I guess I missed all the drag queens in brazilian thongs and Carmen Mirand fruit hats and leathermen at my last church picnic. Have to look harder next time!

        • Justin

          Tell me Susan, let’s say you were having a picnic at this holy Christian church of yours and, to everyone’s surprise, Jesus himself showed up for some potato salad and cheese burgers. Then, 10 minutes later the colorful caricatures of what you think gay people look like also show up to the picnic, acting all gay and weird and fruity. Would Jesus join you in shaming them and tell them to leave, would he condemn them as sinful and say they have no place in a righteous society?

          If your answer is “no” then your church is doing a bad job of representing Christ.

          If your answer is “yes” then you’re probably thinking of a different Jesus and should maybe consider double checking your theology.

          • Susan Hartmann

            Yes He would. Jesus sought to restore tradition. Remember the money-changers in the temple? Jesus tossed them out to reclaim the tradition of a temple used for worship and reverence not base commerce. If the gays want to revere the institution of marriage then fine, let them participate and share – not debase and destroy. No marriage is perfect – no one is perfect. We all fail and fall at times

            . That doesn’t mean we should give up trying.

          • Bethulia

            That’s right: Tradition. Must be why he touched untouchables and the unclean, made them the heroes of his stories and not only hung out with the marginalized and the oppressed and talked to women but had women as disciples and defended them from punishment by the religious authorities and generally poked a stick in the eye of the religious leaders of his day. Tradition. Silly me.

            They killed him for going against tradition. Tradition was the antithesis of his message. His was a radical idea that God’s love was for everyone – not just some, not just the special – but everybody.

            You might find fruitful reading “The Secret Message of Jesus” by Brian McLaren. He has a moving story about having a birthday party for a prostitute that will bring any non-coldhearted person to tears.

          • Susan Hartmann

            Is Mr. Mclaren in the Gospels? No? Then what he says and writes has no meaning. To understand you need to give your heart and mind to understanding. Visit a local church and ask questions with an open heart and you will begin to understand how wrong you are. I will not judge you in ignorance if you can clear your heart and do the same for me. Deal?

          • Elizabeth

            Rules about gays: also not in the Gospels. Glad that’s where you draw the line.

          • Jill

            :) :) :)

          • Andy

            Buuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnn!

          • Bethulia

            Re: “Visit a local church and ask questions with an open heart and you will begin to understand how wrong you are. ”

            M-kay. See. Been there. Done that. Got born again, dunked for good measure and have the t-shirt. Then I met the loving God I never knew. Your assumption of my lack of faith and salvation is the very thing that the rest of us find so … what’s that French word… shitty. It’s the arrogance about which so many people of faith are sick and tired of enduring from other certain people of faith and being misrepresented by those who do this sort of pious shaming. John, as a matter of fact, wrote about that here:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2013/07/what-non-christians-want-christians-to-hear/

          • Guy Norred

            Having an open heart and mind is all we would ask of you also.

          • DR

            So what you’re saying, Susan, is gay men and women (the thousands of them who’ve been raising children, living productive, lives for years clearly outside of your radar) are somehow swinging on the weekends and thus, ruining marriage? Even though straight people enjoy an over 50% divorce rate and have some of the most depraved sexual impurity among our ranks?

            Honestly, I think you need to expand your view a little and actually meet some gay families instead of relying upon television and coverage of a gay pride parade for your worldl view on what gay means.

          • Lymis

            “Jesus sought to restore tradition.

            Holy cats, you have no CLUE, do you?

            Or are you talking about some entirely different Jesus than the rest of us are?

          • Susan Hartmann

            And, while we’re on the subject: Why is it that the least Christian people always lecture us believers on how to worship? You’ve rejected it so please don’t turn around and cherry-pick the Gospels to prove a point.

          • Bethulia

            Pot meet kettle.

          • DR

            Why in the world are you suggesting that people who are gay are “the least Christian”?

            Susan, I think you are a brilliant troll and with this comment, have just outed yourself. No one who’s real would say these kinds of things. Well done.

          • Marisa

            Least Christian.

            Interesting concept.

            So, believing that Jesus is the living embodiment of God, that he lived a human life, lived a sinless life, suffered for us on the Cross, died and was raised again BUT believing gay people can be just as “saved” or should be treated with human dignity and love makes one a lesser Christian?

            Thanks for the theology lesson. I’m on my knees asking your forgiveness as I type, because clearly, you speak for Jesus.

            Oh, wait… THAT bit isn’t in the Gospel.

        • Elizabeth

          At my cathedral, the usher is a gay man in leather pants. The Carmen Miranda hats are worn by a soft-spoken older black woman. They are both sweet. He makes better potato salad.

          • Christy

            And this is why I love you.

          • Elizabeth

            Hi Christy! My all-time favorite isn’t mine. A friend’s mother-in-law told this story. She’s in her seventies with two degrees in sacred music, and her choir performs all over in area churches. After a Passion play last Easter, she walked up to the female priest.

            “I like your leathers,” she said. “A woman playing Jesus needs to butch it up.”

          • DR

            I love this.

          • Marisa

            I’d hug you if I could.

        • DR

          You certainly should dear, all you’d need to do is head down to your local downtown area and take a peek in a night club.

    • Elizabeth

      As a straight woman, I think you’re underestimating the charm of an airport bathroom. I see lots of ‘happily’ married men there. That’s why wifey stays home trolling the Internet.

    • DrewTwoFish

      Wow. Your disgust is tangible. Charming.

    • Jill

      And you “know” this to be true how, exactly? Personal experience? Stalking? Read it somewhere?

      Ill-informed and bad form, Susan. Please check your ignorant stereotypes at the door next time.

      • Gail

        Susan, it isn’t up to you to decide who is a Christian and who isn’t. Just because I accept gays as equal human beings, loved by God in the same way that you and I are loved as straight human beings, does not mean that I am not as Christian as you are. My denomination, Disciples of Christ, along with many others, has made the prayerful decision to fully embrace gays in every aspect of the life and leadership of the church. So don’t tell me how to worship. I rejected that hateful, bigoted god a long time ago.

    • DR

      Here I thought that all of the hedonism was for the stripper bars, raves and sex parties that occur in millions of heterosexuals creating a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases but I guess according to Susan, it’s the gay men and women (who ironically just fought for the right to be legally monogamous) that are “hedonistic” and as a result, “aren’t part of society”. Is that how it goes Susan?

    • David in the O.C.

      Incredibly offensive comment. Sounds like someone spewing homophobic garbage from 50 years ago. There are millions of gay people in this country. The idea that all of them are staking out bathhouses and airport bathrooms is so beyond ludicrous, I’m astonished that even a bigoted person would promote such an absurd idea.

      As someone who’s been in a same-sex monogamous relationship for 18 years, and has been legally married (in California) for 5 years, your comment sickens me. — I have no doubt people demonized blacks the same way when they were fighting for their freedom, or when they wanted to pursue interracial relationships. They were portrayed as *the other*, inhuman sex-crazed monsters. It makes it all the easier to foster discrimination towards them, right? Now here we are again, 50 years later, with the same type of ignorant hate speech.

      Sadly, I don’t have time today to go to the bathhouse that’s 400 miles from home. I’ll be too busy taking my dogs for a walk, doing grocery shopping, working at my computer, then planning on what were going to be having for dinner. I’m fairly certain indiscriminate sex with a stranger isn’t on the menu.

      • Susan Hartmann

        Not all of them, of course. But it still is a point of pride in the gay community. If I open up The Advocate or the Philadelphia Gay News (or any gay publication) where will I find the striptease and sex toy ads and the cruising personals? Go on AOL chat and elsewhere and count the number of user-created cruising rooms. Don’t bother shouting at me for being small-minded. We all know the truth and bluster won’t change it.

        • Susan Hartmann

          Oh, and where was Sen. Larry Craig arrested? Three guesses…

          • Elizabeth

            Ooh! I know this one. The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport! And he swears he was not and never had been gay. Which makes your point… irrelevant at best. Susan, the queerest of the queers I know aren’t stupid enough to hook up on Craigslist. (AOL chat was about a decade ago.)

          • Elizabeth

            Those newspapers are free for a reason.

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

            she’s gone. sorry i didn’t do it sooner.

          • Christy

            Thank you.

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Thank you, also. She was getting really triggery for me. :/

          • Jill

            I’m just giving you all my appreciation for hanging in there with us, Kagi. Please don’t go too far away. ;)

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            …why is she back?

          • DR

            Wow, you were banned and then actually created some kind of fake name so you could talk about “the power of Jesus’s Susan Hartmann, people who are preaching Christ’s love generally don’t have to push their way into a conversation by manipulating a ban.

            I have a strong suspicion that you’re gripped in some kind of mental illness or an addiction that’s not treated. You need to get some help, it’s a very serious thing and your behavior here is so crazy that it’s concerning.

          • Susan Hartmann

            If it makes any difference, I spent most of my 20′s addicted to heroin – prostituting myself to support my habit. I spent almost 6 months in a mental hospital for repeated suicide attempts. The Church saved me and helped me break away from that destructive cycle. I am sane and clean because of embracing Jesus’ love.

          • DR

            Susan, I have a sense that you’re deeply troubled and you’re some kind of really aggressive, personal agenda. Your posts are inconsistent and I just frankly, don’t believe you. Even if you are “real”? You were asked to leave and then you came back – perhaps the fruit of the Holy Spirit that calls for self-control might be something you want to check out, particularly as you’re postulating you have a purer, more powerful faith in Christ than the rest of us. Generally people who are operating within the Holy Spirit don’t have to manipulate their way into conversations, even the tough ones.

          • DR

            PS – lose your “we just want to keep our values” victimization. No one is taking away your values for goodness sake, those of you trying to pass this kind of hysterical, petulant spiritual victimization is getting old and as a Christian? Really embarrassing to the Church. You are certainly free to believe whatever you want to and express it. You can take action on your beliefs and if that action is against the law? Then you can pay the legal consequences for it. That’s all your right, there is absolutely no gay man or woman banging down the doors of the conservative christian churches wanting to get married in a sacramental way. As a matter of fact, if you’re paying attention? They want absolutely nothing to do with you at all if they were honest, I suspect all of your “gay friends” are just being polite to you in order to make you simply go away (most gay men and women have developed a graciousness as a result of dealing with people like you that is really extraordinary because they know you’re totally unconscious to what you say and do).

            But in all of that? You’re not protected from other people expressing their opinions to you and even getting angry with you. For goodness sake, those of you who want to express your vile, homophobic “values” and then actually expect to be treated kindly when it’s that kind of thing that drives gay kids to suicide is frankly, with all due respect? Insane. What kind of self-absorbed, entitled world do you people live in?

    • Guy Norred

      I would ask you to realize the irony of your statement. Centuries of religious and societal persecution are what created the gay culture you condemn, not the other way around. Not being allowed open participation the institutions that encourage healthy and loving relationships left nothing but the secrecy of the kind of casual encounters you mention. Anything else meant, and in some circles still means, giving up everything, possibly even ones life. Can’t you try to imagine that homosexuals have always wanted the same kind of ideal relationship with another human being I am sure you yourself desire but that they themselves couldn’t start to imagine for themselves, having no examples before them.

      • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

        I really need to catch up on all the comments before I reply to things…thanks for this. That’s pretty much what I was trying to express, but I think you said it better.

        • Guy Norred

          Thank you. The ideas we are trying to express (I really like your longer comment above) are things I have been trying for some time to put into words that can reach someone like Susan. I am afraid I still am not there but I will keep on trying. In some ways it is therapeutic for me as well and helps me not stay angry (as I was when I first read her original comment). I actually find it interesting how this can be a revelation sometimes to our allies and even to ourselves. I still remember the moment in my late twenties (I am 44 now) when an acquaintance first said to me that he thought it terribly hypocritical of people to condemn us for promiscuity on the one hand and deny us marriage on the other. I am happy to say I recently heard he is married now and that my partner and I will be next month (well close as we are in Illinois). Keep up the good fight anddon’t let the Susans of the world drag you down. All my best wishes to you and yours.

          • Jill

            This. This is why I L-O-V-E this place. Kagi and Guy, you are making me cry right now, how beautifully clean and clear your message is. Absolutely stunning. I would be hugging you both right now if I could.

  • Marisa

    This issue is the single biggest reason I haven’t been to church in almost 2 years. I long for fellowship but can’t find a congregation in my bible belt region that gets this.

    I’m a straight, married, mother of 5 & grandma of 3 but my best and closest friends are judged in a way inconsistent with Jesus and it leaves us all lonelier than anyone should have to be.

    • Jill

      I wholeheartedly agree. It shouldn’t be this hard to create a community of love and welcome. Do a search for gay-friendly churches, check out United Church of Christ’s website for their nearest ONA (Open & Affirming) congregation, and I know there are Unitarians, Unity, some Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic parishes that get it right. Anyone here from the bible belt have a good recommendation?

      Add to it: https://www.facebook.com/#!/UnfundamentalistChristians , which you probably already know about, and you may find more community than you can handle! :)

  • Ginger Saunders

    Please document evidence that people are “simply born gay.” I have researched this topic extensively, and haven’t come up with anything definitive. Yes, hormonal levels differ in many people, but not all people with hormonal abnormalities consider themselves to be gay. No “gay gene” has been found. Socialization, rape, etc. can be factors associated with a gay identity, but I have not found evidence that people are chained to a gay identity with no possibility of escape. I have lived in a household with gay people who tried to convince other people in the same household that they also were gay. I consider that process sexual harassment. Vulnerable children and youth should not be preyed upon by gays who admittedly “hate being gay and would change if they could.”

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

      *sigh*

      • DrewTwoFish

        I was about launch into an angry sputtering reply and still might but perhaps *sigh* is the best response.

        I wonder if there’s any point in engaging in, uh, conversation with these sorts of people. And yet I still do, at least online. I get sucked in…

        Where’s Lymis? He’d say the right thing.

        *SIGH*

    • DR

      It’s so bizarre to me that Christians who get banned from a site due to their vile, unchristianlike behavior come back deceptively under a new name and continue to challenge the integrity of positions that are made. The rationalization for these people that “the ends justify the means” is so totally creepy – that they’d actually lie to evade a ban instead of paying attention to why they were banned in the first place – is so unsettling. Thank God this kind of belief that “Ginger Saunders” is trying to sell is no longer selling.

      • DrewTwoFish

        Indeed…I’m so, SO weary of hearing this sort of garbage that restraint has nearly left me entirely. I’d just like to tell Ginger to, “… well and truly #$%@#$$$%$%. Go and wallow in your own @##$#% and splash around in it with the rest of your chums. Just please don’t try and foist your ‘Christianity’ on the rest of us and ‘prey’ on vulnerable children and youth. We consider THAT ‘harassment.’”

      • Melody

        Wrong. It is not simply an opposing view. It is a heinous, homophobic view. I admire DR. She openly confronts ignorance and bigotry from people like you (yes, you. Your comment shows that you’re more upset about Ginger being “avoided” than about her harmful views of the LGBT community.) No one who isn’t homophobic would say what Ginger said. And you should be ashamed for defending her.

      • Melody

        And you’re crazy to think anyone’s saying that “anything short of unquestioning acceptance is homophobia to you.” She said nothing of the kind. It’s clear you ARE homophobic, just by this comment. Get over yourself and go away.

      • Melody

        I just read your horrible comments about gays and bath houses. You are a complete liar. You DON’T know any gay people, or you wouldn’t continue to believe such degrading stereotypes and call your gay “friends” sinful. You are a bigot and a truly heinous excuse for a human being. I’m sure your gay “friends” find you as despicable as I do. Stop making excuses and admit what a horrible person you are. Stop lying, and go away.

        • Christy

          Would you like to offer us what you would consider proof that people are born straight?

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Special treatment??? The hell with you, lady, all we are asking for is to be treated like human beings! YOU are the one who is asking for special treatment, to have everyone bow to your own view of the world and recognise you as the only right and true way to be. You are asking for your personal opinions to be allowed to invalidate our very existence.

            And this whole question of whether or not we are born this way is entirely beside the point. Evidence points to it being at least partly genetic; in some people, there may be other things in the mix, but you have no right to judge or ask us to justify any of it, because your individual religious views are not more important than our lived experience, and the pain and suffering and even death that your judgements and demands have caused to so many.

            So I repeat – the hell with you. You’re a disgusting, smug self-righteous bigot who cares more about being ‘right’ than about the grief and pain and despair we have suffered for centuries because of people like you. You are the very definition of a stumbling block, and Jesus had some very harsh words for what will happen to you in eternity. Look it up.

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Lady, that is what you ARE doing. Freedom to coexist is all we want, either. We want to be able to live and love and have the exact same rights as you, without you forcing your beliefs on us and denying us the same legal rights that you have. We aren’t forcing you to do anything, and we don’t want to, all we want is for you to leave us alone and stop telling us what we are and what we want and why as if you know it better than we do ourselves.

            You are welcome to ‘preserve and protect your own values’ in your own homes and places of worship, no one is forcing you to accept us or marry us or anything, but you are insisting on forcing the entire country to conform to your values as well – you have no right to deprive us of the same liberties and freedoms as you have, the same legal status as whole and free persons with all the same human rights. I do not see this as a zero sum game at all; YOU are the one who is seeing it that way, as if granting us the exact same rights and humanity as you is somehow taking something away from you.

            If you weren’t hurting so many people so very badly, it would just be sad and pathetic, how blind and deluded and hypocritical you are, but as it is, you are actively harming innocent lives, often children, driving them to suicide, and that is an abomination to the very gospel you claim to represent. You are a horrific representative of your God, and you are disgusting. You are literally making me ill.

          • DR

            Kagi,

            It’s awful to have to face the Susans of the world who objectify and diminish those who are gay. It’s vile to watch, I don’t know how anyone experiences it and stays sane, But if you are gay? You have the whole world now that is finally, finally removing this evil mess of a Biblical interpretation out of our society so you can feel safe and be in a loving marriage. You have millions of us who are now actively fighting for you so you never have to deal with a Susan Hartmann again.

          • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

            Thank you. My girlfriend and I aren’t looking at marriage yet, I don’t know that we ever will, I’m not sure that’s where the relationship is going, but regardless, we absolutely should have the right to decide for ourselves. It’s hard here, I live in KS and my parents are ultraconservative; they still won’t recognize my relationship at all, they don’t want to see or hear or know about it, and we are having our three year anniversary in a few days.

            It does mean a lot to have people that are willing to step up and fight with and for us; I was angry and upset yesterday, but it was a relief to see your replies when you came in. I suppose she’s just a troll and I shouldn’t let it get to me, but she was kind of using a sledgehammer instead of a needle and I was just overwhelmed with outrage and frustration by the insane things she was saying. Some things shouldn’t be allowed to stand.

          • DrewTwoFish

            I hear ya. It’s so easy to get drawn into this stuff in anger and frustration. I’m never sure whether or not it helps to respond to these people….but I usually do!

          • DR

            Your victimized, aggressive, petulant posturing is symptomatic of what most people like you do when asked to provide a reasonable counter. It’s sad that people who are gay asking for equal legal rights under the contract of “marriage” are asking for “special treatment” but that kind of hysterical posturing has been dismantled and revealed for what it is which is pure propaganda.

            It’s telling that you believe most of the people you’re speaking to on this site are gay when several of us are straight. :)

        • DR

          This is SUCH a tell that you’re fake. LOL! What “gay friend” would actually provide you a link of ads for bathhouses and sexual services? Not to mention you could go ahead and google that in 3 seconds if you wanted to.

          This is so stupid.

    • Ginger Saunders

      I have no need to pretend I’m someone else. I have no reason to be homophobic. I do not think ANYONE should be preyed upon sexually. I speak from my experience, and you have every right to speak from yours. I’m fully aware that many gays have been subjected to bashing: I’m also fully aware that many straights have been subjected to bashing. It is wise to do legitimate research. The most definitive to date, I think, has been done by a gay scholar.

      • DR

        Well Ginger, given the thousands upon thousands of details around this topic being readily available online and off, it sounds like “legitimate” research is any kind of research that supports you not changing your mind.

      • DrewTwoFish

        “Straights have been subjected to bashing.” For being straight? Assuming that this is the case, it seems to me to a false equivalency.

      • Allie

        You should be aware that I simply don’t believe you’re telling the truth about living in the same household with predatory gay people. I think you just made that up.

        However, throughout history many more straight people have tried to persuade unwilling people to sleep with them than gay people have. It’s a think people do, and it’s not nice whoever does it. Of what relevancy is it that some gay people are not nice? Are all straight people nice? Do you believe that your personal experience with these individual gay people proves something about gay people as a whole? What exactly are you trying to say, here?

      • Lymis

        Even stating that “no gay gene has been found” exhibit such a profound lack of understanding of genetics that it pretty much invalidates the whole question.

        Nathaniel covered a lot of the major points above, but there are more.

        I want to reemphasize his point that even when something is clearly entirely genetic, it’s not always caused by a single specific gene, so even things we absolutely understand as genetic aren’t always the result of “a gene.” So declaring something cannot be genetic because nobody has found “a gene” that causes it is scientifically absurd.

        Second, the fact that something has not been conclusively found does not mean it isn’t there to be found at some point in the future. Even if there actually were “a gene” that “caused homosexuality” the fact that it hasn’t been found would only mean that it hasn’t been found. Studies of the human genome are really barely out of infancy. It’s not like it’s all been researched to death and all the results are in and it isn’t there. And despite the political rhetoric, genetic studies of homosexuality are hardly a high priority in the scientific community, compared to other genetic researches.

        That, said, there’s more, and more important, considerations.

        One of the most important points, when it comes to the question of genetics, is whether or not you’re actually looking at the same thing in each person you’re trying to examine.

        The idea that there is a single gene that causes homosexuality implies that there is a single homosexuality to be caused, and that it is caused in the same way in every person.

        That may be a reasonable assumption in the case of something like eye color – that a particular shade of blue eyes is the result of a particular gene combination that results in it. But even then, it doesn’t follow that the same gene that causes blue eyes is the same gene that causes hazel eyes, or purple eyes. There are some human characteristics that are effectively “defaults,” that turn up unless they are altered by some other genetic combination that affects them. So you can have a “default” that is caused by one set of genes, but that can be completely altered in how they turn out because of what’s going on somewhere entirely different in the genome.

        And of course, let’s look at this assumption of homosexuality. The idea that there is “a gene” that causes it implies that someone flamingly effeminate, physically delicate, and who seems nearly androgynous is “the same” as someone who oozes excess testosterone, has huge muscles and big bones, grows hair on every available skin surface, and is almost comically hypermasculine, who is in turn “the same as” someone who looks exactly like any of the other guys in the neighborhood.

        Or that a butch, masculine, deep-voiced “square bottomed dyke” (as one lesbian friend puts it” is “caused” by the same gene that makes a lesbian who is ethereally beautiful, delicate and exceptionally feminine gay, and that the same “single gene” is also responsible for the lesbian women who seem just like all the straight women around them.

        That’s absurd on its face. If we were only looking at straight people, each and every one of those characteristics would be seen as the combination of a wide range of varying genes, and yet the instant someone identifies as gay, it’s all supposed be lumped in together and not only all caused by one gene, but one gene with such an outrageous range of varied expressions.

        There is absolutely nothing in genetic science that supports such a ridiculous assumption – which is one of the reasons responsible geneticists often say there is no indication of a gay gene – not because they are saying that it can’t be genetic, but because they are saying that it’s staggeringly unlikely that a single gene or even a few of them are the sole cause.

        Even so, when you actually look at the science rather than simply spouting right-wing talking points, it turns out that there is an absolutely undeniable biological component, and that the indications point very, very strongly toward a genetic factor.

        Every single study done with gay men with twin brothers and other siblings has universally found that there is a small percentage of two brothers being gay – that a gay man has something like a 3% chance of his brother being gay, whether they were raised together or separately. And that if a gay man has a fraternal twin brother – same parents, same womb, but different genes – there isn’t a significant statistical difference in the chance that his fraternal twin will also be gay. But that two identical twins are around 50% likely to share the same orientation.

        That 45% difference in whether a gay man’s twin will or won’t be gay if they share the same genes is a HUGE indicator that something genetic is going on, and the 50% chance that they won’t both be gay (or both be open about it, always an issue) indicates that something beyond pure genetics is going on, whether that is hormones in the mother’s womb or some other factor. EVERY reliable study of any kind indicates that whatever is going on, sexual orientation is fixed in most people well before the age of five.

        Whatever that is, it’s not choice.

        “Vulnerable children and youth should not be preyed upon by gays who admittedly “hate being gay and would change if they could.””

        That’s a statement I can agree with completely. But that has everything to do with the predation and nothing to do with the orientation. Vulnerable children shouldn’t be preyed on by straight people, either, and sadly, statistically, they are VASTLY more likely to be preyed on by self-identified straight people.

        Statistically, you know the group that does the least preying on vulnerable children? Happy, heathy, well adjusted gay people who are openly in heathy adult sexual relationships with a partner (or partners) of their choice.

        Want to protect children from predatory gay people? Support gay people in living happy, healthy, loving, adult relationships. Want to raise the risk to kids? Force gay people into the closet and tell young gay people that they are sick, evil, and need to change.

        Your views are the PROBLEM, not the solution.

        • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

          Lymis – in putting together a blog post on this subject, do you mind if I quote you as well? This is beautifully stated.

        • vj

          Drew was right – count on Lymis to say the right thing :-)

      • DrewTwoFish

        If you’re open minded enough to listen, here is some food for thought. (All of the videos are excellent):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRYYfyDkhTs

    • Nathaniel

      Why do people keep asking for A gay gene. We don’t have A eye-color gene or A height gene, but we don’t doubt their genetic links. I would think it would suffice that the experience of thousands of gay people is that, in spite of the lack of trauma or injury, they don’t once remember deciding to be attracted to people of the same sex. A few have even tried to persuade haters by pointing out that being gay in this society can be down-right dangerous. Unfortunately, those same haters hear those witnesses saying “I hate being gay,” whether that is the truth or not. I know I don’t hate being gay, though I know I didn’t choose it. In fact, it was uplifting for me to finally accept my orientation the way God gave it to me.

      But since you brought up genes, allow me the opportunity of a brief genetics lesson. Comparing sexual orientation to height is probably the closest we can come to a useful example. We all understand that nutrition plays an important role in shaping one’s height. We also know that genetics plays an important role. Studies have been done to identify the genes that contribute to height. More accurately, since height is a continuum of possibilities, scientists have looked for genes (and really, we are talking about alleles, or different versions of the same gene) that contribute the variation in height. Some strong contributors have been found, but there are lots of genes with only a small contribution to height. Further, the total combination of these does not explain all of one’s height; as I said, there is a prominent environmental component. Anything that isn’t genetic is environmental, so nutrition and hormones are important, and even things that change how a gene is expressed without altering the genetic sequence. These epigentic markers can, in some cases, be heritable, and influence such aspects of development as nutritional uptake and processing, which could, in turn, influence one’s height.

      Like height, sexual orientation lies in a continuum, so it is ridiculous to even think that a single gene could make people gay (again, we really mean allele here, since this same gene would also be responsible for making people straight). However, unlike height, there is no reliable way to quantify a person’s orientation. Sure we have the Kinsey scale, but people can really tell when they are more towards one of the extremes or closer to center; we cannot measure their orientation as we measure height. This makes it very difficult to spot any genetic variation that has contributed to any one person’s individual orientation. Without a reliable measure, all the genetic variation begins to look like noise.

      Now, for the most important part of my rant. It all comes down to one question: Who cares? If I could convince you that the vast majority of people are immutably created a particular orientation, what would you do with that revelation? Would you concede that you were wrong, rethink your anti-gay interpretations of scripture, and fight for the rights of gay people to marry and to live and work without fear? No, it is far more likely that you will respond by saying, “There is the cause of your disease, we can now work on a cure.” Or, you will, as Mr. Shore’s article suggests, accept that gay people are made that way, but they should accept the fate of celibacy for this unfortunate state. Ultimately, you don’t care if we are born gay. It was an argument of convenience that may have helped us briefly, but is now running up against the last wall of resistance – those who will never accept gay people, even if Jesus himself came down and commanded it.

      And we don’t really care if we are born gay. We know who we are. Our accepting friends and family know who we are. That is why, when you come on here whining about losing your ‘rights’ in favor of the wicked, sinful gays, we feel belittled and demeaned. You don’t know a single one of us. We can’t fathom you know any gay people at all (except for maybe ones who have drunk your poison). All you can do is repeat talking points to keep yourself from being open to relationships that would change your life, even make you more Christ-like. And we hear you telling us we are wrong, not about the science and the politics, but about the identities each of us has grappled with to the very cores of our souls. We hear you condemn, not only our sex-lives, but also every other aspect of our person-hood that we have examined and reexamined, through pain and tears. Can you say you have been so self-reflective?

      • Guy Norred

        Thank you for this beautiful statement. I hope you don’t mind if I quote you sometime.

        • Nathaniel

          Thank you, Guy. I don’t claim ownership of any of my words; I hope they were all Spirit-inspired. So if anything I said, moved you, please use it as you will to move others.

          • Jill

            Wow. So perfect. This one gets bookmarked for future reference.

      • http://narmacil.wordpress.com Kagi (@soracia)

        Nathaniel – amen, and amen, and amen some more, man. Do you mind if I quote you on my blog? I’ve been meaning to write something about this, but I think you said it better than I could.

        • Nathaniel

          Go ahead, Kagi.

      • DR

        So powerful. Man.

  • Eddie

    My mother is one who believes that my being gay is a choice. Of course, it’s the easiest explanation a fervent Christian can give, even though straight people never make a choice to be straight or gay. It’s almost as if we gsy people have mystical powers…we can turn our sexuality on an off with a switch, right? I remember when i was younger my mother believed that gay people were pedophiles. Even as a teenager who didn’t know much, i thought this was a bizarre idea. Even my older sister, who i usually refer to as a bible banger (as she usually prefaces each opening sentence of conversation with “i thank the lord, i ask the lord, the lord is this, the lord is that”) told my gay sister that she was afraid that she would molest her grandchildren. Just last week, i though jesus was going to appear since she used his name so much when she was staying overnight in my house. I always find it strange that those who are against us are normally “christians” who think a gay relationship is based on sex, that gay people don’t have a relationship with god, that gay people are unhappy, or that gay people are pedos. It’s taking years to stand up to say this is how i am,so deal with it. And as i told my mom,it really wasn’t the church who made me feel less worthy, but her own words that made me think being gay was the worse thing you could be. I always say some christians need to learn compassion and understanding. Just like any group of people, gay people are intelligent, gifted, professional, loving, spiritual, giving, kind,tolerant and compassionate. It’s time for certain batches of christians to admit they are wrong for isolating gay people and turning their backs on their gay family members. I am not ashamed of who i am and will never be, because i am exactly who god made me to be. And when those wack jobs tell me i’ll burn in hell, i am sure to tell them that i’ll see them there. Peace.

    • Jill

      Peace right back at you, Eddie.

    • Susan Hartmann

      So if it’s not defined by sex then how is it defined?

      • Matt

        A characteristic that people happen to have. It really is that simple.

        • Susan Hartmann

          A characteristic…of what? Skin color? Fashion sense? Favorite ice cream flavor? Gosh dangit – what could that different characteristic be?

          • Elizabeth

            Mainly who you want to love and touch. And if there’s no overlap in what you do in your bed with what they do in theirs, I’m so sorry.

      • Christy

        Susan, have you ever truly loved someone? With all of your being?

        It’s like that. You fall in love. With someone who makes you laugh and brings you joy. Who you like to cook with and for. Who you can’t wait to see at the end of the day to share your day with and tell that one thing you can’t wait to tell them. To sit on the couch together while you laugh and cry through movies. To share the paper. To take walks. To share meals. To be with. To grow old with. To lean on and be there for.

        It’s defined by that.

        • Susan Hartmann

          I love many people. Do I need to have sex with all of them to prove it? I, personally, have been the victim of repeated rapes – some by men who “loved” me. Does their love excuse them? During some very dark days in my life I worked as a street prostitute and I can tell you with some certainty that there was no love involved.

          Okay, those were cheap shots. Still, necessary ones because I really want to ask why physical gratification has to be a part of love. And how being gay can be defined any other way. Christy, you’ve described a relationship dynamic which can really be applied to friends and families as well as lovers.

          • Christy

            I’m sorry these things have happened to you, Susan. You have had to endure unbearable pain and trauma and people who should have loved you violated you and your trust in them. You asked, “why physical gratification has to be a part of love.” It would be understandable if you have mixed feelings about how love and sex interrelate in a positive way. Sex in the context of a healthy, loving relationship is one way of expressing love, being intimate, sharing closeness. But people can and do use sex for other reasons besides love including causing harm to others.

            I described what being in love is. My marriage to my husband is not defined by sexual gratification, and I don’t know many people who who would define their marriages in this way. It is defined by an overwhelming sense of love and connection and joy. I do not feel that way about my parents, siblings, or friends. I am not in love with them. I am in love with him. We are in love with each other. This is what people do… so much so that people who are in love with each other choose to spend the rest of their lives together, forsaking all others.

            This is about a unique person in our lives who we are lucky enough to meet and connect with in a deeper way than with anyone else. I can’t put into words what the feeling of love is anymore than I can put into words the feeling of what it is to be moved by hearing Mozart – when you feel it, you know. It’s an experience. It washes over you. It is beyond our control.

            I don;t understand those who cannot take their own experience of being with the person they love, the person they are most deeply connected to, and the feeling they have with the one who makes them the most happy, the most fulfilled, the person whom you can’t imagine life without – and not understand or feel what it would be like if someone told you it was forbidden for you to love that person. That’s empathy. To feel with someone and want for them the same that you have or want for yourself.

            You’re the second person to tell me my description of being in love can be done with anyone. And that makes me sad. Most people long for a connection with someone, rather than with just anyone, to live life together and do those things with. We are wired for connection. For closeness and intimacy. For sharing.

            Sex is one aspect of marriage and intimacy, but it no more completely defines a heterosexual relationship and marriage any more than brushing your teeth at the sink together does.

            I did not fall in love with the opportunity to have sex with my husband. I fell in love with him. The person. Being gay isn’t defined by physical gratification any more than being straight is. People fall in love with people. That’s how love works.

          • vj

            Christy, this is AWESOME :-)

          • Susan Hartmann

            Thank you, Christy. I think I’m finally starting to understand a little.

          • Jill

            And thank you Susan for being willing to have this conversation and open to answers which may not have been where you were at before.

            I had to learn a lot before I knew that my logic had been faulty about judging gay people, love and sex. I had to be open to the possibility that I misunderstood many, many things. I am more than grateful that I was willing, like you seem to be. I truly hope you find your answers. All the best, Jill

          • Susan Hartmann

            Well…let’s not break out the pinatas just yet. I will admit that my youth has heavily tainted my view of sexuality. Having spent the best part of a decade living the way I had been it was not the best instruction on intimacy. Also, it was the church I found quite by coincidence where I finally broke the cycle of addiction – not through some mystical “power of Jesus” mojo but through new friends motivated and inspired by The Good News to forgive my past and take the time and effort to help me clean myself up – and not turn away when I failed sometimes.

            Therefore, my belief that God’s love and forgiveness are conditional on amending one’s self to do better to avoid sin and atone for sins committed, not – as some seem to believe – as a blank check to do as we please without consequence.

            Maybe, though, I shouldn’t act like I know everything. Centuries of dedicated Biblical scholars have a lot more insight that a burned-out ex-junkie. But I know my feelings on the matter. So, I’ll keep reading and see what comes of that.

          • Jill

            I ♥ pinatas. Just sayin.

          • Matt

            “Centuries of dedicated Biblical scholars have a lot more insight that a burned-out ex-junkie.”

            I don’t know, Susan. I’m a 21-year-old transgender high school dropout and ex-mental patient. People still say I’m pretty perceptive. I think you know more than you think.

          • JenellYB

            I think God was loving you and grieving for you and with you even in your deepest darkest time in the valley. And I don’t think that during that time in your life, you were doing what you pleased. I think you were just trying to survive as best you could with what you had to do it with.

          • Andy

            Beautiful. Couldn’t have said it better.

      • Anakin McFly

        It’s defined by the same thing that defines straight relationships.

    • Guy Norred

      Just ignore Susan. Her mind is closed and she will just try to taunt you.

      Peace to you as well.

      • Susan Hartmann

        I love you too, Guy

  • http://www.teikakakusaifu.net/%E5%A4%A7%E4%BA%BA%E6%B0%97-%E3%83%AB%E3%82%A4%E3%83%B4%E3%82%A3%E3%83%88%E3%83%B3-louis-vuitton-%E3%83%A2%E3%83%8E%E3%82%B0%E3%83%A9%E3%83%A0-%E6%96%B0%E5%88%B0%E7%9D%80 上品 ルイ ヴィトン 香水

    I do not know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your blog.

    It seems like some of the written text in your posts are running off the screen.

    Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?

    This may be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously.

    Kudos

  • Alison Heather Smith

    I was tempted to stop after reading and sharing this lovely blog entry, but I had to go and read the comments, didn’t I? Just for the record, people:
    It is true that no ‘gay gene’ has ever been found, and the explanations below show very clearly why genetic explanations are far more complex than the term ‘gay gene’ suggests. (Just go and do some reading on intersex conditions if you need convincing on this.) But even if there was NO genetic link at all, that still would not prove that people are not born gay. One of the most convincing biological explanations is that in the womb there is an interplay between hormone levels and genes when it comes to brain development. A foetus that is exposed to high levels of certain hormones ends up with a brain more typical of the opposite sex, and part of that brain development may include sexual orientation. Studies have suggested that about 17% of people may have a gender-atypical brain so it is not some freakish accident – it is part of God’s plan to create a humanity full of diversity and variation, all of which reflects different aspects of God’s wholeness.
    There is absolutely nothing whatever in the Bible that talks about loving, lifelong same-sex relationships. We cannot know whether such things existed in the culture of the New Testament (though my experience of studying history suggests that every culture has always had them, with varying degrees of acceptance and discretion, and there is a strong argument about the Roman officer and his servant). The passages in the Bible that appear to talk about homosexual activity are about pagan temple rituals and coercive or abusive situations where older men took advantage of younger men, which were specific cultural issues at that time.
    If we want to know what God thinks about any kind of human relationship, then we only need three words: God is love. It is insulting to God as well as to LGBT people to reject this part of God’s creation and say it’s the ‘wrong type of love’.

    • JenellYB

      Agree here. But I am always a little apprehensive of the intersex even being mentioned anywhere near any discussion of LGBT issues, for that it is in one sense a blessing for those very vulnerable people that so few, especially among the ‘judgmental’, even know they exists, in what numbers they exists, or what that term actually means. Many of them are subjected to hurtful behaviors by those assuming them as some variation of LGBT. And when that is the case, most just let the offenders’ mistake ride, rather than get into an even more unpleasant encounter.

  • bnelson333

    I have a way to break it down easier. God is love. Sin is the act of rejecting God. Therefore, rejecting love is to reject God, or = sin. As long as the relationship is loving by all parties, e.g. a man and a man who both love each other, it’s not a sin. However, a serial adulterer is sinning because they are rejecting the love of their partner. The person who is cheated on is feeling less love. So yes, adultery is sin. Being a gender/sexual miniority, simply, is not.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I put it simpler. Sin is the act of causing harm to another. If we steal, we breach trust, rob someone else of a thing of value. If we lie, we again breach trust, risk the reputation of another. If we act violently towards another, we cause injury, pain, mistrust, fear, and possibly death. If we gossip, we lie about another person, hurting their repuation by those mistruths. If we are unfaithful in our promises and in our actions, to a lover, a business partner, our children, then we hurt the relationship, we throw their trust aside, we risk causing pain and loss to them, and to ourselves.
      Sin is those acts where we break down the relationships between us and others. As God has long worked with us, despite our abilities to do really crappy things to one another, I don’t think sin is us rejecting God, but rather acting in ways that cause harm, to ourselves, and to others.

      • bnelson333

        I don’t think you’re wrong, I just phrase it that way because there is some scripture to lean on (I could go digging but meh). Your way is even simpler, we’re kind of saying the same thing. My way of wording it just gives something to lean on.

        • Al_1

          However we define sin, it’s worth noting that in this argument that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin it’s hardly ever pointed out that fundamentalist, religious-minded people seldom treat it as such. In obese, alcohol-fuelled America when, if ever, do you hear pastors railing against the sin of drinking or eating too much? With a divorce rate of 50% for “traditional” marriage, do their arguments in favor of the sanctity of marriage hold any water? Or, post-SuperBowl now, has it occurred to anyone that they might just be being a little prideful in celebrating Seattle’s win? Not too likely, I’m afraid.
          No, fundamentalist, religious-minded people are great hypocrites. Based on the amount of attention given to it, one can say that homosexuality is treated as a great, moral failing and probably the worst of sins. The arguments condemning it say much more about those doing the condemning than about gay people themselves.

          • bnelson333

            I strongly disagree that homosexuality is a sin. It’s no more a choice than a straight person being straight. To disagree is to disagree with God stating that you know better than he did when he made the gay person. That is contrary to Jesus’ commandments to love God as much as everybody else.

          • Al_1

            I agree that homosexuality isn’t a sin. That wasn’t my point tho. I’m taking issue with the argument that puts homosexuality in the same category as other so-called “sinful” acts like drinking and gluttony, etc. It isn’t , but fundamentalists argue that it is, and then use this as justification for demanding that gays and lesbians abstain from sex, which also usually means living life alone and loveless.

      • JenellYB

        In a bizarre twist of irony, so much in the anti-gay religious perspective, or for that matter, perspective on a good many other “sins” as the church calls them, “imperfections and failings,” some that are just as someone is, as with LGBT, or the victim blaming and shaming as done to those that have suffered divorce, even child abuse, sexual abuse, and rape, does exactly this, as you write of here, causing harm to another, rob them of value, with untruths. Slander, false accusation, by assumed stereotypes is so much a part of a lot of this. Judgment against someone for the one supposed “sin” itself, here, being gay, is extended to application of a while set of unfounded stereotypes, so as to be gay is to also be engaged in or prone to promiscuity, pedophilia, any of many ugly offensive behaviors that have been attached as a stereotype to being gay. Condemnation of the entire set of stereotypes get assumed to any that can be placed into that category by the one primary charge. For that, being gay, even a celibate, or even a virginal, gay, is assumed under judgment for all those other things, promiscuity, pedophilia, etc. It is obvious absurd, but something in the thinking of those so bent on judgment and condemnation don’t seem to recognize that. I’ve experienced this strange phenomenon personally over my life time, in connection to an early teen pregnancy and marriage, then divorce, and remarriage. While there has come about an aparant shift in attitudes within the religious/churches community over those “sins” over the years, the stereotypes linger still, of unwed teen mothers, divorced/remarried, assumed still to be likely to engage in promiscuous, lewd and immoral behavior, and when that is a pre-judgment, it will be the lens through which everything about the person, the most casual observations, will be seen. I still struggle to put my last effort at becoming churched, some 15 yrs ago, as a 50′s something, mature, settled, married grandmother, living a very quiet family and work oriented life, found myself judged, and my reputation smeared, before I even realized what was happened, as all sorts of innocent things in my life were incorporated into evidence of debauchery and immoral lifestyle. Likewise does the very moral and caring gay become assumed a pedophile if he/she chooses to work with or enjoys activities with children, and assumed to have many same-sex lovers if seen in the company of many same-sex friends. It becomes the applications of the ugly stereotypes, as the lens through which everything about the person and what they do, that is often used to justify the condemnation and rude treatment. The defense becomes, Oh, we can ACCEPT the person is gay, divorced (go even beyond religious sin, to black, Hispanic, immigrant, poor, whatever) but not the bad/wrong things they do, when those bad/wrong things they do are not anything they really do, but just what it assumed upon them through application of the stereotypes. In the previous sentence, consider my extending this from things the religious might designate ‘sins’ to any other thing people hold prejudice against, because I’ve realized the psychological process, and social/moral motivations, are exactly the same. If we can’t continue to garner support for the oppression of blacks for merely their ‘blackness’ by claiming some biblical edict upon the ‘sons of Ham,’ then we will create and attack a negative stereotype set to them, of such things as being lazy, dishonest, morally imprudent and depraved, etc.

  • Pubilius

    Thank you again John, older article but still extremely relevant. Regrettably, there are a few (and I believe declining in number) LGBTQ Christians who, either due to either deep conviction or internalized homophobia, believe celibacy (which may be their call) should be the only option for ALL LGBTQ people. This extreme minority is then used by your Exodus International types (they’re still very much around on different names and in different churches) to preach and teach their hate. To borrow a term: “B”-side Christians.

    Love cannot be a sin I tell them. The arguments that partnered, loving, LGBTQ couples are living less-than-filled lives (“self harm”) due to their relationship is completely debunked by the LGBTQ couples I know who live holy lives, do good, and draw strength from their walk together and with God, and are more complete than they ever were single (or in trying to make a heterosexual marriage work– perhaps the true sin). Trying to break up LGBTQ couples is the real harm!
    As a personal aside, LGBTQ people already serve in all churches, why can’t we all serve openly?

    I like Prof. Elaine Heath’s understanding of sin and sexuality, proposing a new set of questions as a guideline for morality, it’s a beautiful peice: http://elaineaheath.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/a-new-set-of-questions-about-sex-and-sin/

  • Grazer #E2H

    As much as I agree with you John, your article makes it sound that someone must be in a relationship and must have intimacy in order to be happy; indeed is the only way someone can be happy. Some gay Christians choose to be celibate and that must be respected and they must be supported. It’s very different though from someone choosing it, and being forced into it.

    • Pubilius

      No issue with that, but it becomes an issue when conservative Christians and LGBTQ Christians believe ALL LGBTQ people should be celibate. I’m a celibate gay Christian, as well (right now), but I affirm that LGBTQ people don’t have to be celibate, support marriage equality, and the ordination of partnered, open LGBTQ people in all churches.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I don’t read it like that. If being in a relationship and sex are the only things that make a person happy, then there is something very wrong. Relationships can add depth and richness to our lives, and many people desire such a thing. Not all do, of course. Some prefer the life free of such things, for all sorts of reasons. One is not necessarily better than the other, as both singleness and coupleness has their advantages. But if one wants to share their life on an intimate level with another, then they should have every freedom and opportunity to find that person.

      • Grazer #E2H

        Agree with everything you’ve put there :)


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