My dog in the fight for LGBT equality

happy-smiling-dogThe day before yesterday the Not All Like That (NALT) Christians Project launched like a space shuttle. It’s already been written about by TIME, The American Prospect, The Advocate, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and others.

Which means that in the last two days I’ve done … I dunno, six interviews. (And this Monday morning will be discussing The NALT Christians Project on MSNBC [!].) Throw in the fact that since Tuesday I’ve been at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Resort and Synapse-Frying Universe (the view from my window of which I just snapped the below, because holy cow have I quickly learned how to use my iPhone), and I’m having myself quite the week.

vegasbaby

One of the things I’ve been asked a couple of times now is the question that a radio host yesterday put to me in this way (and I’ll let you know when that show is airing): “John, what’s your dog in this fight? You’re not gay. Why do you care so much about the issue of LGBT people and the church?”

I care for two reasons. First, I care because I’m a normal, moral human being, and it’s flat-out wrong for a majority population to victimize a minority population. Everyone with a conscience is morally obligated to defend anyone who is being persecuted and bullied. Defending the unjustly victimized is what it means to be a moral person.

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Secondly, I am a Christian. And that makes me loyal to the Bible. And I’m tired of the Christian right forever claiming that LGBT-affirming Christians are less biblical than they are: that while they are being true to the word of God, Christians who don’t see in the Bible anything at all having to do with LGBT people today are somehow playing loosey-goosey with that hallowed, vital text. Lifting from their context six brief moments out of the Bible’s 31,000 passages and claiming that they represent the mind of God and the will and purpose of Jesus Christ is like holding up a carnival goldfish in a baggy and claiming it represents the ocean.

I want Paul back, basically. I’m tired of that inspired genius being turned into a thug cut loose to beat up gay people.

A very core reason I wanted to do The NALT Christians Project is because my heart is so with the great number of Christians who are just now in the process of discernment on the gay issue, good people who are struggling with their belief that their natural love and compassion is at odds with what the Bible is telling them about LGBT people. On the one hand they have Jesus explicitly commanding them to love their neighbors as they love themselves; on the other hand they have Paul, whom they have been (wrongly) taught to believe is telling them that gay people—just because they’re gay—are an offense to God.

So they’re stuck between those two opposing forces.

Whenever I’m stuck trying to figure something out, the one thing I almost always need is more information. For Christians trying to figure out the proper relationship between Christianity and gay people, The NALT Christians Project is offered as critical additional information. It is incontrovertible proof that it is possible to be a deep, true, entirely biblical Christian, and hold that there is nothing at all inherently sinful or immoral about same-sex relationships.

All but those who’ve abandoned reason now understand that being gay isn’t a choice. What The NALT Christians project proves is that deciding to be an anti-gay Christian is a choice. And it’s most certainly the wrong choice, because any choice that leads to the hardening of one’s heart is always the wrong choice.

If you’re a NALT Christian, do not fail to make a NALT Christians video. Never think that yours won’t make a difference. Every single video is like a drop of water that’s filling a bucket needed to wash away the false Christianity that for too long had been doing too many people entirely too much harm.

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.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

    “I’m want Paul back, basically”

    I think you got snagged by the pronoun gremlin.

    And I am thrilled by what NALT represents, and the potential it holds for society and for our faith.

    • Elizabeth

      Thank you. I’ve been wondering if we were to continue proofing in comments or by email now that John’s all master of the universe.

      • Lymis

        I’d say yes – remember the part upthread where we were all declared to be minions? What’s the good of being a minion if you can’t min every once in a while?

  • Gordon

    Your dog is in an important race, John. Thank you for all you have done to shake this sleeping giant. It is waking up and it will need wisdom and leadership. Things are going to get interesting!

    What show will you be on on Monday? Morning Joe? I’ve got my remote in hand am ready to set the DVR. I do NOT want to miss that.

  • John Contabile

    Well put…as usual!

  • revsusanrussell

    Bravo, Amen and Alleluia! Brilliant project uniquely positioned to be bridge for healing both the homophobia infecting too many Christians and the religionphobia infecting too many LGBT people. Delighted to be part of making the NALT case … my video went up yesterday. Where’s yours???

    The Reverend Susan Russell

    All Saints Church, Pasadena

    • Mary Coleman

      I saw your video this morning. I just wanted to say, THANK YOU! If more church leaders were like you it would truly be wonderful. I just have to trust that there are more like you out there & that “the tide” is turning. As a Christian, I have had a problem for years with the exclusiveness of most churches. I have left many because I did not want to be part of it. Deep down I just knew it would NOT be what Jesus would do. I was embarassed to call myself a Christian & risk that folks would associate me with some of the ones mentioned in your video. Anyway, thank you again for speaking out.

  • http://www.katesarabennie.com Kate Bennie

    …sigh… I was hoping this was about an LGBT pet race and I was hoping to enter my cat. :( She coulda been a contender!!

    But I suppose another great article by John re: this whole amazing, fantastic NALT project thing is pretty good too.

  • Richard W. Fitch

    “All but those who’ve abandoned reason now understand that being gay isn’t a choice. What The NALT Christians project proves is that deciding to be an anti-gay Christian is a choice. And it’s most certainly the wrong choice, because any choice that leads to the hardening of one’s heart is always the wrong choice.”

    ========

    I’ve copied the whole paragraph because it is important to have things in context; but it the first sentence that needs some thought. Homosexuality is not a choice: so what; religious conviction is a choice: so what. I’ll let John Corvino give his response to both parts of the issue:

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

  • Anonymous

    Should I still post a video if I’m a Christian, but a more-or-less nonpracticing one? I haven’t been to church or read the Bible in years, but I believe in God and in Jesus and always try to do right by my fellow humans. One of the reasons I’m not more active, honestly, was that I didn’t want to associate myself with those hateful people…

    • Cindy Battles

      I say yes!!! Not in charge, but that’s my vote.

    • Elizabeth

      Seconded. In fact, nonpracticing because you didn’t want to associate with those people is an important message, imho. As many kinds of Christian as there are gay. That’s my motto. :)

    • http://notjustablondemomwith3boys.blogspot.com Not Just A Blonde

      I say yes… we need your voice and all the YOU-ness it offers. It is not just the well spoken folks that should step up but ALL the Christian peeps that feel J.C. is nudging them to do so… I am planning on doing mine this week-end… and hope they receive a tidal wave of videos to show LGBTQ’s that we are all kinds of people from all areas of the Christian faith that love them and support them for who they are and we are NOT ALL LIKE THAT! (See? I’m practicing for my video!LOL)

  • Rhonda

    Okay I have a question to raise here. Yes we are to love our neighbors, liars, cheaters, drunkards, gossips, homosexuals, blacks, whites, etc. What I can’t come to terms with is calling oneself a “homosexual Christian”…you say it is a choice, okay then if I am born with a penchant for lying or cheating then I can say that I am a “lying Christian” or fill in the blank of whatever you struggle with. I have friends who have been in homosexuals relationships for years and by the grace of God are no longer indulging in the flesh but seeking Him fully. Accepting, loving them yes, but not condoning behavior anymore than I would condone one’s lying, cheating, adultery, etc. I love my neighbor by praying for their freedom in Christ. Truth sets free but first it will piss you off! I know, I’ve been there!!!

    • Random Methodist Reader

      Lying, cheating, and gossiping all cause harm. A committed, monogamous, loving, same sex relationship does not. That’s the difference.

    • Lymis

      Sigh.

      Who’s saying it’s a choice? Nobody here.

      Being gay or lesbian is not a sin. The proper comparison would be something like “left-handed Christian” or “red-headed Christian” rather than something like “lying Christian.”

      There’s nothing to “condone.”

      However, since we are people, and children of God, if we do things that would be sinful, like lying or cheating or judging our neighbors for things that aren’t sins, then gay people are just as much (but no more) sinful than non-gay people.

    • Cindy Battles

      All of us are born sinful. It says so in the Bible. The problem with what you are saying is that in every case, we have a choice whether or not to sin. I choose to lie, to steal, to murder…to overeat! But LGBT are born being LGBT. There is no choice in that. My daughter said it…if it’s true that being LGBT is sinful, then she is a sin, a walking sin. She has no choice in the matter, no way to change it, no way to repent because while she desperately doesn’t want to be that way so she can be acceptable to Christians, she cannot change who she is at her being. Even if she chose not to date, she would still be LGBT.

      • Rhonda

        That I believe is the lie; that LGBT’s are born that way. We have an enemy that wants nothing more than to destroy. That’s his mission; to steal, kill and destroy. He can do so from the point of conception! Like I said my very best closest sister in the Lord friend was in the lesbian lifestyle for well over half her life and is now out of that after a suicide attempt and walking solely with Jesus. Has she been tempted in that area? You bet, but we all are tempted to indulge our flesh. She was abused and I have others who I have had friendships with in the past who also had abusive situations. Some weren’t abused sexually but emotionally. We all have areas of indulgences that we have to say “no” to our flesh and walk in the spirit. Do I love LGBT people, you bet! I had gay neighbors next door that were the most giving, loving men around and we shared meals, they mowed for me after my husband died, we talked of Jesus and heaven but I did not condone their lifestyle and the Bible is clear as well on this issue.

        • Random Methodist Reader

          “That I believe is the lie; that LGBT’s are born that way.”

          So many LGBT’s believed they could choose to be straight and no matter how much they prayed, how much faith they had, they just couldn’t change their attractions.

          “We have an enemy that wants nothing more than to destroy. That’s his mission; to steal, kill and destroy. He can do so from the point of conception!”

          You’re absolutely right, and one big way that Satan is working is jn the minds of people telling them that they must be heterosexual, or be alone for the rest of their lives, in order to be accepted by God.

          “Like I said my very best closest sister in the Lord friend was in the lesbian lifestyle for well over half her life and is now out of that after a suicide attempt and walking solely with Jesus. Has she been tempted in that area? You bet, but we all are tempted to indulge our flesh”

          First off, what exactly is a “lesbian lifestyle”? And frankly, it’s disappointing that you seem to reduce wanting to have an intimate connection with someone of the same gender to a mere “temptation of the flesh”.

          “…but I did not condone their lifestyle and the Bible is clear as well on this issue.”

          What “lifestyle”? And the Bible is rarely clear on any issue, otherwise we wouldn’t have thousands of Christian denominations and dozens of English translations of the Bible.

          • Rhonda

            The Bible is clear when you choose to ask Him for wisdom. And as your point about being “alone” the rest of their lives, no we can all have relationships with others without them becoming sexual as God said it is not good for man to be alone, but we don’t have to indulge the flesh. He created us to have relationship and intimacy with Him first and created male and female with different body parts that fit perfectly for procreation as well as for intimacy of the sexual union, a picture of Christ and the bride (church). Satan has perverted the sexual union from the beginning and can be very subtle in his ways of doing so.

          • Elizabeth

            Satanism FTW! Just yesterday I got called a minion on Twitter. I literally squeaked, I was so happy. Rhonda, I appreciate that you are willing to engage us. It means you’re trying. But seriously, a little less Paul and a little more Jesus. He hung out with lepers, tax collectors, and whores. A couple loving each other, physically as well as mentally, wasn’t even a blip on His radar.

          • Matt

            Man, being called a “minion” sure was something, wasn’t it? At the very least it gave me a good chuckle, something I really needed.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            You got called a minion? I love minions!!!

          • http://notjustablondemomwith3boys.blogspot.com Not Just A Blonde

            Rhonda, it is clear you are not gay nor have walked in the shoes of your LBGT brothers or sisters in Christ. To suggest anyone should be required to live a life without love is not just unloving but cruel. I am NOT LIKE THAT! I respectfully appreciate your dialogue as you would not be engaged if there wasn’t the smallest part of you that felt uneasy about all of this. That is wonderful.

            Please read UNFAIR (by John Shore the blog author)…. or at the very least review Biblical history of the fact regarding what same-sex encounters Paul was describing IN CONTEXT and you will see how BIBLE BELIEVERS such as myself know that God loves gays as they are and is not asking them to change in any way… but is asking us as fellow Christians to love them and accept them just as we now accept and love bi-racial folks that believers also condemned.

            Thank you for sharing your heart and your fears…. may God speak to your heart as He has most definitely spoken to mine.

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            “The Bible is clear when you choose to ask Him for wisdom.”

            See, this is what gets to me about the heterosexist position is that y’all honestly believe we haven’t studied our Bibles and sought the leading of the Holy Spirit. That we all just went, “Well, screw that!” and tossed our Bibles in the trash.

            I’ve been a Christian for 40 years. I attended a conservative Christian college. I attend a conservative church. I not only attend, I’m actively involved. My parents still think Richard Nixon was a great President. I vividly remember how shocked and heartbroken they were when he resigned. They agonized in the last election because Romney was a Mormon and, therefore (to them) not Christian, but they sure weren’t going to vote Democrat. There was no compromising scripture with them, nosir! You approached the Bible with respect. You didn’t just read, you studied it. You compared translations to get a sense of the original Greek words, you read commentaries, you cross-referenced other scriptures.

            And because of them, and not despite them, with much prayer and seeking, studying and digging, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, the Bible is very clear on same-sex relationships. And what it says is that unloving acts like rape (which includes all forms on nonconsensual sex), partner betrayal, one-night stands, putting your partner at risk for STIs without their informed consent, etc. are sinful for both same-sex and opposite sex acts. But loving acts of intimacy that do not cause harm are not.

            That conclusion comes from 40 years of Bible study, prayer, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

            And the leading of the Holy Spirit, the witness of scripture, and the test of observing the devastating fruit from the heterosexist tree tells me that you are wrong. You have been deceived. The anti-gay agenda is evil, hateful, hurtful, poisonous, and anti-Christian. It is not the moral high ground. Every single time you support and anti-lgbt politician, church, non-profit, corporation, or message, you are killing people, throwing children out on the street, and driving God’s beloved children from fellowship with him. Stop it.

          • Rhonda

            For you to judge me & say I have “fear” over this issue is not loving. I never said that one should live without love.

            I loved my husband through his times if adultery not once but many times before he died of cancer. My flesh (selfish desire) wanted to leave him & I would cry out to Jesus in desperation to tell me what I should do. In my spirit I heard Him say, love him through this. It was God’s strength in me being able to do that. Before he sued he told me everyday how much he loved me & he thanked me for not letting him die alone.

            As far as the comment about a little less Paul & more Jesus, it was Jesus who told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more.

            We can love without indulging our sexual desires. Intimacy with God first is His desire & like I said before the sexual union as God intended has been perverted by Satan from the beginning. If you view my stance as hatred then you are deceived.

          • Elizabeth

            I know. That passage in John is one of my all-time faves. How it breaks down is this: the establishment is coming after Jesus to trick Him into saying something they can hold against him. So they bring Him this supposed adulteress and demand a response.

            He ignores them. He writes on the ground with his finger. They press him again. He looks up briefly, says “Let he who is among you cast the first stone,” then goes back to writing on the ground. When He looks up again, everyone’s gone except the woman and Him. He asks her what the heck just happened. “Has no one condemned you?” She replies, “No one, sir.” Then He ends with that bit you quoted.

            Total game changer. Jesus completely shuts down the established religious hierarchy with one sentence. They wander off with their tails between their legs. They’ve all silently admitted they sin, too. And the adulteress pronounces the verdict on them.

            We’re comparing apples and oranges, because gay relationships aren’t adultery. Adultery is cheating on your spouse, not sleeping around before marriage or sex in a committed relationship. But what a phenomenal act of love and empowerment.

          • Elizabeth

            No one taught me that. I came up with it all on my own. Pretty cool, right?

          • http://rindle.blogspot.com Lyn

            I’m assuming the first 3 paragraphs are aimed at someone not me, so I’ll leave them, but this:

            “We can love without indulging our sexual desires.”

            Why? Why would we want to forego intimacy? Sexual desire is not evil, sinful, bad, perverted, etc. Yes, you can get obsessive and that’s not good. You can betray your partner and place them at risk of STIs, as your husband did. But God made us with sexual desires. As part of a loving, committed partnership, sexual intimacy is beautiful and beneficial.

            There is nothing in the Bible to support your heterosexist position. All you have is your own ick factor. But that’s you. That’s your nature. For you, same-sex sex would be perverted. But your nature is not everyone’s nature, and you don’t get to tell everyone else that they’re perverted and evil because they love people you wouldn’t and express it in a way you would not.

          • DR

            No, you need to just stop with this pretty silly comparison. Because you’re straight, you always had the *option* for intimacy, even though you chose to not pursue it. Your way of belief absolutely forbids gay men and women from the *option* of sex. It’s apples to oranges and you’re trying to stretch logic into something it’s not.

          • Allie

            Curiously, one thing Jesus DID talk about during his time on earth (he didn’t mention sexual orientation even once) was adultery. Jesus said specifically it was okay to divorce someone who committed adultery. Your punishing yourself and regarding your natural outrage towards your husband and desire to leave him as a sin of the flesh is not supported anywhere in the Bible. It’s not surprising you are so cruel and judgmental towards others when you are so harsh towards yourself. There’s no need to invent hurdles and pretend Jesus demands that people leap over them. His yoke is easy and his burden light; Jesus is a nicer person than you imagine.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com sdparris

            You can ask God for wisdom all day long. That don’t mean that you will get your request.

            And to assume that one must know God in order to have sex is messed up. Sex is not necessarily a religious act…although the sex act has been a part of ritual worship in some ancient cultures…and apparently some modern ones.

            Satan doesn’t get the credit for all people tend to throw on his nebulous shoulders. People can get so caught up in looking for the devil’s work in every facet of life, that they fail to see that the evil they see only exists in their imaginations…that is if there is such an entity. I keep thinking that he was made up as the perfect scapegoat .

          • John (not McCain)

            “The Bible is clear when you choose to ask Him for wisdom.”

            Interesting. Nice of you to admit that you worship the bible. You are an idolater. Turn or burn!

        • Lymis

          “That I believe is the lie; that LGBT’s are born that way.”

          Then that’s where your belief is utterly, utterly, in error.

        • Lymis

          “I had gay neighbors next door that were the most giving, loving men around and we shared meals, they mowed for me after my husband died, we talked of Jesus and heaven but I did not condone their lifestyle and the Bible is clear as well on this issue.”

          Then you were the bad neighbor, not them. You closed yourself off from loving your neighbor in quite a literal sense, and in the process, closed yourself off from being loved by your neighbor.

          That’s sad. And very unchristian.

          • de la Nae

            Not to mention the part where she held up an ignorant, muddled reading of the texts of (presumably) the Protestant Christian Bible as an idol.

          • de la Nae

            Well okay maybe I’ll mention it in retrospect.

          • Elizabeth

            I’m guessing the KJV. Such a poetic masterwork, and the Gutenberg Bible saved West. Civ. as we know it. Yet so abused.

        • DR

          Rhonda with all due respect? No one cares what you think anymore with exception of the horrendous damage your “thinking” does to gay children and the gay adults who barely survive your way of “thinking”. Your decision to interpret the Bible a particular way has essentially terrorized a group of people into believing that who they are as a gay man/woman is boiled down to having sex or not which is just bizarre (people in loving relationship are obviously committed beyond just having sex, for goodness sake).

          You need to realize that you’re the one who is deeply, deeply in the wrong, here. And it’s not ok just to “agree to disagree” with you because your decision to believe that God condemns homosexuality is driving gay kids toward suicide. It makes gay people want absolutely nothing to do with us as a church. We just can’t, in good conscience, in obedience to Christ, allow you to express your point of view as though it was God’s and let that go silently any longer, not when it’s hurting so many.

        • AMA

          Maybe the real lie is that they are not born that way which causes so many people to hate and not love and judge their LGBT neighbors. This causes more non-Christian thought, words, and actions on a massive level. Churches throw people out, kids kill themselves, and families are divided. For what? A lie that has been perpetuated by people who haven’t considered the context in which passages have been written. Context is everything! Wouldn’t the enemy rejoice in that?!

  • Judy

    I am so grateful to John for doing this. It is truly an answer to prayer. I didn’t really think that anyone would care to view my small video and I thought my performance was about as animated as an Al Gore debate. But two people sent me thank you notes. I pray that more and more NALT Christians will lend their voice, until we drown out the hate.


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