The very definition of wrong

Got in the letter below. I answer following it.

Dear John,

I am currently in a relationship with another female. We have been together for a year now. She comes from a very conservative Christian background. She is in a constant battle with God over being in an intimate relationship with a female. She has never been with another woman before; I am the only one.

Her sister, brother-in-law, stepmom and biological father think us being together is fine. But the rest of her family is not okay with it. Her mother likes me as a person, but believes that being gay is wrong doesn’t want my girlfriend to be with me.

We have talked about marriage and kids. The only thing stopping her is her relationship with God, and always being told that homosexuality is a sin. She is in fear of losing her mother, and her grandmother has already disowned her.

I have asked many questions, I have tried reading the Bible, but nothing makes sense to me. I tell my girlfriend that if God wants us happy then why is there a problem with homosexuality? She says that’s where free will comes in: that we have chosen to live this lifestyle, chosen to live in sin. But I don’t believe that.

I just wish she had some way of feeling comfortable in her religion and sexuality. You got any advice?

As it happens I do have some advice for your girlfriend. To be able to offer a comprehensive, there’s-no-arguing-after-it answer to her concern about homosexuality is very exactly why I wrote UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question. So … there’s that. (There’s also online an excerpt from that book, which you can see/watch at Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality).

My advice to you would be pretty much exactly what I imagine you’d guess it would be, which is for you to be, with both your girlfriend and those members of her family who believe that being gay is a sin, as patient as Jesus.

Everyone is prone to feeling guilty and wrong. The strain of Christianity which declares homosexuality a sin reaches out what feels like the finger of God and touches that self-condemning spot in gay people. That’s what makes it so difficult for gay people raised in or even around anti-gay Christianity to shake the feeling that those who, in the name of God, condemn them, are correct when they say that being gay—which is to say being who in their heart of hearts they actually are— is wrong. Gay people, just like everyone else in the world, are already hounded by the secret nagging notion that they’re inferior and wrong. But unlike straight people, LGBT people are forever being told that God agrees with them on that.

That’s so horrible. It’s so ridiculously, toxically, phenomenally wrong to substitute the hatred and fear men hold in their hearts for the love that God holds for all people.

Using the Bible to condemn gay people for being gay is like using a crosswalk sign to beat people into oncoming traffic. It’s just so … stupid. And criminally dangerous.

I’m so lucky. I’m straight. So that means I will never in my life sit in a pew and listen to a pastor talk about how deeply God desires for me to be sexually attracted to men. No one will ever declare that God finds morally reprehensible my sexual attraction to women. No one will ever say that the Bible explicitly states that if I’m too weak to stop being straight, then the least I can do is show my allegiance to God by remaining celibate my whole life.

No one will ever tell me that the natural fear or suspicion I have deep down inside of me that I’m in some significant ways less than I should be is actually the truth of God talking to me.

Lucky me.

Too bad for gay people, though. Because while, just like literally everyone else, they have to struggle with self-esteem issues, they also have to struggle with (severely ill-informed) Christians forever telling them that God has a problem with who they are. It’s like we’re all swimming in the same race—but LGBT people have a 60-lb. Bible strapped to their back.

So completely unfair.

Arrggghhh.

Anyway, best of luck to you and your girlfriend. Try, patiently, to help her understand that millions of good people subscribe to Christianity and don’t think being gay is a sin. Help her to understand that while being gay isn’t a choice, believing that the Bible condemns homosexuality is a choice. And it’s a terrible choice for anyone to make. Because it’s wrong. And the way your girlfriend, and you, and your girlfriend’s mother and grandmother and everyone else in the world can know it’s wrong is because it works to decrease, rather than increase, the amount of God’s love in this world. And that is the very definition of wrong.


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

unfair-cover-xsmallPaperback. Kindle. NookBook. Signed and inscribed by me according to your direction.

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.

  • Ellen K.

    “Gay people, just like everyone else in the world, are already
    hounded by the secret nagging notion that they’re inferior and wrong.
    But unlike straight people, LGBT people are forever being told that God agrees with them on that.”

    That’s the thought that always makes me sad and angry. Knowing, and feeling certain of it, that God loves me as I am was such a strength for me when I was young. I can’t truly imagine what it would have been like to not have that, and instead to have the opposite, but I can imagine enough to know it would be quite horrible.

  • Sheila Warner

    Perhaps the couple can find a gay affirming church to attend? Just a thought.

  • Wilco

    Best away would be to talk to Jesus strait! Tell Him: I need to know the truth from YOU! Not the people! Pleeeeeeeeeeese help me.
    I believe He will answer you.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Hate to break it to you, but God doesn’t work like that.

      There’s this story in the Bible were this guy had a crap load of horrible stuff happen to him. Never mind that it was all because God and his favorite homie, Satan, placed a rather small bet. Anyway, This guy begs God for reasons why all this shit happened to him. So what does God do in response? He gives a classic example of skirting the question, filling it with pretty phrases, and never answering the man’s questions, other than to say “I’m God, you ain’t, so I can do stuff, and not tell you diddly.”

      So why do you think pulling a Roger Rabbit. (p-p-p-p-p-p-pleeeaaasee), in other words, begging for the answers you want to hear, a good method of trying to get God to tell us anything?

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        And (some) Christians believe that was Jesus all along (but not really because Trinity or something)?

        • Bones

          Yeah probably something to do with free will or something.

      • Guy Norred

        To be fair, I do find that God leads us to new understandings. I have no idea what Wilco thinks God will tell her but Job’s example not withstanding, I do believe God wants what is best for us.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Oh I agree, but in my experience that leading to new understanding is done so subtly, that I often am clueless how I arrived to that new place.

          • Guy Norred

            I know you do (agree), I just think that Job, while it can be rich with treasure if looked at in some ways, can be one of those parts of the Bible that should never be taken out of context (and by that I mean the entire canon) or taken too literally. While it is true I think too much of the practice of Christianity seems to be predicated on a carrot and stick mentality, Job, at face value, is almost sure to send people the other way.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I remember a friend who took a college class in religion. She did a paper on Job, and was miffed that the professor disagreed with her on what Job’s problem was (why was he in that predictament). She thought he had a pride problem, which is probably what we had been taught in the crazy cult we’d grown up in.

            I’d never really read the book so made sounds of sympathy as any friend would. When I read Job a few years later, I ended up having to side with the professor. I also felt that Job’s wife got shafted in the deal.

          • Guy Norred

            Well, you know, wives don’t really count. ;-) And from the account, I think Job’s sons and daughters don’t seem to count for much either.

            It does give a strange picture of God–someone who sports with people’s lives, even when His bet is putting faith in the person in question. In western culture, it sounds more like something that should be set on Mount Olympus than from the Bible.

          • Guy Norred

            BTW, I sent you a FB message yesterday–it went to your “other” in box (didn’t know they existed). Read or ignore as you see fit.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Trying to find the thing. Rather hard to do on a mobile.

          • Guy Norred

            Just tried myself and could find no way to from the app.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            found and replied. Good ole technology, works until it doesn’t.

  • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

    Hey, writer. I’m straight-ish, and that’s how I put it to people, because I believe there’s a whole spectrum of love God welcomes. I hope your girlfriend can find that. It sounds like you have something special. And why would God frown on it?

  • anakinmcfly

    Thanks for this post. I’d just been going through another period of wondering what if I’m wrong after all (I’ve been subject to a lot of ex-gay testimonies and a general homophobic atmosphere because of stuff happening here in Singapore), because it somehow feels *correct* that I’m evil and wrong and an inferior subhuman and don’t deserve to be happy. Sometimes it feels like it would be almost be a relief to accept that and just stop fighting, finally. This post was the first time I’ve seen someone suggest that it’s a self-esteem thing universal to all people (which I never thought about), and not actually the conviction of the Holy Spirit or God’s will, as others have said. So… thank you. I’m not sure I’m entirely convinced yet, but it’s definitely something to counter the other views, and I needed this.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Self esteem is something many of us struggle with, especially when one is in an environment structured towards conformity.
      Trust me, you ain’t evil or wrong. Being considered sub-human and not deserving of happiness is a bald faced lie. It is simply the result of you not fitting someone else’s pre-conceived mold of what is “normal” failing to see that true normalcy is quite diverse and amazingly beautiful

    • Jeff Preuss

      “because it somehow feels *correct* that I’m evil and wrong and an inferior subhuman and don’t deserve to be happy.”
      Nuh uh. Nope. No way. You are NOT evil. In every interaction I’ve seen of yours, you carry yourself and present yourself with a level of integrity and respect for your opponents that they do not provide you at all. To me, that’s a very honorable and righteous thing to do.

      What I can glean of your personality is a level of kindness that is not achievable by sub-humans.

      And, yeah, doubt and self-esteem issues are universal. I could tell you stories of my sister’s childhood and teen years, in which she never thought she was good enough. She still doubts herself to some degree, and she’s this gorgeous 6 foot tall half-marathon running wife and mom of two great kids with a LOT higher paying job than mine.

      Doubt is universal, but happiness can ALSO be. All God’s love to you, anakin.

      • anakinmcfly

        <3 thanks. that means a lot to me.

  • Snooterpoot

    There are Christian churches that do not believe homosexuality is sinful. Some of them can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT-affirming_Christian_denominations

    Some of them are not all the way to where they should be, but you won’t find condemnation there.

    I am a recovering Southern Baptist, so I know how absolutely damaging their brand of evangelical Christianity is. After leaving the Southern Baptist church (some of us here think it’s a cult, and I find no reason to disagree with that) I joined the Episcopal Church. This was 35+ years ago, and although it was more accepting than the Baptist church it still had a long way to go. It has improved, but not all parishes are all the way there.

    For me, it took leaving organized religion altogether to find peace with God. I came to believe that religion is mostly about controlling people (especially women); too many Christians live by the “thou shalt nots” and too few live by “love God with all your being and love your neighbors as you love yourselves.”

    I am in an absolute rage to see how these Christians are treating children who are trying to escape poverty and violence in Central America. It’s shameful. It’s infuriating. And I am convinced it’s not what Jesus would do. I would apply that to your girlfriend as well; condemning you and judging you is not what Jesus would do. Jesus would see your love and bless it as a wonderful thing.

    I recommend a book called “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor” by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. I found this book to be very helpful when I was reconciling my sexual orientation with Christianity. It’s an old book (I read it in the 1970s) but it has been revised. I highly recommend this book for both of you, and to any other Christian who is open to seeing another path to reconciliation.

    Read more here:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/476819.Is_the_Homosexual_My_Neighbor_A_Positive_Christian_Response

    Edited to correct the last link.


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