Anti-gay Christians convening today. What are they hiding?

Stills-cowardly-lion-of-oz-19567406-1424-1800

As I’m writing this, the two-day gathering in Dallas of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) is underway.

ECO was formed in January of 2012 a fit of pique by Presbyterians reacting against the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s vote in May 2011 to allow for the ordination of gay people. (I shared my conversation with the first ever gay ordained Presbyterian minister in my October 2011 post Meet Scott Anderson, Soon To Be the First (Openly) Gay Minister Ordained by Presbyterian USA.)

Basically, the people who formed ECO cried, “No way! Being gay is a sin! We’ll start our own denomination!” So they did.

In my January 2012 post, ECO, the New Anti-Gay Presbyterian Denomination: Cowardly Lions, I wrote:

ECO has simply refused to say why they were formed. They won’t do it. They won’t say that they’re a one-issue organization, that they exist solely in opposition to PCUSA’s sanctioning the ordination of gay people.  … you can search high and low throughout ECO’s website, and nowhere will you find a single, solitary word about gay people or homosexuality. … ECO honchos! Just say that you’ve formed because you believe that gays shouldn’t be ordained! If your convictions are so great that they’ve compelled you to found a “breakaway movement,” why aren’t they great enough for you to be explicit about what it is you’re breaking away from?

That said, though, I’m heartened by the leaders of ECO being so weak about proclaiming their true nature and purpose. It means they’re as uncomfortable as, God knows, they should be about excluding gay people from full participation in the life that Jesus so passionately offered to all. It’s always encouraging when someone can’t force their mouth to say what their heart knows is wrong. It means there’s hope for them yet.

Two years later, guess what? ECO is actually being even less forthcoming about who they are and why they formed. Nowhere, for instance, on the ECO website will you find homosexuality so much as mentioned. The closest you’ll get to the group’s formative identity is this, from their Missions and Core Values page:

We believe the Bible is the unique and authoritative Word of God, which teaches all that is necessary for faith and life. The prominence of God’s Word over our lives shapes our priorities, and the unrivaled authority of the Bible directs our actions to be in concert with Christ’s very best for our lives.

Which is nothing–unless you’re savvy enough to understand what “authoritative Word of God” and “unrivaled authority of the Bible” are code for.

Dig a little deeper into the site, and you’ll find ECO’s Essential Tenets and Confessional Standards, the core statement of ECO’s convictions and theology. On page five of the document’s ten pages we find the totality of what it has to say about homosexuality or gay people:

… being faithful within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman as established by God at the creation or embracing a celibate life as established by Jesus in the new covenant. [bolding mine]

There. At least they said it. Barely. But … there it is, the entire reason for ECO’s existence. Out of about six thousand five hundred words spent articulating their “Essential Tenets,” they spent exactly three on what was undeniably the single cause of their defection and formation.

If you go to the website for ECO’s 2014 National Gathering, and hit the “About” button, you get the Better Living Through Vapidity video below. (Legal disclaimer: watching this video does not constitute legal grounds for suing me for the ninety-seven seconds of your life you’ll never get back.)

Oh, and be ye not confused by the 2014 National Gathering seeming to be sponsored and presented by two groups, ECO and The Fellowship of Presbyterians. The latter group created the former. This video, from the Fellowship of Presbyterians website, shows how difficult-to-impossible it is to separate one group from the other:

You are, however, allowed to be confused about why, on their website, the Fellowship of Presbyterians (www.fellowship-pres.org) is called the Fellowship Community, even though the group hasn’t changed, their logo hasn’t changed, and for the Big National Gathering they revert to showing themselves as the Fellowship of Presbyterians.

If you look at the three-day gathering’s Schedule of Events, guess how many have anything to do with homosexuality? None.

None published, that is. But note, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the seminars listed only as A, B, and C. If you go to the daily listed online schedule of events—scroll down here and hit the faded calendar days—it says, about all of those seminars, the same thing:

Find topic and room listings in your registration packet.

Clearly the substantive sessions of the event, and they don’t want to say anything about them to anyone—not even to anyone just thinking about attending the event—until the conference is underway.

Gee, I’m just gonna guess it’s behind the locked doors and closed windows of at least some of those Mysterious Sessions that they’ll actually dare to discuss anything having to do with the reason they’re all really there.

Oh, the creative chicanery! Why, it’s like when children are so clever they come up with a secret handshake and a secret password.

(Homework assignment: The reason ECO remains so intricately tied to the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP), a conservative body within Presbyterian Church (USA) is because breaking with FOP would mean breaking with Presbyterian Church (USA), which ECO pastors aren’t about to do since that would mean losing their very generous pension and health benefits. True or False? I’m unhesitantly guessing true, but haven’t had time to firmly verify through research.)

Dear attendees of the 2014 National Gathering of … ECOites:

The world is watching you. Well, probably not, actually, since … you know … Christians at a meeting. But some of us are watching you. And we humbly suggest that you consider the truth, which is clear and unarguable, that you belong to an organization that at best is deeply ambivalent about the righteousness of its cause and purpose—about its raison d’être, if you’ll excuse our French—and at worst is purposefully and operationally craven, manipulative, exploitive, and bullying.

You are associating your name—your honor, your integrity, your reputation, your entire relationship to morality—with a group at some level so ashamed of what it is and what it stands for that it can barely bring itself to whisper it.

You have aligned yourself with manifest cowards.

We are begging you to stop. To reassess. To consider that there is, in fact, nothing whatsoever unchristian or unbiblical about being gay.

We’re asking you to stop, think, and get back to being a real Christian—that is, to spending some real time listening to what the Holy Spirit of God within you is really telling you about gay people.

If you will but listen to what God is telling you about gay people, we are 100% confident that you will realize that gay people are no threat to you; that they don’t want anything from you; that just because more people are straight than are gay doesn’t make being gay any sort of moral failing, any more than does being left-handed or red-haired.

It’s okay that people are gay. That’s just the way God made them. It’s not a problem.

If you really listen to the Holy Spirit within you, we are certain that you will hear the very voice of God telling you to leave the ECO event, to leave ECO altogether—to go, now, and sin no more.

[UPDATE: An especially crass and noxious breed of troll has found its way to this post, so rather than spend the next Who Knows How Long playing WhackaTroll I've disabled comments to it. Thanks to those of you were participated in the conversation like ... well, rational adults. I sincerely appreciate it.]


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.

  • BarbaraR

    25 seconds of that video was all I could handle, though the tinny piano music lasted at least four hours.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      But they love their churches! And … and …. zzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • BarbaraR

        And the churches are like a glass of blue water.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          And churches are good because of goodness and the future and helpfulness and also dramatic music.

        • Jeff Preuss

          Did you notice the water gets less blue the fuller it gets? The Smurf potion gets diluted with more members?

    • Jeff Preuss

      All of the things they state as their purpose in the video ring really hollow if it’s against a backdrop of “but not if you’re gay.”

      “and making disciples the core of our identity…” Well, some disciples.

    • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

      I lasted 45. Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!! Help me! Save me from the tinny music and the exploding dots!!!!!

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      I’m fascinated by this need to love “the church.” I thought we were supposed to love God and each other?

  • Jordan Hurley

    Read the Bible.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore
      • BarbaraR

        …wait for it….

    • Jeff Preuss

      A lot of us here have (likely most, maybe even all, but there’s always that chance of one person coming to a Christian blog who actually hasn’t read the foundational texts of Christianity, right? I like to be inclusive.) and enjoy it quite a bit. Thanks for the reminder to pore over the Scriptures included in one of our favorite books!

      It will help remind us of the validity of the stances we’ve taken on certain theological issues, since our positions have been derived from the wonderful teachings of that very book you want us to read.

      So, again…thanks!

    • anakinmcfly

      Done that! Your turn!

      • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

        Sure you read it but did you use your infallible decoder ring when you read it.

        • Jeff Preuss

          I got mine from a box of Inerrant-O’s cereal!

    • Andy

      Really? That’s the best you got? You’re the laziest troll I’ve seen in a long, long time.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        Andy: What a funny response! Good one.

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

      Again????

  • Matt

    A two-day gathering? To do what?

    “Dearly beloved, we have gathered here to silently oppose That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. You know, that thing.”

    “…Voldemort?”

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      HAR! Good one.

      I can’t imagine anything besides, you know, fourteen people, each sitting alone and angrily muttering.

      • Andy

        I read this and imagine they all look like Patty and Selma.

    • BarbaraR

      Keyser Soze?

    • Adam King

      Fight Club?

  • Kay Carrasco

    John, you are dead right-on about why these people are in such a scrambling panic not to fully disconnect from the PC(USA): It’s about all the funds tied up in the Foundation, and in the Board of Pensions. Thing is, by law, their already-earned pension credits cannot be rescinded; they will simply stop growing. And yeah, that health insurance, the best and strongest of *any* denomination, would go away. These people want to embrace their prejudices (without admitting any such thing), keep their churches (which by polity they really shouldn’t be allowed to, but for the most part are), sail off with their funds (chances of that are between fat and slim), and keep their cushy retirement and health insurance (to quote one of your great book titles, “HA!”). I’m still working on trying to forgive these cowards. I am not there yet.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Thanks for this, Kay, very much. Great contribution.

    • Reformed Catholic

      [Lengthy hate-filled trollpost deleted]

  • Agni Ashwin

    I take it that you are not very ECO-friendly.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      snerketh!

  • Nathan Rolofson

    “You are, however, allowed to be confused about why, on their website, the Fellowship of Presbyterians (www.fellowship-pres.org) is called the Fellowship Community, even though the group hasn’t changed, their logo hasn’t changed, and for the Big National Gathering they revert to showing themselves as the Fellowship of Presbyterians.”

    The reason Fellowship of Presbyterians (www.fellowship-pres.org) is called the Fellowship Community on their website is that they are merging with Presbyterian for Renewal on January 1, 2015 (See http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/6/2/fellowship-presbyterians-renewal-plan-merger-would/).

    Also according to their website (http://eco-pres.org/who-we-are/our-story/), “The name ECO is not an acronym.” The full name of the ECO denomination is “ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians” which is number one on my list of ridiculously long denominational names.

    • Andy

      And I thought it took too long to say “Seventh-Day Adventist”.

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

      Reminds me of a church name I once made up for a short story. It was: First Independent Baptist Apostolic Lighthouse Church of the Holy Redeemer.

      I do find it amusing that in an attempt to clearly define a denomination after a split from a larger branch, how the defining labels get longer and less clearly defined.

      • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

        Or when Jewish congregations merge. My personal favorite is the parody “B’nai Korach-Sinat Chinam.” Translation: Children of Korach – Causeless Hatred

      • JJ Marks

        I wanted to name a church for those evangelicals claiming to be “orthodox” – Holy Virgin Assembly of God

    • Reformed Catholic

      The problem was that the original title was “Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians” … however, they found out later that there was an denomination called Evangelical Covenant Church, and they had to unfortunately regroup.

  • Brandon Roberts

    look gay people should be allowed to fully participate in the church. even john hagee said he allows gay people into his church

  • Tom Lutes

    John, as you were describing the ways that ECO tries to avoid naming the reason for forming this separate group within PCUSA, I couldn’t help but think about the Anglican Church of North America, which broke off from my church, the Episcopal Church of the US. ACNA also took pieces from the Anglican Church of Canada, which is why the get to say they’re “of North America.” Everyone knows rhat ACNA broke away for the same reasons that ECO broke from PCUSA, but they don’t just come out ans admit it. They keep sayingnthat they have “greater adherence and reverence for the Word of God.” So what do you think? Is this a situation where we just keep trying to call their bullcrap and hope they come around?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      I don’t know. You’re right; it’s the exact same thing. You do what you can. If this post here went viral, ECO would be forced to respond to it. I’ve done that with other posts–most recently essentially forcing Albert Mohler to respond to something I published. Before that BJU had to respond to some stuff I wrote. So of course I’m hopeful this post will have that same sort of effect, because that’s really been helpful overall. But other than this sort of effort, I don’t know what else I personally can do.

  • Richard

    “… or embracing a celibate life.”

    So many folks end up in a celibate life, whether because they’re not called to marriage or a relationship (gay or straight), or because they are and things go… strange. And yet churches–any churches, in my experience–won’t talk about how the lay people can live the celibate life in today’s society, or support their doing it. Can we (Christians in general) talk about that? Please?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Okay.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/04/what-todays-evangelicals-are-really-telling-gay-people/

      (And you’re right, and I appreciate you saying what you have. I was so hoping someone would catch that … nasty bit of poison.)

    • brucegarner

      Celibacy is also a calling. One is called to a life of celibacy, not forced into it. Our sexuality is not just for procreation. It is for mutual pleasure as well. In one of the two creation narratives in Genesis, God is clear that the first human needs a companion. Why would God make us sexual creatures and then expect an entire segment not to use our sexuality in non-abusive, non-exploitive, non-coercive relationships? Such would be a sadistic God and not the God of love who created us for love.
      We never discuss true human sexuality. Rather than discuss what all of us are, we would prefer to discuss what most are not: homosexual. Nor do we discuss sexuality among the aged, differently abled, or anyone else. I guess someone thinks 60 or so is the “cut off” point for sexuality.
      As I once heard someone say: Sex is dirty and you save it for someone you love. There is a serious psychosis in that statement.

  • Mark Kirschieper

    I was involved with a congregation, in West Palm Beach (Memorial Presbyterian), which was one of the locations, to split from the PCUSA. Any church leader there, with whom I was acquainted, simply would not talk to me one-on-one, with my Bible, regards same sex marriage and relationships. They will not dialogue. So, I just disconnected, from the church.
    However, when looking at the 2014 Conference schedule, 9 AM, Wed. the 18th., there was a pre-conference seminar called: “Untaming Sexuality: God, Sex, and Orientation”, with a brief description. It would be interesting to get a transcript, of that seminar.
    To be consistent with their theology, I would assume they hold that there is really only one orientation, and LGBT persons who self identify in any alternate way, are just disordered.

    • Jeff Preuss

      Ahhhhh, so the old belief that there are no gay people, and that we are only straight people who somehow chose to try gay or have otherwise been lost or damaged/altered by abuse or demonic possession?

      I love that one.

      • Mark Kirschieper

        Yes, a tragically cruel and unloving Christian position. It’s as if I, as a blue eyed person, had the self righteous, spiritual arrogance to say: “All brown eyed persons are perverts!” Only because it’s my own understanding, of the Bible.

        • Jeff Preuss

          It wasn’t that long ago that left handed people were thought to be right handed people who needed correcting, even people who were spiritually unclean: (Quote pulled from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_against_left-handed_people)
          Matthew 25: 32–33, in which sheep represent the righteous and goats
          represent the fallen: “And he shall separate them one from another, as a
          shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep
          on his right, but the goats on his left.” ACTUALLY USED TO OPPRESS AND CALL LEFTIES WICKED.

          For the most part, one day, most of society and Christianity will likely view homosexuality much the same, as something innate and not innately disordered and in need of fixing.

          Scott Lively can believe there are no gay people all he likes, because he “fixed” his sister from lesbianism. PROOF!

          • Mark Kirschieper

            Indeed, yet another excellent analogy, to which I can personally relate, as one of those disordered/wicked, left-handed persons!

          • Andy

            Me three!

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Mark: I can’t believe you had that experience with Memorial Pres in West Palm Beach. Oh, wait. Yes I can. (Hey, where do you see the “Untaming Sexuality” pre-conference seminar? I can’t see it anywhere on the schedule, but … ?)

      • Mark Kirschieper

        Hi John, It’s on http://www.2014nationalgathering.com/, scroll down to the “faded” date of Aug. 18, and click on it. I have an as of yet unchallenged, premise allowing for same sex marriage, in the Bible. It’s intended for marriage traditionalists, with a high view of scripture. I can prove it using the original Hebrew and Greek languages. Unfortunately, I see the traditionalists, just really perpetually mistranslating key “definition of marriage” proof text verses. How can we dialogue about that? I want to give you some more ammunition, as you have such a public presence, regards this issue.

  • tanyam

    Its Rob Bell calling and he wants his baby blue graphics and haunting tunes back.

  • Josh Magda

    I ended a lifelong friendship with my former best friend, who posted a picture of his Confirmation in the ACNA, being performed by Bob Duncan, after which he proceeded to recite back to me the “love the sinner hate the sin” talking points when I told him how disappointed I was with his decision to continue indefinitely in a church whose reason for existence is the perpetration of homophobia. This had been going on for five years. Like Elizabeth Edwards, I couldn’t take any more. We all have a limit.

    Thankfully, God doesn’t.

  • Viola Larson

    How could so many people be filled with so much hate? No, I’m not talking about the ECO people I’m talking about the person who wrote this article and those who are applauding him. Do you realize those Christians who are being exiled and killed in Iraq and Nigeria and Egypt also hold on to the biblical morality that the people of ECO hold to. And they don’t hate you-they are simply affirming their own beliefs that the Christian church has upheld for almost 2000 years.

    • BarbaraR

      Oh, please.

    • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

      And you know those particular Christians’ beliefs how? Is there an ECO church over there that you’re talking about? Do you have friends and family over there?

      • Viola Larson

        Actually Enesvy I have brothers and sisters in many places all over the world.

        • BarbaraR

          That’s very sweet.
          But I would venture to guess that gay people are not among them.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      You’re with ECO, then, Viola? You didn’t (gee, what a surprise) say.

      • Viola Larson

        John, I am PC (U.S.A.)

    • Jeff Preuss

      I don’t care how conservative their theology is, or even if they are Christians. NO one should be put to death for their religious beliefs…or for being gay. Have you heard of Uganda?

      • Viola Larson

        Jeff, I don’t agree with the law passed in Uganda although I believe their supreme court or whatever it is called disallowed it.

    • Jeff Preuss

      Also, is the idea that their theology is as conservative as yours somehow in your mind the reason they are being killed? Or is it somehow more likely they are being killed for being Christians, which would just as readily get me killed?

      And if you believe they are being killed for simply holding up the same beliefs you think have lasted unchanged for 2000 years (even though they haven’t) do you think that somehow validates their stance? Because, by that logic, the gay people being killed in Uganda are validated by their executions as well.

      • Viola Larson

        Jeff I think you misunderstood me. They are being killed for being Christian, but what I am saying is many of you on this blog would not consider those Christians suffering in the Middle East and Africa hateful people, you I suspect are concerned about them. But they do not believe any differently then the people who are a part of ECO.

        • Jeff Preuss

          Are they actively trying to limit my participation or recognition in church here?

          If they are preventing gay people from fully belonging to their churches, I would consider their actions just as hateful as the same thing being done in this case.

  • Jake

    This is one of the more intolerant blogs I’ve read lately. My understanding is that we Presbyterians are a Big Tent where all views are welcome.

    • BarbaraR

      This must have gone viral amongst ECO. A number of comments are popping up with very similar wording about “intolerance” and “hatred.” Coincidence?

      But none of them seem to want to say why the ECO split off, or say that John is wrong and that the ECO is in fact gay-affirming.

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        Barb: Yeah, I see how many horrible comments here you (or maybe you and one or two of the other mods here) have been deleting. Thanks so much for keeping this blog a safe place for discussion. Do feel free, though (as I know you know) to just let them slide. I’ll deal with them, or just … I dunno … not. They’re so inanely puerile nobody will take them seriously anyway.

        Good lord, though, it DOES get a tad exhausting, doesn’t it? And such comments (again, as you know) are ALWAYS from people hiding behind anonymity. They’re like KKK members: so proud of what they do they’ll only do it when unrecognizably disguised.

        • BarbaraR

          Oh, I know I could let them slide, but as someone said to me, “once the trolls take over, the good people back away.” Allowing the ones that are just inanely baiting gives the idea that kind of thing is okay… and it’s not.

          If I think there’s any chance the poster is capable of a reasonable dialogue, I let them stand. The vicious ones, the ones who post links to Robert Gagnon or the ones clearly sent by some kind of organized spamming group – get the boot.

          It’s exhausting, yeah, but it’s also satisfying to keep the place safe.

          • Reformed Catholic

            I suspect that many, like me, are NOT ECO members, but PC(USA) members who cannot understand how intolerant the left has become to anyone who does not hold the same ‘tolerant’ views it does.

          • BarbaraR

            Tolerance of hatred renders tolerance meaningless.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Your labels are unhelpful. You just said in reply to one of my comments that you are not trying to take away the conservative interpretation of scripture, yet you label that as “hatred.” This forum is as bad as the “Daily Kos.”

          • BarbaraR

            Then perhaps this is not the right place for you.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            If I don’t read the Progressive Christian section of Patheos, then where will I get any information or perspective about those Christians who don’t agree with me? I just won’t post comments, then. Thanks for the one hour or so of discussion. Blessings to you.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Jake: You should or shouldn’t be proud of welcoming all views depending on what exact views you’re talking about. I would expect you to reject outright the view that, say, children make excellent sex partners, or that slavery should be reinstituted in America. Some views–like the one that says being gay is a moral affront to God–need to be soundly rejected for the cruel bullshit they are.

  • http://takefiveanytime.blogspot.com Tom Eggebeen

    Excellent piece … sharing … will post also on “Happy to be a Presbyterian” on FB …

  • John E

    ECO pastors do *not* keep their PC(USA) benefits (other than the pension credits they have already earned.). As a separate denomination, ECO has its own benefit package. As for the Fellowship, it is officially separating from ECO as an organization and is linking up with Presbyterians for Renewal. Fellowship churches remain in the PC(USA) and thus their pastors keep their PC(USA) benefits. This is not a secret, btw. This article is very carelessly written and bears false witness. Given the hectoring moralistic tone in this article, that is ironic.

    • BarbaraR

      So is the ECO gay-affirming?

      • John E

        That is unresponsive to my comment.

        • BarbaraR

          And that is avoiding the question. Hectoring? Moralistic? Does the ECO feel gay people are lesser than straight people?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            I think it is fair to say that ECO does not think that gay people are lesser than straight people. Likewise, I think ECO people would not say that Dr. Who people are lesser than Star Trek people.

          • BarbaraR

            Does the ECO affirm that gay people are entitled to all the rights afforded straight people?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Rights? As in American Constitutional rights? If that’s what you mean, then I think “yes.” If you mean some other “rights,” you will need to be more specific for me to give you an answer.

          • BarbaraR

            I think you know exactly what I mean but you’re being coy.

            Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Freedom to marry the person they love.
            The same tax, benefits, inheritance laws afforded straight people.
            The exact same rights heterosexual people enjoy without thought.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            OK. I’ll play your game. “Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation” Yes, and that’s already the law. “Freedom to marry the person they love?” Yes, if the person they love is of the opposite sex. I note that you exclude a person’s freedom to marry more than one person that they love, but I guess that’s the agenda for another decade. “The same tax, benefits, inheritance laws afforded straight people?” Yes, and that’s already the law. “The exact same rights heterosexual people enjoy without thought?” I don’t know what the modifier “without thought” means, but, yes, and that’s already the law.

          • BarbaraR

            “Yes, if the person they love is of the opposite sex.”
            Annnnd that’s exactly what I thought you would say. So you do not support equal rights for gay people, which is exactly what John stated.

            Also, those other things? Not the law in every state.

            I think you do know what I mean by “without thought,” but I will not pursue it. You have tipped your hand.

            This is an LGBTQ-affirming forum. We’ve heard this same nonsense many times over.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Wrong. Being able to marry who you want is not a right. A man cannot marry his sister. A woman cannot marry her cat. A four-sided polygon is not a triangle. Marriage is not between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Let me clarify – in civil government, marriage can be whatever the State declares it to be. However, if you want to discuss what the Christian church should declare it to be, it needs to be based on Scripture (and on Tradition if you are Roman Catholic or Orthodox). I do not see how anyone could conclude from Scripture that homosexual marriage is a Christian marriage. Thus, it all comes back to the authority of Scripture. If you don’t accept the authority of Scripture, then fine. If you do, then don’t condemn ECO and other conservative Christians who honestly believe that Scripture and God does not condone homosexual conduct.

          • Jeff Preuss

            >Being able to marry who you want is not a right.<
            Being able to marry a non-direct blood relative who is also a consenting human adult IS considered a basic human right, as the Supreme Court is upholding, stemming from decisions decades ago in Loving V. Virginia, which dealt with ludicrous miscegenation laws.

            Wanna try again?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Jeff – you didn’t read my clarification. A constitutional secular right? That seems to be the trend.

          • Jeff Preuss

            I read your clarification – it’s just the same as the rest of the BS you’re spouting in here that’s full of actually erroneous information that’s easily debunked.

            I accept the authority of Scripture, but not as the ULTIMATE authority, and even then, I do not believe that Scripture clearly condemns homosexual conduct.

            Our desire to see gay marriage allowed and recognized is BASED on studying and understanding of Scripture and the myriad contextual and historical influences that led to its creation.

            Anyway, have fun. I’ve gotta thatch my nose hairs, and your arguments are going to be handily torn apart by others. God bless you.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to tear apart my arguments.

          • BarbaraR

            You are entitled to your interpretation of scripture. No one is trying to take it away from you.

            We do not accept your interpretation.

            However, marrying the person you choose IS a basic human right and will eventually be the law of the land.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Barbara – who is the “we” who are not accepting my interpretation of scripture? Thank you for not trying to take it away from me, and I appreciate that you (or y’all) don’t accept it. But keep in mind that the context of all this is John Shorr’s article attacking ECO for standing up for their interpretation of scripture. Your comment is a tolerant one. His article is not.

          • BarbaraR

            Those of us who believe in LGBTQ rights and do not accept the “traditional” interpretation of scripture.

            Keep in mind this is a safe space for LGBTQ people (as well as atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, and Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) to express themselves without fundies coming in to tell them they’re a bunch of sinners.

            Your comments are nothing new here.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Actually, I didn’t realize I was walking in an unwanted territory. Please forgive me, and I will pull out of this conversation. John’s article popped up on my Facebook feed, and I commented on it. Now, I find myself embroiled in these replies. I think we would be better off sitting together over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to talk things out. These online spats aren’t very productive for establishing relationships and true conversation. You have been gracious. (Jeff Preuss has not, by the way.) Blessings to you, and I hope we get to meet someday.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            By the way, I like martinis and poker. Is there an alcohol and gambling-affirming forum somewhere?

          • Jeff Preuss

            >>”Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation” Yes, and that’s already the law. <<

            Hey, guess what? It’s not! At least not everywhere in the country.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Actually, federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Many states do, as well, although some do not specify it. But, federal law on this point trumps state law.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Nope. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation with Federal contractors, or else I wouldn’t currently be living in a state where it’s still legal to fire or evict me JUST FOR BEING GAY.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Just so it’s clear, as far as employment stands:
            http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/

            The current federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission do not include protections for differences of sexual orientation.

            Housing:
            http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/progdesc/title8

            Again, orientation not addressed, not enforced.

            And, since I live in Missouri:
            http://www.moga.mo.gov/statutes/chapters/chap213.htm

            Human rights statute “(5) “Discrimination”, any unfair treatment based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age as it relates to employment, disability, or familial status as it relates to housing”

            Again, sexual orientation is not covered, and since it doesn’t exist at the federal level, my very existence and financial future could be at risk because of it. Because some people have decided it is sinful and shouldn’t be allowed. Sound familiar?

      • Sean Cowdrey

        Is PCUSA affirming of people who want to have sex with and marry more than 1 person?

        • BarbaraR

          Not the discussion at hand.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            We Make Our Road by Walking = We Make Our Conversation by Talking.

          • Jeff Preuss

            It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

            What relevance is your pithy quote?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            I was making a play off of Brian Maclaren’s latest book, “We Make Our Road by Walking.” I guess my attempt at humor didn’t work.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Yeah, I’d say that’s a fair assessment since the rest of the things you were typing were humorless. Humor, I’ll take.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Come on, Jeff, you have to admit that “We Make Our Conversation by Talking” is a pretty good parody-line of Maclaren’s “We Make Our Road by Walking.” Give me that, at least, would you, huh?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Huh. What you’re saying about ECO pastors and their PC(USA) financial benefits does not jibe with what this guy said, or with this commenter to my first post on this matter:

      As a PCUSA pastor I can tell you a big reason why ECO was formed was because the pastors in the anti-gay lobby receive very generous pension and medical benefits from the PCUSA that they are afraid to leave behind should they follow their conscience to disaffiliate from the denomination. … Our pension plan is the envy of most denominations and our benefits are generous. Any minister can leave at any time to seek a call in another Presbyterian denomination that would have them [PCA, OPC, EPC, RCA, CRC, etc.]. But they don’t want to give up the perks.

  • Dr. Patricia Lee June

    Unlike the PCUSA (as a denomination – I am not speaking of thousands of individual congregations to which this comment does not apply), the ECO is not focused on sex. Therefore a couple of sentences setting forth their understanding of God’s commands to limit sexual activity to within a marriage between and man and a woman, with all others being celibate, is sufficient. The causes for the formation of ECO and for the Fellowship of Presbyterians are much more basic than sex and relate to the basic understanding of Scripture. For many years, many of us have tried to stand for orthodoxy within the PCUSA (on many matters besides just the understanding of sex), and over the years some have felt that their talents would be better spent in where they could focus on mission rather than continual controversy. Others of us (myself included) remain in the PCUSA, still trying to promote the orthodox, rather than the progressive, view of Scripture. Some would like to leave, but are in congregations where a move to leave would either be financially impossible (due to the PCUSA holding them hostage), or are in congregations that would be split by such a move. Some are in congregations that are just now at the point of giving up on the PCUSA and wanting to leave. Implying that folks have not left due solely to pension considerations is both thoughtless and uncharitable and untrue.
    Most of those who do not affirm sexual activity between two people of the same gender do not hate “gay people”; many of us have friends who have sexual desires for the same gender – some of whom act upon those desires, and some of whom resist them. God is asking no more of someone with same gender sexual desires than He is asking of those of us (myself included) who are single with heterosexual desires – celibacy. We are not denied friendship/companionship with those of the same or of the other gender. We can live a full life while celibate. All sinners are welcome in church – gay or straight. And God calls all of us to live in accord with His commands. Affirming behavior that God calls sinful is not loving or helping our neighbor – whatever the sin.
    The frequently heard assertion that God created people “gay” is not supported by either medical research or by Scripture. Homosexuality appears to be much like alcoholism – there is a congenital susceptibility, but there is also an environmental aspect. This is NOT saying that most homosexuals choose to be homosexual – the environmental component is frequently not in the person’s control. Sexual desire is not chosen; sexual behavior is a choice. And like Paul, we all frequently choose to do what we know to be wrong, following our desires even when we recognize that they are not in accord with God’s commands. All of us fallen sinners must repent daily.

    • Jeff Preuss

      Oy.

    • BarbaraR

      Easy to tell someone else who they can easily live a full life of celibacy when it isn’t your sex life being talked about. And since gay marriage is thisclose to being legal, the argument is specious.

    • Jeff Preuss

      So, I’m not single, so sex with my husband is okay?

      - “gay person”

    • BarbaraR

      “The frequently heard assertion that God created people “gay” is not supported by either medical research or by Scripture”

      This is total BS and you know it.

      Scripture doesn’t support a shitton of things like computers, airplanes, cotton candy, and polyester.

      And yes, being created gay IS supported by research.

      • Jeff Preuss

        And now I want cotton candy so very badly. Stupid workout and diet.

        • BarbaraR

          It’s one food they’ve never perfected packaging.
          Just put some food coloring in the sugar bowl and upend it into your chops. Kind of the same thing.

          • Jeff Preuss

            True story: when we were kids, my sister and I would often accompany Mom to our Baptist church when she’d go to practice on the enormous pipe organ. We’d play, and busy ourselves in thr church music office…and snack on the sugar cubes they left near the coffee pot.

            We. Ate. Sugar. Cubes.

            Food coloring would have made it better.It is a wonder I have any teeth.

          • BarbaraR

            I ate sugar cubes. If some restaurant is foolish enough to put them out within reach, I STILL eat them, especially if I can dunk them in coffee.

            I blame the polio vaccine.

          • Jeff Preuss

            I blame Obama.

          • BarbaraR

            *Snerk*

      • Sean Cowdrey

        I was created sinful. Does that mean it is OK for me to act out my sinfulness?

        • BarbaraR

          I know a diverting question when I see one.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            And the cotton candy comment wasn’t a diversion?

          • BarbaraR

            Scripture DOESN’T say anything about cotton candy. Do you have a point to make?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Thank you. Scripture DOES have something to say about sinful conduct.

          • BarbaraR

            Which has what to do with the discussion?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Seriously? I thought the conversation was about sin, shunning sin, and repenting from sin.

          • BarbaraR

            Sin is not part of this.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            That’s what my client who was in the organized crime said. Seriously, he really did. Declaring something to not be sinful does not make it valid.

          • BarbaraR

            If you are equating being gay with organized crime, you are treading on thin ice.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            I am definitely not equating the two. I am equating people who say that what the Bible calls sin is not sin.

          • BarbaraR

            And again, you are entitled to your opinion and interpretation. However, we do not agree with that interpretation.

          • BarbaraR

            It would be a lot faster and more efficient if you just came right out and said you think gay people are deliberately sinning and could avoid that by just being celibate.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            Gay people are not deliberately sinning any more than a person with a desire to gamble, steal, or get drunk is deliberately sinning. We all desire sinful conduct. Acting out the sinful tendency is what is sinful. So, yes, stealing, getting drunk, or engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is sin.

          • BarbaraR

            In case you missed the memo, we here do not believe that being gay or having gay sex is sinful. It is not a choice any more than being tall or being blue-eyed is a choice.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Fine. I’m married to my husband, so our sex life is permitted. Thanks!

          • BarbaraR

            I am pretty sure the ECO doesn’t see that as a real marriage, y’know? I mean, gay lifestyle and all that.
            (And one of these days I would like to see a copy of that gay agenda. Just a Xerox would work.)

          • Jeff Preuss

            It just has two lines:
            -Apply glitter body spray
            -Party!

            This whole overthrow the government things is blown WAY out of proportion.

          • BarbaraR

            Well, when you get around to it, I’d like to be invited to the after-party,

          • Jeff Preuss

            Your conduct here is sinful. Don’t you have a human-rights-oppressing affirming discussion board to patronize?

          • Sean Cowdrey

            That attack is unbecoming of a Christian and of a civilized debater.

          • BarbaraR

            Oh stop.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Everything you say on here is unbecoming of a Christian. And the moment you thought YOU were being a civilized debater when you equated homosexuality with stealing went right out the window, buddy.

          • Sean Cowdrey

            I am sorry that you think “everything” I said here is unbecoming of a Christian. I don’t think homosexual attraction is the equivalent of stealing. You misinterpreted me. We all have temptations to sin, and we all yield to temptation. Christ has freed us from sin. Blessings to you. Please forgive me for any offense.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Christ has freed us from sin, me included. But, I’m still gay. And you DID equate the two. “Gay people are not deliberately sinning any more than a person with a desire to gamble, steal, or get drunk is deliberately sinning.”

          • Jeff Preuss

            Besides, I was simply turning it back on you and your behavior which is sinful according to interpretations of the Bible in which you seek to cause your fellow believers to stumble, and you also seek to limit our rights and privileges. Not very “Christian” of you.

  • James Ayers

    I don’t understand your reasoning.

    You state:

    “Basically, the people who formed ECO cried, “No way! Being gay is a sin! We’ll start our own denomination!” So they did.”

    When and where did they cry this? It’s clear that you don’t like ECO, but you’ve given us no reference, indeed no evidence at all for your assertion about their motivation. Actually, you’ve given us a lot of evidence against it, pointing out that ECO has published a lot of material, and informing us that almost none of it is about homosexuality. And from this you have concluded that their agenda is exclusively about homosexuality, but they are too ashamed to admit it.

    What would you think, if I used parallel reasoning about you? If I did that, I’d note that you have written a great deal about gay rights, and I’d dismiss everything you’ve written and conclude that you really don’t care about gay rights at all, but are actually a fervent fundamentalist who is too ashamed to admit it. How convincing would you find that logic?

    If you’ve actually got an argument that’s better than that, you should offer it. But what you’ve provided so far just doesn’t carry any weight.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Well, gosh, let’s see. In the second sentence of the post I’ve linked to a Reuter’s article of Jan. 2012 titled Presbyterian group breaks away over gay clergy.

      Does that strike you as evidence enough of why exactly ECO formed? It’s not like they tried to hide why they formed.

      • James Ayers

        I don’t know that I’d rely on the secular press to give me an accurate analysis of a religious question; but in any case I don’t see the quote you ascribe to ECO in the Reuters article.

        • James Ayers

          And again, the way for you to show us what ECO is about would be to analyze the material they have published, rather than depend on a single secondary source that has a few offhand quotes.

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Seriously? You’re sticking with, “ECO did not form as a protest against PCUSA’s decision to allow for the ordination of gay people”? (And you opened a Disqus account just to assert that?) Okay. Well, we all tell ourselves whatever stories we must, for whatever reasons we must.

  • Diane Schackelman Carlson

    I guess I’d like to say that they did choose speakers who might open some doors. And someone in the denomination choose those speakers. I have talked with Allen and Debra Hirsch and know their hearts and a bit of their theology. Since it seems none of us attended this conference I’m not sure how we have so much to say about it.These are also real people struggle with things that are hard and different then what they grew up with just like the rest of us and hateful posts putting everyone in a box just does exactly what you propose to be fighting against.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Debra Hirsch is the perfect ECO speaker: she tries her best not to say what she does, in fact, believe. In the video below, for instance, you have to wait until 42:55 before she finally says: “I personally, at the end of the day, do hold an orthodox position on the issue [of homosexuality].” Like Andrew Marin, Ms. Hirsch is pedaling nothing more than the same old poison in a bottle labeled “Love.” That’s not opening doors. That’s keeping them closed with a smile on your face.

      http://youtu.be/sT7aIDVyEe0

      • Diane Schackelman Carlson

        Wow! I guess you don’t feel it’s possible to disagree and still have love and respect for each other.”pedaling nothing more than the same old poison in a bottle labeled Love”? I wonder if her many friends would agree with that statement. My husband and I disagree on some big issues, it does cause limitations but it in no way causes us to love or respect each other less, but it takes hard work. It is the same with churches, denominations and schools we choose to send our kids to. None of them are completely in line with the way we think. For me, the way I view issues and the world and God has changed drastically over the years so even I am not in line with myself.We have to give people room to grow and change and think different then us. If we see the other as full of “poison” then we don’t see the poison in ourselves and there’s no room for Love.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          I’m sure Ms. Hirsch is a lovely person. I don’t know her, so have zero reason to care either way. What I do care about is that (however circumspectly she does it) she’s teaching and reinforcing a theology that is directly responsible for the destruction of lives. That’s a terrible thing to do, and not calling her out on it is anything but loving or Christian, Diane. This isn’t a game. Gay teens are being bullied to death every day by people who ultimately feel all right about doing that because, after all, gay people are an immoral affront to God. To give you some sense of what a nightmare it is to grow up gay–andChristian–I invite you to read my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question. At the very least, please visit this post:

          Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality


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