New pastor refuses church membership to beloved church congregant with cancer. Guess why.

I’m not even going to try to add anything to the letter below, which I got in yesterday. Except maybe to say that I’m just so sick of this. It’s important to me to run the letter, because really knowing someone’s pain, and helping to relieve them of that pain, means letting them tell their own story. It’s for that exact reason (and due also to their inspiring instructiveness) that I included in my book UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question letters from gay Christians telling how and why, despite all the nightmares visited upon them by Christians, they, like the letter-writer below, remain Christian. And I will always make this blog available for anyone who has an important personal story to tell (write me at: john@johnshore.com). But after eight years of receiving five for every one such letter that I publish, I must admit that I’ve reached a state of despair.

Hello John,

First I want to thank you for your book, UNFAIR. I only wish I had read it before meeting this past Tuesday with the new pastor of our church.

Due to the very things you write about, I left the church many years ago, as I could find no place within it for a gay man. My partner of thirty-three years did not have the church upbringing I did, and in the past had some bad experiences of his own with Christians and Christianity. So it took God working double-time to get us back into church.

We met several people in the community who, with genuine love in their hearts, invited us to visit their church. We eventually started attending there. The people of the church welcomed us in. After six months of regular attendance, we also started attending the church’s Sunday School classes.

At the end of April I had a heart attack, and found out two weeks later that I had cancer. The people from the church—including its new pastor of seven weeks, who prayed for my recovery—rallied around us, giving us love and support.

We were both feeling like we had really found a church home.

After church two Sundays ago, our new pastor asked to meet with my partner and me. We set up a Tuesday afternoon meeting with him.

My partner did not feel well that day, so (feeling pretty weak myself, due to my chemotherapy), I went to the meeting by myself.

It started out as being what I thought was the new guy getting to know his church-goers. Thinking that he was my spiritual counselor, I opened up and shared with him the abuse I suffered as a child and teenager at the hands of people in the church. This is something I rarely share with anyone.

About thirty minutes into our discussion, the pastor shifted positions in his chair and said, “You’re not going to like the direction this conversation is about to go.” He proceeded to tell me that since my partner and I are homosexual (which he said like it tasted bad), he wanted to save us the embarrassment of being publicly refused when, as he knew we intended to do, we requested to officially join the church.

“We don’t allow homosexual members here,” he said. He added that we were, however, welcome to continue worshipping there on Sundays.

I was floored, hurt, and not sure what to say when he then asked how I could justify saying that I was a Christian homosexual.

Then he asked for my thoughts on what he’d said.

All I knew, and know, is that God loves me—which for me just then meant having to get out of there. Saying there was nothing left to say, I rose to leave. He stopped me, asking how he could he have handled this differently. I said, “Well, you could grow a set and stand up for what is right.” As I was walking away, he came after me again, wanting to know if we could talk again sometime. I shook my head no.

I came home that Tuesday afternoon devastated; I cried, and I cried some more. All I wanted to do was go to church, help out if needed, and enjoy Christian fellowship. Now I have been made to again feel like a second-class half-Christian again. It brought back so many old feelings of self-worthlessness and damnation.

Then I got on the computer and started searching for answers, and God led me to your book. Next time I get clobbered with scripture, I will have some clobber verses of my own.

When we told the people who invited us to the church—the ones we knew before we started going there—what happened, they were all hurt deeply by their pastor’s words.

I am not going to let this weaken my spirit, but I am so wary of organized religion, it will take a big push from God to get me inside again. I continue to read my Bible and pray and search for that safe place where we can learn about God’s plan for our lives, and I pray for His mercy.

Thank you again.

 


 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • R Vogel

    This is why there can be NO THIRD WAY.

    “Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that [church].”

  • Anne

    I feel absolutely sick to my stomach just reading about this. That man might be a pastor (with a small p) of his church but he is no follower of Christ. I wish I could hold the letter-writer and his partner in my arms and tell them both that we’re not all like that. Then we’d go to my house for dinner, sit on the patio and watch the mountains turn the color of watermelon in the setting sun and enjoy music, conversation and laughter with other, like-minded believers who know that we are all created in His image and God (with a big G) does not make mistakes. Even though I am probably very far away, I hope the letter-writer can feel the love I’m sending across the miles.

  • Andrew Rogers

    Don’t despair. The fight has just begun and your book and your work is an indispensable weapon.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Here’s a bit of very recent happy news to counter that:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/06/supreme-court-gay-marriage/16546959/

    I honestly believe God is working through these decisions by the Supreme Court more than He is working through this church pastor. More and more, people are recognizing that we are indeed fellow human beings worthy of respect and love.

    (And, to think, just yesterday, I was called “devil” in reaction to my pointing out how hateful it was for another Disqus commenter to equate gays with pedophiles and zoophiles.)

  • brianskirk

    John, thanks for sharing this letter. This individual’s experience is why my church, and other open and affirming churches, clearly state on their websites and publications that we welcome all people and celebrate diversity, including our differing sexual orientations. Too many people have been hurt by churches that are (somewhat) welcoming but only after the fact do you find out that they are not affirming. I have younger members in my congregation who visited other churches for months and felt nothing but a warm welcome…until they wanted to join or get more involved. Only then were they told “You can, but first you have to change your ‘lifestyle.'”

  • Andy

    It is wonderful to read that article. I agree that it’s not quite perfect inasmuch as it doesn’t provide official approval nationwide, thereby leaving it up to each individual state to decide, for the moment, but I think it’s a very acceptable outcome. One day, it will be legal everywhere. Thank you for linking to that article.

    And it’s absolutely shameful for people to make that comparison. Ugh, that makes me sick.

  • I can’t help but wonder if the letter writer should shine a big public light on this pastor’s actions …. perhaps an open letter to the members of the church, distributed or read by one of those people who invited the writer into the church?

    This new pastor may not, as he believes, be speaking for the members of his church, and the members have no way of knowing about this if they’re not told. If he is speaking for the members, then, sadly, you’re well shod of them.

  • Pat68

    We’ll pray for you in your sickness, welcome you to a Sunday School class, but membership? Uh, sorry, no.

  • Rod Taylor

    What a sad and discouraging letter. I too was kicked out of my church for being gay after serving many years as a youth leader, serving as a Bible study leader at a local detention center, worship team musician and even filling in for the pastor behind the pulpit. I refuse to attend a church now that isn’t gay affirming. I recently moved to another state and hopefully have found a church that I can hang my hat in so to speak.

    This goes on way too often. Churches are supposed to be hospitals for the broken and outcast. And I wonder if Christ isn’t using the “homosexual” issue to wake the church up to it’s holy responsibility.

  • 1984 is here

    At least a showing of a desire to repent is required// Peace and Good… tolerance of evil is no virtue https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeffrey-mark-bablitz/the-trinity-one-divine-nature-three-distinct-persons-as-told-in-genesis-marriage/10151875687276970

  • barrieabalard1

    Please tell the letter-writer that, if he lives anywhere near Berea, KY, he and his partner would always be welcome at Union Church–as a congregant, as a member, as an occasional visitor. We are 100% inclusive, no exceptions, no kidding.

  • Oh, letter-writer,
    I am so, so sorry for what you’ve gone through and are going through. It’s mind-shredding that those who love us – often, loving us the best they know how – just can’t understand that the theology they choose diminishes our humanity and lands on our hearts in crushing ways.

    Thank you for sharing your story publicly. I wish you health, peace, and wholeness.

  • In Maine, come to St. Andrew’s in Winthrop or St. Matthew’s in Hallowell. ((hugs)))

  • In the so-called third way, the pastor would withhold judgement and allow the couple to be members. There can, indeed, be a third way…just ask pastor Danny Cortez. This, unfortunately, isn’t it.

  • Bob Black

    This is why LGBT people should speak to the Pastor BEFORE becoming to attached to a church. Ask pointed questions about what “Welcome” really means in their church and in their denomination. There ARE places where you are welcome to the full life of the church and I pray that they find one.

  • Jeannie Boen

    I’m crying. This is so wrong and I am so sorry this happened.

  • Lindsey Wallace

    I am so sorry for the hurt this writer experienced. I am so, so sorry for the ignorance that covers peoples minds and hearts. THAT isnt Christ. Christ welcomes you and loves you. My greatest hope is that you wont feel like you have to fight back- to use verses to defend yourself, because that isnt Christ either. He Loves you and He affirms you. You are Holy, you are His. I pray that you can just rest close to Him in the next week/months/years.

  • As noted in the letter, this pastor was new to this church.

  • Pat68

    True, but I have to wonder what his own feelings on the matter were. Was he just stating what he knew to be the church’s policy prior to him getting there? Was he unwilling to do the hard work of bringing them into membership despite what he felt or knew would be the church’s opposition? I realize you may not have the answers to these questions, but it does make me wonder.

  • Sandy

    This is horrible. Churches have taken a sad turn that in no way reflects the God I know. I was asked not to go to services at a local Lutheran church because I have BPD. The pastor said he didnt want the disruption in their church since there was no telling what I might do.

  • Renee

    What your “pastor” is the antithesis of Christian. And I believe, with every fiber of my being, that these “Christian” attitudes are not what Christ was about. I am so sorry about what happened to you. I attend an Episcopal church that is very welcoming – no matter the ethnicity, social status, sexual orientation, beliefs of it’s members. True “followers of Jesus” ARE out there!

  • Christopher F.

    I have a simple response to this.

    “Are there any remarried people in your church? Anyone that might have a drinking problem? Because you know, Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, but he specifically said in no uncertain terms that remarriage after divorce is adultery and a sin. And the exact same language used against homosexuality is used against drunkeness, so if you’re excluding me, I hope you’re excluding them as well. Otherwise, you’re not following your beliefs, you’re just being a bigot using your religion as a cover.”

  • Here’s a big hug, letter writer (if you like hugs).

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    I share in your despair, John, just as I empathize with the letter writer’s pain. We’ll get through this – I just have to wonder how many spirits we will scar before it’s over.

  • Susan

    John,

    I appreciate your publishing this letter, letting the writer’s story speak for itself. Bookending it with promotion of your book, not so much. I stopped reading Frank Shaeffer’s blog when he couldn’t write anything interesting without throwing in gratuitous links to his latest book.

    Even though the letter mentions your book, I noticed the colorful links first, which made the story itself seem like little more than an opportunity for the blogger’s self-promotion.

    As this habit spreads, Patheos blogs will continue to lose their high standing, IMHO.

  • Owengirl

    My heart hurts for you and your partner. I hope the friends who invited you there will leave with you. I pray for peace and healing for both of you in every way. And John, please keep fighting the good fight.

  • John Carter

    Yes, you might have started dancing. One never can tell.

  • Alice Macondray

    To this heartbroken, cancer-ridden, beloved gay man: I don’t know in what part of the country you live but almost everywhere, I think you would find that the Episcopal church would welcome you. If you are in or near Santa Rosa, CA you would find several married gay couples who are beloved and active members of Church of the Incarnation. God loves you, and we love you, and that’s the way it should be! Alice

  • Dave-n-TN

    John: please do not despair … the letter writer did not give up, but started searching for answers and found your blog and your book. Obviously you continue to make a difference.

    Letter Writer: this hurts my heart more than I can express. As you can see from the comments thus far, you have support and love from many and I know this will grow as this blog’s followers see your letter and feel the same thing that I did. Much love to you and your partner as you decide what more you can do next. Please do not let this one person’s conversation turn you away … he does not speak for Christ and probably not for the congregation.

  • Susan: The image and links to UNFAIR at the end of this post are at the end of all my posts. That constitutes literally all of the “marketing” that is done anywhere for that book. Sorry you find that “gratuitous.” (And yes, by way of making clear just how much these sorts of letters mean to me, in the intro of this particular post I also dared to reference UNFAIR–to which I then added a link because it’s weird to NOT link to a book, article, or website the first time you mention it. Man, the stuff people take their precious time to bitch about ….)

    And your post-publishing editing of your comment to include your suggestion that the reason I published this letter was simply to promote my own book is just … too insipid to respond to.

  • With much courtesy, I’d re-think your attitude in regards to Patheos authors’ promotion of their books … it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to rise above the noise of the internet. And as I’m sure John can confirm, blog comments don’t pay the rent.

  • BarbaraR

    I can’t add anything to what’s been said here, other than that pastor somehow missed The Greatest Commandment and its application in daily life. I am so sorry this happened to you.

    I’m not going to say anything insane like, “in time you’ll look back on this and laugh,” because you won’t. But this much, I think, is true: this story isn’t over. By sharing this horrible episode, you’re making it harder for this kind of hatred to continue unquestioned and acceptable. For that, I thank you for coming forward.

  • BarbaraR

    Websites are not free. It’s free to read, but reading and commenting don’t pay the expenses.

    People like John can’t continue their work for nothing. I don’t see the blue link as gratuitous at all – I don’t work for free and there’s no reason John should.

  • Andy

    Or speaking in tongues!

  • BarbaraR

    made the story itself seem like little more than an opportunity for the blogger’s self-promotion

    Nice edit job there, to make it seem like the entire point of this post was self-aggrandizement on John’s part. Is it that important to you to tear down his work, while ignoring the wrenching story of the letter writer?

    *SMH*

  • Linnea912

    If he happens to live in Minneapolis, please let him know that Walker Community United Methodist would be honored to have him and his partner as members!

    I’m stunned. This is beyond outrageous, IMO. The pastor should NOT be the arbiter of who can belong to the congregation.

  • Crystalshine Marie

    You need fellowship, you do not need that, that is Christian fellowship, in keeping with Christ. People read your bibles, Christ was a horrible person, a man who is directly quoted saying some truly horrible things, like telling people to smash babies heads against the rocks, or that he doesn’t come in peace, he comes in violence to tear families apart. The people perpetrate the myth that there is a morality to the bible the longer it can be used to hurt people.

  • Alicia

    Susan,

    The letter writer wrote in because of the book. I would indeed think it was weird if there wasn’t a link to the book that caused the writer to feel that this was a community and a person who might understand what he’s going through, as John suggests it would be weird. My opinion as another free reader of the site cancels yours out, it looks like, in a one-to-one sort of way.

    But I think that what you’re probably finding with the replies you’ve received so far to your comment is that people are responding defensively to the tone of your comment more than the minimal content of your comment. Letting a blogger whose work you can read for free know what you’d like to see more of and what you’d like to see less of in the blog can be a nice service you’re providing as a reader, or it can make it seem as if you feel you’re allowed to boss said blogger around and dictate what goes on his blog, becoming the arbiter of what’s “anything interesting” for everyone and what’s “gratuitous” for everyone, and that’s not only false, it’s burdensome.

    The difference in tone there makes all the difference on whether your comment is taken as friendly and helpful feedback or whether your comment becomes another weight of judgment and threat (implied threat of no longer reading, and in that, the implication that your particular eyes passing across the page are intrinsically valuable to the blogger and that your taking them away would be a big, big deal) on the shoulder of a man who just told us he was tired. He’s tired of the church dealing very poorly with LGBT issues, tired of receiving the REAL burdens of knowing more than we do about HOW MANY churches are dealing so poorly, tired probably of knowing that despite his best efforts of writing this convenient book! That people can read to learn more about these issues! And solve some real problems!

    And now he seems to be tired of having to field all of this and then also needing to reply to a stranger about his business and marketing strategies. But even then, I’m betting if the tone had been friendly and inquisitive, it would have been okay. You might have gotten some friendly replies.

    As an online business owner, I can say that it makes a world of difference, the tone of your comment. Even if you feel you’re making the best point in the world and you’re definitely, factually right — i.e. you’re correcting a typo that you noticed — the tone of feeling entitled, important, and not being on the same team as the blogger is pretty much never going to get you the result you appear to desire.

  • Steven McDade

    Sound like the church wants to be a clubhouse and not a place for a recovering sinner. That’s why I left the Methodist Church. Too many sit passively by and not love. Love is active.

  • So this pastor had been there seven weeks, had already known that this man and his partner were, and had been reguar attendees for six months, that one was ill, and then decides to hold a private meeting in hopes the little “gay problem” will simply go away. What a cowardly, underhanded thing to do.

    I sincerely hope that the members of the congregation go to that pastor and ask him? “Just what do you think you are doing preventing our friends who’ve been a part of our church family, who we invited, welcome and love, from being full fledged members?”

  • BarbaraR

    I hope that too. And I hope that pastor learns some compassion.

  • BarbaraR

    I’m assuming you’re a run-of-the-mill troll.

  • huh?

  • Suzanna Turner

    John Please tell people about The Metropolitan Community Churches Denomination (MCC) which are all over. I went for awhile to the one in Los Angeles which is the mother church opened in the 60’s specifically for the LGBTQ community. I am straight but I had been hurt and disillusioned with the church never feeling that God loved me. They were the most loving true Christians I ever met.

  • Um … huh?

  • Jeff Preuss

    I…don’t remember the baby-smashing passages. Which version are you reading?

  • It seems Crystalshine is claiming that Christ / Christianity is immoral:

    Psalm 137:9 says “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

    Matthew 10:34 – Jesus says “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    All of the BS of out-of-context prooftexting by evangelicals, just in an atheist direction.

  • Should be attributed to the psalmist (Psalm 137:9), not Christ. Our friend Crystalshine is a little confused.

  • BarbaraR

    No, she’s fucking awesome, or so her FB page claims.

  • Guy Norred

    Just read that exchange. Well done.

  • Oh, wow, I stand corrected. Thanks Barbara!

  • Jeff Preuss

    Heh. Thanks. I deleted some of what I initially typed because I didn’t want to stoop to her level. But, I had some…choice words for her which I left aside.

  • Jeff Preuss

    And, my home state (yet not where I currently live) of Oklahoma started issuing marriage licenses TODAY. I am awe-struck. I thought the often horribly backwards place where I was raised would lag far behind even my own state, yet here it proceeds it in the march forward.

    Of course, Oklahoma’s backwards governor Mary Fallin has condemned this decision, but that’s no surprise.

  • BarbaraR

    Mary Fallin has condemned this decision

    It’s just the screams of a dying dinosaur.

  • Haters gonna hate…see where that got ’em?

    Congrats to all of you Oklahomans! I can’t wait to see all of the photos of happy, married, gay couples!

  • BarbaraR

    Oof. Just read it. She’s a her-way-or-the-highway fundie. You did all you can do, but I think she’s a lost cause in her self-righteousness.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Oh, I know. She’s long been ridiculous. Her protestations against gay marriage have included her “protecting the sanctity of marriage” when her first marriage fell apart when she was (allegedly though apparently well-documented) canoodling with her state trooper security guard. He resigned over inappropriate conduct.

    She’s also the one who, when Washington declared that same-sex spouses of military should be eligible for the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses, Fallin ordered the state-run National Guard stations to stop processing ANY spousal benefits to “take a stand for marriage” rather than process benefits for the gay spouses.

    She’s a piece of work.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Oh, you should see how Rosanna’s treated people even more respectful than I. She’s had interactions with a poster named Georgia over on Charisma, in which she’s suggested Georgia should just go to Hell, and also definitively declared she KNOWS the Holy Spirit is not in her.

    Simply because Georgia was debating her with Scripture and pleas for compassion in hand.

  • Diana

    Yes. If the pastor is unwilling to serve all the people in that church, perhaps he’s the one who needs to move elsewhere.

  • Lyndon James

    This is the – and I’m being very free with my use of the word – dilemma of the so-called “third way” church position. By putting a nicer, and kinder face on the reality of a church’s homophobia, it presents a church community as a truly welcoming and liveable environment for gay members. Until the rubber meets the road. It allows churches with very ugly core beliefs to feel good about themselves while wooing people, who have been hurt far too much, to come close enough to be hit in the face again.

    Churches must be willing to be fully and publicly affirming of gay people. End Stop. This is important so that the introduced presence of any new pastor or congregant cannot lead to something like this happening.

    “Evolving on the issue”? “Growing in our collective understanding”? “Making space for – ”

    Enough.

  • Me too. Now if only South Carolina would opt for NOT being last at this.

  • Diana

    It boggles the mind how so-called followers of Jesus could have gotten so far away from the man who ate with sinners and tax-collectors and others whom the religious of his day scorned. Just who is it these so-called Christians are actually following?

  • Diana

    To my way of thinking, the pastor is there to serve the congregation, not vice versa. The whole congregation. If the pastor is unwilling to serve those who are already there, he’s the one who needs to move.

  • SDP –
    This is a really sweeping decision by the SCOTUS. South Carolina is part of the Fourth Circuit that issued the pro-equality ruling in VA. That means your state’s ban is now toast (after a couple of procedural items are cleared up). Equality will be in the Carolinas soon!

  • BarbaraR

    When in doubt, follow the money.

  • Guy Norred

    I don’t really understand exactly how states are included and which are not, but my understanding is that SC is one of the ones affected by today’s announcement.

  • I think that is something pastors need to consider, especially in the modern church. Worshippers are not one size fits all, and if they are, there is a serious problem present with rigid exclusivism.

  • Hi Lyndon –

    The story here is not an example of the “third way”.

    The so-called third way would allow the sanctity of gay relationships to be considered a disputable matter in the church. Not all congregants adopt an affirming theology, but they agree to withhold judgement of those who believe differently than they do. In the “third way”, this couple would not have been barred from either membership or leadership.

    World Vision tried to implement the “third way” when they decided to hire married gay people (unfortunately, the “small-e” evangelicals were not down with that and we know how that turned out).

    The PC(USA) has adopted the so-called third way when it agreed to ordain gay clergy and bless gay marriages.

    Pastor Danny Cortez was featured on this blog when his chruch implemented the so-called third way in their congregation.

    The so-called third way is producing some great results that I think are being completely overlooked. That’s a shame.

    I understand why people get pissed off about the idea of the “third way”. It pains me to hear the sanctity of my marriage described as “a disputable matter”.

    But I think those who are railing against the “third way” are being really short sighted. The disputable-matter approach will, I believe, speed change in the Church. That’s great news for th 14-year-old gay kid in the front pew.

  • BarbaraR

    I think often there is a fear of upsetting the status quo. What would it look like if the longest-term parishioners suddenly leave? What if they start demanding that the pastor resign? What if they start insisting the pastor isn’t sufficiently Christian/Biblical?
    That is probably something they don’t teach in seminary: how to do the right thing even though it might cost you.

  • And, yet, isn’t that the walk of Christ?

  • BarbaraR

    It is, but often popularity and money tie the shoestrings together.

    Also, there’s the possibility that the pastor’s a dick, which is the direction I’m leaning.

  • That a “third way” is even being considered, much less implemented in churches is a huge leap forward from just a decade ago. No its not, the final solution, its not the end game, its a step. Some haven’t considered such a thing yet, some are, and are afraid, some have and are waiting to see what happens, and some have said “fuckital. lets jump all in.”

  • Exactly!
    In the “third way”, the “sinfulness of homosexuality” is no longer gospel truth. People in third way congregations give each other permission to believe differently. That’s huge.

  • The federal circuit courts have jurisdiction and control over every state in their circuit, and that’s why today is so MOMENTOUS!

    Because the Supremes declined to hear any of the cases, marriage is now legal in all the states in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming — because the unconstitutionality of discriminatory marriage laws is now controlling precedent in those circuits. (The other states in those circuits — Illinois, Maryland, and New Mexico — already have marriage equality.)

    Some states, like CO, are not fighting it, while the SC Attorney General is vowing to fight. Hollow words, he’s already lost, but has to posture for his fellow bigots. There is already a case pending in SC, and the plaintiff’s attorneys now need only file the paperwork with the courts to force SC to abide by the 4th Circuit’s ruling, whether the AG likes it or not. HAR!

  • excellent news!!!

  • hot Damn. I am so going to enjoy the collective popping of the brains that will be emanating from The Heritage Foundation, BJU and enclave of guns, Jesus and family values people that run amuck ’round here.

  • CoolHandLNC

    “Grow a set and stand up for what is right.”
    That was exactly the right response.

  • Pavitrasarala

    Oh my goodness, this was heartbreaking to read. All I could think was, “That pastor’s mean.”

    Yes, he should absolutely grow a pair. If this couple was a part of the congregation before, NOTHING about that should change. Just what does that pastor think he’s going to accomplish by pushing them OUT of his church?

    To do this to a cancer patient, no less, is heartless – I don’t care what anyone’s beliefs are on sexual orientation. It’s still heartless. He needs community and to be able to receive support from others who share his faith as much as anyone else.

  • Matt

    Don’t feel bad for despairing, John. I’m sick of them too. Sick to death.

  • The SC attorney general is way right. He is the one who got the state to spend a lot of money we couldn’t afford to find fraudulent voters. There weren’t any. However there were some fraudulent election workers, who were trying to prevent “certain” voters or votes to count.

  • Ugh. Please don’t despair. Speaking for myself, I know how easy it is to get emotionally wrapped in the public conversation. This stuff is heartbreaking. And, my control-addicted self gets really sad when I can’t make better outcomes for people like this beloved letter-writer. But there is hope. There is joy. I see it every day. I see it in John Shore’s blog. I see it IRL.

    There is hope.

  • Matt

    There is hope, Ford. I would never dispute that. That would not be rational. It’s more that I already see so much suffering in my work and training that this kind of assholery just grates on me even more. I don’t always like the people I take care of. I’ve even taken care of people who have done terribly awful things. However, I would never dream of refusing them basic comfort or fulfillment of their needs, physical and emotional. To be unmoved by raw suffering because of ideology (of all things!) is not only outside of my understanding, but makes me so angry I can’t find the words to express it.

    It’s so simple to look beyond yourself for just a second. Yet it’s incredible how rare it is.

  • D’wain Rebrab

    As a gay, I am confounded why gays feel the need to participate in religion or political parties which do not fully embrace them.

  • Carol Gernon Hunter

    So sorry for all you are going through. It’s especially disappointing to receive such un-Christ-like words from the leader of the community you have come to know as your church-family. I don’t know what denomination this was, but please know that many “main-line” churches welcome and embrace LGBT Christians. The Episcopal Church is a good place to start. My prayers are with you.

  • Yep.

  • What a touching letter…

    I will certainly agree that the intolerance and bigotry shown to LGBTs in this country – whether Christian or not – is completely abhorrent. However, there are those of us who *do* stand up for what is right. Sadly, we can’t be at every meeting, or with every wounded heart – but I do *strongly* believe that we are gaining momentum, and more and more individuals are coming to see that such horrific treatment is *wrong*, in the most basic way.

    As such, this comment is not directed to the letter writer, but instead to John Shore. You mentioned in your introduction that you have reached a state of despair – please, *please* remember to lean on God as you struggle with this. You are such a light in the darkness for so many. You receive so many letters of struggle and depression and abuse and negativity because there are so many struggling out there, and they can tell that you are a safe harbor in a stormy world.

    You are often one of the first individuals I reference when anyone asks about the fundamentals of my faith – I point them to your blog, and to Unfundamentalist Christianity. You have touched – and changed so many lives. Please try to bolster your spirits in remembering this: you are the support structure for so many. As such, it is on you that all of the weight rests. You help so many of us – let God help you and keep your spirits high. You are such a meaningful part of our lives. And if you think of a way in which you can receive help from your community of followers and friends, please give us a shout out! We would love to repay even a little of everything you have given to us.

  • I exist in a family that does not fully embrace my views or the things I believe. I live in a state who’s idea on a healthy society and economy do not line up with mine. I sit in a church where not everyone is on the same page about gay rights and in a town where the annual Pride Rally is popular, but so many talk ugly about the reasons behind the rally.

    Unless you opt to live in a bubble away from those who don’t fully embrace you, you will have to co-exist with. The bubble will keep you apart from those who won’t accept you, but it won’t allow a change that you prevent yourself from the potential of making an impact. It is a choice each must make.

  • Rick Santorum

    “Thinking that he was my spiritual counselor…”

    See, that’s where you thought wrong. Newsflash—you don’t need a middleman to get into Heaven. Or to talk to God. Your spiritual counselor should be “YOU.” Don’t get me wrong—I think church can be a great way to establish ties to community and to get a sense of the importance of spirituality and to open a dialogue in your mind and heart by using others as an example. And… that’s about it.

    You can also do this from your own home. Or your car. Or the park. Or while you’re in the shower. To allow someone else to cast a pall over your method of expressing spirituality is pretty sad.

  • Careful there, Rick. There’s no reason to presume to chastise the letter-writer for assuming that his pastor could serve as his spiritual counselor. That’s what pastors do.

  • I really appreciate this, Jaki. Thank you.

  • If we allow someone to cast a pall, then there is a problem. I agree. However, a spiritual counselor or guide is a beautiful, quite ancient, and a beneficial tradition. We can learn from those who’ve gone before, we can see how they do things, and discover if they work for us, we can feel connected because of kinship drawn from similar approach and practice. While faith is a private matter between us and our God, it isn’t wholly thus. We interact with others as a result of our faith. A spirit guide/counselor can help temper our path, give guidance, encouragement and support.

  • Dandhman

    “He then asked how I could justify saying that I was a christian homosexual”
    If they are so willing to say that gay Christians aren’t Christians, why can’t we call people like these Pharisees? (No offense to Jewish readers) Jesus had plenty to say about those certain pharisees who emphasized the letter of the law over compassion.
    I’m paraphrasing but… the pastor found Christ and did not welcome him but turned him from the doorstep.

  • Dandhman

    I feel your intent is good Rick Santorum (never thought I’d EVER write that sentence LOL), but it strikes me like the unhelpful “oh buck up” or ” well just stop being depressed” sort of advice.

  • BarbaraR

    As offensive as that question was, it was “Then he asked for my thoughts on what he’d said” and “he came after me again, wanting to know if we could talk again sometime” that really got my goat.

    So supercilious, like a particularly malicious grade school teacher. He’s already judged this man, told him he isn’t good enough to join the good and popular kids, then asked for his thoughts about it? Asked if he wanted to talk about it again? Talk about demeaning, asking to drag out this insulting conversation further.

  • Kathy Isaacs

    Hear, Hear!

  • Two things.

    First, the letter writer handled it exactly right. All too often those of us being attacked feel like we have to defend ourselves and our beliefs. Often, and I suspect this is the case here, there is literally nothing you can say to make that pastor/friend/family member understand and come over to your side. The goal of their ambush is not to listen and understand, it’s to tick a box so later they can say that they tried to convert you. That’s not a healthy exchange to be a part of, no matter how right your clobber verses are.

    Second, I hope these friends who are rightly heartsick about what their preacher did to the letter writer follow up with him and other leadership in their church. He and they need to be told, loudly, openly, and repeatedly, that this is wrong and won’t be tolerated. Saying they’re sorry that it happened and then returning quietly to their pews would only reinforce what their spiritual leader did to two people in his charge, and that’s just as bad if not worse, in my book.

  • NotesFromME

    It is all a crock made up by ancient people who did not know any better. Find a welcoming church or community and move on.

  • NotesFromME

    The problem is that most pastors know little more than their church members.

  • Dandhman

    He led with an absolute “We do not accept homosexual members.” THEN he wants to talk about it more.
    I’d give him the benfit of the doubt if he had led with “There may be problems/how can we get members to accept “

  • Ahhh … feel the love and compassion …..

  • BarbaraR

    That was pretty harsh and uncompassionate for someone who is clearly in agony.

  • BarbaraR

    Yes. What’s to say once you’ve been told the country club’s voted you down?

  • anakinmcfly

    What is this ‘crock’ you refer to? I’m guessing you mean Christianity, but then that seems at odds with your recommendation the letter writer find another church.

  • anakinmcfly

    As a multiple minority, if I stayed away from any group that didn’t accept every part of me, I’d have nowhere to go.

  • anakinmcfly

    Heck, I’d say that that’s even the ideal we should reach for, not just on this issue but everything else – churches where people are free to hold different opinions, and actively discuss them, rather than all conform to any one rigid set of unquestionable beliefs. Even if those beliefs are right, it doesn’t make for an intellectually healthy atmosphere.

  • Michael

    It would be helpful if we knew what denomination was being spoken about.

  • BarbaraR

    Prejudice and ignorance knows no denomination.

  • John Watkins

    http://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/

    There, I saved you heaps of heartache. If you are LGBT and wish to go back to church, there is no reason to feel your way blindly through each church in your community over some weak hope that they’ll accept you. Just pick a church that already states that they are an open and affirming church. On the website I linked above, there are thousands of churches in the U.S. alone, and some in every state.

    While working on marriage equality campaigns, I teamed up with dozens of churches that hosted phone banks and canvasses, or that helped us fill out postcards to send to the state legislators. And for every church that was able to do an actual campaign action, there were at least two or three more that were supportive but simply didn’t have the resources to help at the time.

    There are a lot of accepting congregations out there, and their numbers are only growing. Do you homework first, and you won’t have to be hurt again.

  • I come from a Celtic tradition in which “Anamcharas” are “spiritual directors.” Find one that doesn’t judge worth shucks and you got a great thing going there. A true SOUL-FRIEND!

  • You know, it’s possible to be kind without being a dick about it. You should try it. It feels nice.

  • Stories like this make me wonder just how Christianity is outdated, and doesn’t really speak for anyone anymore. If a religion cannot speak to people in a particular time and place, like 21st century America, then it isn’t truly a “Universal” religion. Fortunately, Christianity does speak to us in this day and age. Unfortunately there is an undesirable sector that insists on keeping everything in the tradition (like judging homosexuals) and trying to shut the people out who sees the tradition as mutating and changing to meet the needs of the community at large. If only these people would see that Christianity must and does evolve, then I wouldn’t have to get ugly and tell them to start circumcising again, because God, as they see God, never changes…

  • DGK

    I have a great deal of respect for pastors/ministers/whatever. But, they have to earn my trust before I call them a counselor/guide/whatever. Especially as I don’t actually need them or the church to follow the christ.

  • Curious

    John S, I am genuinely curious what you saw in John Watkins post that you describe as “being a dick”. I can’t see it. He does seem impatient with unaccepting churches, but then isn’t that what you are saying too?

  • Jackie

    He assumed he was safe with this pastor because of the care and support already received. Logical assumption. Unfortunately while it sounds as if the church members saw him as part of the Christian community, the pastor was simply ministering to someone he sees as a lost sinner. I swear those guys should have to wear nametags “only seeking to increase my number of ‘saved’ souls.” Then people would know from the start.

  • Jackie

    I do love his response to the pastor. Perfect.

  • Yeah, maybe I’m just in a mood. I just got … snagged a bit on his “Do your homework first.” But for sure I do appreciate the work he’s apparently done fighting the good fight, so … never mind. Again, just me being … hey, whaddaya know: kind of a dick! 🙂

  • David

    Many still like the product “Jesus” and most do not like the retail outlet – the church.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Ugh. Let her get to me. Called her pure, unadulterated evil and an idiot.
    Someone who professes to be a Christian simply shouldn’t delight at the thought of someone else going to Hell, as she does.

  • Nancy Le

    People need some heart help. Focusing on “how I could have handled it differently” shows, I think, that the pastor was still focused on themselves and what they had all planned out to say and do rather than focusing on the feelings of the person they were speaking to. Also a little presumptuous to head off that membership thing at the pass. ugh

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    “Oh you can still sit in the pews on Sundays and put your hard-earned money in our collection plate, we just won’t openly endorse or accept you, even though I’m basically ignoring the feelings of my entire congregation who all clearly accept you. By the way did I handle emotionally destroying you because of my own petty bigotry okay? Please fill out this “cruel bullsh*t” scorecard to rate my performance. You could win a free coffee mug!”

    That’s how I’m picturing that pastor after reading this. Coming into a church that was doing just fine without him and alienating people his new flock likes. Why do such people think it’s in any way just or right to try and fix what was never broken?

  • FoundationLapper

    There appear to be several instances where someone can be refused membership according to the New Testament. They probably all result in people feeling spurned. Could John Shore tell us if any of these apply now and, if so, how he would handle things.

  • Foundation: ??

  • Alicia

    I’m not sure what this comment is referring to, specifically, and wonder if the commenter can tell us what those instances are, where they are referred to in the New Testament, and how HE would handle those things.

    I think it might be very interesting to be able to read through the thought process involved in deciding to apply particular scriptures in very particular ways that would result in sitting down with a fellow worshiper and telling him that he can worship but not be a full member of the Body.

    It can be really easy, in my experience, to think about these things in the abstract, but much more difficult to reconcile those abstract thoughts with the imperative for loving actions when we’re sitting across from actual people trying to explain them.

  • Brandon Roberts

    Somewhere satan is very happy. God not so much. This “pastor” is just a sick bigot

  • phoenixchick

    My prayer for you is to find peace with what you have experienced and that you find a welcoming and affirming church home. They are out there.

  • FoundationLapper

    Paul talks about the case of fornication where he says that believers are not even to eat with a fellow believer openly indulging in such sin. Presumably if you can’t eat with them you can’t take communion with them. There are mentions of heresy in Romans, idolatry, drunkenness etc in 1 Corinthians, divisiveness in Titus, false teaching in 1 Tim etc etc. In 1 Corinthians 6 there is a list of those not able to enter the kingdom which includes, for instance, thieves. This clearly doesn’t mean a repentant thief as we can see from the example of the thief on the cross but someone who perpetually commits this crime. I presume that if you’re not allowed in the kingdom you can’t be part of the Church. It’s not ‘loving’ to accept thieves and heretics into full fellowship. It’s not loving to them nor is it loving to God. It’s just self indulgent and destructive of the purity of the church. Jesus seems to anticipate no difficulty in “reconciling abstract thoughts with the imperative for loving actions” on judgment day. Nor does he anticipate them in church discipline. He says that if someone refuses to turn from their sin they should be shunned like a tax collector.

  • And yet, Jesus had a tax collector in his inner circle. he befriended prostitutes and a whole range of social outcasts. He defended a woman accused of adultery, and had a very friendly conversation with a woman who was on her seventh live in boyfriend. He didn’t care if they were a good jew, or even jewish at all when he went out of his way to heal people, one of whom may have been a bed slave of a roman centurian…that’s right a male slave who was also a lover. Chew on that one for a minute…Jesus healing gay people!!!

    There isn’t a church in existence that doesn’t have the liars, the cheat, the gossip, the bigot, the so-called sexually impure etc.. It is as likely to be discovered that a member of the clergy is just as prone to human’s baser traits as his or her congregations. If a church only takes non-sinners, than its an empty one.

  • Sue Harrington

    Sickening

  • FoundationLapper

    I think you’re confusing the people who Jesus reached out to – he likened himself to a physician come to heal people of their disease – to those who are already avowed followers. It’s inconceivable that he would not have dealt with one of the 12 disciples if they had engaged in prostitution, adultery or homosexual relationships with centurions and not been repentant. You suggest that he ‘didn’t care’ about the Samaritan woman’s promiscuity or the other woman’s adultery. I think he did. That’s why he said “Go and sin no more”. There’s no way you could describe him as ‘affirming’ of adultery. You’re also confusing his physical healing with approval of the lifestyles and beliefs of those he healed. Being healed by Jesus wasn’t a sign that you were now a follower of Jesus. We’re similarly called to love and help people indiscriminately but if those same people want to be leaders in a local church, for example, they don’t automatically qualify. An atheist would clearly not be able to serve as a church elder. Is that unfair? I think not.

  • JonnieBean

    Jesus not only healed the the pais of the Centurion, (his bed slave) He held up the Centurion as an example of faith. Note that He did not (as He did with the woman at the well) chastise the Centurion for the relationship. There is no indication that the Centurion was repentant of the relationship.

  • Matthew Bickerton

    [Ignorant, dangerous religiosity deleted (ford)]

  • Jeff Preuss

    That’s not how it works. I came to Christ and I am still gay, and homosexuality is not bondage, it is just my innate sexuality, without a moral failing attached.

  • BarbaraR

    Oh, stop.

  • FoundationLapper

    As you must be aware, this is only one of three optional translations for ‘pais’. Do you think that Jesus Christ would approve of occupying soldiers buying teenage boys for sexual pleasure? This would seem reprehensible to most people, regardless of religious belief. But, again, Jesus is offering physical healing and he didn’t appear to offer this on the basis of moral merit. The ‘faith’ that he commends the centurion for having is not saving faith or the faith of obedient discipleship. It is the faith that Jesus can heal. He’s heard about the healing capabilities of Jesus and he believes they’re real. There are a lot of people I have faith in, but I don’t give my life to them.

  • FoundationLapper

    John ??

  • I got the victim-blaming vibe here too. I don’t think you’re off base.

  • Sven2547

    …he then asked how I could justify saying that I was a Christian homosexual

    What
    a
    creep.

  • Nessie Siler

    Dear Letter Writer,

    I wish both you and your partner love, peace and health. This pastor is grievously misguided. It hurts my heart to see how callously he turned you away. You are of infinite value, as a child of God. And you are within your rights to leave this church and seek another that can be a help and comfort to you in this difficult time. I’m so sorry this happened to you. Obviously he didn’t see you as a vulnerable human being , with your heart exposed to him. Why he couldn’t see that, I cannot fathom. Perhaps he should pursue a different line of work.. I wish you love as you heal.

  • Snooterpoot

    I wonder what happened to the “Tea Partiers” who were raising hell about wasteful spending. I guess it’s only wasteful if the money is spent for a program or ideology with which they disagree.

  • Jill

    Yes, the mentors and the advocates need love too. John has been tenacious in support and on the front lines for years. There are hardly words without tears to describe the beautiful, powerful impact John’s words and wisdom continues to make.

    I truly hope he knows… because we’ve all got stories we could share.

  • Snooterpoot

    I think that’s a great idea!

  • Matthew Bickerton

    [The usual fundie blather deleted}

  • Snooterpoot

    If you are not being sarcastic, and you would deny a person who is homosexual membership in your church it is you who has the sickness of bigotry. You are most certainly not a follower of Christ.

  • BarbaraR

    Matthew, last warning: your fundie nonsense is unwelcome here.

  • mrichardson84

    She is being sarcastic. Calm down.

  • BarbaraR

    Pat68 is being sarcastic. She’s mimicking the pastor’s line of thinking.

  • Read it with the Church lady’s voice and tone, and the sarcasm jumps right out.

  • He sounded annoyed with the letter writer. Makes you not want to listen to anything else he says.

  • EricaHD

    I’m so so sorry for what you went through. I promise you, there are churches out there who will accept you for exactly who you are. I go to one of those churches. The organist and several choir members are gay and they are members of the church and everyone loves them. I love them. I’m an lgbt ally because of my faith and my church, not in spite of it. My church (a Methodist church in SW Virginia) can’t possibly be the only one. Sure, it/we had to go through some stuff to get to that point of acceptance, but the people who weren’t willing to accept it left the church and the church is ultimately stronger for it. I hope you and your partner find a loving church one day if that’s what you both want.

  • Christopher F.

    Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. – Ezekiel 16:49

    The Bible itself says Sodom was not destroyed for homosexuality, but for basically being America.

  • Ric

    [John Shore, I’m coming out and I have you to thank!]

  • R Vogel

    Nailed it.

  • O’rly?? Where was the sensitivity? where was the help? And who is he to judge anyone’s sin or so called “lifestyle”?
    Any pastor who refuses “sinners” to come and be a part of the rest of the “sinners” already in place, including himself has failed at his or her job.

  • Snooterpoot

    He most certainly is not a minister. I grew up listening to a preacher. Seems to me that this guy fits that mold.

  • Jeff Preuss

    I do not struggle with it. I have no need to be “set free” from it. It is not bondage. The legitimacy of the claims that many have been set free from it thanks to Christ are inherently suspect. “Ex-gay” ministries have fallen apart at their founders’ admissions that they do not work.

  • Snooterpoot

    Do not tell me to calm down. Maybe you didn’t read the intro to my comment. I am unfamiliar with Pat68 or her theological or ideological thinking.

  • Snooterpoot

    This is copied and pasted from another blog topic, but I think it’s appropriate here, too.

    So, Ric, here is a description of my “sinful lifestyle.”

    I seriously doubt that your lifestyle is very much different from my own, and that of most GLBT people. Here ya’ go.

    I am a 62 year old woman who works full time. I try to be a good neighbor. I support my community (and I don’t mean the gay community, I mean the community where my wife and I live) with both my time and financially.

    I take care of my elderly mother’s finances, and I make sure all of her needs are met, even though she lives 500 miles away. I am an adoring aunt of several nieces and nephews, and of one grandniece and two grandnephews. I spoil them shamelessly, just as I spoiled their parents.

    I enjoy music, photography, fine dining (and bologna sandwiches as well) and a good glass of wine.

    I fulfill all of the same obligations of citizenship as required. I vote in every election – local, state and national.

    I am faithful to, respectful of and devoted to my wife.

    So, Ric, you want to tell me how my “sinful lifestyle” is any different from yours?

    The “gay lifestyle” is a pejorative phrase created by Jerry Falwell back in the 1980s. Its inference is that all GLBT people are promiscuous, abuse tobacco, alcohol and drugs, are unable to maintain faithful relationships and whose love isn’t real. It is offensive to every GLBT person I know, and to the people who love us. Using the term “sinful lifestyle” is even more offensive.

  • George Beatty

    [comment deleted]

  • Snooterpoot

    How dare you think that this man is not who “God purposed him to be?” This letter writer needs to be healed from cancer and his heart disease, but he most certainly does not need to be healed from his sexual orientation.

    One of the reasons why I left Christianity was because of the idea that God uses illness for “His glory.” My dad died this past July after having lived with Alzheimer’s disease for more than ten years. When he was initially diagnosed my mother said she didn’t think God made him get this disease, but God allowed him to.

    I think that’s sick. I don’t know why anyone would want to worship a god that would do that.

    If I have misread your comment I’d appreciate your letting me know. If I haven’t misread it, consider yourself part of the problem with Christianity.

  • async1

    Not all organized religion is bad. Find a progressive church to go to, they are out there. The fundamentalist churches (Baptists, etc) focus on the old testament and personal salvation. For them, its all about “me and my God”. The pastors in those churches simply enable that mentality.

    You were created by God. Whoever and whatever you are is as God intended. Love yourself, your partner and love God because God is good and He doesn’t make mistakes.

  • Jeff Preuss

    “I pray right now in the name of Jesus that the author of the letter
    seeks the face of God and asks to be exactly as God purposed him to be.”

    This is exactly what I prayed over and over through my teen years, as I struggled with being gay.

    And, then He made me exactly as He wants me to be – a homosexual man who is at peace with his Lord and his innate sexuality.

    I struggle no more.

  • Jeff –
    I don’t struggle with homosexuality either. I’m very good at it.

  • Jeff Preuss

    To quote the inimitable John Shore:
    “Har!”

  • Paul Julian Gould

    I quoted you verbatim, admittedly without permission, on my FB wall, and stated that this is now on a growing list of things I wish I’d said…

    I didn’t name you, as I rather though that would be an invasion of privacy, but I quoted you and gave credit to a “commenter on this blog”

    Thanks, Christopher… thank you so damned very much!

  • God has chosen shrubbery, beasts of burden and scavenger birds to give messages, to provide food and offer shade according to the bible.

    God today chooses sick people, poor people, disabled people, straight people, gay people, agnostic people, Muslim people, all sorts of people from every walk of liife to do all sorts of wonderful, amazing loving things that help show us how amazingly magnificient God’s love is.

    Who are we to tell God who is worth choosing?

  • Peace is a most wonderful thing, isn’t it?

  • JJ Marks

    Dear Letter Writer,
    I would like to know the name of the pastor so that I could give him some feedback (with the love of Christ that is in my heart, of course).

    As the (old) daughter of a minister, I have seen many bad pastors and suffer from Post-traumatic Church Syndrome myself. I know (and my Dad would agree) that many ministers have bizarre theology and often are sick people who seek to overcome their psychopathology by exerting perverse authority over their congregants. All that said, I understand the desire to find a safe community for worship and yes, to socialize with those who have similar values. My deepest wish for you now is for well-being in body, mind, and spirit. Peace. J

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Beautifully said, Allegro. There seems to be a vast chasm between people today – those that exist in constant fight or flight mode, view everything as a battle (can you say “Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war?”). Then there are those that prefer to look for community, and prefer to focus on the beauty of God’s creation.

    There’s an attitude among many of “I’m just a pilgrim here; this ain’t my home,” and, as such, are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good.

    Then there are those among whom I’m presumptious enough to count myself, who figure the end and whatever’s after will come soon enough, with its own wonders. I’d hate to go before God to answer in the negative what I imagine will be asked of some:

    “Did you love my creation upon which I lavished such craftsmanship? Or did you miss it all in your haste to get here now for which you’re obviously unready.”

  • Jeff Preuss

    It is.

  • I sang a song called City Called Heaven this past Sunday. Its pure gospel, but as fun as it is to sing the bluesy melody, the words just do not resonate with me. To me the kingdom of God is right here, all around me, and we are all the residents thereof. To me the gospel is God adores you, and you and you, right as you are right now. To me living the gospel is living as if I know that I am as loved by God as you are, basking in that joyful knowledge wanting to share that gospel somehow, even if it with a silly joke at work, or a smile to a shy child at the grocery store.

  • dicentra

    My teen/young adult children have an especially loud giggle (guffaw?) when someone refers to “the gay lifestyle”. We have two adopted lesbian grandmothers (partners of 30 years) and my kids spend a lot of time talking to them about what’s new with school, or weeding the front yard, sitting on the deck, looking at vacation photos, and trading recipes and stories. The Grandmas attend my kids’ big events, give them encouragement and grandparently advice, take them to the museum or out to lunch. They love and validate my children and listen to them with interest (as do my kids) and have a Relationship with them. (Something their biological grandparents have refused.) The Grandmas may even break out a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle while we’re visiting. My son enjoys saying how much he’s oppressed by “The Gay Agenda” – they’re always bringing little gifts or insisting he order dessert or calling to find out how his first day of his new job went. What a wild and woolly gay lifestyle! What a dangerous agenda! What rampant Sin! Only…Not.

  • Christopher F.

    I find it disconcerting that there is even a need to have a list of churches that follow Christ’s teachings in the first place.

  • mrichardson84

    Wow, somebody needs to take a Valium. Geez.

  • mrichardson84

    Why don’t you click on her name and read her previous comments instead of lashing out at her without knowing anything about her? Besides, I think your sarcasm meter is broken. And I repeat what I said, you really do need to calm down and stop being so reactionary.

  • What delightful sounding grans. Your family is very fortunate.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Indeed! And I used to sit in, playing sax on a few practice sessions with the band from the East Birmingham Church of God In Christ, back in the mid-80’s… Talk about gospel… “Son, are you a Christian? I said ‘Ma’am I am tonight.'” Some of the fellas came home on weekends, and mostly did studio gigs up in Muscle Shoals…

    I’ve found that with some with whom I have shared my life in times past were otherwise seemingly intelligent folks. But it always seemed to be the less scary and easier path of outward-directed “faith.” It’s a lot easier to look at others, as the more rewarding path of looking inward first and deeply is terrifying to some.

    Unutterably sad, but such a gulf between the two… Just the way the Designer put it together, I suppose.

  • Snooterpoot

    You’ve gone too far with this comment. The inference is that my response to the post comes from some sort of mental illness. That is inappropriate.

    Again, my comment started with, “If you are not being sarcastic…”

    And you need to stop telling me to calm down since you have no idea if I am calm or not. I don’t respond well to someone who orders me to do something.

  • Snooterpoot

    BarbaraR’s and allegro63’s replies were respectful and appropriate. Yours were not.

  • Jill

    well said!

  • bonj100

    Wow and this man dares call himself a Christian.

    One thing I know for a fact is that not all churches are like this. Consider Unity. They’ll accept you for exactly who you are, where you are this minute. No condemnation or ignorance of who you are.

  • I think if anyone needs to deal with the tone of a comment, its the mods. Right now it is yours I am having an issue with.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Twisted soul that I am, I flashed on the scene from The Princess Bride:

    “Fezzik: I’m on the Brute Squad.
    Miracle Max: You ARE the Brute Squad.”

    … never mind… I’ll back away now…

  • disqus_mdHgskM6Ap

    The Unitarian Universalist church is all inclusive and accepting. We joined in the 1980s and have found they are open minded and respectful of each person’s individual spiritual path. It is a progressive church, more common on the coasts but has several large churches and small fellowships all over. I am so sorry that you had to deal with such spiritual ignorance.

  • snerk

  • Jeff Preuss

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’s being sarcastic here. She seems from what I’ve seen here to be levelheaded and kind. My impression is that she’s as shocked by this story as we. 🙂

  • Curious

    Is that sarcasm? Because obviously if I didn’t want to listen to anything else he said, I would not have asked him a question.

  • Snooterpoot

    Thank you for your reply. I don’t visit this blog every day, so I don’t know some of the commenters or their theology.

  • I read a bit of annoyance as well. As you can see, tone matters. It can be easily interprete in ways you don’t expect if not made clear.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Sure! It can be so hard to read tone on the intarwebs.

  • mrichardson84

    Excuse me? Just what do you have an issue with? If you’re going to level an accusation, at least be specific. I’m not in the wrong here. Snooter unfairly attacked Pat, and I rightly called her out on it.

  • AtheismRules

    And Christians wonder why so many people reject christianity. Why is it that the most bigoted and intolerant members of society use God to justfy their irrational hatred. Even if God existed, I wouldnt be a Christian.

  • BarbaraR

    Yes, we’re well aware of the intolerance and bigotry closely associated with religion. Those of us here are not surprised by people rejecting Christianity for those reasons; most of us here have experienced the hurt and prejudice and are finding a safe home here where we can explore our relationship with God without judgement.

  • Apologies. I didn’t mean “you” as in you personally. I meant, in general. I probably should’ve written “Makes me not want to listen to anything else he says.”

  • Dave-n-TN

    It appears that Mathew only signed on to the forum to make some “fundie blather” comments … and all of them have been deleted.

    I find it most interesting the motivation some people have to join a blog group and then jump in and make negative comments … or say other such things that are obviously not acceptable with the group’s mission or interest.
    Guess the seeming anonymous setting of being a nondescript person with a probable ‘fake name and photo’ plus a keyboard as one’s power tool can motivate some to say some of the craziest things.

    Many thanks to our moderators for saving many of us the time reading such comments. I can only imagine what “blather” they might contain … actually, I am glad I don’t need to see it since it is normally deleted or otherwise
    edited before I have that opportunity.

  • BarbaraR

    Thank you, Dave.

    It still surprises me how many people are willing to create a Disqus account just to throw scripture or some old fundie chestnut this way, without bothering to find out what this place is about…. or maybe they DO know what we’re about here, and think that it’s their duty as evangelists to copy-and-paste a few well-chosen verses (along with some fire-and-brimstone) that will cause us to see the error or our ways.

  • Dave-n-TN

    I am continually amazed at how much of this our moderators must cope with each day … reminds me of the “trying to whack a gopher with a club” game … his head keeps popping up somewhere else and our Mods run to deal with him in this field while he moves over to another field and pops up.

    I think you folks are the unsung heroes on this blog. You seem to keep up with it and now I understand why John asked each of you to be involved and act as moderators. I know it would “try to patience of Job” if he were asked to step in.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    As I’m nothing what a modern Evangelical, Roman or Eastern Christian would consider in the club, here as well as Formerly Fundie and some others, on the occasion I feel motivated to comment, I consider myself a guest, and try not to poop on the furniture. Same thing on Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist group — not an atheist for very deep, very personal reasons that, since they would be unconvincing to anyone as proof, don’t matter in discussion.

    Just pleased to find a gentle oasis as this blog, and I’m often here to lurk and just be for a while.

  • Yes, your obvious grasp of clear-headed rational thought is like a beacon of light guiding us all through the darkness.

  • Dandhman

    Remember AthiesmRules that I am an agnostic: I dont have a horse in this race. Nevertheless there is a disturbing tone to your post. Sometimes Athiests can be bigoted and intolerant to people of faith as well. Such misotheism (for lack of a better term) is still bigotry. Just be careful, AthiesmRules, that if you avoid the one evil you don’t stray into the other!

  • Dave-n-TN

    I think lurking and watching is acceptable here – since many of us do similar. Personally, I have been doing such (without making comments) on and off for the past year or so due to personal reasons. However, I enjoy watching the discussions and interaction. Sometimes I will comment – or at least give another’s comment my “up vote” to show I am supportive since they probably said something I wish I could have said or expressed a thought I had. I feel this is a way to show my support while I am lurking and watching.

    Other times I feel a little bolder and will make a comment … not that my comments are wise or have the knowledge base that I often see in these blogs from the many contributors.

    I am grateful to have found this place and to see that there are like-minded folks (gay and straight) who are able to express things in a way I could never be able. It makes me feel that I am not walking this path of life alone, but have others who feel the things I do and often have experienced similar things. I agree that it often feels like a gentle oasis.

  • Jennifer Rose Avery

    This is why I wish people who know research about positive interpretations of the Bible about being LGBTQAI would be able to speak up.

  • Your only comments here have been to jump on a commenter who admitted they were possibly reading something into it with the simple use of the word “if” in their opening reply. It was addressed respectfully long before you rudely butted in

    And yes it was rude.

    You are not the comment police, nor do you get free reign to act like a dick. Be respectful or begone

  • Joe Vigliatura

    Even if God didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be an Atheist.

  • Andy

    I feel sad if you felt like you had to justify yourself to this jackass, but I’m glad you did because you sound awesome. I’ll bet you make a mean grilled cheese, too.

  • Andy

    That’s one more warning than I’d have given him.

  • Andy
  • Andy

    Thanks for dropping by! There’s some spray and a roll of paper towels under the sink, if you need them.

  • Andy

    I’d like to say it surprises me, but really, it doesn’t. I’m having to work to come up with clever retorts I haven’t used already, though.

  • BarbaraR

    I am SO stealing that.

  • Curious

    I see your point. I just assumed the angry energy was generated by the nasty churches’ attitudes. I can see how you could think it was impatience with the story itself.

  • Andy

    Glad I could help, m’dear.

  • BarbaraR

    I was feeling patient. That doesn’t always happen.

  • Patrica

    I wish this couple were able to come to my church… We are ELCA Lutherans. “All are welcome in this place”

  • BarbaraR

    This morning, I have no patience. He comes back, he’s toast.

  • *sets out jam and butter*

  • mrichardson84

    Neither were yours. And somehow I’m the bad guy here? Good grief. Never mind the fact that I’m on your side. I’m out of here.

  • mindy

    The photo says it all. How does a supposed man of God sleep at night after hurting someone so deeply?

  • R Vogel

    I have no idea how Danny Cortez is representative of a third way. There are two choices: you either affirm and accept LBGT people or you do not. They chose to affirm and accept. Then all the conservatives left. What is the 3rd Option here?

  • Paul Julian Gould

    It’s seemed to me that what’s called “third way” in operation is much like staying with the org., still hating the thing, but being willing to shut up about it

  • MINDY!!!!!!

  • There are two choices: you either affirm and accept LBGT people or you do not.

    Did you lift that line from Al Mohler’s blog? He says the exact same thing.

    Third way congregations, like the one Danny Cortez pastors, agree to allow the sanctity of gay relationships to be a “disputable matter” – something about which faithful Christians can disagree. So, even though not all congregants have come to an affirming position, they agree to withhold judgement of those who believe differently. In practice, that means openly gay people are not excluded from membership or leadership even if the congregation isn’t offically “affirming”.

    I understand the push-back against the so-called third way. I hate for the sanctity of my marriage to be condsidered “disputable”. But this is a very healthy and necessary step towards the full inclusion of gay people in the (big C) Church.

  • R Vogel

    Comparing me to Al Mohler is just childish. He happens to be 100% right on this, just on the wrong side.

    Disputable by whom? Individuals are always free to disagree with things. That has nothing to do with it. Some can feel drinking is wrong, or dancing, or inter-racial marriage, or divorce, or second marriages. The church, however, cannot just dodge the issue. You either accept LBGT people and their families as members or you don’t. You either recognize their marriage or you don’t. You either performs marriages for your whole community or you don’t. Where is the third alternative?

  • R Vogel –
    Gosh. I don’t know how else to explain it. So-called third way congregations (and denominations for that matter – like the PCUSA) are not officially affirming. They do not entirely celebrate the relationships of gay people. But neither do they bar queer people from membership or leadership.

    Inclusion and affirmation are two entirely different concepts. While being affirming necessarily means being inclusive, the same is not true in reverse.

    At this point in the journey of the Church, not everyone is going to abandon traditionalist doctrine (no matter how much I would like them to). The so-called third way allows for gay people to fully participate in the life of the church, even amid our theological disagreement.

    If you can’t see the benefit in that, I’m not sure I can help you.

  • R Vogel

    I used to periodically attend a church in New Jersey where the upper balcony still had the cordoned area where slaves could participate in services. If you call that a benefit, I am not sure I can help you. I have no interest in supporting some weak kneed position that continues to relegate people to second class citizenship for the benefit of the institution. I don’t respect institutions enough to care if they survive.

  • Now you’re just being ornery. I didn’t say anything about “second class status”. I said “not barred from membership or leadership” and “fully participate in the life of the church.”

    There’s a fourteen year old gay kid in the front pew of some church. I don’t care about institutions either. I care about that kid.

    I’ll bother you no further while you get on with the difficult work of turning every moment into a stonewall moment. Anger is a bitch of a master – she must not be ignored.

  • Jill

    Just be-ing here is always a good thing… and always welcome.

  • Jill

    I always enjoy your “lurkings”, Dave. 🙂

  • Jill

    This is one amazing place.

  • Dear Refused Membership,
    My name is Leslie Rutland-Tipton, and I pastor a church in Wilton Manors, FL. When I read your letter the other night, I wept for you. What that pastor did to your family is not right. I am so sorry that you have been treated that way. Jesus stated very clearly that “Those who come in through me (through the sheep gate) will be saved (John 10:9).” I looked and looked, and I don’t see any exclusion of the color of sheep, the sex of sheep, or any other delineations of the type of sheep. I don’t know where you live, but if it’s in the Fort Lauderdale area, come on over. You and your family are welcome here…period. You can find us at http://www.cohss.org
    In Christ,
    Pastor Leslie

  • Snooterpoot

    Thanks, @andy719:disqus. My wife thinks I make a pretty good grilled cheese sandwich.

  • Snooterpoot

    I kind of wish that Ric’s comment has been deleted. I’d have loved to see his reply – or failure to reply – to my description of my lesbian lifestyle. No one else who has gone into the “gay lifestyle” bull scat has ever dared to reply to me.

  • Andy

    I’m not the one that deleted his comment, so I’m not sure what it said. However, I’m pretty sure that he can still reply, and when you replied to him he may have received a notification indicating such, so he probably has the opportunity if he wants to.

    That said, I would be surprised if he does. When backed into a corner and not allowed to misconstrue scripture in order to make a secular point, I find that most trolls simply give up in disgust. Good riddance.

  • Dave-n-TN

    I agree with @Ford1968:disqus … good to see you back! I have missed your comments and thoughts the past few weeks (or maybe that is months – I lose track). Where have you been, gurl! Hope all is well.

  • Jennifer Rose Avery

    I’m Christian and not homophobic socially or religiously. I believe interpretations like this: http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence/gay_couple.html

  • What a sad, but real story that has been shared. As a minister, it is difficult to know that persons who are supposed to be servants of God could treat someone in such a manner. If you or anyone you know is in need of a church, we at First Congregational Church of Fort Lauderdale United Church of Christ are an open and affirming church, who has open doors for ALL God’s children. We are at http://www.uccftl.org, or our denomination website is http://www.ucc.org. At UCC, “God is Still Speaking.”

  • R Vogel

    I care about that kid too, and want him to find a place where he is truly valued by the church that he attends, not just quietly tolerated so not to offend people. I am a cis, white, male and I can walk into any church in the country with no question that me, my relationships, and my family will be valued and celebrated (I’m not actually sure what that means, but I’m going with it). I won’t accept anything less for my LBGT friends and family. If some weak willed institution doesn’t have the moral courage to stand up for what’s right, but like a politician wants to wait until the wind blows in the right direction until they take a stand, I have no use for them and wonder what G*d they actually serve. (I suspect a golden one)

    ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?’

  • Paul Eric Kilmon

    We all have impressions of a God that may or may not exist –
    perceiving this deity as human and/or a spirit. For me, God, is nature.
    It’s a mass of energy, atoms, and molecules – it’s life, thoughts and
    people – it’s communities, societies, countries and nations – it’s the
    cosmos, galaxies, undiscovered universes and beyond. All that I mention
    is nature.

    However, the difference between your God and mine is there are no judgments, and I can always find forgiveness when I yield
    (this is accomplished through learning, not making the same mistake
    twice, being prepared and with the understanding that everything has
    value, especially humanity, which so many have lost.

    When I’m outdoors thriving in my walking meditation I spend a great
    deal of time looking within for my purpose. I look for how I can be a
    better person. More importantly, I think about humanity and how much
    better we would all be if we stopped making it harder for the next guy.

    We need to stop defining love and begin living love, and the only way
    to do this is to realize love is love. It doesn’t matter who you love,
    but that you love and feel it in return, and when it’s conditional being
    brave enough to walk away from that which doesn’t grow your spirit (I
    know this all too well).

    We need to shift our energy in a new direction, and it’s easy to do when you walk with God – the God that’s in nature. Love more – hate less, and you will find peace.

  • Snooterpoot

    My guess is he had no supportable response to me, so he just bailed. I’ve posted that description of my “lifestyle” and asked people to identify which aspects they find to be sinful many times, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a response.

    I agree with you. Good riddance.

  • Andy

    “the difference between your God and mine is there are no judgments”

    You might want to learn a little about us before you go there. (In particular, see #14.) Intolerance is about the only thing we don’t tolerate here.

  • Paul Eric Kilmon

    Peace… Love… Joy to you, Andy. Cheers!

  • Andy

    Same to you, Paul. Thanks for dropping by!

  • Mod Andy!

  • Chris Coles

    Dude, you are loved. Don’t forget that. I’m praying for you , your partner, & even that so-called “pastor”. I pray that God wraps you in His love, even through the cancer & rejection. “Now these three remain: faith, hope, & love…” Hold on to those three. I’m sending you lots of hugs & candy over the internet!

  • Dave-n-TN

    Chris: You are one impressive person!

    It finally has dawned on me that you are the subject of another recent discussion on this blog site. And even though you are dealing with a crap-load of things at 17 (more than anyone at your age (imo) should need to deal with), you have the compassion to write the above message to someone else that is hurting.

    You, my dear friend, are one good and noble person. I have no doubt that you will make it thru your present trials and be someone that we all can look up to later and say, “I knew that person when …” and smile a great big smile knowing that you obviously worked thru the present situation.

    And this is also an example of what I enjoy about John’s blog site – the ability to be in pain, but also have the capacity to understand one another’s pain and provide a positive and supportive comment to help that person thru the circumstances.

    Bless you, Chris.

  • Guy Norred

    Just put two and two together myself and want to addto what Dave said. Your comcompassion for others at this moment humbles me and beyond that, I cannot find the words to express the admiration I have of you now.

  • GrayAsks

    Cheers! AtheismRules for your excellent comment.

    as for the rest.

    god’s plan?

    really?

    If it existed, in the first place, why do you folks keep praying for this god to change that plan? I thought it was perrrrfect. And, why doesn’t that effort seem to ever really produce results of any kind?

    As for you Dandhman, you claim you don’t have a horse in this race is amusing. Actually do, you just claim it is invisible to you, as of yet.

    I’ve got a chart that shows god’s power since about 5000 BC, and it’s kind of been on the decline when one looks at this god’s influence since the creation story to the present day.

    Hmmmm.

  • gimpi1

    Your post makes me so grateful to live in a large west-coast city where people, even if they don’t agree, mostly mind their own business, and where the progressive view of relationships and priorities is the norm.

  • pookdesignz

    I agree too:)

  • Jessica G

    Thank you for being you. I love that people like you exist in the world: in a place where there is so much hate on either side, it’s refreshing to find a woman living her truth and being happy about it. Thanks from the bottom of my heart- I wish I could adopt you 🙂

  • Jessica G

    I know this is 3 months late, but I’m procrasti-trolling through the comments sections on this site and am wondering if you still attend that church? I’m in Bloomington and am in the market for a new church after a BAD experience with my last one. I will look up the church on the Google and will probably come by on Sunday anyway, but it would be nice to see a fellow patheos person in real life:)

  • Rebecca White

    So devastating, and such a lost opportunity for everyone – any church ought to be proud to have a member like you.

  • why is atheism the opposite of Christianity? The two are the same, both acknowledge the utter unknowability of any God, and Christianity follows a man who died in unbelief. I say there’s place for both faiths at my table, so long as you bring some beer.

  • Lookingup73

    That is heartbreaking. Hopefully the second time being abused by the Church will cure him of the need to be with nasty people. If the Church congregation does not say gay-inclusive or welcoming or affirming, it is safe to assume it is quite the opposite. Sincerely hope he finds one of those or finds peace with knowing it is not necessary to be in Church.

  • Robert Conner

    No surprises here. None. Whatsoever. Fifty years ago gay teens and young adults were being involuntarily institutionalized and lobotomized for “moral insanity” in America. Did Christians see this as a problem? Prior to the Loving vs. Virginia decision, inter-racial marriage was illegal in every southern state and segregation was the norm. Did Christians generally see that as a problem? Currently in most states gay kids can still be subjected to “reparative therapy” to “cure” their sexual orientation, a practice that has been repeatedly condemned as psychological malpractice and child abuse. Now where would American society get such an idea? (Just kidding. We all know where American society got the idea.) The real cure for abused people is to leave the abuser. You can start here if interested:

    https://www.scribd.com/doc/302045278/Christianity-s-Critics-The-Romans-Meet-Jesus

    Or, you can stick around and associate with Christians like this one: