Being Fat vs. Being Gay in the Church

I was asked by über blogger and #1 selling recording artist Carlos Whittaker (Twitter: @loswhit) to do a video response to an email he received from a friend of his who is a pastor that ‘came out’ (even though he is celibate because of a belief in a traditional interpretation of Scripture) and was fired because of it! In the email to Carlos, this friend wondered out loud:

Why can people be fat and gluttons, which are sins, and serve in a church and I can’t?

Great question. Here is my video repsonse to Carlos (which he will post on his blog this evening), his audience, and the over 300 people who commented on that question in the post.

You all who read my blog, I know you know I can talk for days about this stuff. And it’s hard to be introduced to a new audience in a short, one-time video. So my response was focused more on some countercultural principles of engagement and what it means to be a Christ-one in relation to this politically, socially and theologically divisive topic. I threw in the mix a bold statement at the beginning of the video, and I hope I don’t lose too many of the folks watching it because I get all worked-up about half way through to really drive my point home! We’ll see what happens…

Thoughts on what I said or experiences you’ve had with such things?

UPDATE: Some folks over at Carlos’ blog need to know what it means to understand this bridge building movement; and understand that there are many of us already out there doing this work. Everytime I guest post on someone else’s blog I am always quickly reminded how unqiue and honored we in this movement and on this blog actually are. I’m so blessed to have you all in my life fighting to live our life and faith in a new path; not fighting to keep our life and our faith in the exact same place out of fear or comfortFeel free to chime in if you want.

Much love.

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  • Andrew,

    I read your book and read your blog everyday, as well as pass both the blog and the book off to many people. I appreciate you and your work and thank God for your ministry, which is a ministry to me.


  • Jonathan A.

    Andrew, I spent a pretty decent chunk of time engaging in the discussion yesterday. I hope I didn’t diminish it or his friend. Greatly encouraged by Los’s reply I tried my best to encourage likewise. Then I came here and saw this. My heart breaks even more anew realizing some of the particulars. Not only how it was handled but that how your two friends weren’t surprised in the least. I long for the church to be a safe place for the hurting, for the broken, lost and unlost alike. We all need Jesus, but too easily forget the plank in our eye, and don’t understand how to empathize with people who aren’t facing exactly what we deal with. Carlos hit it on the mark. What does it matter if the objects of our lust are different, we should focus on Christ, What does it matter if we’re looking at different trash, it’s trash, focus on Christ.
    Thanks for elevating the conversation and building bridges!

  • Ryan

    I will try and keep this as short as I can but quite frankly I could probably write for days on some of the isssues this presents. I have known I was gay since I was 15 and through those years have really wrestled with reconciling my sexuality and my faith. This has led to years of isolation and depression especially like Carlos I spent years trying to change my sexuality and came to the same conclusion that things were not going to change. And ultimately I realized I was only trying to change because I was trying to please the church and my family.

    Andrew although I believe in what you are doing by building bridges I do have one sticking point that when I hear you talk about reconcilliation between the two communities that I think goes to the heart of this matter. The problem is that the church can say and do these things simply because they have no personal stake in their actions and words. Christians don’t go out and commit suicide because of the things that LGBT community says or does or have their lives and families ripped apart.

    At the end of the overall Christian community pays no real price in this culture war which I think I can say with confidence they started. To them it is simply a theological issue that they think nothing about at the end of the day. For me it is something I have to live with every single day and the actions and words of the Church have very real consequences in my life as in the lives of people like Carlos.

    And then to add insult to injury when we try and tell the Church of those consequences they either deny all responsibility or tell us that we only suffer those things because we have chosen to continue to live in sin. The Church has not been irresponsible in this issue they have been downright RECKLESS!!!!

    If we were to have Jesus living among us in modern day Christian America and some Church leaders dragged out a homosexual caught in the act with a crowd standing around waiting to stone them. When Jesus said those words “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” do you think they would drop their stones? I have serious doubts. I think we would have just another dead Faggot.

    To give you a very recent example from my own life about how this culture war has affected me personally just came last night. Last night I ended up in the ER at three in the morning because I thought I might be having symptons of a heart attack. Although my blood pressure was up and this is a problem because of my weight it ends up that probably most of the problem was simply because of the stress and anxiety I have experienced in the last several months trying to come to grips with this issue.

    Andrew last week I posted on your blog in the chat announcement that I was going to see Mitchell Gold speak on his book Crisis. One story Mitchell told was of a Pastor he has been working with who is now realizing and in Mitchells words “freaking out” because he now realizes that he may have now contributed to the hurt and pain and even the death of people in the LGBT community. In my mind whatever sins the LGBT community has committed is nothing compared to the sins to those of the Church in this isssue. In the words of the Indigo Girls in a song called Trouble they sing “Secret society of conference rooms.I pledge my allegiance to the dollar.And when the clergy take a vote all the gays will pay again
    Cause there’s more than one kind of criminal white collar”

    Andrew I believe in what you are doing and I appreciate you taking the risks in cutting a new path. One of the reasons I believe it is because one of my closest friends who was my Inter Varsity staff worker was one of the people that has helped me through this issue and I credit him for saving my life. And although we do not agree theologically I know he does not dicredit my faith and values me as a person. He has never used the Bible as a weapon and has always sought to try and understand this issue deeper.

    Andrew I will stop here because like I said I could write for days but I am sure for now I have said more then enough. One more side note though if you go back to that Live Chat posting from last week I posted on there some things that happened when I went to see Mitchell Gold.

    • Chris

      Thank you Ryan for your post. You said everything I have studied and found to be the problem with the mainstream faiths that condemn people. They did this to Native Americans, to Women, to African Americans, and now to us LGBT. There is little leg room for reason or understanding because in order for both, one must want to reason, one must want to understand. There churches that harm us LGBT; who deny responsibility for their heinous and habitual actions are not churches that will ever want to understand us until they find the situation so dire that it can no longer be ignored. The question is will it ever get that way…

  • Jack Harris


    So I have been quiet for some time but this doesn’t mean I haven’t been checking out your blog posts and videos. I have also read your book as I told you I would do. I find myself, on this nice March day, back to where I originally started with respect to “bridge building”. I want to say that the last few months have been very helpful in me understanding your desire to reach out to the gay community.

    In fact I would say that I feel your work is helpful in so many ways. Maybe its where I am at developmentally, but when you say I am trying to build bridges with gay people and yet still hold to a conservative theological understanding of homosexuality, then I think you end up burning that bridge as fast you had made it –at least with some. As someone who works with college students and especially gay college students, I find that building that unconditional support is necessary in order to truly bridge build.

    I am not really sure what I am saying other than to point out that if you find yourself frustrated with GLBT folk who cannot get past the fact that you hold an traditional understanding of scripture with regards to homosexuality then don’t be surprised–although I can imagine you have already experienced that.

    I do NOT say this to say that all your work is worthless if you aren’t gay affirming but just know that there are those of us who are gay that feel that its necessary to point out that young out and proud GLBT folk in particular are often going to resist your attempts to reach out. Even at my age, I find that struggle developing relationships with people who feel that my relationship with my partner is less than or not approved of in the eyes of God. I find that deeply insulting and often leave very frustrated by folks that hold that belief.

    At any rate, I still feel that all your work in reaching out can only be described as admirable and the fact that GLBT folk see that not all conservative christians are evil–so keep it up!! God is mixed up in all this and that can only be a good thing! 🙂

  • Joe S

    Hate the fat, love the fatty….

    Hang on, that doesn’t sound like a loving message.

  • Nate – Your words humble me. Thank you so much for believing and working to help shift mediums of engagement. It means so much!

    Jonathan A – Thank you for being so real. Here’s a general rule of thumb that I have: “If no one has ever told you anything else, than how are you just supposed to know? But once you’ve heard, you’re now held responsible from that point forward.” That goes for more than just gay/faith culture war situations. And it sounds like you’re at this point. There is no better starting place than such an awakened spirit ready to see what the Lord is going to do! It’s exciting and super scary all at once. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

    Ryan – One of the first things I believe is that unless the corporate church apologizes, but then does more than just apologize: actively works toward having that apology felt in tangible ways through involvement of relationships and peacefulness in theological and social disagreements, nothing; and I mean nothing should expect to change. Your words, lives and stories are so important.

    Jack – Let me be honest with you for a second: You can’t build a bridge from only one side! Therefore, unless there are people theologically and socially different from yourself who are a part of and fully believing in the movement and work, you’re not building a bridge. So when I hear things like what you just wrote it makes me cringe a little because if you, or the gay affirming world, or the conservative believing world aren’t willing to work with, engage or plant yourself in constructive tension with the other group—then what are you doing (?!) other than still thinking that your way is the best and only way, and unless the other group fully agrees nothing much will ever get accomplished. That’s crazy talk to me because that thesis won’t stand the test of a prolonged disagreement.

    Building unconditional support has nothing to do with theologically agreeing—and I can say that with 100% certainty because of the very theologically liberal and politically active GLBT people and organizations who have The Marin Foundation and my backs. At some level the proof has to be in the pudding, and in this case, the pudding consists of a lot of GLBT organizational (Ex-Gay Watch, LGBT Change, Changing Attitude, etc) and individual GLBT relationships to back that statement up. Building unconditional relationships has everything to do with intentional and consistent authenticity in all phases of life over a long period of time to earn the right to be trusted. This is why bridge building isn’t for everyone; it takes too much time and effort for a possible “I hate you anyway” statement that still might come. 🙂

    And no, I have never said that I am frustrated with GLBT folks who don’t agree with me. Not once (although I have said that about being frusterated with straight conservative Christians not understanding, or wanting to partake in this work). It’s an integral part of what is building a bridge. At any rate, thanks for writing again…I’ve sincerely (please, Jack, believe me when I say I’m not being sarcastic at all with this statement) missed your challenging thoughts these past few months because they always hit at many root issues that desperately need to be talked about! I hope to keep conversing along the way. Much love!

    Joe S – You got that right! 🙂 Hating the fat but loving the fatty makes as much sense as hating the sin and loving the sinner.

    • Chris

      You give me faith in the human existence Andrew. I hope in time you are brave enough to embark on the journey our fallen heroes of the past once embarked on. It will take a person of your stature to change this war for the good of all. Hopefully when the LGBT community is ready, you along with the long list of strong activist will become our new Dr. King and usher in the acceptance and freedom we all strive so hard to achieve.

  • *clap clap clap clap … I give you a standing ovation, Andrew. Well put. I actually wrote a similar blog entry about this issue –

    I share “Bob’s” experience, in that out my 12+ years of doing student ministry, 1 church has ever hired me on as a pastor. Every other church has only allowed me to volunteer. The overall fear: I come from a gay past.

    Again, great post. May the truth of this pierce the Church’s heart.

  • Nice blog entry. (though my husband’s not trash, nor is my love for him)

  • Jonathan A.

    Jon T.- I don’t mean to imply either. I’m sorry if it came across that way. God loves both of you. I’m just trying to express frustration at people who say they can’t possibly understand people dealing with homosexual attractions because they don’t, and never try to learn.

    Andrew Marin- I’ve been around awhile. And yes, knowledge brings responsibility. That’s why I try to be proactive about my life with our pastor, but also others in my life.

    I’m honestly unsure there was anything I really learned besides some of the particulars of this specific situation. I was saddened that so many comments were wasted on whether or not the church was right, talking about potential failures and concerns when the reality was, he approached the pastor in humility from the standpoint that it appeared a majority of commentators took, and would have been OK with. It also disgust me to see how many of them jumped to negative assumptions about why the guy was needing to be let go, an assumption of some failing, to control himself, or follow scripture or what have you. This guy deserves some serious credit and encouragement for choosing what he knows is a difficult road because of his convictions.

    Got to listening to your Urbana ’09 session, and I was really impressed with how you proactively refused to answer the question about your friend who adopted all of those children. I often spend too much time focused on what might happen as a result, or allowing stories about God’s work to be completely tarnished by one little thing I don’t like, rather than recognizing that God’s got a better plan and is more satisfied with what the results seem to be than I am. He’s got it covered after all.

  • Jonathan A – Thanks. I just try to communicate my experiences as best as I can to what the Lord has given me opportunities to live within. Not easy or comfortable, but something I must do.

  • anon

    here’s the best part of your post…you attributed things to scripture…without any actual quoting and interpretation specifically citing how LIVING Gay is a sin, but “struggling with homosexuality (whatever that means…) isn’t?

    If BEING gay is a sin…but acting on it isn’t…then

    your saying that you we’re born gay (a scientifically unproven theory)…

    here’s the “easy way out” call sin…sin…

    P.S “Advancing” as you discussed is specifically about advancing the gospel…not gay rights…not racial rights…JUST THE GOSPEL and what it calls us too. Often there is overlap…but you can’t pull the GOSPEL out of the “advancing.” How are we advancing the gospel by letting gay people lead churches…

    When Billy Graham was @ Clinton’s rally…he was there loving a SINNER who SINNED…your saying that being gay isn’t a sin?

    Pull your arrangements together…and try again #FAIL

    • Chris

      Anon, as we all know is short for “troll,” you should look into the Twin Studies which document how “in-born” homosexual orientation can be just as with all the other sexual orientations. Or you can simply ask LGBT people themselves. For a even more in-depth analysis of the situation ask yourself this one question. “When did you choose to be of your particular sexual orientation.”

  • Anon – Thank you for your critiques. I take all of them to heart. The problem is that your comment is uninformed. You obviously don’t know what I believe, how I believe it or why I believe it. It is unfortunate that I cannot squeeze every different experience, thought process and my whole missiological framework (yes, I did attend Moody Theological Seminary for an MA in Urban Stuides and Biblical Theology) of faith and sexuality into one 10 minute video. But regrettably I feel that I have to ask that you please do your homework by reading my book and other posts on this blog before you make a definitive comment about who I am, what I believe and why I believe those things. I cannot dignify anything you said; nor do I want to argue with you about them either. I look forward to the time when we can have an exhilerating public conversation when you stop accusing and start being willing to be peaceful and productive. Much love.

  • Hey Andrew,

    Here is my response to what’s happening on Carlos’ site. Im curious as to your reaction to my belief.

    I would encourage people who are struggling with temptation of homosexual desires to be careful not to define themselves as “homosexual.” Don’t say, “I am gay,” or “I am a homosexual.” Say, rather, “I struggle with homosexual desires.” That’s a very small—and huge—distinction.

    Don’t ever let any man tell you he is a homosexual. Always correct his vocabulary, because in Christ Jesus that is not who you are. In Christ Jesus I am a new creature.

    A new creature in Christ, even though people still struggle with the sins of impatience, lust, and pride, Christians who struggle with homosexual desires are not homosexuals. In Christ they are new creatures who struggle with the temptations of homosexuality. And I just want to come along side them and say, “Get that as your paradigm, and let’s struggle together in chastity and in purity until we’re dead.”

    I’m willing to fight with people to the bitter end to help them war against their sin, just like I would like you to help me war against my sin. But if you make peace with your sin and you are acting as a gay man then you’re doing what Romans 6 says you can’t do as a Christian. And therefore you’re acting as a non-Christian, and you’re claiming to be a Christian. And the Bible says that I’m not supposed to have anything to do with you, not even to eat with you. And so our friendship is going to have to be broken if you go on like this.

    And that holy ostracism is meant to have a convicting effect. It’s not meant to send them to hell. It’s meant to win them back.

    A homosexual orientation is a result of the fall of humanity into a sinful condition that pervades every person. Whatever biological or familial roots of homosexuality may be discovered, we do not believe that these would sanction or excuse homosexual behavior, though they would deepen our compassion and patience for those who are struggling to be free from sexual temptations.

    This freedom is attained through a process which includes recognizing homosexual behavior as sin, renouncing the practice of homosexual behavior, rediscovering healthy, non-erotic friendships with people of the same sex, embracing a moral sexual lifestyle, and in the age to come, rising from the dead with a new body free from every sinful impulse. This process parallels the similar process of sanctification needed in dealing with heterosexual temptations as well. We believe that this freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of his Spirit.

    Christian churches should reach out in love and truth to minister to people touched by homosexuality, and that those who contend Biblically against their own sexual temptation should be patiently assisted in their battle, not ostracized or disdained.

    HOWEVER, the more prominent a leadership role or modeling role a person holds in a church, the higher will be the expectations for God’s ideal of sexual obedience and wholeness.

  • I shared my thoughts on Carlos’ blog. Here they are:

    I read quite a few of the comments and then decided to stop that. Too aggravating. Whatever.

    Here’s my thoughts. I keep reading “Why identify as “gay” if he’s going to be celibate?” Maybe he’s reaching out to ministerial peers to help with this issue? Maybe seeking ministerial support would be helpful for him to remain celibate? God forbid that he turn to the church for honest support or encouragement.

    I feel bad for Bob. He reached out with honesty and for support and he got the boot. Maybe in the long run he’ll be better off away from that particular church community.

    I’m a gay Christian. I’m quite comfortably reconciled with my faith and my sexuality. My lifestyle is nothing like that described or imagined by most Christian leaders. I’m a married professional with a home, two sons, two dogs, and a cat. My family and I have found a church home where this isn’t an issue. Our family is nurtured and supported, just like any other family. There’s no drama or semantic war over “attraction vs. lust” towards each other, just like there’s no such debate where it comes to the het married couples here. We’re just a family.

    I don’t know what I have to add to this discussion (where I truly understand that I’m in the minority here), but to offer support to Bob to find a Christian community that will offer him encouragement and support, whether he remain celibate or even builds his own family. Peace, Bob.

  • David

    I put in my two cents as well…after letting the smoke clear out of my ears last night…

    I’m simultaneously encouraged and dismayed and completely overwhelmed by the comments here. I come at this from the perspective of a lay leader (and Bible College & Seminary graduate to boot) who left before being thrown of a non-denominational church for experiencing same-sex attraction. I’ve been in Bob’s shoes. I left because I experienced, albeit secondhand, the wrath and judgment of some church folk who were trying to condemn people into the kingdom. Which doesn’t ever work by the way. After a church board member took over an adult forum on sexuality in order to literally shout Leviticus 18 over anyone else attempting to have a conversation in the room (the bullhorn thing) I figured out that church wasn’t exactly a safe space for me. Not one of the church pastors in the room did anything to stop him.

    Today I’ve been contemplating not just church leaders, but the everyday people in the pews who sit under you as you divide and communicate the word of truth. Andrew and I live in the same neighborhood, and we both see and know all too well the devastation that current church teaching has brought to the lives of so many gay people. Among my closest friends I count graduates of Moody, Wheaton College, Olivet Nazarene, etc. The details of our stories may differ, but the common threads of rejection, condemnation, and judgment have impacted all of us. We need to move beyond “gay people, you’re just not welcome here.”

    The Marin foundation did a survey that found that 85% of the people who responded said that they had been actively involved in the life of a church. Of that group, 70% said that there was nothing–NOTHING–that could ever be done that would make them want to join a church again.

    I implore you as church leaders to remember that people with same sex attractions are still PEOPLE, individuals that God loves deeply. And that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these still is LOVE. I hope that you will relentlessly persue a gay person or two in order to get to know them, and to do more listening than counseling. I encourage you to read Andrew’s book and to try to have the kinds of elevated conversations that he talks about. Let’s keep the conversation going, in meekness, humility, and grace.

    Love to you all…

  • Thanks for your response on Los’ blog. Interesting what you’re trying to do here.
    Best to you and your family.

  • AJ

    Hey Ben…here are my thoughts on your post that states:

    “But if you make peace with your sin and you are acting as a gay man then you’re doing what Romans 6 says you can’t do as a Christian. And therefore you’re acting as a non-Christian, and you’re claiming to be a Christian. And the Bible says that I’m not supposed to have anything to do with you, not even to eat with you. And so our friendship is going to have to be broken if you go on like this.”

    My best friend from college basically did this to me. I was devistated and hurt. But, luckily I had a group of Christian and non-Christian friends who I turned to. We have open dialouge about our beliefs. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we do not. So, if I am hearing you, my Christian friends are now living in sin too because they are befriending me and loving me and living life with me. And now I should not be their friend to live according to the Scripture. Maybe I am missing something, but this seems circular and not very simple.

  • Jack Harris


    Thanks for your comments. I will respond in more depth later, but please know that I support what you are doing! But I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you some of the thoughts that cross my mind as I read your blog posts. I guess that since you and I have chatted back and forth for awhile, I realized today that you may not know much about me. Should you ever be interested in knowing more about my background, you can check out my facebook page–we are friends there–that might help you understand me more when I share thoughts. 🙂
    Peace, Jack

  • Jack Harris

    Rant for the day…and yes this is completely unrelated to your I will apologize now…but you said you wanted me post I will…

    Topic : Being Broken or Damaged

    I want to touch on something that I have noticed some Evangelical Christians do. I often hear that the GLBT community is a community full of hurt and pain. Yes, it is true that many GLBT folks have suffered for being who they are but, I wish that Evangelical folks would realize that or at least talk about the fact there is a great deal of joy and love within the gay community as well. As you well know, if you have ever been out on the town in gay bars, or at gay pride parades, or really any gay event is full of people who love life—and shock and well adjusted lives.

    As a gay christian man in a relationship with another man, I do not find that I am broken or damaged, in fact I am a happy normal guy as well as my partner. I grew up in a very “normal”, suburban educated home with two parents, a sister, pets just like a lot of straight folks. I did not have a domineering mother and distant father, we attended church just like everyone else (Go Episcopalians :)) While I understand that many want to reach out to those that hurt, please also recognize that it’s not all sack cloth and ashes. 🙂

    and that’s my ramblings for today…from the happy homo…jack 🙂

    • Chris

      As it has been studied and proven, that pain is contributed by the religious is what causes us to be so hurt, depressed, self destructive, and suicidal.

      It is akin to a bully on the playground punching a child, having that child fall down and cry, then for the bully to simply punch the victim again simply because he is crying. The bully then uses the fact that the victim is crying as an excuse to the teacher who caught him as justification for his actions. When churches hurt us in the LGBT community they then use our ways to deal with the hurt as further justifications to deny us our rights, and in some cases try to re-criminalize our existence. its a habitual circle of abuses that needs to end.

  • Seth

    I’ve decided not to visit Carlos’ blog, because I suspect that I’ve seen, read, or heard much of the same debate over and over already–it’s wearisome, at best. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t have the fortitude for it this evening.

    But I can say this: I am well-acquainted with the tension intrinsic to being a gay follower of Jesus Christ. And I take Scripture seriously, though perhaps not–to use your term–“traditionally.” But I think Jesus recognizes this tension as well.

    Remember when Jesus was teaching about divorce in Matthew 19, and it was difficult enough that his disciples considered whether it might be better not to marry (19:10). He went on to say, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given: There are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made so by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

    If there isn’t some creative tension in that teaching, I don’t know where else we’d find it! Your exegesis might be different, but I believe that this not just about men without nuts. To the extent that a “eunuch” in that time was not always castrato, sometimes effeminate, but almost always unmarried and often in trusted positions because they did not desire women, I think it pertains directly to gay believers, both in that day and ever since.

    Nevertheless, this teaching is bracketed before and after with notices about its difficulty, and we are all witnessing how that difficulty plays out. My evangelical church couldn’t handle it, and I left after years of feeling unwelcome. I am not at all surprised that “Bob” got fired.

    In any case, let me say again, as I have said here before, that Jesus didn’t parse behavior from word from thought, and neither should we. If we limit our definition of sin to behavior (and excluding attraction), we’ll drive people away with our craziness: We can be gay, but not do gay. We have to “reframe the picture” by asking different questions. ‘Nuf said.

    Thank you, Andrew, as always, for your loving commentary.

  • Ben – I get that question a lot, and I could write a chapter on it, but here’s my quick answer:

    We learn a lot from the field of sociology. They say that what tends to happen is in minority populations (as is the gay community), the minority group over time formulates an identity around what the minority group has in common (in this case their same-sex attractions/sexuality). And even if you were to take one of the members of the minority group and place them in the middle of the majority (broader Christian culture) group (e.g. a Christian with a same-sex attraction who believes in a traditional interpretation of Scripture), they will still have their overarching identity tied to their minority mindset.

    At the end of my book (p. 196) I had a friend of mine who is an elder at one of the largest, most influential churches in America that every Christian has heard of, write about this exact situation because he has a same-sex attraction, believes in a traditional interpretation of Scripture and yet still refers to himself as a gay Christian. None of the other elders understand why he does this because they associate a gay Christian with something totally different than my friend. His few pages are priceless in a 1st hand experience explaining such topics that you brought up. I would write them here, but it wouldn’t do his full thesis justice.

    AJ – Interesting point! I would love to hear some responses to this… And I’m super happy you did/do have community to be with you throughout this. I just know too many who got ditched and that was that.

    Jack – LOVE IT!! I’m hitting you up on Facebook and I’m really looking forward to more of this great stuff. Thanks brother.

    Seth – Good call on not visiting. Poor David had to punish himself by being so offended by most of the comments. You pretty much summed it up. And to your citing Matthew 19 – I couldn’t be more in agreement with you! That is, in my opinion, one of the two/three key passages in Scripture that gets overlooked as a solid biblical understanding of sexuality that cannot be argued! Thank you for your words.

  • I read Carlos’ blog and started reading the comments, but I had to stop. This hits far too close to home for me. I cannot afford the anger that was welling up inside me as I read. I wrote this several years ago, in the midst of a very painful period of time:

    Day by day they chip away
    At my heart…
    ….my mind…
    ….my soul….
    They saw me then as brother and friend
    And now they see only fault and sin
    I came as they asked – “Just As I Am”
    And now I see it was all just a scam

    As poetry goes, it leaves a lot to be desired, but at two in the morning after a trusted friend betrayed my confidence, it was all I could say. My prayers are with Carlos’ friend….and with all those who don’t seem to get what it means when Jesus said, “the greatest of these is LOVE!”

  • John Dao

    The lighting in the background of your video makes it look like you have a halo 🙂

    Around 4:28 in your video, you said something I find unfortunate. You talk about the Greek word for progress as used in 1 Tim 4:15 (ή προκοπή as it appears in NA27) as meaning “A pioneer advancing into new territory”. Where did you get this definition? BDAG cites the word’s meaning as “A movement forward to an advanced state”. I don’t think Paul actually said what you attributed to him that he said. Was he calling Timothy to be a pioneer to new lands? Possibly, but I don’t believe that it is so easily read from the Greek.

    I still think your argument hold true for other reasons, but not because of your use of Greek as it’s foundation. You just have to look at the life of Jesus and the core of his ministry. He did not come to heal the sick, although he did, but rather to preach the good news of God in places which have not heard it (Mark 1:38) Even the whole “Incarnational living model” which I believe in and that you do is based off Christ’s life (Willingly coming from a place of higher privilege into a place of need i.e. God being born into the world as a man) and being “a light in a dark place” would have been better foundations than the use of the word ή προκοπή.

    As always, it is very dangerous to use Greek in preaching and teaching because a lot of people will take on faith what you say about the language is true when it really isn’t.

    Much respect,

  • John – I offer you a sincere thank you for your citations, reminders and reccomendations on what I should have said in the video. I’m in the middle of one of my Live Chat’s right now so I can’t provide you with the exact references and explanations, but I will get them to you soon.

  • sarah

    “to love your neighbor as yourself means to find the person most unlike yourself and relentlessly pursue them in christ’s are we doing that today? in our life? in our faith? in our church? how are we relentlessly pursuing the people most unlike ourselves? let the Holy Spirit do what he does… let God do what he does and let us do what we do…unconditional love.”

    thanks for that…your blog is a constant encouragement and challenge!

  • Jonathan A.

    John- Thanks for doing the BDAG footwork, I was wondering that myself and I don’t have access to it these days.

    Andrew-Looking forward to your explanation. I like the new territory metaphor and think it’s probably a pretty good starting point, even if you can’t necessarily use this verse to make a direct connection. But after all metaphors are rarely easily constructed/used to help build bridges between two groups of people (especially when they often want at each others throats)

  • Jonathan – Just because John brings into question my interpretation of the Greek, doesn’t mean my interpretation is wrong. I will be explaining my lexical understading of this verse tomorrow. Your allowed to agree with John, but it seems pretty quick to doubt where I’m coming from because one person disagrees with me. How do you know I “can’t necessarily use this verse to make a direct connection?” I haven’t even explained my understanding yet.

    My initial question back to John before my explaination tomorrow is:

    Why did you not link to yourself, your education, your blog/facebook/website/etc so everyone can scrutinize your definitive interpretation as well? It’s real easy to backseat drive and tell me what should have been said after the fact. Thanks for bringing this topic to light though, and I look forward to quoting my own Greek interpretations tomorrow.

  • Yes, according to the GK Strongest prokope does singularly mean “progress, advancement”. Though as anyone who has studied hermeneutics knows, we are not to solely rely on just taking a translated academic definition to give a word its full, wholistic meaning. Such a robust meaning can only be drawn from the text within broader context (from Book to Chapter to Passage to Verse to Word) in such a way that gives full meaning to the word in question. Thus, drawing a broader biblical contextualization to define “progress” we must first understand that Paul is instructing Timothy throughout the two letters on how Timothy must learn from the life lessons, successes and mistakes Paul encountered in his life and ministry experiences (e.g. similar vice list in 1 Tim 1:9-10 as in 1 Cor 6:9-10)—and how Timothy and the other church leaders after him must progress in Christ and in life such that all of the others (believers and non-believers) around watching them from the outside are able to tangibly learn what it means to progress in Christ, life and leadership. If you don’t take my word for this understanding, here are some theologians’ thoughts that back up my definition specific to “progress” in 1 Timothy 4:15:

    IVP New Bible Commentary: The Christian minister cannot avoid being in the public eye, and whatever progress or otherwise that he makes will be witnessed. Paul is expecting Timothy to walk in such a way that others will definitively know what progress looks like.

    IVP New Testament Bible Background Commentary: Progress was the standard philosophical way to describe a disciple’s advancement in moral philosophy and was naturally applied to advancement in life and truth as well; including such ways as to how his teaching and his life would affect the salvation of those around him.

    And finally, conservative theologian and former pastor of the flagship evangelical Moody Church, Dr. Warren Weirsbe, says that “progress” in 1 Timothy 4:15 is contextually defined as: A pioneer advancing into new territory for others to recognize and revere the One compelling such action.

  • John Dao

    Let there be no mistake, I didn’t mean to attack your credibility or your credentials for speaking on the topic or being able to interpret the Greek. I am sorry if I did, and I have no doubts in your ability to do exegesis.

    Why would I post my credentials? I’m really not anybody with authority, just a guy with a question. If you want to know, I am a first year seminary student at Gordon Conwell, learning how to do these things for myself. I’ve been admiring your work from afar for a while now. I just wanted to know how you got from progress to pioneer. It is still unclear to me how Dr. Weirsbe got there, but if I had to guess, it’s from taking verse 12 and 13 into consideration.

    Paul exhorts Timothy to “devote himself to the public reading and teaching of scripture” (v13), and later says “so that all may see your progress”. Functionally and inductively, progress means “public reading and teaching of scripture” and also from v12 “set[ting] an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity”, from which I can see the generalization “pioneer” coming about. There’s my contextual definition based on the discourse, out there for you to critique. To use Dr. Weirsbe’s definition is to me still a little vague, but gives it a metaphorical flavor by conjuring up an image.

    You have more than proved to me that you know how to do exegesis (not that I thought that you didn’t), and I apologize for my less than eloquent (perhaps arrogant) tone in asking. Really this is all nit picky semantics, and the core truth of your message still holds true.

    Thanks again!

  • John – Thank you for your comment. It’s difficult to read intent on the internet, so thank you for clarifying that.

    In regards to your question about how one gets fom “progress to pioneer”, to me, it’s about taking the breathe of Paul’s message to Timothy in the cultural conext of which is was said, that carries the most weight in understanding individual words. In most every cases, Paul/Timothy/any of the disciples/followers were unique pioneers in their everyday life and cultural contexts. The overwhelming majority of the Greco-Roman culture was pagan, therefore the countercultural ways in which Christ-ones lived and believed were indeed in a pioneer fashion. Bucking the mainstream is a core principle of what a pioneer is (at least that’s what I think), and therefore my understanding is that Paul was encouraging Timothy to live in such a fashion. It’s too easy to do what’s always been done, and especially at the early stages of the advancement of the faith, the times and messages needed such pioneers to boldly move in new directions such that others would take notice.