Jesus Is Not At All Like That (my video for the NALT Christians Project)

When John Shore invites me to do something, I usually say Yes — even if that something involves leaving my comfort zone hidden behind words on a screen and figuring out how to make and post a video, which I’d avoided doing up until now.

So here’s the video I made for the NALT Christians Project:

YouTube Preview Image

And in case you’re not able to watch that video (or were too distracted by nose and chin to pick up on the words), here’s a transcript:

Hi, I’m Fred Clark. I write the Slacktivist blog for Patheos.com, and I’m one of those evangelical Christians — one of those born-again, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving evangelical Christians.

And I don’t believe that being gay is a sin.

Not everyone in my evangelical tribe agrees with that. It goes against some of our tribe’s boundaries.

Tribes are big on boundaries. We like to create them, and police them, and enforce them. And some of the evangelical tribal gatekeepers say that anyone who doesn’t condemn LGBT people is out of bounds, and no longer really an evangelical Christian.

But that’s just dumb. Condemning gay people isn’t what made me an evangelical Christian in the first place, so how could not condemning gay people mean I’ve suddenly stopped being one? I’m an evangelical Christian because Jesus loves me and declares me to be a beloved child of God. Not because I agreed to hate some other group of God’s beloved children, or to deny them their full equality in society and in the church.

The point is, it doesn’t matter what the tribal gatekeepers say about who is and isn’t “really” an evangelical Christian. Because we’re not all like that.

And not because we’ve abandoned our evangelical faith. We’re not all like that because of our evangelical faith — because of Jesus.

The more I learn about Jesus, the closer I grow to Jesus, the more I come to know Jesus, the more I’m compelled to love the people Jesus loves. And that means crossing boundaries, because Jesus didn’t give a withered fig about tribal boundaries. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you’re going to have to cross boundaries because that’s all the guy ever did.

Jesus knew all the religious rules. He knew all the clobber texts about clean and unclean, pure and impure, insider and outsider, us and them. He knew who the clobber texts told him he wasn’t allowed to love.

But then he went out and he loved all the people that the clobber texts told him he wasn’t supposed to love. And he loved all the people that the clobber texts told him he wasn’t allowed to love.

Jesus met the woman at the well and she was nervous, because she saw him as a religious leader and she knew that he knew all those clobber texts. And she knew the way religious leaders liked to use those clobber texts to hurt people like her.

But then she met Jesus. And she went away rejoicing because Jesus was not like that.

And that’s all that really matters. It’ doesn’t matter whether I’m like that. It doesn’t matter what I think, I’m just some guy who writes for the Internet. Who cares what I think?

What matters is that Jesus is not like that. Jesus isn’t at all like that.

And that’s good news. That’s the gospel. That’s the best news there is.

 

  • Carstonio

    So frustrating when people like Savage or E.W. Jackson, who have firsthand experiences of living as members of otherized groups, don’t grasp that they’re perpetuating similar otherizing. I might understand if their experiences were so severe that it blunted their feelings for everything and everybody, destroying what empathy they might have had.

  • Frank McCormick

    I might be wasting my “breath” here. But… I see a lot of discussion of what Dan is like from differing persons that objects to something he said. I suggest that to understand what Dan Savage believes, and more importantly, his character, you should listen to what HE says. There are times in which he makes statements that appear mistaken and, from my experience, he immediately responds to his critics with either a correction or a reasoned response to why he believes he is correct. He DOES come across as abrasive to some when he plainly states his beliefs, and, even more so, when he directly states plain facts. To match some of the language in this sub-thread, a failure to kiss up is not the same thing as being an asshole .

  • Kagi Soracia

    I was wondering about that. Being an LGBT christian myself, I might consider doing it if so, though my horror of making a video of myself as opposed to hiding behind the printed page is assuredly higher than Fred’s.

  • Kagi Soracia

    That is a good point. I can respect that.

  • Kagi Soracia

    This. I grew up believing that every Christian everywhere was going to hate me if I was gay, and that being gay and being a Christian were incompatible. Slacktivist is where I first learned that they were, in fact, not all like that – the entire idea of there being progressive christians was a revelation to me. I had given up on faith at that point, because I was told I had to choose. Fred is the reason I started thinking I didn’t have to choose. And for a long time, I didn’t have any corroborating evidence. Having multiple, visible statements from people who already have voices out there would have made a huge difference.

  • The_L1985

    Yeah. I’m sitting here thinking, “45? With a daughter who finished high school? Did he use a time machine and make this video in the 90′s or something?”

  • Kagi Soracia

    oh my god I can’t unsee it now.

  • Kagi Soracia

    He must have the same kind of genes as my mother, who had seven children, all of whom are out of high school, and still looks like she’s about 35, 40 at most.

  • Oswald Carnes

    That’s so offensive I wouldn’t even say it to Paul Ryan.

  • Adamn

    The more “problematic” links don’t hold up as actually problematic in context.

    The trans parent is being berated for not choosing to prioritize her teenage son’s stability over her own transitioning schedule, when she’s already bringing a number of difficult issues (divorce, gayness, HIV+ status) into the family’s life. He’s not telling the trans woman to not be trans; he’s telling her to wait until she doesn’t have to look after her son, who needs her to be a stable parent.

    The term Savage uses to talk about a transsexual prostitute doesn’t obscure the fact that he excludes gay men from pursuing MTF transsexuals *because the MTFs consider themselves women*, meaning he has the same definition of gender as trans activists do.

    His advice to homosexuals to be more receptive to long-term relationships with other homosexuals is excerpted without the context of heteronormative pressure which leads a lot of bi folk into other-sex relationships.

    Savage’s disbelief that a writer was a rape survivor is based on the writer’s misinterpretation of an advice-seeker’s problem as a desire to rape, when in reality it was the advice seeker trying to learn how to fulfill a fantasy he and his wife had agreed to fulfill.

    It’s not really clear who’s supposed to be offended more by Savage’s reworking of “The Miracle Worker;” the original play’s depiction of Keller as unruly comes from Keller’s autobiography, so the story of a disabled child who can’t communicate with able-bodied people isn’t really coming directly from an able-bodied writer’s perspective, much less an ableist one.

    I think the “problematic” thing at the heart of Dan Savage’s public contributions, as far as that blogger’s concerned, is that he wants LGBT identity to be part of society – not an academic ideal, but something that a person can own and have agency over without having the larger society expecting a fundamentally different set of morals from them based on their “other”ness. The blogger, who provides no interpretations of these statements, seems to want Savage to extol total permissiveness for LGBT people, but that’s not what Savage wants. He wants tolerance; that means he wants LGBT people to be everyone’s neighbor, which also means he wants them to be neighborly, and he won’t spare someone an honest opinion based on their sexual preference, gender identity, or anything else people might turn to as an excuse to act like an asshole.

  • Nicole Resweber

    Yes!

  • Nicole Resweber

    I personally don’t really think they need to, but that’s a fair point.

  • Nicole Resweber

    Inasmuch as it is this for people, I can support it. My doubts about where the project falls short do not stop me from wishing that it can be a force for good.

  • Matthias

    I’m sorry but your excuses don’t hold up:

    1. About Transsexuals:
    - He calls them trannies, you don’t use slurs unless you want to hurt the target.
    - He wants that the woman keeps living as a male until the son is adult. I wonder how he would react to the suggestion that a gay man should remain in the closet until his children are adult.
    - He argues that the son needs “stability” which the transexual cannot provide and thus she should remain a man. This is the direct equivalent of the nasty tale that children need “mom and dad” and homosexuals thus cannot be good parents.
    - He suggest that in response to the transexual wanting to undergo sex-change treatment the family should stop talking to her. Given how many homosexuals experience the pain of being kicked out of their home I literally couldn’t believe him even considering such a thing.

    2. About bisexuals:
    - The claim that all bisexuals don’t enter long-term relationships with same-sex partners but only wan them for sex due to social pressures is at best stereotyping …
    - … Since he follows this up by demanding that bisexuals should “fuck” each other and stay clear of anyone else, i.e. demanding segregation, it is however clear bigotry. Imagine if I would argue that blacks are unable to form long term relations, are only in it for sex and should fuck each other but leave white women alone … Everyone would recognise this as the racism it is!

    This also makes your last point about how Dan Savage wants “tolerance” and “neigbourhood” for LGTB people ridiculous. If you demand that bisexuals segregate themselves from everyone else you are most certainly no advocating tolerance.

  • http://www.bookmeal.blogspot.com/ Becky B.

    Hi Fred, I was nervous about this project because of the negative and comparative nature implied by the name (which I still wish would be changed). Your video reassured me. It was beautiful, inclusive (in both directions), grace-filled and Jesus-embodied. Thank you.

  • LL

    Aw … how lovely.

    And yeah, this is what non-colossal-asshole Christians should be doing. If you want to convince the rest of us that you’re not like Dolan or those insane Westboro idiots or the numerous stupid Republican politicians or Pat Robertson or LaJenkins, you all need to come out. And, you know, vote.

  • Michael Pullmann

    Stopped clocks and all. Just because someone’s a jerk doesn’t mean they can’t have a good idea.

  • Morilore

    …wait, pa-THAY-os dot com? That’s how it’s pronounced? Really??

  • Michael Pullmann

    Unless they’re trying to change its meaning and context so that it becomes associated with inclusion and self-examination instead of defensiveness and self-exculpation.
    .
    A daunting task, but if the meaning of literally can change to “figuratively”, then anything’s possible.

  • Adamn

    He’s not telling the trans woman to not be open about her identity, he’s telling her that to get surgery – and thus put the family through the experience of having a parent undergo a fairly serious surgical procedure – can wait until she doesn’t have a kid to take care of. And a trans parent who doesn’t care about taking care of her or his responsibilities as a parent by putting off the surgery until they don’t have an obligation to take care of a growing teenager is screwing up their relationship with their family. A kid who finds out she or he’s transgender and gets disowned for it is in a different position; they’re not raising someone, providing room and board for them, and their responsibility at that time is to learn how to be themselves while still being part of a family. The family wouldn’t be rejecting the trans mom because she’s trying to be herself; they’d be rejecting her because she’s choosing to put her needs ahead of a family member who depends on her, which isn’t what a good mom or dad does, cis or trans.

    He’s not saying bisexuals only choose long-term partners because of social pressure, but it is a factor, and a lot of bisexuals do wind up with other-gender partners. And he’s not saying bisexuals shouldn’t be in any sort of relationship with homosexuals, but rather that homosexuals should be aware that in the long term, they’re less likely that another homosexual is going to leave them for someone of the other gender than they would be with a bisexual, and that part of that is the social pressure of heteronormativity.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The whole idea that a closeted transexual pretending to a gender they don’t perceive themselves as would provide “stability” that transitioning would not strikes me as really shockingly shortsighted for — well for anyone really.

  • general_apathy

    I went googling. Yikes.

    “With all the minimally sexuals out there making normally sexuals miserable, NSNA, it should be obvious to all regular readers that there’s not exactly a shortage of people who aren’t interested in sex. With that being the case, why would you even contemplate inflicting yourself on a normally sexual person?

    (Emphasis mine.) So basically, if you can’t sexually satisfy your partner, you are a bad person, you should feel bad about yourself, you don’t deserve relationships. :(

  • http://somethingshortandsnappy.blogspot.com/ Will Wildman

    Everything I’ve seen about NALT so far is lining up with my perception of John Shore as a man who likes to talk a lot more than he likes to listen. Regardless, I hope it does good things.

    To my total lack of surprise, Fred’s video avoids any of the pitfalls I see with the broader NALT and is instead just really good and gets right to what the point should be. Cheers, Fred.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Assholes: they serve a useful function, even if a lot of what comes out of them is shit.

  • etseq

    Because thats all that matters – attacking dan savage. Trolls of the world unite!

  • etseq

    He actually isnt but that doesnt matter – once you have pissed off the internet social justice warriors there is no redemption. Luckily, only people in comment blogs care about SJW

  • etseq

    Its a losing battle – once the internet social justice warriors start a meme they will flood blog comments about it until people just give up arguing with them

  • Eric Boersma

    To make it clear: I don’t mean to defend Savage. I know very little of hi beyond having read an article or two that he’s written; I wasn’t aware that people thought he was a blazing misogynist until reading the comment thread on this post. I did some searching yesterday evening to try to find out what he actually said that got people all worked up, and it seemed nearly impossible to do so for all the noise people were making about him being a misogynist, with nobody actually providing quotes or video or audio or anything (that I could find).

    I was simply commenting on the fact that we get pissed off about men calling women “vaginas” but the idea that one might call a man a “dick” is widely accepted and nobody bats an eye. Yes, I understand that the context is dramatically different, but there’s definitely an existing double standard, and it’s humorous.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, a lot like the Franklin Graham defenders we get, and the Whichever Republican Got Caught Fucking The Help defenders we get, you came here to defend Dan Savage, and you only seem to be making him look worse. Are all his defenders giant assholes like you?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Says the douchebag who has been spamming the everloving fuck out of blog comments with snide contentless attacks on anyone who dares speak ill of your beloved Dan Savage?

  • etseq

    Someone needs to wash your mouth out with soap…obviously, I’ve touched a nerve with you. Why are you so emotionally invested in hating someone? Chill out dude…life is short.

  • etseq

    Chill dude – you have some anger issues. Who made you king of the internet?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Piss off, Wayne. Grown-ups are talking here.

  • Matthias

    Okay so the woman can come out as a transexual but has to remain in a male body. So I suppose the equivalent would be that a gay man can come out but must not engage in any same-sex relationship. Still horrible.

    And he is saying that bisexuals shouldn’t be in any form of relationship with homosexuals: “No, there are definitely some people who should fool around with bisexual men: OTHER BISEXUAL MEN. Go fuck each other.”

    If that is not bigotry then nothing is.

  • Ivkra

    Yeah, that’s fair. It’s just that this is almost exactly what I was complaining about on some post, weeks ago, that talked about a “Quiet, and mostly underground” movement where churches started accepting LGBTQ folks. Like… that’s great, and all, but how the hell are the LGBTQ Christians supposed to know y’all are out there, if you’re all doing your affirming quietly and underground?

    Step out into the light! Shout that you don’t think our sexuality is a sin! Because looking at it from here, it kinda looked (looks?) like a lot of churches go quietly because they’re afraid of the backlash if they shout from the rooftops.

    And, lo and behold, out comes a campaign inviting Christians who’re about Love and not bigotry/judgement to step out into the light and shout. You’re right – it could, if done wrong, turn into an Ally Chorus Who Doesn’t Do Anything. But I don’t think it will – and honestly, even if it does turn into just a chorus of “Hey, we’re here, we don’t think you’re awful sinners, and you’re welcome in our churches,” that’s a big step in its own right.

  • Ivkra

    Ehhhhh. A lot of the push back on that isn’t “How dare you, a straight guy, support LGBTQ rights?!” It’s “Why does this straight white rapper get a whole fuckton of credit for this one song, when POC artists and queer artists have been doing the same thing with no recognition for years? Why is he brave, but they’re thugs?”

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I mostly enjoy listening to his podcast, though I find it occasionally triggering for personal reasons and need to pause it for a while to let that pass. On the whole, I find the good information to far outweigh the bad. I also find advice columns a guilty pleasure and enjoy learning about offbeat fetishes/sex acts/etc, so the podcast scratches both of those itches quite nicely.

    I’m really not invested enough to spend several posts defending the guy, though. If people find him off-putting, that’s their prerogative.

    So to answer your question: I hope not!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I’ve seen a lot of shots directed toward him personally, as if he could (or should) limit how popular the song became. I wish others had his success too, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a powerful song and an even better video. Anyone who can make it through the whole thing without tearing up is apparently made of stone.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Dude. I was here already. You came to us, we didn’t come to you. You’re the one who seems to be havign an exisitential crisis over the fact that anyone would dare to suggest that your icon is anything less than a total saint.

    Also, that whole thing where you freak out at the use of profanity? That’s textbook fundie bullshit. We’ve heard it from the forced-birther,s from the raving homophobes, from the guy who wants to deny medical treatment to the mentally ill, and from you.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    That’s, ah, really not what he’s saying. He’s saying the person should look for relationships with people with compatible sex drives. If you listen to his show, at least once every other show will be a really heartbreaking call from someone with a normal sex drive whose partner has decided to unilaterally end sex in the relationship, but refuses to allow the other person to look for sexual fulfillment outside the relationship. Sexual compatibility is incredibly important, and I think we as a society don’t attach it the weight it deserves.

    That being said, “inflicting yourself on a normally sexual person” is really terrible language.

  • Verna

    NALT is tainted by its bad theology. Having Dan Savage be a part of it fits perfectly. The blind leading the blind.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I had the notion it was pronounced like that, but I can see why it might be pa-THEE-os instead, the spelling gives no indication of the way to say it.

  • Anon

    Haha, I was going to say the same. For everyone who seems injured by this, it’s quite a compliment – Paul Ryan is almost universally regarded as an exceptionally handsome man. It’s his words and deeds that are a problem, and a deficiency that our Fred does not share.

    … But if you could, Fred, do avoid the muscle shirts and backwards baseball caps.

  • DStecks

    Of all the things I expected him to look like, “exactly like my dad” was not one of them.

  • Gaudior

    Yeah, strong agreement with Frank, here. Dan Savage has been talking about sexuality and gender for three of the decades during which those topics have undergone the most change and rethinking ever. Combine that with his persona of being irreverent and snarky, and he’s said a lot of really offensive, stupid things. But he’s also changed his views tremendously on all the issues people are discussing here, most notably on issues involving trans*, bisexuality, and women’s bodies and rights. I agree that it’s worth calling out people when they mess up, but it’s a problem when we don’t notice that that calling people out has worked– that because we called someone out on their behavior, they’ve actually changed. People spent a long time yelling at Dan Savage about what he was doing wrong, and it was effective. If we don’t acknowledge that it can be effective, then what’s the point of calling people out on things in the first place?

  • dpolicar

    If we don’t acknowledge that it can be effective, then what’s the point of calling people out on things in the first place?

    It calls attention to the person being called out as a potential enemy of the tribe.

    Against outsiders this can be a genuine defense against external threat. For example, if the person is a non-obvious genuine threat, being called out robs them of protective camouflage and the element of surprise.

    Against in-group members this is primarily a way of enforcing compliance with group norms… encouraging people to “get right with the group,” as the phrase once went… by the implied threat of exclusion.

    Of course, performing such services for the good of the group typically also raises the in-group status of the people doing the calling out, as it should.

    Which means that, inevitably, low-cost analogs of it will be co-opted as a signal by status-seekers, and distinguishing genuine champions of the group’s interests from mere status-seekers becomes important.

    (Yes, I realize you meant it as a rhetorical question. But it’s a good question just the same.)


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