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.

 

  • JustoneK

    Fred, I love you, I love reading you here, but Savage is an unrepentant misogynist asshole and I don’t think this is the best idea.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Ha! Fred very much has the style of a man who came of age in the late 80′s/early 90s. Someone who hasn’t been here before could guess his age pretty accurately just on that. Though he does look good and healthy. :-)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Yes he is, but he has a name so I can’t hold it against people with the right message using that name.

    Imagine how I felt when I saw Savage on Bill Maher, and he said, “Lefties hate Obamacare more than righties, and we hate defending it, because we want single payer.” I’ve been waiting a long time to hear someone say that, so the fact that it was Savage made me throw up in my mouth a bit.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Fred, that is an absolutely beautiful piece, I can’t wait to share it with my Baptist boss.

  • JustoneK

    Urgh.
    It is something I’ve never been able to grasp. Doesn’t the association influence the message you’re trying to send out here?
    I don’t expect people to be wrong all the time the same way nobody can be right all the time, but there is still…borders. And somewhere Savage crossed a lot of mine.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Sure, but that assumes that everybody feels that way about Savage, and unfortunately most people don’t.

  • Sue White

    I doubt I could guess it, he looks younger than I pictured him. :-D

  • Trevor

    How dare you look and sound completely differently from how I’ve been imagining you for the past 10 years!

  • Rick

    He is? Unrepentant from what? How is he a misogynist? And why is he an asshole?

  • Wednesday

    Well, not everyone is aware of what Savage has done/said that demonstrated his sexism. Last I heard, he was an asshole when it came to body weight of all genders, but for whatever reason I hadn’t heard about his misogyny until now. (Probably because I’ve stopped reading as many feminist blogs as I used to.)

  • JustoneK
  • JustoneK

    What I keep finding out is he’s p much an asshole to a LOT of demographics.

  • Bob Loblaw Lobs Law Bomb

    Just FYI, that was not particularly helpful.

  • JustoneK

    Thanks, Rick.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, it turns out that Fred sounds like a guy from Pennsylvania (so that’s no surprise at all), but I’ll admit I was picturing somebody who looked older. Maybe I expected all that time with The Worst Books In The World to cause premature aging. The actual words of the video, though – definitely you, Fred.

  • Jerry

    Your video and what you said was AWESOME. Thank you so much.

  • Oswald Carnes

    I always picture people who are smarter than I am as older than I am. Turns out this is no longer the case.

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

    He most certainly does! :)

  • Rick

    Whut? I don’t get it… which one of those do you want me to read? All of them? Okay. The first one says that dan isn’t inclusive enough of trans people. Is that what you mean by misogyny? No, it must be the second one about his “bad” advice to a rape-victim. Is that what bugs you? I read the article and all the comments, I don’t really think he’s a rape-apologist, do you? Maybe it’s the third one, where Jezebel complains that a gay man doesn’t like vaginas enough. Yup, that’s misogynistic. JustoneK, can you articulate your beef with Mr. Savage instead of just making me GUESS what your problem is?

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

    Very well-said. Could I ask that at some point you embed the text of your speech into the Youtube video as subtitles? Youtube’s voice recognition system is………

    Shall we say

    Much less than ideal.

    I wear hearing aids and as such I often don’t quite catch what someone said and having to flip back and forth to a transcript doesn’t help very much. (I like to watch videos in full screen)

  • JustoneK

    You want me to justify my claims to your satisfaction without looking at anything else first. Nah.

  • skyblue

    Beautiful! I hope this takes off the way It Gets Better did, it’s got the potential to do some serious good.

  • Nicole Resweber

    I like this video. I’m less sure about the project…

    From Jon Shore’s introduction: The NALT Christians Project is like a massive orchestra consisting of players who simply walk in, take a seat, and begin adding to a symphony so insanely beautiful that to hear any isolated strain within it—any solo instrument, any solitary voice—is to be heartened and uplifted, no matter who you are.

    Shouldn’t Christians who really want to help be, I dunno, LISTENING to the symphony, not creating it? “Not All Like That” is such an obvious derailing tactic in every other context, it just seems like a bad place to start “reaching out” from.

    Also Dan Savage.

  • JustoneK

    We wanna be good allies where are our damn cookies?

  • Nicole Resweber

    That’s what it feels like, and frankly, why it surprised me to see Fred as its poster child.

  • The_L1985

    I think NALT is a good idea in spite of Savage’s involvement. Just because the person who came up with a name (and nothing else) for the NALT movement happens to be a douchebag, doesn’t mean that NALT itself is somehow tainted by his extremely peripheral involvement.

  • The_L1985

    …but aren’t some of the NALT Christians also GLBT?

    As for the Dan Savage thing, see my comment below. I agree that Savage is an asshole, but that isn’t enough to make NALT a bad thing in and of itself.

    Hitler loved dogs, but that doesn’t make all dogs tainted just because a really horrible person liked them!

  • The_L1985

    I don’t see it as “gimme a cookie,” myself. I see it as, “If you’re on the fence about this issue, you don’t have to be anymore. If you’re a GLBT Christian, you don’t have to hate yourself for that. Love one another.”
    Plus, what’s stopping GLBT Christians from joining the NALT movement and running with it?

  • JustoneK

    You don’t think that’s what’s going to happen with it tho? That is what I’m hung up on. Because it is a very frequent pattern – look at us, we are inclusive and loving, except for you we never liked you, rinse and repeat.

  • Nicole Resweber

    I’m sure they are. But to borrow from what I said on the last post, if NALT, like It Gets Better, is directed to members of the LGBTQ community, worst name ever.

    If it’s supposed to be directed inwards, to Christians Like That, it still doesn’t really capture the challenge that YOU, dear viewer, don’t have to be Like That.

    I think there COULD be a way to do that, I’m just not sure that a Savage-branded self-congratulatory campaign is that challenge.

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

    That being said I think the theme of it fits with a phrase I often like to say:

    “You shall not side with the great against the powerless”.

    Those who have the wherewithal and the social capital to side with the great – and would find it in their best interests to do so – and refuse to in order to side with the powerless…

    Frankly, they’re just as needed as those among the powerless who can best rally those without power to stick together against the forces of those who would keep society divided and conquered in the name of preserving institutions of power which serve to purposely de-voice those who are considered socially out of the norm.

    (Repeats what I said on the other NALT thread)

    Qualifications? I happen to be a QUILTBAG person kthxbai.

  • flat

    well he is diferent than I expected, but well I think that matters for everyone here at slacktivist.

  • Nathaniel

    How many posts does he have to look at before he can ask for clarification?

    Is it 10? 20? 100? Inquriing minds want to know.

  • Mark Z.

    Yeah, it’s called making an argument.

  • Mark Z.

    Also an obvious derailing tactic: bringing up Dan Savage.

    Also an obvious derailing tactic: complaining about derailing tactics.

    “Derailing” is only a bad thing if you have an interest in keeping the conversation on rails.

  • flat

    off topic I just placed comment number 900 at slacktivist and now I place comment 901.

  • JustoneK

    Apparently it’s zero for him. Must be nice.
    The laundry list of what a basic google turns up isn’t enough for you here or it’s not believable enough?

  • JustoneK

    You read the article and all the comments and you _don’t_ think he’s a misogynist. We are on two very different planes, it would seem.
    Jezebel barely counts. It isn’t about a gay man disliking vaginas, it’s about a gay man whittling down a person to just a vagina, which is by no means a unique trait to gays or even to men.
    All of your points you mention here are reason, yes. How they do not seem to make that sense to you is a little scary.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I don’t know, I read it as an actual response to the “vocal minority of haters” problem Christianity has. A lot of us complain about if it’s such a minority, why aren’t any others speaking up and refusing to enable them? Well… that’s what this is. Turns out if you want people to speak up and refute the haters, they’ve got to speak up to do it.

    This is pretty much what a lot of people have been requesting for a long time as a basic, good-faith effort to help demonstrate there really is more to American Christianity than the hate and exclusion. If it goes well, hopefully it could be used to delegitimize the standing narrative of how news media’s chosen handful of haters really speak for Christianity, and we can get some more supportive religious voices in the public sphere pulling for equal rights.

    And this is what it’s about, after all – the public sphere. The one that consists of everyone’s voices. It turns out that listening and silently enabling both involve silence and the important way to tell the difference is once the listeners stand up and demonstrate what they have learned. At some point those who have been listening to the symphony should also help create it once more.

    Fred has, by this point, long earned the benefit of the doubt from me on this topic so I’m willing to give it to him and by extension the project. “Dan Savage,” yes, but Savage isn’t always wrong either and this is a thing that can (and should) grow bigger than him.

  • JustoneK

    Terribly sorry, this is Abuse!

  • Nicole Resweber

    I do think this is an important point. And I if my doubts prove ill-founded, believe me, I will be more than happy to eat my words.

    I would LOVE nothing more than for this to serve as a rallying cry for people with social capital to side with those without. I fear that this will become a shibboleth for a certain group to pat each other on the back for “being inclusive” without having to actually interact with or listen to QUILTBAG people.

  • Nicole Resweber

    Not really bringing him up when he’s one of the people spearheading this, but okay.

    Derailing discussions aside, “we’re not all like that!” is a phrase that legitimately makes many people feel uncomfortable and unheard. Seems like an poor choice of rallying cry for a message of inclusivity.

  • The_L1985

    I guess I’m just stupidly optimistic, then. *shrugs*

  • JustoneK

    I am very much Pessimistic, make no mistake bout that. :P

    And I have the horror of believing it’s the most rational way to be.

  • Nicole Resweber

    This is a very good point. As I said elsewhere, I would love nothing more than for my doubts to be unfounded. And if people like Fred are the ones getting involved, then I’m hopeful they will be.

  • Rick

    I agree that some of the quotes and things could be read as misogynistic. Is he that way all the time? Is that him at his core? I don’t know. I certainly don’t think it’s my place to judge him as a person… those words, maybe, but him, no. I do think he’s done a lot of good for people, and apparently Fred thinks so too, or else he wouldn’t have participated in this project.

  • Geo X

    HOLY CRUD YOU LOOK LIKE PAUL RYAN.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I was expecting Fred to look kind of like some of my father’s friends. It turns out he looks a lot more like one of my older brother’s friends. This should probably give me some further perspective on the fact I’ve technically been an adult for more than a decade now.

    Also I’d say I imagined his voice as a bit deeper, but really I’d just been assigning him one of my stock mental voices for unidentified speakers. It’s probably going to reassert itself soon.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    aagh no why did you put that thought in my mind?!

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

    I don’t see the resemblance. O.o


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