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:

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, 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.


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  • Part of the problem is that there are Christians out there who don’t want to help. And they won’t listen to LGBT people. But they might listen to other Christians.
    Hence the videos.

  • JustoneK

    So he gets a pass despite plenty of public record for what he’s said because of Fred’s (sorta? I have not seen any) endorsement?
    I am iffy about the project. Savage’s involvement makes it even iffier, because of what is so readily available right now and what I am retaining about him over the past coupla years. Fred Clark, here, gets the benefit of my doubt (OH YAY GO ME) for good intent and good action. Dan Savage does not, because of plenty of evidence of neither and plenty of evidence of sheer self-aggrandizing douchenozzlery. And yes, it stings when something that appears evident to me is questioned without so much as a basic google/wikipedia search, because there is always room for me to be wrong, and I am always expecting _to be wrong_.

  • Sue White

    Well, I don’t know anything about Dan Savage, but as far as I can tell the project isn’t about him. I gather he’s been a jerk, but they’re not all like that.
    As for me, I just want to see more Slacktivist videos!

  • Wednesday

    Yeah, now that I’m googling I see he’s got a bad history with trans issues and rape survivors. >_<

    I are disappoint, Dan Savage.

  • Hi, Fred!

    Hi, Fred’s giant stack of Left Behind books stacked neatly behind him! :D

  • Quicumque

    I find the griping about Dan Savage quite inexplicable.

    I’ve been listening to his podcast for 3 years now, and can’t for the life of me imagine what constitutes “misogyny” (let alone “unrepentant misogyny”) on his part.

    In fact, calling him a misogynist seems to me to empty the term of meaning.

    I can imagine that that delicate souls might find his swearing too much to bear, and thus deem him an “asshole.” But in my view, he uses swearing to good and calculated effect (in much the same way that Martin Luther did).

    If Dan Savage is anything, he’s a moralist. The role of public moralist always has its dangers and temptations, but in his case, I think he’s negotiated them pretty well.

  • chrisalgoo

    That’ll preach.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Funny, he looks exactly like how I’ve imagined him for 10 years. Well, actually for 15 years. Which is about how long it’s been since I’ve seen him in person. And he doesn’t look like he’s aged very much. I might have to hate him for that. Nah.

  • JustoneK

    The fuck? A moralist. Right. Who told a rape victim she was making it up and then compared her continuing to read his blog to rape.

  • JustoneK

    I am going to leave this here, as it is full of links to direct posts he has made, and I’m going to leave the Savage thread alone, because srsly fuck this noise.

  • Does he have a specific Pennsylvanian accent?

    *is clueless about US accents that aren’t New York, Alabama, or Boston*

  • yesteray

    Never was.

  • Leum

    Fred, I sent a letter to NALT, but I also want to address a similar one to you.

    A decade ago, a Christian who said “It’s not a sin to be gay” was clearly speaking out against the belief that having sex with someone of the same sex was not a sin. This is no longer the case. Almost every Christian denomination has jumped on the “it’s not a sin to be gay” bandwagon. And most of them are lying.

    They’ve decided, you see, that being gay simply means experiencing what they call “same-sex attraction.” And they’re perfectly happy to say that experiencing temptation isn’t a sin. However, dig down deep enough, and you’ll discover that they still believe giving into the temptation is a sin. They still teach their queer kids that if they have sex with someone of the same sex and don’t repent, God will damn them to Hell.

    Because of this, Christians who wish to be queer-positive need to do more than say “It’s not a sin to be gay.” You need to be explicit, you need to be crude. You have to say, baldly, that having sex with someone of the same sex is not a sin. Anything less will be met by people like me, who have been burned by apparently queer-positive Christians one time too many, with distrust at best, hostility at worst.

    Thank you.

  • RJ (TO)

    Funny…I’ve read his brilliantly articulate views on tribalism before and always picked up on a very (justifiably) angry, disgusted tone in his written words. Now hearing and seeing him express those very same views on video he comes across more like an all around nice guy who just wants you to “get it”.

  • Carstonio

    Fred has far more patience with homophobes than I do, I would fantasize about getting in their faces and snarling, “What the hell is wrong with you? You have no right to tell other people who they shouldn’t love or marry, so just shut the hell up.”

  • RJ (TO)

    Lol, I thought the same thing, only minus the icy detachment in the eyes.

  • It seems to me like he’s gotten rather full of himself from being pretty much THE go-to gay/lesbian Dear Abby columnist going back to the 1990s.

  • He sounds like he’s from the North (US-wise), which to my ears sounds much like the way Barack Obama speaks.

  • Another thing to keep in mind –

    You know how people fulminate and fume about how every Muslim everywhere totally needs to disavow any extremist sect?

    This is Fred voluntarily doing the same thing vis-a-vis Christianity even though the majority of people here would actually make the distinction between what Fred believes and what people like Pat Robertson believe.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    I grew up mostly in Pennsylvania, so what I really mean is that he sounds normal! But then, my kids – who grew up in South Jersey – say that I have a Pennsylvania accent. (What the details of a “Pennsylvania accent” are, I don’t know; I don’t hear it. I’d explain if I could.)

  • Kirala

    On a related note: who the heck is Dan Savage, and what does he have to do with the topic post?
    …is what I thought when I saw the initial comment. I’ve gleaned the answer to the second question and now have the vaguest idea about the first, but there is no way in the universe I’d’ve been looking around this project and thinking, “Huh. Guess they support THAT kind of troublemaker’s style.”

    Which is not to say that one shouldn’t be choosy about project supporters/allies. Just to say that in this particular case, this particular n00b was much more involved with Dan Savage by means of the backlash than the association.

  • Kirala

    Caveat: I can be slightly accent-deaf. For example, I can’t tell the difference between an Aussie and a Kiwi accent. (Sorry, Deird!)

    But to this North Carolinian-child-of-Midwestern-Americans, Fred has no accent. Or rather, a regionally-neutral USA accent.

    (Looking good, Fred! Brave of you to expose yourself to irrelevant discussion of your accent to make the video!)

  • Truthfully, Aussie and Kiwi accents aren’t that dissimilar. It’s pretty much just a slight change in the way the vowels are done…

  • Call it mid-Atlantic or Bowash south of NYC maybe. I’ve heard lots of similar-sounding voices from the Baltimore-Wilmington De area as well as Philly. Pittsburghers speak with more of a Great Lakes bark.

  • JP

    And bisexuals! Don’t forget bisexuals!

    (…Although better to forget us, I suppose, than to promote destructive beliefs about us the way Savage consistently has)

  • JP

    Not sure how the Aussies would react to that assertion; but I’m pretty sure every Kiwi who read that just flinched.

  • Eric Boersma

    it’s about a gay man whittling down a person to just a vagina

    To paraphrase The Daily Show: it must really suck to have the entirety of your personality whittled down to just your genitals. That guy’s a real dick.

  • Eric Boersma

    Two things: I care what you say. A lot of other people do, too.

    Secondly, I would so watch a periodical video that you put out if you ever decided to go in that direction. Every one.

  • Even more than I am thunderstruck by what Fred turns out to look like (I had this image in my head that I think in retrospect was a stock photo he attached to an article years ago), I’m shocked by how it turns out you pronounce “Patheos”.

  • I am an Aussie, and I didn’t flinch.

    I agree that the accents are, to our ears, very different. But, from the perspective of someone with a US accent, Aussie and Kiwi accents are extremely similar.

  • Armando Ortega Cisneros

    Thank you for your kind words. Thank you, handsome.

  • Gil

    Fred if you had a podcast I would subscribe to it in a SECOND

  • Wednesday

    Dammit, I am so sorry, JP, I actually knew previously about his Stupid about bisexuals from my sister, and plum forgot that he had Stupid in that regard until you reminded me. *shakes fist at Dan Savage again for good measure*

  • Here’s a helpful tip: If you find yourself about to say “I don’t see why people get upset about X. I examined X but did not ask any of the people who get upset about it, and working from first principles, I see nothing worthy of offense. I guess that it’s just Y (where Y is some thing that, were it the case, would imply that the people who are upset are being oversensitive), because some people sure are oversensitive. My enlightened awareness sees that Y is not really a problem, and therefore the people who are upset over X should just get over it,” then what you need to do is to stop and go ask the people who are upset why it bothers them.

    It will help you avoid looking like an asshole.

    Try to ask in a way that isn’t condescending or proceeds from the assumption that the people you’re asking are being irrational or need to justify themselves to you before their upset counts as valid.

  • JP

    ‘Sokay, Wednesday! I wasn’t annoyed at you – just at Dastardly Dan. I think it’s probably quicker to list the groups he hasn’t said terrible stuff about than to list the ones he has.

  • JP

    I haven’t been close to too many Aussies (which is why I wasn’t sure how they’d see it – thanks for clarifying you’re one!), but for a USian I’ve known an unusual number of New Zealanders, and without exception, all of them have got quite defensive when asked if they were from Australia on the basis of their accent. They’ve also all been keen to point out the differences in the accent. One of them told me that the Kiwi accent is closer to British English, while the Australian accent is closer to US English; ever since he mentioned that to me, I can hear what he meant. (Although there are some Kiwi vowels that honestly don’t sound like anyplace else to me.)

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s all good – and certainly more interesting than the generic, Pacific Northwest US accent I inherited!

  • Brad Ellison

    That’ll preach.

  • Diona the Lurker

    He’s also said unpleasant things about asexuals.

  • Ever since Fred’s article on Night Vale, I’ve been hearing about it like everywhere, having never heard of it even once beforehand.

    Ironically, I was expecting Fred’s voice to be a lot more NPR and a lot less Art Bell.

  • The thing about Kiwi vowels is that they did a double vowel-shift, rather than the single vowel-shift done by the rest of the English speaking world.

    (Vowel-shift: the long “a” should be an “AHH” sound, not an “AY” sound; long “e” should be “AY”, not “EE”; long “i” should be “EE”, not “EYE”, and so on. We all shifted so that our long vowels no longer connect properly to our short ones – and then, New Zealand shifted again so that their vowels connect up again. So, their long “a” being “AY”, their short “a” is now an “EH” sound; their long “e” being “EE”, their short “e” is now “IH”, and so on.)

  • One other thing I’ve noticed is that even people from Washington and Oregon have noticeably different accents than British Columbians. The main thing seems to be in the lengthening of vowels which doesn’t happen as much in Canadian English.

    (That being said having been around British people a lot in the last decade, I’ve noticed some interesting similarities in some word pronunciations of people in the Appalachian states (Kentucky and thereabouts) with British English.

  • banancat

    I’ll be more impressed when you get over 9,000. (Sorry, is that still A Thing?)

  • Brad Ellison

    Yeah, that’s where I am. Savage is an asshole, but even assholes can get stuff right now and again, and It Gets Better has been a really positive thing despite its genesis. I think this falls into the same category.

  • dr ngo

    When I lived in Australia, I was told that a New Zealander was just an Aussie who had had elocution lessons.

  • thing1

    Yay, Fred! This made me feel loved and happy deep in my lesbian Christian heart. :)

  • AnonaMiss

    He’s got a mild country Northwest Territories accent, yeah. For example, the ij diphthong beginning every use of “evangelical”, which in a central midwestern accent would be shorter and approach “eh”. (As opposed to a north-central midwestern accent, which would also have the long ij, but would go into Sven and Olie territory.)

  • Ivkra

    Speaking as an LGBT Christian who walked away from the church after it became clear my whole self was no longer welcome there, it is so damn beautiful to see projects like this. For years – this would’ve been the fourth, I think – Slacktivist was where I went instead of church.

    It’s been kinda sucky to be an queer Christian for a long, long, long time – I’m only catching the tail end of the era at worst, and I know how lucky this generation is.

    To have a bunch of Christians – yes, straight Christians included – come out and look you in the eyes (figuratively speaking) and say “God doesn’t hate you, I don’t hate you, and your sexual orientation is not a sin,” is a sort of – I don’t know, not closure. Healing, maybe. Bridging a gap. Telling us that we no longer have to seek God alone, that we are actually welcome in the church is… it’s water in the desert. [minor edits, sorry.]

  • Tangentially related, I was talking about the pushback Macklemore has been receiving about the success on his video Same Love, and the person I was commenting on put it this way: When straight people stand up for us, it helps show that we’re not just a fringe movement with no relevance or power outside of our own numbers.

  • Matthias

    After looking at the list I have the feeling that he is a gay version of Pat Buchnan. Both are spewing vitriol against “the other”, women, bisexuals, transsexual, people of colour. The only difference is that for Dan Savage gays do (for obvious reasons) not belong to the other category

  • Kagi Soracia

    Thank you. I wish there were more like you.