Open letter to Matt Barber.

The Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber has an open letter to gay teens in the wnd.  Here’s my open letter to Matt Barber.

Hi Matt.  I’m a straight guy.  To be perfectly honest, the thought of another guy’s penis repulses me only slightly less than your letter.  And yet, here I am, writing you this letter to explain why your latest screed got so much wrong about homosexuality.

Who am I? I’m a husband and a father. More importantly, and by the grace of God, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.

Following god was also more important to Abraham than his fatherhood of Isaac.  That’s why, when god commanded Abraham to murder Isaac, Abraham was willing.  In this scenario, there is literally no command so flagrantly evil that you would not follow, if only you believed it originated from god.  This is the same mindset that moved Andrea Yates, the Christian woman who drowned her children because god told her to, to commit filicide.  This is also what prompted Daphne Spurlock, the deeply Christian woman who slit her son’s throat at the behest of god’s voice, to kill her progeny.  You cannot argue that the god you worship would never command these things, because he did so with both Abraham and Jephthah.  Like Abraham, those women passed god’s loyalty test.

There comes a point where you must recognize that no good man accepts a wicked master.  If the commands of god are deleterious to humanity, particularly those humans we love, then it doesn’t matter if he is god – our response to his commands should be “no.”  To do otherwise, even if it’s out of love for god, is not the noble quality you believe it to be – it is actually moral irresponsibility.

If you believe that there is no egregious violation of human liberty or cruelty that cannot be enacted by god’s command, then we have nothing to discuss.  Of course, you can no longer realistically talk about loving someone, if you’re willing to siphon away their happiness to appease god.  If you do so willingly, rather than out of coercion, you love god and you love yourself, and that is all.

What I write I write with the purest of aims and with your well-being in mind – physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, both now and for eternity.

Very much in the same way the Mafia approaches a store owner to sell him protection.  They only have the store owner’s well-being in mind, and they want to save the store owner from what they are going to do to him if he doesn’t fly straight.  If the mafia doesn’t want bad things to happen, why create the threat in the first place?  Ditto, if god doesn’t want gay people in hell, why make hell in the first place?

You will read truth here, not because I say it’s true – I’m nobody – but, rather, because the Creator of the universe, the very God Who wove you together in your mother’s womb made it true.

His truths never change.

And your letter goes on as if this point is entirely uncontested.  If you purport to speak only truth, I would advise you that segueing directly into “a guy rose from the dead and walked on water, and that’s why I’m right and the entire discipline of modern psychology is wrong” isn’t the strongest opener.

I have three kids, a boy and two girls. My son will soon enter his teenage years. I’ve had many people ask me what I’d say to my children if one of them came to me and declared: “Dad, I’m gay.”

Here’s what I’d say. I’d tell them exactly what I’m about to tell you.

I love you. I neither judge you nor condemn you. I accept you and I would die for you.

But you are not “gay.”

Yes, you may be physically attracted to people of the same sex, but how you act on those attractions is entirely your choice. Who you are – your identity – is not defined by your sexual feelings, temptations or behaviors. The difference between who you are and what you feel or do is as the difference between night and day.

Actually, being attracted to someone of the same sex, regardless of whether or not you bump hips with them, is precisely what it means to be gay.  As Ed Brayton puts it:

Who you are, your identity, is, in fact, defined by your desires and preferences. That’s why it’s called a sexual orientation. A straight person can choose to have sex with someone of the same gender (porn stars do it routinely) and a gay person can choose to have sex with someone of the opposite gender (lots of closeted gay people in sham marriages have done that), but that does not change who they are or what their orientation is at all.

You are the product of your desires.  Your favorite food, what you find attractive in others, your favorite sports teams, what moves you to compassion, all of these things make up the person that you are.

Here is who you are: You are a wonderful, beautiful, precious human being created in the image and likeness of the one righteous and Holy God of the universe.

God has quite eclectic interests, apparently.  If everybody is made in the image of god, then god is both healthy and has Downs syndrome.  He also hates the Chicago Cubs and…well, he hates the Chicago Cubs.  People are varied and are composed of different, often contradictory qualities.

But if being made in god’s image had the effect of, say, making me want to drown every person on the planet save for eight people or impregnate virgins in their sleep where their consent cannot be acquired, if I also had compassion I would fight those urges with all that I am.  It’s why I fight the urge to overeat.  Some facets of our “design” (and I use quotations because I obviously don’t believe we were designed) are antithetical to human and societal happiness.  It doesn’t matter from whence they arose, they are still not things we should do.

If I’m made in the image of a god who thought stoning non-virgins to death was a good thing, I will not resign myself to a life spent living in that image.  I will attempt to be better.  And that is what you should do, Matt.

But you are flawed – you are a sinner.

I am flawed – I am a sinner.

We are all flawed sinners – corrupted beings in a corrupted world. We are all tempted by sin.

You are flawed, just not on your perception of what god wants, right Matt?

Those temptations manifest themselves in different ways for each of us. We are all on equal footing, however, as to how we react to those temptations.

Homosexual behavior is always wrong – demonstrably and absolutely wrong.


Every major world religion, thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology declare this objective reality from the rooftops.

Yes, we’re all tempted.  It’s just that god made some of us tempted by the acceptable set of genitals and others by the ones that could land them in hell for all eternity.  That god, he’s a real practical joker.

And how does biology declare that homosexual behavior is objectively wrong, Matt?  You never say.  You just toss it out there and move onto your next equally unsupported claim as if we’ll treat your moral proclamations with the same blind deference with which you treat the ones men scribbled into the bible a few thousand years ago.  Biology can only tell us what is natural and how the mechanics of life work, not what is right or wrong (they are not necessarily the same thing).  Biology can only tell us the facts about how life works – it’s up to us to decide what to do with those facts.

For instance, biology can only tell us that human beings are born without pierced ears.  It says nothing about whether or not choosing to pierce our ears is right or wrong.

And biology is clear: thousands of species demonstrate homosexual behavior.  These animals don’t believe in god so they cannot be rebelling against him.  They are only doing what they are biologically motivated to do.  Is it so strange that some humans, who share much of the same DNA, could have the same biologically ingrained desires?

Though your heart may deceive you, something deep within you knows this to be true. Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. …” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It also says somebody lived in the belly of a fish for three days.  Consider the source.

Some say, “But Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.” First, we don’t know this.

You’d think if it was important he could’ve managed to squeeze it into his book.  Or was the ancestry of scarcely relevant people, long descriptions of all the places to which Jesus and his disciples were traveling, and the stories of people getting turned into pillars of salt too important?  Or maybe the bible could’ve added another page to accommodate the two sentences where Jesus says “being gay is bad, mkay?”

We have no record in Scripture of Him specifically addressing homosexual sin, but neither do we have a record of His addressing incest, bestiality or other sexual sins.

Wait, so we have to rely on our own moral intuitions for those?  What if our moral intuitions tell us that being gay is ok?  Why must we defer to your moral impulses where Jesus is silent and not to our own?

Jesus was clear. He condemned all sexual immorality as detailed within the moral law. He was clear that any sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage between husband and wife is sexual immorality – sin.

So god made us with desires and then, rather than telling us himself, he sends a bunch of guys who claim they spoke to god (y’know, just like every other religion) to tell us that god set the rules in opposition.  You’re not making arguments, Matt, you’re just making claims.  You’re not giving us any reason to believe they’re true, and there are plenty of reasons to distrust you.

That is to say, yes; unrepentant homosexual behavior is disobedience to God.

First, you need to convince me that your god exists.  And, even if your god did exist, by what authority should we obey his commands?  He’ll torture us forever if we don’t?  Does that make us immoral or does it make god immoral?  Saying he’ll hurt us if we don’t do what he says only makes god more powerful than we, it does make his commands moral or good.  (See my post about what a savior looks like for more on this)

If we rebel against God and refuse to repent and ask His forgiveness, then we have chosen our own fate – we have chosen to disqualify ourselves from heaven.

We have chosen hell.

Untrue, it just means we find your claims that your particular god exists and that you know his will unconvincing.

Imagine if there were a doctor who told me I needed to take a particular medication and I said no.  In that case I’m rebelling against the doctor.  Now imagine some guy named Matt Barber came up to me and said there’s something wrong with me (even though I feel just dandy) and a doctor, who I can’t meet or question, said I needed to take a handful of medications.  I ask if I can go see another doctor and have them run some tests to find this thing that’s wrong with me and you, Matt Barber, tell me that modern science can’t detect the problem, but you can.  When I tell you to take a hike, I’m just rebelling against Matt Barber, because I don’t believe your doctor exists, and I don’t believe there’s a damn thing wrong with me.

That’s how it is with god here.  I’m not rebelling against your god.  I can’t be because I don’t believe he’s there.  I’m very much rebelling against you, Matt, because I believe you’re full of shit.  If god wanted our free will to mean something, he should allow us to make an informed decision.  He should have us born with the knowledge that god exists and of what his will is.  That way we could actually choose to rebel, and that choice would not get conflated with our inability to swallow absurd stories about someone rising from the dead just because our neighbor threatened us with hell.

I know, it’s not easy. Temptation is not easy.

Not all temptations are bad.  I’m tempted to help those less fortunate.  That’s a good temptation.  I’m also tempted to overeat, and I should fight that one.  Temptations that lead to happiness are more often just called “preferences”.

In the case of who you’re tempted to kiss, why should anyone fight that one like they fight the urge to overeat?  Oh yeah.  It’ll make them happy, but then god will roast them for it.  You seem to think the problem is the people kissing, not the god roasting them for it.  You’re wrong.

To sin, however, is easy.

You try finding a date when only 10% of the population is datable (and when many of those are closeted for fear of people like you, Matt Barber, making their lives hell before god has had the chance).  Yes, indulging our urges (like to own faces at League of Legends) is sometimes easy.  Sometimes it’s hard (helping the poor).  Who cares if it’s easy – you’re doing a crap job of explaining why it’s wrong.

If you are caught up in homosexual sin, you know – intuitively you know – that such conduct is wrong, that it is both immoral and unnatural behavior.

Leave it to somebody who follows a “religion of humility” to tell me what I know.  No, Matt Barber, I don’t know it’s immoral and, as I said above, it sure as shit ain’t unnatural.  What I do know is that loving a person who meets your criteria for attraction is fun and often fulfilling.  It brings much happiness into the one life we’re guaranteed.  That’s why we boggle at you and god.  In your case, you want to take that happiness away unless someone conforms to what makes Matt Barber happy.  In god’s case, he’ll punish someone for finding love and happiness.  You’re both immoral.

Truth is truth, even though we may deny it.

Truth is the product of reason and logic, even though you may deny it.

God has written His law on your heart.

Maybe he skipped me, because I haven’t notice.  Of course, if he wrote his law on the hearts of gay people, why did he make them desire that thing he didn’t want them to do?  That’s a pretty lousy way of imbuing a person with his rules.  “I have these rules, but I’m going to make you really want to break them.”

You are a physical being; but, more importantly, you are a spiritual being. When we sin, we create separation between ourselves and God.

If god’s a negative influence on my life and on humanity, good!  I also create as much separation between myself and the mafia as I can.  You seem to be convinced that just because someone is more powerful than we that we should do what he says.  I wonder if you also decry tyranny and coercion, Matt…

God’s word also says that when we sin sexually, it’s particularly egregious because our bodies are the temple of Christ.

Free porn for him then.  Free pizza too.  Hell, free meth in some places.

This separation from God – a natural result of sexual sin – can lead to depression and even despair.

Because Christians never get depressed.  You know what can also cause depression?  Loving someone you can’t be with, not because anybody is harmed, but because of one group’s ancient, arbitrary rules and their desire to make even non-believers conform to them.  Being unable to be with the person you love in the 21st century because a group of people are unwilling to let all the moral standards of the 1st century die along with slavery can lead to some real depression.  It can also lead to bitterness toward the religion at fault and its adherents and, frankly, I’m shocked that result isn’t more frequently achieved.

If you feel such despair, know this: it is not “homophobia” causing it, as adult enablers might tell you, but, rather, it is the sin itself that causes it (or struggling alone, absent Christ, with the temptation to sin).

No, it’s the homophobia.  Lots of gay people are perfectly happy.  When you hear their stories, they’ll often tell you how much happier they are having come out of the closet, rather than denying themselves and their affections for fear of the social consequences from Christians who, like you, claim to love them.

You are being used. Adult homosexual activists with a political agenda are using you as a pawn to achieve selfish goals in a dangerous political game.

Selfish?  Selfish?  Do you even know what that word means?  It is you, Matt, who wants gay people to contort their behavior to align with your desires, not theirs.  That’s selfish.  If LGBT people wanted to abide by your standards, they’d be doing it and your letter would be superfluous.  Adults like me (the homosexual activists who, in cases like mine, are straight) want others to find happiness for themselves, free of the senseless constraints and social pressures of people like you.  That’s the opposite of selfish.

It’s hard to use someone when your message is “follow your heart”.  Juxtapose that against your message, Matt, of “do what I say or god will hurt you.”

They may have convinced themselves otherwise, but they don’t care about you. They don’t love you. They can’t. Their version of “love” is built on lies. It’s devoid of truth.

Love without truth is hate.

I can’t care for the happiness of my other fellow human beings?  The obvious rebuttal would be an easy “Yes I can.  I care enough to write this letter and to deal with the hassle of fighting people like Matt Barber.”  The more appropriate and more satisfying rebuttal is “Fuck you.”

And for someone who keeps using the word “truth”, you’re pretty light on defending any of the assertions you make.  You don’t just achieve truth by declaring your beliefs to be true.  Wouldn’t it be great for the bible if it worked that way?

To any LGBT person reading this, one person here really does care for you.  On the one hand you have me who is saying to love who you want, regardless of whether or not I would find them attractive.  On the other hand you have Matt Barber, who is demonstrating his love for you by demanding that you be just like him (under pain of torture, and he worships the torturer).  One person here cares very much for you, the other one cares very much about his religious beliefs – so much so that he thinks you should ignore the precepts of whatever religion you hold dear to be bound by them.

If you continue down this wide, empty path, make no mistake: it will not “get better.”

It gets much, much worse.

Why would it get worse?  Let’s ask the American Psychiatric Association, the most prestigious battery of psychological minds on earth.

Prejudice and discrimination have social and personal impact. On the social level, prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are reflected in the everyday stereotypes of members of these groups. These stereotypes persist even though they are not supported by evidence, and they are often used to excuse unequal treatment of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. For example, limitations on job opportunities, parenting, and relationship recognition are often justified by stereotypic assumptions about lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

On an individual level, such prejudice and discrimination may also have negative consequences, especially if lesbian, gay, and bisexual people attempt to conceal or deny their sexual orientation. Although many lesbians and gay men learn to cope with the social stigma against homosexuality, this pattern of prejudice can have serious negative effects on health and well-being. Individuals and groups may have the impact of stigma reduced or worsened by other characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or disability. Some lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may face less of a stigma. For others, race, sex, religion, disability, or other characteristics may exacerbate the negative impact of prejudice and discrimination.

The widespread prejudice, discrimination, and violence to which lesbians and gay men are often subjected are significant mental health concerns. Sexual prejudice, sexual orientation discrimination, and antigay violence are major sources of stress for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Although social support is crucial in coping with stress, antigay attitudes and discrimination may make it difficult for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to find such support.

And while you, Matt Barber, say it will get worse if people don’t suppress their sexual orientation, the experts in the relevant science say the opposite.

Coming out is often an important psychological step for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Research has shown that feeling positively about one’s sexual orientation and integrating it into one’s life fosters greater well-being and mental health. This integration often involves disclosing one’s identity to others; it may also entail participating in the gay community. Being able to discuss one’s sexual orientation with others also increases the availability of social support, which is crucial to mental health and psychological well-being. Like heterosexuals, lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people benefit from being able to share their lives with and receive support from family, friends, and acquaintances. Thus, it is not surprising that lesbians and gay men who feel they must conceal their sexual orientation report more frequent mental health concerns than do lesbians and gay men who are more open; they may even have more physical health problems.

What did you say about love not being able to coexist with lies?

Consider, for instance, that according to the CDC this path will lead you, boys, to a one-in-five chance of contracting HIV/AIDS. The CDC also found that 64 percent of all syphilis cases strike “gay” males and that homosexual behavior leads to astronomical risk of nearly all other forms of STD.

Matt Barber’s conclusion:  So either don’t have sex, which all manner of studies demonstrates hardly ever happens, or just have sex with people of the opposite gender, because apparently that never results in STD.

My solution:  Get tested for STDs and use protection, just like straight people should.

Let’s follow your logic to its conclusion, Matt.  Lesbians have far fewer cases of STDs (using your source, the CDC).

To date, there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV in the United States database (K. McDavid, CDC, oral communication, March 2005).

Even lower than all those Christian straight people.  So should all women only sleep with other women, even though they may be attracted to men?  Should you let your wife and daughters know, or shall I?  It might be easier coming from me, that the women you care about need to only have responsible sex with people to whom they are not attracted.

Even more startling is the fact that, according to the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE), “[L]ife expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.”

First, even if this were true, so what?  Playing football has a similar effect, but if that’s what you want to do with your life, knock yourself out.

And what’s more, your quote is not the whole story according to Politifact:

The report’s authors, in 2001, took exception to conservatives who used their study to condemn the lifestyle of gay and bisexual men. The researchers said circumstances had changed since their study ended in the early 1990s.

“If we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved,” the authors wrote. “Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996.”

The researchers, however, did not conduct a new study on the life expectancy for gay and bisexual men.

We spoke to Julio Montaner, a co-author of the study and director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDs. He said Marshall’s statement is a “gross misrepresentation” of the research.

“To use my report to support the notion that gay and bisexual sex is somehow the reason why people die early is misusing the data,” Montaner said.

Montaner noted that his group’s original report was conducted at a time when the HIV epidemic was poorly controlled and treatments were ineffective. Since then, there have have been great strides in treating the disease and preventing its spread, Montaner said. In British Columbia, annual diagnoses of new infections have dropped from 900 in the mid-1990s to 300 in recent years, he said. Deaths from HIV also have fallen sharply, he said.

What else could be causing their lower average lifespan?  Oh yeah!  Suicide because of depression, which the APA says is caused by discrimination and prejudice which, in this country, is fomented almost exclusively from the pulpit.

Marshall, in his email, listed sent abstracts of other studies saying homosexuals have high rates of suicide attempts and certain types of cancer. Two of the studies cite high number of deaths among gay men from HIV and AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s.

It appears, Matt, that the Christian love that you so frequently cite is part of the reason the average lifespan of gay people is lower.

Unnatural behaviors beget natural consequences. “The wages of sin is death.”

Yeah, unnatural behavior like getting one’s ears pierced, taking painkillers, or buying an airplane ticket rather than walking.  Unnatural behaviors have some pretty awesome results a lot of the time.  What’s more, you have no evidence that homosexuality, while normal in thousands of other species, is unnatural in ours.  You also have no good reason that we should give the first shit if it was.

  But there is hope.

There is no hope without reason.  You can hope that diseases go away, but without a doctor using the products of human intellect, they won’t.  You can hope that you’ll stop being hungry, but until we employ the best techniques conceived by human to produce food and make it safe, you’re going to starve.

The problem, in this case, is a story about a god who has eternal torture waiting if people indulge the avenues to happiness with which god supposedly created them.  Fortunately, for us, it isn’t true.  And even if it was, why should our hope reside in the option to obey the cruel god you describe and not in wishes that such a god doesn’t actually exist so we can love whoever we want?

Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp.

Your definition of love is twisted beyond recognition, Matt.  The love you offer to LGBT people is so mangled that it is indistinguishable from hate.  I’ll not be giving your opinion on the value of the love of a god who committed genocide against the entire human race and called it moral any credence.

This is true not because of your so-called “sexual orientation,” but, rather, it is true in spite of it.

It’s true that some people find members of the same gender attractive.  There is far more evidence for this than anything you’ve insisted is true in your entire letter.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

And in reality, life for LGBT people in this country is often a nightmare, not because loving another man or another woman makes one miserable, but because there are a great many Christians determined to make LGBT people that way.  The respite in Jesus is tantamount to his followers backing the fuck off when someone decides it’s easier to pretend they’re someone else than to deal with the social consequences imposed by Christians for being who they are.   My message to you, Matt, and to every other Christian who thinks it’s a privilege granted by god for them to determine who other people should kiss, is that you should back the fuck off anyway, regardless of whether or not a person is willing to kowtow to your mythological bunkum.

Kids, take your sexual confusion – your struggle with sin – to Christ.

Because a life-long virgin from the 1st century will know better than all of modern psychology.  Pro tip: if we’re not deferring to that century for our policies on agriculture, science, and literally every other discipline, then we probably shouldn’t trust their knowledge about sex to be superior or more relevant.

No one else can give you rest.

There is no rest in hiding who you are in order to co-exist with people who would hate you if only they knew (even though they’d call their misery-inducing actions “love”).  If you take that road, you will always be tortured by the desire to be with people to whom you are truly attracted, and you will always live in fear of the Matt Barbers of the world will find out.  This is not rest.  This is a hell that is infinitely more real than the one with which Matt Barber and his ilk are threatening you.

You get one life.  It can be full of love as honestly as you can express it.  That will never happen if you’re letting Matt Barber and other believers dictate who you can love.  They’ll try to make you miserable, like an abusive husband who repeatedly tells his wife how much he really loves her.  Tell them to take a hike and decide that a life of love is worth enduring the slings and arrows of would-be tyrants rebuked.

And let allies and atheists like me help.  Despite what Matt Barber says, it does get better when you claim your life as your own.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Just to be clear

    Just to be clear; PATRICIDE is the act of killing a father or a mother, NOT a parent killing an offspring. My gosh people, is not that difficult.

    • JT Eberhard

      You’re right. Fixed.

    • Kulgur

      Patricide is killing a father. When mothers are killed, it’s MATRICIDE. My gosh, it’s not that difficult.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Since I have already admitted on this blog to being a pedant: I think patricide is just for killing a father, and matricide just for a mother. “Parricide” I thought was for either parent, but tells me that it may be used for either parent or for another close relative, hence encompassing patricide, matricide, fratricide, sororicide, and possibly even uxoricide (killing one’s wife). One could almost make a really ghoulish jingle out of the last part of the preceding sentence, couldn’t one?

      • Andrew Kohler

        Oh my, I forgot filicide! (If only it rhymed with “sororicide” and “uxoricide.” Wow, that really is morbid.) And I just checked: filicide can be used for a child of either gender (the Latin for son is filius and daughter is filia). So, keep that in mind next time Jephthah comes up.

        • Stogoe

          Kilicide is when you kill off both the heir to the line of Durin and his two nephews in the climactic final battle of your novel, leaving some bloke from the Iron Hills to show up and decide he’s next in line so phbbt.

    • IslandBrewer

      FLATUCIDE is either when you (1) “kill” your nacent fart by clenching your sphincter, or (2) murder someone in in an elevator after eating Chipotle morning, noon, and night for five days straight.

      My gosh people, it’s not that difficult.

      … unless you have a bowel obstruction.

      • Lee Harrison

        You owe me a scotch-and-coke-free monitor.
        Pro-tip: never literally LOL with a mouth full of alcoholic sticky beverage.

  • bee

    Stands up and applauds……

  • Jaime Wise

    Respect for standing up to this guy.

  • L. Poe

    All you had to say was, “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Apparently, you value the words of Leviticus above those of Jesus.”
    Use the Bible against Bible thumpers. It’s the only thing they actually understand. Anything else is an assault that would be TL;DR.

    • D. Hood

      L. Poe,
      If you are going to use the bible “against Bible thumpers”, make sure you do so intelligently and with integrity to the text. One of the primary rules in hermeneutics is to not take one part of the text (Bible) and form your thesis. Just because Jesus “said nothing about homosexuality”, doesn’t mean that you ignore what the rest of the Bible teaches. To imply that the words of Jesus are the only important sections of the Bible and the only part should be followed (by those who submit to the Bible) is ridiculous. I will be the first to admit that many so called “Christians” make fools of themselves by doing the same thing (ex: the guy holding a sign saying “God hates fags”);It’s disgusting and irresponsible.

      When studying the Bible, it is imperative to take every verse in context of the redemptive narrative of the entire bible. JT mentioned the story of Abraham and Issac; a story that must be interpreted within the context of the entire bible. I have no problem with JT or anyone else disagreeing with the Bible, as long as an accurate representation of the Bible has occurred; again, many Christians are terrible at this.
      One thing I do agree with….. God does hate the Chicago Cubs.

      • Rusty

        In context. Ok. In the case of Abraham. Kill your kid because God says so, then changes his mind to see just how loyal you are. Sounds to me like God’s a sadist.

    • Lee Harrison

      L. Poe – sorry, this generally doesn’t work. True bible-thumpers are very good at harmonising the gospels with OT. Instead of using the bible against unbelievers, what I’ve found works well is using shared humanity against them. Don’t call out biblical inconsistencies – instead call out inhumanities, unfairness, evil and callousness while pointing out that the person you are talking to is already a far better person than the god they claim to follow, because they’ve never condemned anyone to eternal pain for a finite transgression.

  • Jay

    And that’s why I’m glad people like you, JT, are the ones willing to wade knee-deep into the manure and deal with it so the rest of us don’t have to. I suspect my response to Matt Barber’s letter would have been a series of “FUCK YOU”s shrieked at the top of my lungs. He’s so full of shit it’s a wonder his eyes aren’t oozing brown.

  • Maddie

    That was fracking awesome. That is all.

  • iknklast

    So, JT, don’t be so shy. Tell us what you REALLY feel. ;-)

    Great rant. This part of his letter stuck out at me: “We have no record in Scripture of Him specifically addressing homosexual sin, but neither do we have a record of His addressing incest, bestiality or other sexual sins.”

    Maybe the correct conclusion is that Jesus didn’t regard these as sins. Maybe he wasn’t interested in telling people who to have sex with. Maybe he was OK with homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and other sexual ‘sins’.Or maybe he never said any of the other things he said, either (like Yogi Berra). Maybe all his words were put into his mouth by the gospel writers, just like Barber is putting words into his mouth now (very unsanitary, that.

  • Glodson

    This is why you are paid to write and I’m just a random jackass who what likes to write opinions on other people’s blogs.

    My letter would have simply been:

    Dear Matt Barber

    Go fuck yourself.


  • SparkyB

    I think Matt Barber gets one thing right, “Love without truth is hate.” It is just his brand of love, based on centuries-old unsubstantiated claims and not fact, that is tantamount to hate.

  • vini

    Epic win, JT. Thanks for being such a powerful ally. :)

    • Andrew Kohler

      Thanks from me too :-)

  • Andrew Kohler

    “If I’m made in the image of a god who thought stoning non-virgins to death was a good thing, I will not resign myself to a life spent living in that image. I will attempt to be better. And that is what you should do, Matt.”

    That is a true ZING! if ever I heard one :-D I’d never thought of it that way before, but I am going to have to use it in the future (with due citation). I also much enjoyed your version of the mob boss analogy (which I’ve heard from Matt Dillahunty) and the analogy of the nonexistent doctor.

    Even though JT has thoroughly eviscerated this loathsome and deplorable “letter” in magnificent form and with great thoroughness, I just can’t refrain from disparaging its noxious contents myself. I guess I lack the humility that no doubt Matt Barber thinks he has.

    “You will read truth here, not because I say it’s true – I’m nobody – ”

    Well, I agree with the last two words.

    “…but, rather, because the Creator of the universe, the very God Who wove you together in your mother’s womb made it true.”

    And just happened to choose Matt Barber as his vessel? As JT said, what humility! And “wove you together” !? Dude, I’m not a quilt, and I wasn’t made on a loom. This matter of what I am/am not brings me to:

    “But you are not ‘gay.’”

    If anyone actually said this to me in person, I think I would stare blankly for several seconds, then start laughing, and then inform them that I am a more qualified judge of that question and have reached quite the opposite conclusion. Frivolity aside: one of the most awful ways to exert control over someone is to decree what she or he feels, as though this were possible.

    “Here is who you are: You are a wonderful, beautiful, precious human being created in the image and likeness of the one righteous and Holy God of the universe.”

    And if you don’t change who you are, you’re going to be tortured eternally. (That’s how much God loves you!) Anyhow, thanks for telling me who am I, person who has never met but somehow knows that better than I do.

    “I am flawed – I am a sinner.”

    I don’t accept the doctrine of sin, but I’m in complete agreement about the first part of that sentence.

    “Every major world religion, thousands of years of history and uncompromising human biology declare this objective reality from the rooftops.”

    WOW! Every major religion and thousands of years of history! (JT addresses the biology point so well that I’ll leave it aside.) Just think how bad something has to be to have been condemned universally like that, when similar condemnations are lacking for such evils as treating women like property, treating people like property in the form of slavery, treating children like property, initiation rituals involving obscene physical abuse and mutilation (genital and otherwise), genocide, tribalism, sexual assault, non-sexual assault, bloodsports with humans, and war.

    Seriously: misplaced priorities much!?

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. …” (Jeremiah 17:9)

    I had not previous encountered this verse (that I can remember, at any rate) but it is quite insidious: it is telling us not to trust our own consciences, but rather the people who assert authority over us with the claim of a divine mandate. Hard to get more authoritarian.

    “We have chosen hell.”

    YES!!! I get to meet the Hitch after all :-D

    “God’s word also says that when we sin sexually, it’s particularly egregious because our bodies are the temple of Christ.”

    I repeat: misplaced priorities, dude. And how about those verses about cutting off offending body parts? And why did God create a penis which apparently needs to have part of it cut off? (And it was Paul who dropped circumcision, *not* Jesus.)

    Re: lesbians having lower STD rates–Why do these homophobes keep forgetting about lesbians? Oh that’s right: because two dudes having sex is icky, but two women….

    “If you are caught up in homosexual sin, you know – intuitively you know – that such conduct is wrong, that it is both immoral and unnatural behavior.”

    Why does this guy think he knows what goes on in my head? Thus far he’s not doing a very good job (about as good a job as he’s doing with being humble, provided he’s even trying). And he just keeps on doing it: “They may have convinced themselves otherwise, but they don’t care about you. They don’t love you. They can’t. Their version of ‘love’ is built on lies. It’s devoid of truth.” So even if I *think* I love people, I really don’t and can’t!? I suppose this is how people talk when they are convinced that they are channeling divine truth which some of us are denied. (Reminds me of Hitchens’s favorite quotation from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: “And do you think that unto such as you; / A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew: / God gave the secret, and denied it me?– / Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.”)

    “Jesus loves you with a love that no human can fully grasp. This is true not because of your so-called ‘sexual orientation,’ but, rather, it is true in spite of it.”

    Does he even realize that he’s using love as a threat? And does he realize that he just said that gay people don’t deserve to be loved (or am I missing something here)? I love the closing three paragraphs of this post, especially the analogy about the professions of love from an abusive husband. It’s *exactly* what’s happening here. (George Carlin’s “…but he loooooves you!” is similarly one of the most brilliant lines, and deliveries, I’ve ever heard.)

    One last thing before I finally bring this verbosity to an end. JT wrote: “You don’t just achieve truth by declaring your beliefs to be true. Wouldn’t it be great for the bible if it worked that way?” I must say that, as someone conducting research to write a dissertation that is as accurate and insightful as possible. It would indeed be more convenient for me to say, “Well, I’ll just assert this to be true and not bother to check the primary sources and secondary literature, the latter of which I’ll take at face value rather than trying to examine the situation for myself.” Only then I would produce a document of no merit, and I would be deeply ashamed of it. And so, when I see people like Matt Barber writing tripe like this, I rather resent it. Perhaps I’m not so very different from the British woman on Rebecca Hamilton’s blog who said that Elton John’s partner being listed as the mother on their new baby’s birth certificate was personally degrading to HER motherhood. Only no: I don’t feel my work is in the least bit effected by Matt Barber’s; I just resent that people can be so wantonly lazy and sloppy in every way, in addition to having no conception of human decency or compassion.

  • M

    The “every religion and culture across all time” thing, it’s also just false. Homosexual relationships have been accepted and even encouraged in many cultures- Greeks, Romans, Indians (from India- hijras), some Native American tribes, a lot of African tribes, and Japan (erotic wood carvings include a large number of male/male pairings) among others.

    But who cares about global history? It’s been “wrong” in the Western world for a long time so obviously that’s every culture that matters at every time that matters.

  • Ronixis

    I think that “healthy and has Down syndrome” bit may be sort of ableist (it put me off a bit, anyway) and you might want to consider rephrasing that. Good article otherwise.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Perhaps a solution would be to list a condition which is almost always fatal in the first few years, or even days, of life. Choice examples include anencephaly, cyclopia, Tay-Sachs (which is common among Ashkenazy Jews–what was that about being the “chosen people” again?), and Trisomy 13. And, of course, the fact that most pregnancies end in miscarriage (so much for God being pro-life).

    • John Horstman

      Aw, man, I don’t want to derail this with this topic again, but are you really asserting that Down’s Syndrome is not an undesirable malady? Using a genetic condition that makes life much more difficult as an example of something nasty for which a proposed god much account is not ableist, in the same way that pointing out that a proposed god would had had to make humans susceptible to eating disorders and that’s fucked up isn’t ableist (JT, since you have your very own illness that you could use as an example, you might want to make it your go-to example to deflect some of this; alternately, feel free to use my precise mental illness – “John Horstman’s particular presentation of type 2 bipolar disorder” – as an example, since contextualizing it to me allows me – and you! – to assert with certainty that it sucks without claiming that type 2 bipolar necessarily sucks for other people). Having a mental illness – or a genetic malady – sucks; pointing this out isn’t ableist. Ableism is discrimination against people lacking ability in something unrelated to the task being discussed. Refusing to hire a blind person to answer phones – for which ze doesn’t need to see – is ableism. Reusing to hire a blind person as a football referee or an airplane pilot is not. Pointing out that being blind is undesirable is not. Saying everyone who is blind is a moral failure or a bad person or has no worth or value is.

      As for Andrew Kohler’s proposed solution, I don’t think it works because I don’t see being dead as bad, I see it as nothing. Granted, there may be more people who think being dead is undesirable than there are who think having Down’s Syndrome (or an eating disorder) is undesirable, so it might make just as much sense or more as an example, but it still doesn’t dodge the problem, as one will wind up with parents who lost children to one of the proposed conditions complaining that one is framing their dead offspring as Bad People or something. By way of contrast, calling an outfit I dislike “retarded” would be ableist, as it posits the choice in dress as invalid by equating it with something that someone with slowed or halted mental development would choose, with the implicit assertion that the choices of the mentally retarded are necessarily invalid (they aren’t). I just don’t think that pretending that everything is roses for people who suffer various maladies that make life more difficult than it is for those who don’t suffer such maladies serves anyone well. If anything, I’d say that pretending that dealing with, say, bipolar disorder is a cakewalk is incredibly harmful to those who suffer from it, as it elides the actual difficulties and struggles we face; it posits our actual difficulties as invalid complaints. I’d argue that the same goes for something like Down’s Syndrome.

      I know the impulse is to protect people who are unfairly marginalized and dismissed from being viewed badly, but decrying recognition of the actual difficulties faced by people with Down’s Syndrome doesn’t actually accomplish this end. Instead, we need to make sure we’re decrying formulations like “Down’s Syndrome therefore worthless person” or “Down’s Syndrome therefore Bad Person” or “Down’s Syndrome therefore automatically wrong” but not “Down’s syndrome is difficult” or “Down’s Syndrome is an undesirable condition”.

      • Andrew Kohler

        Thanks for your post, John Horstman, which I am just now seeing and as a result reconsidering my suggestion above (see next paragraph). It is very well argued (and evinces a great deal of compassion for people with disabilities) and I am finding myself in complete agreement. What you say reminds me of George Carlin on euphemism: changing the way we talk about something doesn’t change the reality. He specifically used the case of disabilities to point out that the resulting disadvantages can’t be swept away by saying “handi-capable.”

        I do agree that being stillborn is not undesirable for the baby, or even dying after a few days or a few weeks. This of course depends on whether or not those days or weeks are spent in pain, but for a child born alive with anencephaly (the lack of a brain) or cyclopia (which involves a terribly malformed face and brain; it’s not at all like a regular face but with one central eye), it is hard to imagine consciousness is really present (although I’ll gladly stand corrected–I’m hardly a neurologist). In these awful scenarios, my thoughts are with the grieving family. I tend to think of these cases rather than Down Syndrome or mental illness when the subject of God’s omnibenevolence comes up because individuals who suffer (there, I said it!) from Down Syndrome, mental illness, and any number of other conditions (diabetes, blindness, deafness, paraplegia, etc.) are able to live good lives despite the adversity. But you raise a very good point: as far as the individuals affected, being alive with a disability of some kind is far more challenging than being stillborn with no brain. And someone with supreme power could certainly help an enormous number of people by eliminating all physical and mental impediments, I dare say.

        (And for the record: Wikipedia says that in fact 20% of children born with Trisomy 13 do survive past early childhood–I didn’t know that before.)

  • Lee Harrison

    JT – if I could write half as passionately as you while being only half as erudite I’d consider myself totally awesome-with-fabulous-sauce. Yet somehow you seem to go through life without being an arrogant arse-hole. My hat’s off to you, sir, and thank you for your service to reason and decency. A long-overdue paypal donation is coming your way.
    (back to lurking – a word that does not come anywhere near encapsulating the enjoyment I get from reading smart web-content)

  • Jasper

    I’ll often wonder if these people are sentient. Seriously? You cant’ figure out that the reason gays are depressed and committing suicide is because you, and the rest of your ilk, and continuously beating them up for being gay? Is this connection really that hard to make?

  • Erülóra Maikalambe

    “He should have us born with the knowledge that god exists and of what his will is. That way we could actually choose to rebel, and that choice would not get conflated with our inability to swallow absurd stories about someone rising from the dead just because our neighbor threatened us with hell.”

    There are those who claim this is the case. That their god imprints this knowledge on our hearts. That way they can tell themselves that deep down we really do know God exists but are actively choosing to reject him. It’s a way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance, I think.

  • Sally

    Self aggrandizing nonsense. You sure know how to work the applause lights JT, but do you still know how to make a point without simply parading opinions that are popular with the audience and pretending they make a coherent argument?

    • Andrew Kohler

      Could you please explain how JT’s analysis fails to make a coherent argument? Or, how Matt Barber’s letter does make coherent arguments rather relying on assertion of unprovable claims?

    • Cubist

      No-brain-required response from the autonomic nervous system. You sure know how to mindlessly parrot character-strings composed by other people, Sally, but are you capable of the level of thought necessary to actually, like, address the substance of an argument?

    • JT Eberhard

      Accuses me of failing to make a coherent argument…then doesn’t say where I was wrong or present any arguments. Just that one, lonely, unsupported assertion. Keen.

      It’s ok – you probably have faith that I didn’t make any coherent arguments.

      • Andrew Kohler

        And Sally still has not provided any evidence for her claim. I thought I asked very nicely, too. I’m noticing that the drive-by-insult comments seem not to lead to very productive dialogue.

    • Glodson

      Any time you want to back up these claims, I would love to see it.