Kicked out of our church: How I learned the “Christian” view of gays (and what my wife did with that information)

Kicked out of our church: How I learned the “Christian” view of gays (and what my wife did with that information) April 17, 2013

After my wife Catherine and I had spent six years as members of the very first church home for either of us (I, out of freakin’ nowhere, became a Christian when I was thirty-eight years old; a year later Cat was all in), we were asked to sign a document asserting that under no circumstances should any person involved in a same-sex relationship be allowed to hold “any position, of any authority” at that Presbyterian USA church.

We had both been elected deacons of the church—which is how we came to learn that part of becoming a deacon there was signing this document.

I actually thought the head of the Deacons Committee was kidding when she laid the statement before each of us to sign. Cat and I knew the woman. She was a member of the small Bible study group we’d attended for years. We liked her. She was sweet.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if there really was such a document?” I chortled.

Looking slightly confused, our friend said, “But there is. It’s this document right here.” As if maybe we’d already forgotten them she nudged the papers a little closer to our side of the table. “You have to sign this.”

I looked at Cat. She was already looking at me. Although no one but me would have read it, the message Cat’s eyes were sending was, “Yikes! Did our train just stop at Crazy Town?”

Then we both bent to read the document.

Having finished with it, I asked our friend, “Do we really have to sign this in order to become deacons? Are you actually not kidding?” I’m a fairly private person. Plus, I’m sane. So I like to keep to a minimum signing my allegiance to extremely clumsily articulated amalgams of reactionary theological proclamations combined with blatantly discriminatory hiring policies.

Ya’ know. It’s just a general rule I have.

“No, I’m not kidding,” she said. “You have to sign it. All our deacons do.”

“But … that doesn’t really make sense,” I said, since, irrationally, I continue to believe in the powers of rational thought. “Why would we have to sign something like this before we’re deemed worthy to serve donuts between services and help pass around the collection plate? That’s a little  … draconian, don’t you think? Actually making someone sign their name to something? Isn’t that just a little too Joe McCarthy? You understand how that feels a little extreme, right?”

But, alas, she completely didn’t.

“Plus, Cat and I have been members here for six years,” I said. “In all that time, I’ve never once heard anyone associated with this church say a single thing about homosexuality. Never a word about it from the pulpit; never in a meeting; never in a class; never in the bulletin; nothing on the website; never a word about it in our Bible study class. Total silence on this matter. And yet it’s a matter so important to the church that you can’t become a deacon here unless you sign something specifically about it. Doesn’t that seem a little weird to you? If, as a church, we’re going to believe in a position about something as strongly as we apparently believe in our position on this issue, shouldn’t we, at least every once in a while, say something about that belief? If we believe it, we should preach it. People in the congregation have a right to know the rules of the club they’re in. It’s not right for Cat and me to just now be learning about this, don’t you think?”

“Well, I’m sorry that you weren’t aware of our position,” said our friend who was rapidly seeming like maybe not so much of a friend. “But this is what we believe. And you both have to sign this if you want to become deacons here.”

“But we’re talking about being deacons, right?” piped in Cat. She was then Chief Financial Officer of a major non-profit. Organizational hierarchies are kind of her bag. “It’s not like we’re being named pastors of the church. We’re talking about being deacons. Visiting shut-ins. Helping put out chairs at meetings. That sort of thing, right? Nothing that has anything whatsoever to do with who should or shouldn’t be hired at the church. Just deacons, right?”

Yada, yada, yada, and our choices were exactly two: either sign the “No gay person should be so much as a door greeter or janitor at our church” document—or, by virtue of not signing that document, fail to qualify as deacons of our church.

“Please let us be deacons without signing the paper,” we begged the high mucky-mucks of our church (almost all of whom were in our Bible study group). “We love this church. We’d love to help with it. It’s not like we’re going to be in a position of hiring anyone at the church. Isn’t it possible to allow us to serve as deacons without our first having to sign that paper?”

Yeah, so that’d be a no.

Thus were Cat and I put in the weird position of being members of a church, the leaders of which had decided—had, in the end, publicly decided—that we were not morally suitable to be deacons.

Don’t you just hate it when you’re reduced to the status of second-class citizen in your own church?

I’m joking now, but at the time the whole affair really hurt. It’s difficult being told you aren’t spiritually qualified to visit people who couldn’t make it to church, to help with the services, to greet people at the newcomers’ table. All that. We were deemed unfit to do any of it.

And it was really difficult when, in the course of our “discernment process,” the pastor of our church—a man whom I had every reason to consider a personal friend—placed in the lobby of the church, right beside the doors leading into the sanctuary, stacks of a piece he had previously written about how Christians who don’t hold the “correct” view on homosexuality are heretics.

That’s the word he used, repeatedly: heretics. And every person at our church knew why he’d put that article out, and to whom it was referring.

Ultimately, Cat and I felt we had no choice but to leave the church that for so long had meant so much to us. Lots of good people there. But in the end (and to a person) they preferred our leaving the church to our serving it without first signing their anti-gay declaration.

Torn from her first church home, Cat cried for days.

Then she did what Cat does best: she got scary smart. She studied the issue of the relationship between the Bible and homosexuality. She basically disappeared into her office for about three weeks. I almost literally never saw her.

When she finally emerged from her study, she was carrying a huge stack of papers. I was on our couch doing what I do best: watching television. She plopped the papers down on the coffee table before me.

“It’s not in there,” she said.

“What’s not?”

“That homosexuality is a sin. That’s not in the Bible.”

“It’s not? At all?”

“At all. The whole thing about the Bible condemning homosexuality is complete bullshit.”

And she was right.

The image is Banished, by Yvonne Petkus.

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  • Gordon

    Many of us here know EXACTLY what you went through, John. I’m sorry it happened to you and for the pain it caused you and your dear wife. But, I am also happy that it inspired you to write about the injustice of the mainstream Christian viewpoint about homosexuality. All things work together for good, don’t they? Thank you.

  • Gordon

    By the way, I am also happy you both refused to sign that accursed paper!!!

  • Mike Haas
  • Jan Watson

    Just wow. Thank you, and Cat, for not leaving Christianity,

  • Mike Haas

    “In keeping with prior studies on this very subject, she queried the data on three types of believers: those who see God as angry, those who see God as neutral and those who see God as loving. Controlling specifically to weed out the non-believers, Silton found that a belief in a forgiving, loving God is associated with positive psychological traits, “almost protecting against psychopathology,” she told Raw Story.”

  • In some ways, the mainline churches that aren’t for LGBT spiritual equality are almost worse than the evangelicals, who obsess about how evil we are and keep their views front and center. I grew up in the United Methodist Church, and there was never any mention of homosexuality in any situation, but which had (and continues to have in many places) terrible views of queer folk. I think it’s probably worse to THINK you’re at home in a church that secretly thinks you’re a sinner, than to see their hate for what it is. Makes it harder to leave. I eventually left for the Quakers, and consider myself some breed of Jesus-loving universalist these days.

  • Whoops. One step too far.

  • Funny, my husband and I had a conversation which ended with him saying why don’t you research the passages people use to condemn homosexuals. I too blogged about it. You can read the resulting posts here:

  • Polly Van Fleet

    My condolences on the way you lost your first church home. Bigotry from loved ones is like finding maggots in your favorite food, isn’t it? I lost my first church home (Missionary Baptist) in 1975 for dating ‘outside my race’. Actually, I pretty much drop-kicked Christianity out of my life for decades after being told I was going to go to hell because “The Bible says it’s a sin to mix the races.” It’s only been in the last year or so – thanks to you and people like you – that I’ve started to realize that Jesus Christ is never wrong, but many of the people who interpret his words are, and what’s more, I don’t have to be ‘that’ kind of Christian to love Jesus. So, yanno, thanks for that. Blessings upon you and yours, John Shore.

  • Pat Hux

    The stance of the PUSA is the reason my daughter and son in law left church altogether…..

  • Mike Haas

    The most serene, loving and dedicated believers I know belong to the third group. I think we’ve all had a few run ins with the first. Perhaps I belong to the second (neutral). These churches who expect signed condemnation of LGBT persons must belong to the first by necessity at least in her findings. Her study is incomplete of course: “One thing Silton stressed is that her study should not be construed to have found a cause for such symptoms. “We are not looking at casual findings here,” she said. “We are looking at correlational findings. That means we’re not saying belief caused psychiatric symptoms, but we see relationships between beliefs and these psychiatric symptoms.”

    “Silton said that while her study was mostly quantitative in nature, she’s looking forward to “asking more qualitative questions” in future work, specifically “to look into what else belief systems might be related to.”

  • Lou Stewart

    Correction Jan; this couple never left Christianity. To the contrary, their action of leaving the church was the only way they realized they could fully embrace the principle of Christ’s teachings. I find it interesting that they would be forced to sign a piece of paper speaking to allegiance to ultimately the person who wrote it. Christians who want to claim salvation under the blood of Christ can’t maintain that contract under the ink of ignorance and willingness to reject another of God’s children. I trust they have kicked the dust from their shoes on the door step as they walked away into the light of Christian Love for All.

  • marilla82

    Kudos to you and Cat for a) refusing to sign, b) making and action on the difficult decision to leave and c) not assuming ALL Christians believe or behave in such a manner. Special praise to Cat for doing the research and to you for sharing it with others. You exemplify exactly what Christ taught us about loving one another as we love Him.

  • Bob Rogers

    am I the only one who thinks maybe Cat should be doing a little blogging also.

    But seriously John and Cat, thanks for having a point of view, and for standing up for it and for us.

  • Been there and glad we are not there anymore. You site is wonderful!

  • <3 Cat

    You are so lucky to have such a partner, John, and she is just as lucky to have you!

  • anakin mcfly

    Have you heard of the Reconciling Ministries Network? ->

    It’s the LGBT movement within the United Methodist Church, and they’ve been gaining momentum.

  • Kat

    Err….that’s what Jan said?

    BTW – Amen to what you both said; they didn’t give up on Christ, just THAT church.

  • Andrea

    That was rough. The experience, I mean, not the writing (which is, as always, great). It seems to parallel the situation I find myself in as a member of the Boy Scouts of America. I joined BSA when my older son joined Cub Scouts in third grade. No mention of its anti-gay policy in the membership application, no mention of its policy in any of the training materials, no mention of its policy at any Pack or Troop function. Its anti-gay policy was only relatively recently posted to its website — I’m guessing in response to media inquiries last summer when the BSA publicly re-affirmed the policy — and now, after six and a half years in Scouting, I face a similar choice: be made to feel like a pariah among the folks I consider(ed) my friends, be kicked out of my sons’ troop for my opposition to the policy, or quit and drag my kids with me out of the organization that is teaching them so much. Sexuality has nothing to do with spirituality, and sexuality has nothing to do with Scouting. Why must these groups take such an unnecessary and mean-spirited stance?

  • Lymis

    Sixth paragraph from the bottom, you have a whom that should be a who:

    “the pastor of our church—a man whom I had every reason to consider a personal friend of mine” should be “the pastor of our church—a man who I had every reason to consider a personal friend of mine”.

    It might flow a little better if you dropped the “of mine” as well – “a man who I had every reason to consider a personal friend.”

    Either way, a “friend” you can do without!

  • Lymis

    I had a similar experience when I came out. Now, I have to admit that I expected coming out as gay in a Roman Catholic parish to be an issue, and I can’t pretend surprise when it was, but the passive-aggressive way the did it still amazes me.

    If I’d been called in, reminded of the Church’s rules, and summarily pitched out, I would have been deeply hurt, but understood it. What they did, though, was both weird and telling.

    I had been very active in a number of church functions, as a weekly song leader (“cantor” in current Catholic lingo), and as an instructor in the classes for new converts and I had just spent two years completely retooling the Confirmation classes, to universal rave reviews from the parish. I knew that they wouldn’t be comfortable with an out gay man in those positions.

    What I wasn’t prepared for is the way they did it – called me in and informed me in oh, so compassionate terms that they felt I’d been doing too much, and that so many other people were asking to participate that they’d decided to let someone else have a turn, and that effective immediately, I would not be teaching any more, and that they were moving me from the people who were scheduled to sing at mass to the list of people who got called at 10 minutes notice when someone cancelled. Not a word about being gay, just a request that I shove over and let someone else have a turn.

    I declined, and never went back. And of course, when anyone asked what happened to me, they just shook their heads and said I had left on my own, and how sad they were about it.

  • Are you sure on that “whom”? (God, I can’t believe how much of this stuff I’ve forgotten. But I think it’s “whom.” But … ?)

  • Joan

    Exactly what happened in the church I so loved. It suddenly turned the page and decided to make part of its doctrine this same kind of statement. I thought we were supposed to love one another, not judge one another.

  • Thank you for sharing the story of how and why you had to leave the church that you had grown to love. It is so sad to see churches that decide an issue is greater than being a loving community of faith that practices what Christ taught his followers, to love others in the same way that he had loved them. Next week’s Gospel lesson is John 13: 31-35 and how appropriate your story is that you shared in connection with that text. Christ gave a “new commandment” that his disciples love others. That commandment supersedes all of the previous ones because if you truly love others, then you will not want to do any of what the original commandments forbade.

    I made the journey from the church of my youth (fundamentalist) to the United Methodist Church finally to the United Church of Christ, going 180 degrees and vast eons away from what I had been taught as I grew up. I love being in the UCC where the motto is, “Whoever you are, wherever you are on the journey of life, you have a home in the United Church of Christ.” I have served on ministry committees in the UCC and sexual orientation is never asked of candidates for ministry because that is not an issue in the UCC. It is so refreshing to be in a denomination that truly strives to practice acceptance and inclusion in the way it conducts its business in everyday life.

  • Sue

    The PCUSA has changed their stance on this issue. We stuck it out and decided to be a force for change!

  • Lymis

    You could eliminate it completely and avoid the issue: “… a man I had every reason to consider a personal friend…”

    Honestly, I’m not absolutely certain, but I’m pretty sure.

    I am sure it would be “who” is the sentence was ” This is a man who is a personal friend” because the “who” is the subject of that clause – it combines the two clauses, “this was a man” and “who is a friend” into one sentence, with the “who” as the subject of its clause.

    I don’t think that adding the part about having every reason changes anything structural about it. It would have been “whom” if it was something like “he was a man of whom I thought very highly.”

    I could be wrong.

  • Kat Branon

    I have attended a church that both my brother and his family and my oldest daughter and her family go to off and on for about 6 years. My brother and his wife (and her sisters) are “more christian” than I as they have been christians a lot longer than I have. Recently, my oldest son passed away and my brother offered to hold a memorial service at his house with one of the pastors to come and say a few words. I was ok with that. The pastor that eventually came to speak was horrible! He damn near did an “altar call”. I was horrified. I thought to myself, can this possible get any worse? As it turns out it sorta did. Included in the guest list were the “girlfriends” of some of my relatives that knew my son very well. My sister in laws family refused to come because of this. She was beyond hurt and has since refused to do anything with her sisters and their families. It appears, after much investigation, that that is the belief of this church and the congregation. My nieces are gay and while my sister in law isn’t thrilled about it they are her daughters and she loves them regardless. It was a horrible wake up call for her and for myself. While I was never gung ho about this articular church my sister in law has been going there for decades. Needless to say we both are grieving not only for the passing of my son but also for the death of her home church. We are seeking a new one and have decided to try something smaller and LGBT friendly. It is a journey but one I believe we both need to take.

  • Rebecca Harrison

    The easy way to determine if “who” or “whom” is correct in any given instances is to substitute “he” or “him.” In this instance, “whom” is correct, as it would essentially read, “I had every reason to consider HIM a personal friend of mine.” 🙂

  • Rebecca Harrison

    Oops! “Instance,” not “instances!” Typo.

  • Rebecca Harrison

    Please don’t paint all PCUSA congregations, pastors, and members with the same broad brush-stroke! (I know you don’t, John, but others may.) There are more and more of us who do not agree with the positions which for so long were maintained by this denomination. Personally, I never did, but it wasn’t until about 30 years ago (okay, that makes me ancient!) that I began studying for myself what the scriptures really say about homosexuality. Which, of course, is nothing, at least not in terms of how we understand same-sex relationships today. Fortunately, our denomination did remove its exclusive language officially in 2011. Unfortunately, we are not yet agreed on marriage equality, but I believe that is coming, as well.

    But I digress. I, too, want to add my thanks to you and Cat for your willingness to take a stand on this issue. I know your blogging and being public about it has been a force for change in this country.

  • para 11: That’s a little … draconian

    Has an extra space, should be That’s a little … draconian

    para 24: Ultimately, Cat and I felt we had no choice but to leave the church that for so long had meant so much to us. Lots of good people there.

    “Lots of good people there” is a fragment that just seems awkward/sloppy to me.

    para 26: She / basically disappeared into her office for two weeks

    There’s a hard break between “She” and “basically” that shouldn’t be there.

  • Jill

    Lymis, maybe I understand now a little about how extraordinarily well you teach what I’d refer to as the basics, the foundational aspects of a reasoned and logical understanding of faith.

    Your knowledge is obviously far beyond basic, rather your ability to make your wisdom make sense in a reasoned, structured way as you do so effectively. If you offered faith formation teachings or classes, I’d subscribe.

  • Dana Wood

    I read your column weekly if not daily, would someone please explain what’s up w/the grammar police? Is this critique something you requested, so you could learn more about your writing style? If is it not, please people cut him some slack. I don’t think anything John said in this post is unclear to any of us.

  • Rachel G.

    By the way, I’ve been thrown out of better places. Really.

  • Dana, I don’t think (at least I hope not) that it has anything to do with internet grammar police, just that John is wanting to get his writings cleaned up as much as possible before going to proofing and editing before publishing. Anyone that writes a lot has typos that get missed, even after several re-reads (and I’ve made a couple of BIG ones); I think this is just John’s way of crowd-sourcing some loving-kindness towards his editor. 😉

  • Andrea

    It says directly below the piece, “I will be including this piece in the revised edition of my book UNFAIR. As you may know, I’m asking readers to help me proofread such essays. If you would, please leave any mistake you find in the text above—spelling, punctuation, syntax, anything at all—as a comment below. Thank you so much.”

  • Val Phipps

    During the recent Facebook hub bub regarding same sex marriage and the Supreme court, I got a few eye openers from what I previously considered normal humans.

    One told me to God, marriage is the performed with the first sex act between virgins. So the first person you had sex with as a teenager in the back of your mom’s car – God considers you married to that person all your life. What a horrifying thought!

    And my Catholic deacon brother-in-law tried to set me straight by telling me gay people can’t be married in the eyes of God because marriage is about making babies. Gay people don’t have the proper corresponding body parts to reproduce – so no marriage in God’s eyes. Which basically told me MY marriage is not legitimate in God’s eyes because although we’re a blended family of 5 kids, we were too old to make more babies.

    My main thought was How Dare They say something that stupid and insulting to me! And then I realized LGBT people are insulted like that all the time. I can’t imagine having the nerve to tell someone how God feels about them and their marriage – basically gee, it sucks to be you. Sanctimonious hypocrits…

  • Lymis

    We’re not grammar police. We’re all grammar deputies, duly appointed by John, specifically requested to point out anything we can find to help him make editorial decisions – as Andrea says, he’s including that request at the bottom of the posts that are related to the reissue of his book.

  • Lymis

    I agree with the fact that it’s a fragment, but I think that fits with the style John is going for. If he makes things too formal, it will lose his voice.

  • Lymis

    Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.

  • Lymis

    I agree that you’re right. And the way you say it flows better to me as well.

    How about “the pastor of our church—and remember, I had every reason to consider him a personal friend of mine – placed in the lobby…”

  • Michelle P.

    Yes, indeed. As a former Deacon, now Elder in my PCUSA church, I was never, and I mean NEVER, asked to sign any sort of document about anything regarding my own beliefs or about standing up for any church sanctioned beliefs. Nor do I think I would have done so if asked.

    John and Cat, I am so sorry that your Presbyterian church acted in such a small minded, mean spirited way, towards you and towards LGBTQ people. I am pleased to say that my church has been doing our part in striving for equality, respect, and real Christian love within our denomination, and in general, for our LGBTQ brothers and sister. And, yes, thank you for standing up, speaking up and speaking out on this issue. It is past time for all of us who claim Christianity to really look, hard, at what the Bible actually says about homosexuality, and stop using a deliberate misunderstanding to belittle others. There is nothing Christian about that.

  • Carol B.

    I am part of that movement, and we have indeed been making strides. But it’s a long haul still to come. The exclusionary language in our Book of Discipline has been upheld for 40 years…and only voted on every 4 years. I, too, wonder if my home church simply isn’t saying how they feel about me. The ones who do are so supportive that I don’t give much thought to the others.

    More and more congregations and individuals have decided to follow “Biblical Obedience” and reject the teaching of the UMC with regards to the LGBT community. More and more pastors are performing same sex unions and marriages, even though they risk losing their credentials.

    Oh, and I too worship with a Friends meeting, and find it absolutely refreshing to strip away every distraction from my silent waiting for God’s voice and word.

  • Gordon

    Yep. This one.

  • Kathy in KC

    Awesome, sad story. I have donated several books to my own church library on Christianity/the Bible/homosexuality. Our librarian has a gay son who is married to his husband. Her comment when I donated the books: “We shouldn’t even be discussing this.” (In other words, it should be accepted practice that we embrace LGBT people.) I had reviewed the books with our senior pastor before the donation, and he supported it wholeheartedly. Our worship director is a gay man and has been made a member of the church, introduced along with his life partner. We have recently made members of a couple who are women, together for 29 years. Several other members of our worship team (singers) are gay, lesbian or bisexual. We are all accepted completely. I wouldn’t be a member of this church if it wasn’t so. It’s definitely withing the parameters of Christianity to embrace all people. Period.

  • Lymis

    You might want to consider checking back regularly – a friend of mine is a librarian and he says that they can barely keep the gay-positive titles, especially the ones that are religiously supported, on the shelves. He doesn’t know whether it’s disgruntled bigots destroying them or desperate gay kids who are afraid to actually check them out (especially since some of the occasionally reappear as mysteriously as they vanish), but since he’s in a position to make buying decisions, he simply reorders new copies.

  • Robert

    Thank you for not signing… Thank your wife Cat for being a dillegent possibly obssesive researcher (I love obsessive reasearchers)… and thank you for starting this blog.


    (PS… I am a lousy proof reader… sorry)

  • Karen

    This is nothing to do with god or Christ or the Bible at all. It is out and out homophobia. It’s everywhere, not just in Christianity. I’m a graphic designer and worked for an ad agency on a project for a homophobic client. I was repeatedly asked to make sure that the colors weren’t “gay” but somehow, everything I chose was either gay, or on the cusp of gay (in their opinion though I was following the branding campaign’s pallet). I finally had to go to the art director with a range of colors and ask her to point out to me the gay colors so I could avoid them. Of course, she couldn’t, because colors are not gay. They were just afraid that this homophobic client would take away his business if he saw any “gay” colors in the project. The stupidity burns.

  • Jeff

    You bring me to tears! I was in the closet for nearly 40 years until I was outed when my lover of 15 years was murdered at a gay bar and it made the newspaper. He told me that we would be welcomed if we went to a church, but I wasn’t sure that I could pray alongside those that judged me as sinful, even if they tolerated me. I now wish I had listened to him, for it seems that there are many of you that not only know the same loving God that I have always known, you also defend me from those that pay only lip service to Jesus’ command that we love one another as He loved us. Thank you so very much for being true to your beliefs, for being authentic Christians! Thank you for sharing this.

  • David S


    Sometimes I just feel like so much damaged goods. I hear you. The church Has done so much harm. This is a safe space. If you’ve not hung out here, stick around a while. Christianity doesn’t need to be soul-crushing; it can be uplifting (go figure!). Sending you love from the big apple.

  • David S

    Very encouraged by the 10a vote. My now congregation is leading the charge, my childhood congregation is weighing down the anchor.

    I think marriage equality (or some sort of blessing) is inevitable, otherwise, the new ordination standards don’t make any sense.

  • Cheryl

    Oh my gosh!! I’m so glad I’m not the only one! My husband and I were kicked out of our church weeks before christmas 2012, when they discovered I support gay marriage. Well, not so much kicked out, but told we could no longer be members unless I changed my beliefs. Fat chance. Thank you for discussing this topic!

  • I did leave “Lots of good people” as a fragment–but I honestly think it’s the only time I’ve ever purposefully used a sentence fragment.

  • no, the elimination is a better call all the way around. love it. thank you.

  • Judy Volkar

    My husband and I, too have chosen to leave a church (Baptist) that teaches that LGBT is a sin.We now are experiencing the freedom of a UCC church. My husband occasionally has asked , if all of us who know that LGBT are equal brothers and sisters in all ways, leave these churches, who will be there to try and change their minds?

    For me personally, I could not do it, I found myself being constantly on the defensive in church and conducting arguments in my head. Moreover, I did not want any one to assume that I shared the same beliefs merely because I attended that church.

    Any opinions on this?

  • otter

    Never felt the least urge to join a church, err I mean a club that had it’s head this far up it’s ass. But Oh Boy, do I ever appreciate you folks with the fortitude to try to change things from the inside!!

    Don’t give up…..

  • It was the first church I’d ever been to, almost. I had no idea any one church would be much if any different from another. That’s how little I knew about Christianity. (See the link about my conversion for .. more than you could possibly want to know.)

  • DR

    No wonder we’re all learning so much from you.

  • Don Rappe

    Although Rebecca’s rule is correct, she has also rephrased john’s sentence. As it stands it contains an implicit (he was) a man who (not whom). Because of the implicit “was” man is a predicate nominative and not any kind of object. It’s incorrect as it stands and becomes a lot more graceful if rephrased.

  • Nicole

    Welcome to the lovely place that is John Shore’s blog. 🙂

  • Simeon Beresford

    Using the substitute him/whom guide I think “who” not “whom” us correct. I would also insert some commas so people can distinguish the clauses since it is the clause structure that makes “who” the correct choice.

    However instead of using grammar as your guide I suggest you use simplicity instead and reword it,

    the pastor of our church—a man I considered a personal friend.

    the pastor of our church—a man I might have considered a personal friend.

  • Judy

    Thanks John, I had somehow missed that posting. Those few responses suggesting staying is worthwhile sound like my sweet, gentle husband. But he accepts that I am likely to stand up in the middle of one of those services and yell at people, so we have left, never to return. Recently, the guilt over not being a “light” to these was hitting me. Hard to escape from that childhood rearing of ” guilty,guilty,guilty”

  • Dick

    Personal friend – should be enough – includes the idea ‘of mine’

    Dropped is enough – most things naturally tend to drop ‘down’

  • great calls. thank you!

  • Glen

    Kudos for your article and for the actions of you and your wife that inspired it. By the grace of our Savior we are all, though sinners, worthy to eternal life in the Kingdom of God. We do not have to earn our salvation and we do not get to judge who amongst us is worthy of that saving grace.

    As a Freemason in the Roman Catholic church, I’ve endured years of discrimination and second-class treatment. I know this is not as severe an issue as the discrimination face by the LGBT community. That said, it is none-the-less frustrating to be denied a full participation in your faith community and I feel I can relate to some small degree.

    For my part, I’ve decided to remain a member of the Catholic church, despite the overt discrimination. I feel the church does more good than harm, both for the community in general and for my faith walk in particular. Moreover, I feel it would be a contradiction for me to judge the actions of individuals in the church, where their principal offence has been to judge me!

    In closing, I would just reiterate that nowhere in this discussion is there place on our part for anger, for contempt or for judgement. You ought not judge someone for their being opposed to LGBTs on religious grounds. You ought not judge and organization for the actions of individuals, nor the individuals for their participation in the organization.

    As Christians, we are simply called to love one another, even the dopey people who do dopey things in God’s name. By all means one ought not stick around and hang out with such people, especially if it interferes in you faith journey, but we still gotta love them. God bless.

  • Wow. Now I want to read her stack of papers!

  • Your blog gives me so much hope! I am the wife of a clergyman in a conservative church who recently admitted to himself that he is gay. So I share you deep frustration with state of things in Christian circles. If homosexuality were, as I used to think, a choice, or perhaps simply a deviant sexual fetish, then it might make sense to think of it as a sin. But as I have learned, sexual orientation is not our choice, and it is about so much more than sexual attraction! Our orientation colors all our interactions with men and women. It makes no sense to say that homosexuality is a sin; it is too integral a part of our person. By denying his orientation all these years, my husband had been cutting off the part of himself that is most critical to love. He is able to love God in a way that was impossible to him before he accepted himself. Like you, I am grateful that there is a way to be Christian without buying into the modern taboo on homosexuality. There is so much to be said about this topic! I look forward to seeing what else you write about it. God knows, it’s a discussion we desperately need to have in all our churches! I would also love to hear any ideas you may have about how to increase the volume, so to speak, on Christian voices like ours that would stress God’s unconditional love for all people.

  • Nicole

    Wow…you must be quite the open-minded person to be so unphased by your husband’s revelation that he is gay. Or is that something you already knew so it really wasn’t a surprise?

  • It took a long time to come to terms with it, Nicole. It is very painful to learn that your husband can’t return your love in the way that you hope. It helped that 1. he had been faithful 2. I could immediately begin seeing the positive impact that being honest had on his health. I had feared that his depression and stress-related health problems were leading somewhere dangerous. Even as I grieved through this loss to myself, I couldn’t help but be glad to see the transformation of a person I love. 3. I really stand by the belief that the truth shall make you free. A healthy marriage or friendship can not be built on lies and self-deception. Our marriage was never healthy, though I was always too afraid to examine the real reasons for the issue. We are doing lots of healing. It is so, so important to recognize that God loves us as we are! I felt unloved for so many years. My husband felt unloved for so many years. We have a long way to go still in this process. Having these discussions is very helpful.

  • Mark K.

    Hi John Shore, I could tell you quite a similar story, regards your PCUSA experience. The particular congregation, of my experience, is the only one of the original three PCUSA congregations (in West Palm Beach, FL), that split for the ECO denomination. Happy to share any and all info., which may be of use to you…Please send me a message, via my Facebook page, if interested: Mark K(irschieper)

  • DR

    I’m weary of the suggestion that anger has no place in this discussion. When someone who has been abused in the name of God sees those of us who should have stepped in to do something get angry on THEIR behalf? It’s a protective, healing anger that says “Stop messing with this beloved one.” Anger is powerful, it is an activating agent and is often the only thing that will stop someone completely unconscious of the damage they are doing. So you’re completely wrong, anger has a place in these discussions.

  • Nicole

    Well, blessings to you both! *hug* Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Glen

    Well, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion and I do appreciate your candor. I personally see a difference between acting in anger and employing anger in a rhetorical manner. If one employs anger in a rhetorical manner in order to make their point, then that is merely a persuasive technique, which I figure is cool. But if one approaches the issue from a position of anger it seems, to me anyway, that they are judging that person or organization. Not sure how that would make them different from the folks they’re angry with.

    But whatever. You go with your approach. I’ll go with mine. I personally find myself a more effective negotiator if I try and maintain an empathetic mindset. It leaves me in complete control of the situation. So, if 1 Corinthians isn’t enough to sway you to my approach, consider the old adage; “He who angers you, controls you.”

    I still think what you guys did was awesome. TTFN

  • Lymis

    “In closing, I would just reiterate that nowhere in this discussion is there place on our part for anger, for contempt or for judgement. You ought not judge someone for their being opposed to LGBTs on religious grounds. You ought not judge and organization for the actions of individuals, nor the individuals for their participation in the organization.”

    Sorry, but that’s just bizarre, unless you are using the word “judge” in some new and different way.

    We shouldn’t hate. We shouldn’t condemn – at least not in the sense of writing someone off as hopeless, or worse, condemned to hell. We should do our best to temper our judgment with compassion, and choose our actions to be as aligned with love as we can manage.

    But of course we should judge. We have to make moral decisions, and we need to stand by them. Even when we are willing to see that someone may have come by their misguided views in an understandable way, we still need to be willing to see those views – and the hurtful actions that spring from them – as wrong.

    We’re not just talking about people who tsk tsk and say gossipy things about someone behind their back. We’re talking about rewriting constitutions to permanently disenfranchise people, deliberately harming their families, advocating laws that make fighting the literal bullying of children harder to stop, and basing public policy, both secular and religious, on these views.

    We most certainly should judge such behavior, whether it is the hateful views and actions of an individual or the hateful policies and actions of an organization. We should act on that judgment with compassion, but we most definitely should judge, and find it unacceptable.

  • DR

    Anger is an important part of the grieving process. So many gay and lesbians have been abused by Christians – they have been told very clearly that they are diseased and an abomination by God making it possible forvth to be loved by Him. Do you understand what a loss that is? To be able go express the rage and fury with us – with the Christians that either do it or say alongside it and did nothing to stop it – is essential. To hear that they are being “unkind” or that Christians will only listen to their experience if its positioned with gentleness and respect is rooted in a deep narcissism on the part of those Christians and a self-emtitlemt to only participate in discussions where we are comfortable. It’s gross.

  • LN

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, sharing the truth about the difficulties, and also modeling what a truly loving and gracious response can look like. In our family, we also had a loved one whose health & well-being we feared for. We experienced much the same process of grieving, but we also saw the transformation you describe. The truth does make you free, and brings joy and abundant life.

  • LN

    Thank you for sharing your story and modeling a loving response to others. We all don’t respond the same way, obviously, but I’m not gonna judge you for not judging those who judge you. I think Jesus is recognizing the natural consequences here: “Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” If someone doesn’t break the cycle of anger, judgment, hate, etc., then eventually, we’ll all be judging the ones who judge the other ones because they judge us for judging them because they judge us for judging them because they judge us for not judging someone else…yeah, I’m tired of this sentence too. Peace.

  • LN

    Yes, come to my church! We <3 you! (ELCA, official position) You would not be the only LGBT person in the church either – we have actual members (including deacons) who come under that description. Our pastors perform civil unions in the church (the only gay marriage legal in our state). It's true, whole denominations welcome you!

  • Karen

    DR, there certainly are times when anger is appropriate, and to me, this is one. I don’t believe nature (sorry, I’m a non-theist) would have given us those feelings if they were not a necessary tool in the tool chest. It is, of course, now the anger is channeled that makes the difference. God is angry quite a lot in the Bible, isn’t he? (Though he’s a really violent fellow, too, which I believe to be inappropriate channeling.) Jesus turned over all those money changer tables, right? Righteous anger. Indignant anger. I think those are awesome.

  • LN

    (unless *snerk* is a fragment)


  • Gabriel

    Thanks for your sharing. About 2 years ago I was attending an inclusive church. I am studying to become a pastor and I am gay. Through illness I have not been able to travel the 4 hour return trip to my church. I decided, with my partner, to attend the local Church of Christ. I joined a home group and have developed loving friendships with many of the congregants and both pastors. It was not easy in the beginning because awkward questions led to awkward responses. I was initially told I would never be able to be in a leadership position. I have been recently asked to join the prayer team and advisory panels. I believe that our presence at this change is changing the hearts of many people (we are tools of Gods reconciliation). Our journey continues as openly gay, openly Christian lesbians.

  • DR

    I completely agree.

  • Glen

    : ) … you get it.

  • Glen

    OK; am I accurate in drawing from your comments above that a) you “should” judge, b) you judge those who oppose LGBT individuals on religious grounds as “wrong” and c) you judge such opposition as “hateful” and/or “misguided”?

    If so, then I’m curious; what in your opinion tends to motivate these poor misguided hateful souls to behave in such a clearly wrong manner?

  • DR

    Glen, there’s a good deal of us here who were, actually, misguided and hateful souls who were behaving in a clearly wrong manner. We all woke up to what we were doing and many of us are here now making amends. I thank God for the people in my life who were angry with me and told me how awful and arrogant I was being. I’m grateful for the gay kids who didn’t hold their grief back, who were furious with me as a Christian and told me why. They saved my faith and ultimately, God used that for some serious transformation and healing in my life. I have no idea what you’re doing here and what value there is in this conversation but you need to know these are flesh and blood people behind these computers whose lives have been ravaged by the Christian community. Consider prioritizing them and giving them the last word instead of how we are judging those that harm them.

  • Allie

    Motivation: being gay is the only safe sin to hate. If you are not yourself gay, you can comfortably condemn others for being gay without feeling the least twinge of guilt. If, on the other hand, you condemn others for being, say, short-tempered, then you must confront the same fault in yourself.

    In addition, there are those who pretend to hate gay people to hide what they were doing in that hotel room with those young men. But that’s another matter.

  • Alan Cory

    Excellent article. You’ve personalized it very well.

    I’ve known some wonderful gays and lesbians within my church life. They have served well, as Elders, Deacons, Sunday School leaders, music leaders, etc. So I too became disenfranchised in my church of choice which, despite having had a lesbian elder for some number of years, moved abruptly to the “right” with the growing power of a new pastor that eventually left the PCUSA recently. My wife and I moved to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a more progressive denomination that still doesn’t universally and fully embrace the LGBT movement. But our new church had lesbians in real positions of service (see my list above), and I grew to love them as fellow Christians.

    Eventually my wife and I chose to go into church ministry, and we entered a course of study that would prepare us to be commissioned pastors. My first assignment in my first class (Theology) was to write about a theological issue I wanted to learn more about; of course you know I picked homosexuality and scripture. The more I’ve studied it the last 7 years, the further I’ve grown from that position of my original church.

    So many times I have heard, “If you read the Bible literally, it says, ‘Homosexuality is a sin,” to which I reply, ‘It is impossible for the Bible to say that.'” It’s a technicality, of course, as there was no word for “homosexuality” until the 19th century at the earliest. But it goes to show that even literal reading (of WHICH Bible? Hebrew? KJV? NIV? NRSV?) quickly gets distorted to say something it really DOESN’T!). And when it comes to metaphors and euphemisms, and literal understanding doesn’t work so well for the literalists, they use the interpretation that suits them best.

    Thanks for your contribution to new understanding of the issue!

  • Taryn

    This was beautiful to read, John, but sad, too. I know it had to be simply shocking to see something like that. I’m glad you and your wife refused to sign! And I’m glad you two came to something else that worked better for y’all–that you refused to settle for something that brutally unjust. I’m glad in a way that my fundamentalist days were over decades ago, before this issue polarized the church like it does today; even as a preacher’s wife in an ultra-right-wing denomination, I didn’t have to sign anything at all to serve in the various capacities I did, and I don’t think my then-husband did either. I’m naive enough that it truly shocks me when I see just how bad things have gotten–the purity/courtship movement, Quiverfull/patriarchy, anti-gay rhetoric, science denialism… it just blows my mind. None of that even existed back then, so you can imagine I’ve had some very painful days coming to grips with the current reality of evangelicalism. There are so many responses to the injustices presented by their takeover and politicizing of Christianity; mine involves women’s rights; yours involves gay rights; others’ involve science acceptance. Different injustices speak to different people in different ways. And the world needs all of us to lift our voices to bring about justice and reform.

    It’s important for straight people to be allies. LGBTQA* people don’t have enough numbers on their own; they need us as much as we need them in the great human tapestry that is life. I know I’ll never, ever understand completely what it means to be gay, or trans, or a minority, as a straight cis-gendered white person in a society that puts a higher social value on those three qualities. But I can listen, and I can vote, and I can refuse to allow others to perpetrate injustice upon those they view as different. Most importantly, I can love.

  • Mister John, it seems you and Cat have the same affliction I inherited from my Dad: absolute refusal to compromise integrity of belief by any means for any inducement.

    I get into a huge amount of social and political hot water, as he did. I don’t care.

    He didn’t raise me. In fact, I barely knew him. Something undefinable again in the makeup of Identity that may or may not be physically or metaphysically genetic. Who cares – I am me. JustJohn

  • Elizabeth

    Welcome to the Stone Age, son.

  • DR

    So you “stopped associating” with people with these views, yet….you’ve sought out a blog where these views are written about consistently and chose to write an embarrassingly petulant comment telling us how frequently you avoid us? What an interesting choice you’ve made, it certainly reflects much more about you than anyone here. [DR is here addressing a really hostile troll whose comment I deleted.–John]

  • DR

    Oh sorry, I keep forgetting about how quick you are to delete that garbage. Delete this too! 🙂 [No way, man. I like to watch you swinging your troll club.–John]

  • harrisco

    Old joke, but one recent arrivals to church world may not know…

    There was once a man who was stranded on a desert island for ten years. When he was finally discovered, his rescuers wondered about his life on the island. One person noted that he was alone on the island but there were three huts. “Why?,” she asked. He replied, “Well, I live in one hut. I go to church in the second hut. The third one is where I used to go to church until the church had a fight and split.”

    If you do not think it is funny now, just stay around churchland awhile. Alas, one day you will.

  • Jill

    I just found this comment now, Judy. I’m like you, cannot stand for bullshit in the pulpit. I look at it like putting on your oxygen mask first before you can be useful to anyone else needing air.

    Ultimately, I trust that spirit leads us to where we need to be to be the most helpful. I was one that needed oxygen in my old church. No one provided it, mostly it smothered me, so I finally plucked myself up and left. I was drawn toward the “lights” in this world. I was not forsaken. Your kindness is a beacon, and they will find you. 🙂

  • John, LOVE this. In my blog to gay Christians, I’ve discovered this over-occupation with “one particular issue” comes from FEAR. Christians are afraid of surrendering the reins to the God of the universe because if so, all hell will break loose. God will not be able to contain his universe because someone didn’t sign their anti-gay agreement. The dysfunctional, alcoholic father is going to knock all our heads together because Billy didn’t clean up his room. “Billy, we TOLD you to clean up your room!” The horrifying thing is that the world views this alcoholic as the God of the bible and (surprise) want nothing to do with him. Sad, sad, sad. Keep up the good work, my friend!

  • Jennifer Rahner

    I’ve found myself in a similar situation though I have to say our pastor and church seem to be handling it better than your former one.

    About a year after being baptized and joining my church, I was encouraged to join the children’s ministry as a storyteller. I was really excited about it until I was in the information session and was asked to sign off on a document that included the following passage:

    “The Bible teaches that sex was created by God as an expression of intimacy between a man and woman within the context of marriage (Genesis 2:23-25). This marriage is understood in Scripture to be exclusively between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-20). Marriage has always intended to be a permanent (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9) covenant between a husband and wife. Volunteers who embrace lifestyles that conflict with this teaching, such as polygamy, adultery, homosexuality, for examples, are unable to lead our children and students in a manner that holds to and exemplifies the truths of Scripture. If you
    do not agree, we ask that you not serve in (children’s or youth ministry) at this time. We understand that at times people fail and fall into sin, and we are always ready to work with and discuss how someone who has repented of a lifestyle or choice that has fallen short of this standard can serve once again.”

    I can’t sign that. Aside from the biblical definition of marriage stuff (which I have many problems with), I don’t believe that someone is “unable to lead our children” if they are homosexual and it says if I don’t agree than they don’t want me serving.

    Add to it that my husband and I both consider ourselves bisexual though we happened to meet and marry an opposite sex partner (each other, obviously…). So by virtue of the fact that we are practicing monogamous heterosexual sex we are ok and considered able to lead.

    We have been meeting with our pastor to try to get this policy changed. He has been open to discussion and to examining his own views (which are that homosexual orientation in and of itself is not sinful but acting on those urges is) and we feel like we are opening his eyes to considering it is not a black and white issue. It still feels very frustrating because our church is so open and welcoming in every other way. I’m torn between staying to try to affect change and leaving to try to find a community that is more welcoming and affirming to me and mine.

  • Jill Teer

    Just wow.

  • LizEnFrance

    This makes me extremely sad but does not particularly surprise me. PCUSA is not so keen on the gays. I really hope you find another, more accepting church home. (I recommend the Episcopal Church — but stay away from the “Anglicans” in the U.S. unless you want to repeat that experience!)

    I had a similar experience. I was very active in my Catholic church (choir, cantoring, starting and leading a young adult group) for several years, but I also struggled with church doctrine regarding birth control and homosexuality, among other things. I got extremely frustrated in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, when we were basically being told by our pastors on a weekly basis that voting for Kerry was a sin. They were careful not to explicitly cross the line, but it was very clear what they meant. I started a blog to express my frustrations. It gained a decent following, though it was by no means big-time. Two years later, I moved across the country for a new job.

    When I moved back a few years after that, I looked forward to rejoining the church and reconnecting with my old friends. I put in a request to join the young adult group’s Yahoo group. A few days later, I received an e-mail from the administrator (no names) telling me that they could not let me participate in the group unless I deleted my blog (which I hadn’t updated in years and had utterly forgotten about). I wrote back to say it was no longer active and respectfully asked who I was talking to, since the e-mail had been unsigned. The response ignored my request and ordered my to delete the blog. To my shame, I did so. I never did figure out who wrote those e-mails, though I have my suspicions. I rejoined the church and lasted about six months. I just couldn’t get the humiliation of the “admissions test” e-mails out of my mind. I felt like I was constantly under scrutiny. Finally I realized I was hurting myself by being there, and removed myself from the situation. I miss the music program, but that’s it. I go to Episcopal churches now. (Well, “Anglican” here in France, but the term doesn’t have the same meaning as it does in the U.S.)

    I wish you both the best.

  • Cliffhanger24

    You rock, Jill! Fortunately, he isn’t talking about my church!

  • LizEnFrance

    Dorothy, I am so sorry that you and your husband are going through such a difficult time, but very glad for both of you that the acceptance of the truth has led to healing and health. I don’t know what lies ahead for either of you, but my prayers and best wishes go out to you both.

  • Linnea912

    I left the church and became an atheist during college. It’s a long story, but gay-hating self-proclaimed Christians were a factor, though I’m straight as an arrow. Years later, when I was ready to give faith another chance, one of my requirements for a church was that it could not be even the least bit homophobic. In late 2004, I was blessed to find the church I’ve now been attending for almost ten years.

  • Jan S Yoder

    For me it was a UMC church, and not gays, though that probably would have done it also. It was the literal bible belief that stopped me cold. Do you believe that the Bible is the literal word of god? The only word in that I trip over is “literal”. All of it absolutely, literally true word of god? Hardly. Great stuff in there? Absolutely. Sigh. Thank God for Unity! Warts and All.

  • davidforeman

    “I like to keep to a minimum signing my allegiance to extremely clumsily
    articulated amalgams of reactionary theological proclamations combined
    with blatantly discriminatory hiring policies.”
    – Great writing!

  • (thanks!)

  • randommentality


  • tkdcoach

    As a gay man I’d like to suggest that they were, ultimately, not very good people at all. Not. Very. Good at all. Not that I–for most of my existence–would’ve expected or trusted ANY hedro person to get that or certainly to make the slightest sacrifice over it. But, you both did. That is pretty inspiring to me so you should know that. Because and I’m sure you noticed…my resentment and anger over THEM was pretty strong and mostly 100% accurate and it cost me big time. You’re not the only one who had to make a stand and grow up on both aspects of the hate game (coming and going).

  • Steve

    I like being a heretic.

  • Marissa Hursh

    My husband and I were married in the UMC, even though my husband was raised by pretty devout Catholics. It represented a compromise for us between his upbringing and mine (I was raised in the Church of Christ but quit going at age 12). His parents never objected, but his mother did ask that our marriage be co-validated by the Catholic Church. Personally, i thought it was ridiculous and that it only mattered if God recognized our marriage, not the Catholic Church, but I did it for my husband, and he did it for his mom. It involved several sessions of meeting with the priest and talking about God and our relationship. None of that was too bad, except that my answers barely squeaked through when talked about the divinity of Jesus. When we got to the final session, I was asked to sign a paper saying that we would raise our children in the Catholic faith. I really didn’t want to sign it because I had *no intention* of any such thing. What a dilemma… when I hesitated, the priest was quick to reassure me that “You’re only signing what your intentions are *right now.* You’re free to change your mind at a later date.” Oh, man! I have to say, in some ways I think this is worse than the woman who wanted you to sign!! Here’s the *priest* pretty much inviting me to lie! I mean, if you’re going to believe in something, however misguided it may be, then at least stand by it. Well, I signed the damn thing, because it wasn’t for me. And then I promptly *changed my mind* one second later. What a farce.

  • Tadd Maffucci

    My brother who is a pastor of a large church wrote a sermon about how i am a heretic because i accepted when my son became a Buddhist. He said in the sermon that my church should be contacted and i should be banned from leading a yg (as a volunteer) because i was truly a heretic. Yeah that sucks

  • Will Matherly

    Curiously .. What is an Abomination ? .. Is it not something that causes one to be Cut off from GOD .. Just looking at (Leviticus 20:13) and comparing that to (Revelation 21:8 & 21:27) .. Which clearly states that the Abominable will have their part in the lake that burns with Fire and Brimstone, and that no one who continues in Abomination will enter into the city (New Jerusalem) …. So, where did “Cat” get the idea that homosexuality is not a sin ? … Its clear that Sin separates us from GOD .. And an Abomination separates us from GOD, and that both cause banishment to the lake of fire … So, exactly what am I missing here ?

  • Dustin

    I’m glad you asked Will. An abomination (in the context of the Bible) simply means to something that is not the cultural norm. Its why they also say eating shrimp and wearing clothes of mixed materials is an abomination (even though people still do that without all the hate). Its not the same type of abomination you were told, its not even the laws that all Jewish people of the day followed, it only applied to those in power who were ritually clean. Now, I know a lot of people disregard stuff like that, but its the truth. The bible “mentions” homosexuality 6 times, ever. However, when taken in context, none of them condemn or say that homosexuality is sinful. What it DOES say is sinful is rape, sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as using sex like the romans who held orgies in order to please their gods. The Bible is clear about a few things, homosexuality is not one of them, but bearing false witness and spreading hate and lies in the name of God are. In fact, to my recollection, the latter is the only sin that is held above all others. Food for thought.

  • Andy

    You didn’t read the article, did you?

  • Andy

    Summed it up nicely. Well done.

  • Will Matherly

    Actually, I did, I read the whole article Andy.

  • Will Matherly

    Dustin .. I agree, the bible is not about false witness or hate, its about Hope & Love.
    Honestly, I Still don’t understand this doctrine, but I am not here to condemn anyone, I just don’t understand how something so clear, can be interpreted any other way. However, I will look into what you said.
    And for the record, I Totally agree about folks condemning someone for one abomination, yet justifying themselves, so they can partake in another.
    Anyway, I saw this article on facebook, and it caught my attention. After reading it, I couldn’t help but make a comment.
    Thank you for you polite reply.

    With much hope and love to all,
    Will Matherly

  • Andy

    I apologize if I sounded snippy. I’ve seen a few trolls come around here with comments that use some of the same phrases, and they often don’t read the articles and immediately start spouting hateful condemnation.

  • Andy

    The fact is, it’s really not as clear as you might think. There are a lot of reasons why cherry-picking passages out of the bible is a bad idea, and probably the most hotly debated subject is about homosexuality.

    If you’re interested in the views espoused by many of the progressive Christians in this community, John does a good job here of making a case of why homosexuality (both the orientation and the acts) are not sinful. Even if you take issue with his findings, it also makes the case for why you should love your fellow men and not condemn them.

    I’ll preface the rest of what I’m about to say with the fact that I’m neither a historian nor a theologian. But I’ve read the bible, I’ve wrestled with the literal interpretations conflicting with what I feel is right in my heart (to not condemn others for things they can’t help), and I’ve done enough research that I feel completely justified in my conclusions.

    First of all, remember that the bible as we know it was not one document. It comprises some 60-odd (depending on the version) pieces of writing, written by a lot of different people, spanning hundreds of years in some cases. And at some point, some people — well-intentioned though they may have been — decided somewhat arbitrarily what would be put into this collection and what would not. And none of them were written in English. As you probably know if you’ve studied a foreign language, things don’t always translate exactly without some explanation of context. This is why many many volumes have been written about just one or two verses in the bible; because of how deep the contextual meaning is that it can’t be succinctly summarized without expanding the width of the bible severalfold.

    Second, the audience for many of the books is not clear from just reading it, and therefore, cherry-picking a verse is inappropriate. For example, it’s believed that Leviticus — home of the WBC’s favorite condemnation — was written for the Levites of that time. I’m not looking this up right now, but if I remember correctly, the prevailing thought is that all those rules were to ensure the continued existence of the tribe, hence all the abstinence from potentially dangerous food and behaviors. Obviously, none of us are Levites, and so we can say there’s no reason why anything written therein necessarily applies to us today.

    On a broader note, a lot of us (but certainly not all) believe the Old Testament is either largely or completely allegorical. A number of us don’t believe hell is real, and many of those of us who do don’t believe it’s a fire-and-brimstone place of eternal torment. However, as this comment is already very long, I won’t prolong it by getting into this hornet’s nest at the moment.

    I’m not a proselytizer, but feel free to ask me or anyone else around here if you need anything else.

  • Dustin

    Honestly, if someone tells you they know the answers to all this stuff, they are not telling you the truth. We never stop learning and growing and finding our faith throughout our life. It really isn’t a clear cut case, but I know a lot of people who like to say that it is. The truth is that for years and years people have been telling others what to think and how to interpret the Bible. My advice is to take everything you hear, and search the scriptures and your heart for the answer.

  • Bones

    Do you think it’s an abomination to eat shellfish?

    Leviticus 11:

    9 ‘These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. 10 But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you. 11 They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.

    Personally I don’t like shellfish. But I think it’s a bit rich to think that shellfish separates us from God.

    My wife wears my clothes so she’s stuffed:

    5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.

    Someone please tell the author of Proverbs about homosexuality

    Prov 6

    “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

    You know if the Bible is so important at least read the thing properly.

  • Bones

    Double post

  • Bones

    Can I ask how you get homosexuals being cast in the Lake of fire in Revelation 21?

    It actually states the cowardly (that’s me at times) and ALL liars.

    That covers pretty much everyone.

    Don’t get hung up in Revelation. It’s a polemic against Imperial Rome. There’s nothing futuristic about it.

  • Dustin

    You do have to dig deep to claim the Bible condemns homosexuality. Pretty much all the popular quotes are used out of context and don’t say what you claim, plus its such a tiny, tiny part of the Bible anyway, its amazing how focused you can be on a grain of sand. I think there’s stuff in the Bible about that. Actually, I know there is. Jesus himself spoke out against people who judged and picked at others while ignoring their own, gaping flaws. This spreading of a lie is most assuredly against God’s will.

  • Lance Wells

    [unacceptably obnoxious/arrogant/condescending comment deleted.]

  • Dustin

    All I know is that I believe in a God of love, acceptance, tolerance, openness, justice, and grace.

  • Jill

    Then why are you engaging, Lance? If there’s “little point”.

    Feel free to simply be absolutely right about everything you have chosen to believe on the subject and live your life.

  • Jill

    ” If a homosexual kills himself (or herself), it’s not because of the legitimate guilt that resulted from being involved in immorality, it’s because of someone “bullying” them.”

    “…the nature of evil people is always to blame someone else, and to try to take the rest of the world down with them.”

    Sounds like your blaming someone else.

  • Jill

    “Don’t get hung up in Revelation. It’s a polemic against Imperial Rome. There’s nothing futuristic about it.”

    — That is just about the coolest thing I’ve read. (You’d get a laugh out of the treatment the JW’s give Revelation. Crazy stuff.)

  • I’m quite familiar with the obsession over Revelations. I grew up in a church that used it as its favorite book. Now I refuse to read the damned thing.

  • Your brother did that?? Wow, that’s cold. Of course you could be snarky and send him a prayer wheel for his birthday this year.

  • Jill

    Ugh. Out of all the books, this is the one written after John of Patmos had too much Chinese takeout.

  • Criselda Marquez

    Thank you for being an ally…even at the cost of losing your church family!

  • Bilbo Bagins

    the god you described is the god that hates all sin, but loves all people. read the bible again it is in there. it is sexual sin, just like sex outside of mirage and lust. christians should not hate Gays, judge them, or threaten them with hell but should explain god’s view of there life. how god still and always will love them even if they become a murder, and explain that god is not telling them to change who they are before coming to him. Jesus died for them and every other person on this earth he takes away our sin. he changes us and change us to fit into his grate plan for our lives. people who struggle with sexual urges are no different from those who struggle with homo sexual urges. God loves them and has a beautiful plane for there lives. just as he has a plane for each and every one of us, he will bless us beyond our greatest dreams in ways we, now, can’t understand. and he took the first step while we were all sinners and before any of us were borne he sent his son to die for our sins so we don’t have to. if you let him he will change you he will bless you and lead you to things that you can’t imagine you will touch the hearts of people beyond your reach. that is what we need to tell people. and Dustin the bible is very clear on gods view of homo sexuality.
    Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”1
    Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them.”
    1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
    Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

    but like always don’t let a few verses dictate your view of god. many look at verses about sin or verses about love and they dictate there view of the lord. but the individual pieces, like those of a puzzle, don’t represent the whole the yet the whole is made of the pieces if yo take a piece from a puzzle you have an incomplete picture, and if you say on piece is wrong what make the other pieces right, you? read the whole bible and look at it the word of god and look at the picture you see before witnessing the word to others,and leading them astray. is it justice to ignore sin?

  • otrame

    I realize this is very old news, but I happened across this blog and wanted to comment. I enjoyed the OP very much. Though I have been an atheist for 50 years that does not mean that I don’t recognize and have empathy for dilemmas similar to the one you faced (if for no other reason than the fact that even non-religious people can be put in similar–though non-religious–dilemmas). I think of Huckleberry Finn deciding that he would go to hell rather than betray his friend. That was not a light decision, because he genuinely believed that he would go to hell. Some have called it the single greatest passage in American literature, and a devout Christian friend of mine said that Huckleberry was obeying Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbor as yourself in the face of his entire culture telling him he was wrong.

    In order to be a decent human being, whether Christian or not, it is sometimes necessary to stand opposed to those whose definition of love is badly skewed. I applaud you and your wife for taking that stand.