Conservative theologian REALLY doesn’t like me, or anyone ASSOCIATED with me

Conservative theologian REALLY doesn’t like me, or anyone ASSOCIATED with me September 3, 2010

Dr. Robert Gagnon (who wrote this book and this book), Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, just published a 24 PAGE critique of me, my work, my book and everyone who is associated with me. Here is the introduction to his critique (italics are mine):

“Andrew Marin’s book, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (2009) has been gaining some traction in evangelical circles. Having just finished reading the book I am stunned that an evangelical press like InterVarsity would publish such a fatally flawed book – and that persons such as Scot McKnight (a New Testament  professor at an evangelical university, North Park) and a certain Michelle Strombeck of Moody Broadcasting Network (a conservative evangelical organization) would provide endorsements for it. (A foreword by Brian McLaren is not surprising since McLaren had already surrendered to a homosexualist view. The same applies to Tony Campolo, whose enthusiastic video endorsement is posted on Marin’s site.) Although I have read some interviews of Marin and got reports back from acquaintances about Marin’s claims, I’ve ignored his book until now because, frankly, I didn’t think his book would have much of an impact on evangelical Christianity. However, a recent puff piece on Marin by Heather Sells for the conservative Christian Broadcast Network has convinced me that it is time to respond (“Christian’s Outreach to Gays: I’m Sorry,” 8/20/10).”

Here’s the kicker to his 24 page document, those 24 pages are just Part 1. No, seriously, they are. You can see it in full here. I greatly respect and appreciate all of the time Gagnon must have put into this work. He went to quite the lengths, especially if this is only Part 1.

But there was one big red flag for me. Gagnon publicly posted the following, and please read what Gagnon wrote about himself very carefully:

I have written extensively on homosexual practice for a decade now, with two academic books published and many scholarly articles and articles for a general audience. I’m widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the subject, certainly from a ‘traditional’ (i.e. scriptural) perspective. Yet CBN never asked me for a comment on Marin’s work, much less ever devoted an article on my work.

I think that says enough.

Much love.

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  • I’ve never heard of him. But yeah, the quote you lifted reveals the heart of the matter.

  • Seth


    It seems that a little modesty would go a long way here.

    And I’m not sure that the sheer volume of this work is any indication of its quality– “If you can’t dazzle ’em with your brilliance , , ,”

    As reluctant as I am to do so, I’ll give it a look this evening–for as long as I can stand it!

    • I tried to read it. I really did. I couldn’t make it through the whole thing – especially due to the tone he wrote it in. I’ll try to finish it tonight if I can. It’s almost like it’s a battle of attrition; one that I’m not at all interested to get involved in, even though I’m tempted because a lot of the very right activism groups/sites have picked up on it and are having a field day with it, and me. I just don’t have enough energy to do that though. I could use it on more productive stuff… But for what they are saying, doesn’t much look like they’re interested in dialogue. Glad we had that Living in the Tension discussion on handling criticism last week 🙂

      • Geoff G.

        I’m working through it myself (not that I have anywhere near the credentials to argue with people who know their Bible so well, particularly since I myself am an agnostic and my Greek is shabby while my Hebrew is nonexistent).

        But I think the idea of looking at this as part of the creative tension is the most useful thing to do. Gagnon, however much of an authority he may be on “homosexual practice” (I *know* I have him beat there! 😛 ), has generously given you an opportunity to return to and reexamine your arguments, to perhaps concede some and to perhaps sharpen others.

        Hopefully, you both benefit from the exercise.

        • Geoff – I really appricate your thoughts and take them very, very seriously.

          If I felt something productive and mutal conceding could actually happen (specifically by Gagnon, as I have been clearly corrected before in public and changed views/conceeding things, etc – which I can link to if you like), then I would be enthusiastic in engaging. From his tone in the document and his reputation from the past engagment with those he does not agree with, he just likes to debate; not understand. This situation seems to me as a lose-lose other than if I conceed 100% on everything. There is no point for me to take time away from my actual, daily, work of reconciliation to do such a thing.

          One might then question, why did I post public responses to LGBTs such as Signorile and Savage? The answer is that from my perspective, those who claim Christ should know better than to accuse first and ask later, and they should conduct themselves differently. The one exception I have to this, is if the person is somehow in my life in person. I have all day everyday for people who I know in person. This internet critique-first-stuff from those who claim Christ – I have no time to play those waist of time back and forth games in the name of ‘public discourse’. There is too much real time living, learning and loving to do – and to encourage others to do the same no matter what the outcome is.

      • Seth

        I gave it the “college try,” up to page 9, where Gagnon opines, “ The misrepresentation of the text of Scripture at this point is so monumental and so key to Marin’s program as to discredit the whole of it and call shame upon any who help to further it.” The italics are his.

        I decided to stop there, because my attitude changed upon reading that sentence. I lost whatever constructive impulse I had going into this essay. Poof! Gone. And I don’t know when it will return.

        Nevertheless, I have a handful of reactions, based on my partial reading.

        1) Do you know whether Gagnon is gay or ex-gay? He claims to be an expert on homosexual practice, and though I presume that he is celibate, I think that his own sexuality might have an influence on what we’re reading. I will speculate no further, however.

        2) Gagnon uses inflammatory language from the outset, and I found it hard to discern the real arguments from the ad hominem remarks. His language doesn’t lend itself to dialogue, nor does it comport with traditional academic language, in my estimation.

        3) It seems to me that from page 1, Gagnon is seeking–and apparently claiming–a license to judge those within the church, in the manner of Paul in 1Cor 5:12-13 and drive out those with particular sins. BTW, Gagnon refers only to “sexually immoral” persons, but Paul’s list includes the greedy, idolaters, revilers, drunkards and robbers.

        4) I think Gagnon over-invests in Paul’s admonitions to the disorderly church in Corinth, and ends up with a view that is distorted by too much analysis of its vocabulary.

        5) When I teach inductive Bible study, I use the principle that a “text without context is a pretext.” When I looked up Gagnon’s proof texts on the sin of Sodom (page 3), I found that three of the four citations did not refer to sexual sin, nor did Jesus’ references to it. I am routinely suspicious of proof texts, and quickly lose trust in those who use them, especially when they don’t prove the point.

        6) When Gagnon writes about Jesus’ endorsement of the male-female marital “perquisite” [sic] (page 3), he fails to mention that Jesus almost relentlessly criticized the Pharisees for overloading God’s people with their interpretations of the Law, and for their own hypocrisy. And Gagnon is arguing just like the Pharisees did!

        Let me stop there. One thing I need is to re-read your book–I started a list of questions about it back-in-the-day and I need to revisit them. As far as Gagnon, I sincerely hope that he is equally vigorous in his condemnation of divorce and remarriage as he is toward homosexuality. Straight marriage doesn’t have a good track record–the evangelical church is no exception–and I’d rather see him spend some words there, where they are needed.


        PS: What in the world is a “homosexualist”? And can I please be one? 😉

        • Seth – I also wonder, and agree, with much of what you said. The problem with these types of critiques is that they only bring up more sub-questions, and another 24 page critique of his critique could easy be written. That must be the academic world he soley exists in, because it’s sure not mine, nor much of the world. Not only do I not want to spend time writing critiques of critiques, because that will do nothing but lead to a never ending circle of back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth (which coincidentally is why we are at in the current culture war today!), but I don not care to enter into a battle of attrition and/or just continuing to talk past each other than to each other.

          As for the re-read of my book, I am here for you with any questions you might have at all. Much love.

        • Brian

          I’m a former student of Gagnon’s and can answer a couple of your questions about the man himself.

          Dr. Gagnon is married with two children. He is in no way hateful toward the LGBT community (in my experience of being in class and office conversations). You have noticed that is ability to produce lengthy documents with a “direct” tone is outstanding, but he is a scholar in the field and has written extensively in the field. You can of course disagree with him, but you can’t ignore him as a scholar in the field.

  • I pray for you and your work regularly. I’ll kick it up a notch today.

    • Sara – Those prayers are MORE than appriciated! Thank you so very, very much. Much love!

  • Josh

    haha! A “homosexualist” view?! what will they think of next!

    what makes me so joyful about this is that this professor probably spent days working on this rebuttal — all the while gays and lesbians are faithfully praising and serving the Lord in churches and communities throughout the world.

    God is still speaking. But people like Dr. Gagnon are not at all interested in listening. I hope he finds his way.

    • Let those who have hears, hear. I just read today in Mark 12:28-34 where Jesus said that the greatest two commandments are more important than religious dogma, or what some religious gatekeepers feel is ‘most important’.

  • Jen N.

    Andrew, I am thoroughly convinced that Satan will continue to use this issue to divide the evangelical (mostly anti-gay) Christian community and to discourage many members of the GLBT community from seeking relationship with God. You are frustrating Satan’s work and are high on his attack list. Keep on, brother! We need you.

  • Dora

    Hey another straight white man weighs in… ho hum. The egos of these guys never cease to amaze me.

    • Hey–I’m a straight white man, and I’m incredibly humble. How dare you ignore me?

      • Kara

        Ahaha. Funniest comment I’ve read in a long time. Great job, would lol again.

  • Jack Harris

    I’m widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the subject…….that statement made me laugh!

    • You and about 20 others who made the same observation on Facebook. Interesting choice of words in describing how one feels the world views them, whether some see it as true or not.

      Whatever happened to Isaiah 66:2

      • Timothy Kincaid

        Interestingly, from a raging homophobe perspective, Gagnon is a “leading authority.” They all quote him, rely on him, defer to him, and insist that Robert Gagnon is in all matters correct. He is second only to Paul in all that he has to say.

  • I often wonder if professional theologians fear they are losing ground and influence to the “man or woman on the street.” I have seen quite a lot of these types of “reviews” (more attacks) in various circles and it seems that in general they are protecting their supposed territory.

    I couldn’t read it either, and frankly don’t care to. I don’t see the love of Christ in it, especially considering the blatant self-promotion as “the authority” on the subject.

    Carry on, Andrew! We love and support you and the example that you are in Christ!

    Many blessings to you today!

    • John – I find it interesting that I am viewed by him as having no academic credentials. It is without a doubt that he has not only waaaaaay more credentials from highly respected institutions than I do (or most everyone on earth for that matter) but I do have my BA in Psychology from a ranked upper tier public university (University of Illinois – Chicago), and did go to seminary with a Masters degree from Moody Theological Seminary. It’s not like I don’t theologically understand Scripture… That’s how it goes though in so many academic circles.

      Great points, and thanks for the love and encouragement. It means the world to me! Much love!

      • I know, that’s what I mean…its like unless you are an academic with a PhD. you don’t know what you are talking about.

        You are living your ministry…your calling…your gifting…the early church valued all these much more than knowledge and degrees.

        In fact, didn’t Paul call it all “dung?”

        Rock on, bro…

  • John Dao

    Academic Pride has a way of catching up with us who are in seminary.

    One of my professors at GCTS told me this:
    “If you are ever reading controversial texts in the Bible, and say to yourself “It’s so obvious the text means this! Other people are really dumb for not seeing it like this.”, you need to check yourself. If it was really that simple, it wouldn’t be controversial in the first place.”

    Also, I don’t see how you can be an “expert on homosexuality” if you don’t interact with them and/or are not a psychologist. It’s easy to write books and critiques from afar, but as an evangelical, the question I want to know is “How do I talk to the GLBT community?”, and that is the bridge building work I support in you.

    Now, I can easily rip apart his works in a 24 page critique sitting behind my desk if I really wanted to, but I’m not going to do that because 1) I don’t know him that well, 2) I have God’s kingdom to build with the short time God has given me 3) I don’t feel the need to be right. God is right, so I just go along with Him.

    In all, consider this a compliment someone sees you as doing something extremely influential with your life, even though they are against you. You don’t have to enjoy the criticism, but you can be glad under persecution!

  • Eugene

    Frankly, I don’t understand what Andrew is complaining about. I have easily made it through the whole thing. It’s well written, reasonably polite and focused on the issue in question, not on Andrew’s personality or people associated with him. Gagnon doesn’t say anything new, though, so I guess that’s why no one asked him for a comment. Still, he raises a few important questions that are based on reasonable interpretations of the Bible. That’s why Andrew’s attempt to discredit him as an attention seeker looks like a cheap shot.

    • Which of Gagnon’s ‘resonable interpretations of the Bible’ are you talking about Eugene? Examples would be great.

      I find it interesting that you can’t stand conservativism, as made abundantly clear by all of your comments over the last month. But when the time is right, you decide to jump on Gagnon’s bandwagon, when you can’t stand, and actively fight against anything he believes or propogates to others about you and your community? Very convienient for you.

      • Eugene

        I “jump on Gagnon’s bandwagon” only because I’m being objective. 🙂

        In a way, it’s validation. Yes, I surely can’t stand anti-gay “conservatism”. But it doesn’t mean that I should reject logical and reasonable interpretations – even when I find them hateful and offensive.

        The most obvious example is Gagnon’s straightforward interpretation of Paul’s words – 1 Corinthians 5, etc. (p. 2, 7, 8). The Bible plainly says “not even to eat with such a one” – and there is nothing we can do about it.

        • Mary

          But it’s impossible to be objective. Think back to the antebellum south. There were plenty of Christians who were utterly convinced that Bible condoned slavery. Now we read such passages differently. Contextual information is always needed when interpreting scripture because the world of the New Testament is culturally quite different from our own. Taking various translated terms and assuming that we can understand the meaning behind them without doing a good amount of work is problematic.

          • Eugene

            Yes, it’s impossible to be 100% objective. But we can be as objective as possible.

            And, yes, contextual information is important. But the message in 1 Corinthians 5 is straightforward: sexual immorality doesn’t belong in a church. And it even makes sense from a purely secular perspective: you don’t want sexually immoral people to represent the church (e.g. the Catholic church and pedophile priests).

            That’s why only two stances makes sense from a Christian perspective:

            1) Homosexuality is inherently immoral, and it must be strongly discouraged in a church.

            2) Homosexuality isn’t inherently immoral, and gay marriage should be celebrated in a church.

            The middle ground can only be secular in nature (e.g. “I think that gay marriage is morally wrong, but gay people still should have civil marriage equality”).

            Contextual information only comes into play when we determine whether Paul adequately understood homosexuality – as opposed to homosexual sex between straight people.

        • Eugene – 1 Cor 5 is up to interpretation. Take it word for word, yes, that is what it says. The broader theme surrounding not only 1 Corinthians, but the chapters in question are talking about not letting the pagans, calling themselves Christian, lead the church. That would be like Bill Hybels from Willow Creek stepping down and in his place an atheist takes over, with none of the same doctrine and calling himself Christian. It does also refer to the already Christians in the church giving in to mainstream culture’s ways (e.g. 1 Cor 6:1-8) – the same pattern the Israelites fell into throughout the Old Testament, and the same theme God spoke to them through the prophets during that time period as well.

      • Debbie Thurman

        Reading Gagnon’s whole essay/review, Andrew, cannot be that difficult for a guy who is Moody-trained. I have an English degree (which only means I can comprehend English) and can only claim to be a lay apologist, but I agree with Eugene’s assessment of the piece.

        Gagnon did his homework, and he flatly says you did not, and points out holes in your exegesis. His examples are there for you to read and ought not have to be reiterated by anyone here. I know your book is not meant to be a scholarly tome, but addressing so delicate a subject does require a great deal of careful study and thought before drawing conclusions. Sin is a life-or-death matter, a point that Gagnon takes great care to reiterate.

        • I never said I didn’t understand what he wrote. I said I stopped reading it, due to tone and false assumptions about the scope of my book and what its intent was. I love how you and him and some others assume I haven’t done my homework or carefully studied his, and other’s works. I have, and decided not to enter into their world. Therefore I wrote what I wrote. Believe me, I could have written a 522 page theological scholarly book as he did. That’s not my intent. I’m here to love and live in real life in real time living my Kingdom Job Description (Billy Graham quote). That’s my focus; not entering theological debates. As I said in my book, you can find thousands of theological books and articles on the subject all claiming “THE REAL TRUTH”. They’re all just talking past each other instead of to each other! I can’t stand that adn it does no good for reconciliation as they are all working off of a success/failure model. Well, my real truth is found in God through Jesus living and loving everyday in the middle of a huge LGBT community that deserves it like everyone else.

          • Debbie Thurman

            Andrew, I really do get what you’re about, and I respect the heart behind your ministry outreach. It was only a matter of time before somebody like you stepped up to begin unraveling the many layers of harsh truth-sans-love that too many Christians had imprisoned gays with for so long.

            It is awfully hard, however, for someone to read your book and not wonder about whether or not the love message has co-opted the truth message in your effort to right past wrongs. Gagnon is pointing out (quoting Paul’s teaching on the subject) that we must have a truth-in-love approach in our outreach because all the love in the world that fails to point sinners to conviction and repentance only succeeds in smoothing the road to destruction for them.

            You are saying (correct me if I’m wrong) that we have to gain some trust and relationship with gays before we can ever expect them to be comfortable with the Church that has effectively shut them out. I will agree with that, to a point. But it’s difficult to do that and not compromise some part of the Gospel. You call this living in the tension. Yes, it’s tense. But we are never to be comfortable in our sin. If we are not giving Jesus — the one and only bridge — to the lost, then what are we doing? We can make them feel better, but we cannot be Jesus for them or prevent them from knowing the godly sorrow that leads to life and peace and reconciliation with Christ. That is the highest form of love.

            You have things to say that many other evangelicals need to hear. But it may behoove you to listen to them, as well. And we all need to be on our knees before God, interceding for one another. I am praying for you.

            This does not have to be a shouting match in which everybody is talking past everybody else. The truth does not have to be shouted to be heard. It’s bigger than all of us.

            • Eugene

              You seem to believe that both you and Andrew know the “truth”, and it’s anti-homosexual in nature. If that’s the case, it seems to me that most gays will never see “love” in your “truth-in-love” approach – especially as the society is getting more gay-friendly. That’s why conservative Christians have two realistic options:

              1) Keep preaching the “truth” as gay people and their families abandon Christianity.

              2) Focus on “love”.

              They also can decide that they probably don’t know the truth about homosexuality, which will give them the third option:

              3) Marry them all, let God sort them out. 🙂

              From a purely pragmatic perspective, is Jesus more likely to forgive an atheist or a “homosexualist” Christian? 🙂

              • Debbie Thurman

                The truth is anti-sin, Eugene. And there is no authentic love outside its confines. Holiness and sinfulness cannot co-exist. Jesus Christ is the bridge from one to the other.

              • Eugene

                The question is whether the “sin” is homosexuality or homophobia.

              • Debbie Thurman

                Sin can be found in either disposition. Only God can search the heart.

              • Andrew,

                Be forewarned that Gagnon will “debate” you (actually berate you) for as long as you respond to his rants. And he will get increasingly combative and hostile and will probably start in with the personal insults pretty soon.

                I was the topic of his obsession a couple of years ago, and I was criticizing him in a secular manner. (I only earned 57 pages, I’m sure you rate more)

                I stopped responding to him after a while, but I’ve been far from the last of his targets. I’ve found with Gagnon that ANY criticism from anyone is met with frantic ranting page after page. I truly don’t think I’ve ever encountered a less secure person.

        • Eugene

          I agree that Gagnon’s tone is appropriate for “a life-and-death matter”. As for the intent behind Andrew’s book… well, we know which road is paved with good intentions… 🙂

          • Classy Eugene. Nice smiley face at the end of the comment too.

  • Dora

    And I’m the world’s authority on the behavior of straight men in the work place! Geez, and is this guy the world’s authority on “lesbian practice”– I took a look at the first few paragraphs of that “academic tract” and just couldn’t read it. Who made him king of the gay world anyway?

    And yes, academics like to protect their territory from lay people, and are so behind on the gay and lesbian issues… they are still using slide rules in an Internet world. So they are scientifically as well as theologically out of date.

    The people who often got madest at me for teaching university classes on international trade were male academics in that same “field.” My classes would be packed with people who really wanted to know how to do business abroad, and needed very practical advice on how to make deals happen. The academic guys just wrote books, but never opened a business in their life. This guy reminds me of that experience.

    You might say it is the entrepreneurs vs. the academics. Marin being an amateur gentleman anthropologist wandering into the gay (male) world, those guys are still sitting in armchairs on Monday mornings 🙂

    • Eugene

      “I took a look at the first few paragraphs of that “academic tract” and just couldn’t read it”

      Now, that’s just weak.

      His theology may be too “scientific”, but to the extent that the Bible actually matters, you can’t dismiss his findings just because he is sitting in an armchair instead of hanging out with lesbians. 🙂

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Gagnon has shown there to be faults with your theology Marin, as many others have done. Yet again you have not listened but gone on the attack like a spoilt child. Rather than boasting Gagnon had put his qualifications out to show why he has the right to review your book from a theological perspective – please note that he does not attack your evangelism just what he sees as your misuse of Scripture.

    Gagnon has debated with the theologians you quote and written extensively on the issue of what the Bible says on homosexuality, he has also spoken with groups associated with both the pro-gay and ex-gay movement. He puts the quotes from Scripture that you use in their context, something that you fail to do. He asks why you only use gay theologians – something others of us have asked but you have failed to answer.

    This post by you appears to be another case of a child throwing his toys out of the pram rather than acting in a mature way and talking with his critics. Opportunities and invites have been there which you have ignored because you claim that you will not speak with people who attack you – but you see fit to attack those who question your position. Will you claim, as you have done about your other critics, that you have asked to meet them? Would you be brave enough to meet with and challenge the misunderstanding of the critics?

    As someone who is ex-gay, has a number of friends in the gay movement, engages with the pro-gay lobby in meetings, in the media and often working behind the scenes on issues where we can work together, and works with churches and organisations across the world in outreach to the gay community I find you unwillingness to engage with critics concerning. Or is your speck to big?

    • I just re-read Andrew’s blog post. Maybe I’m confused, but his blog entry appears to be as respectful of Gagnon’s work (if not more so) than Gagnon was of Andrew’s work, as reflected in the quoted sections.

      Also, Gagnon didn’t list his credentials as supporting why he should have the right to critically examine Andrew’s work. Gagnon used his credentials as a jumping board to whine about CBN contacting Andrew, but never having contacted Gagnon (despite being the no. 1 expert on “the subject”, presumably bridge-building with the GLBT community).

    • Oh Phelim, why would I ever want to engage with anyone who accuses first and asks questions after – whether in the past with your accusations, Anglican Mainstream, Gagnon or any of the LGBT bloggers, etc out there doing the same stuff? Doesn’t make any sense.

      Also, please re-read what I wrote. I didn’t attack anything Gagnon said. In fact I commended him for putting so much time and effort into what he wrote. Not only did I state facts, but I also linked to his books, etc, so people can make decisions for themselves, which is much less than he did for me.

      Believe me, my speck is huge, and I’m trying really hard to daily remove it and live and love as faithfully as I can.

      • Phelim McIntyre

        Andrew – I met you in London, UK. I sent emails asking to talk and dialogue as someone who was involved with the homosexual movement and promoted gay theology, and is now actively involved in equipping churches to reach out to the homosexual community a number of times before I posted any comments. I always put a reply request to make sure people get my emails. I got those but no response before I went and made comments in the public domain. It is this that worries me. You want people to treat you one way but you do not treat them the same way. You have not done this with me, with Anglican Mainstream (who I do not work for), with Gagnon, with John Nolland (who again does not work for Anglican Mainstream) or anyone else. In fact when Anglican Mainstream you stated that you would not meet with me, Lisa Nolland, Dr Vinay Samuel (who has been involved with cross cultural evangelism since you were in kindergarten) or Dr John Nolland, Vice Principle of a leading theological college in the UK. So here are four people who know their stuff, have read your book and in two cases met you and have serious concerns. At least two of them have tried to raise them with you in private and have been ignored.

        Also while you claim to have made links to Gagnon’s work they are poor links. You read ex-gay watch. What efforts have you made to meet with anyone from the ex-gay movement, many of whom who have not commented on your work but are actually Facebook fans? Ignoring your critics will not help.

        As I have said, I promoted gay theology and used the theologians that you quote to argue against the evangelical position when I read your book I turned to the person with me and said this is just a rehash of Scrogg’s and Boswell. They looked at me blank as they have never heard of them. So I pulled their books of my shelf and read the relevant passage from Boswell on Romans 1 then read yours. Great summary by the way of Boswell’s view. But why have you not explained the major concern that you do not use any non pro-gay theologians in your book but use two self proclaimed liberal theologians, one of whom was a practising homosexual who died of aids? Are you unaware that their theology is now outdated and even groups like the Metropolitain Church don’t use them that much.

        Here is my challenge – stop ignoring the ex-gay movement as we can tell you stories that will make your hair curl; stop ignoring your critics – I admire what you are doing and believe that there is much we need to learn from you but that does not excuse poor theology (a view expressed by V J Samuel if you actually listened to his talk) – get out of the sand box and start dialogging with people who disagree with you rather than just attacking us.

        • Once again Philem, answer my question. Why in the world would I ever retroactively respond to you, John or Lisa Nolland, Gagnon, VJ Samuel or anyone who accuses first and asks questions after?

          I do not ever remember personally meeting you in the UK. Where did the meeting happen?

          As for your email? It was a paragraph of accusations and that’s all. Why would I respond via that medium either when you still just accuse first and ask later? There is something profoundly wrong with thinking that way of asking questions or engaging anyone is acceptable. And yet you, and so many others think it is normal. That is not normal for me and will not get my time or extended attention.

          As for Nolland being a “Vice Principle of a leading theological college in the UK”…how about he/you ask his collegue at the same university, Dr. Andrew Goddard, who totally gets and supports where I’m at. It’s all a matter of opinion and how that opinion is implemented and lived out in real life in relation to and relationship with others.

          As for engaging the ex-gay community – I do through our everyday work in The Marin Foundation, the same as I engage non-Christian LGBT, gay Christians, celibate, liberal and conservative straight and non-Christian straight. It’s just a shame that some leading ex-gay people/org like to accuse me first and ask questions retroactively. That doesn’t fly in my book.

          Once again, my book is not a theological work. Read it for what it is…a different medium of engagement from traditional paradigms. It’s like Gagnon is trying to critique an apple through the lens of a banana.

          • Ashley

            Thanks for the work you do Andrew. You are a good person with a good heart. Don’t ever let the critics stop you from moving forward in what Christ has called you to!!!

            • Thank you so much Ashley, that means a lot to me. Much love!

  • Ruairidh MacRae

    Gagnon is extremely influential within a certain section of the conservative evangelical anti-gay community. Interesting, since most of them wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole for actual theological questions. Gagnon’s works need to be taken seriously and dealt with fully by the pro-inclusive conservative theological camp. Clearly however, the Marin Foundation is not part of this camp (or Gagnon’s) and so its interesting Gagnon is exerting such effort to discredit Andrew.
    What is more disturbing even than Gagnon’s self-proclaimed unassailable position is the fact he states that he “ignored” the book because he didn’t think it would impact evangelicalism. So clearly, he presupposed what Andrew was saying in the book, and regarded it as unacceptable without having read it. Thus, when he came to it, he came with a closed mind. Of course, when any of us with a position come to read something or listen to an argument we come with our own presuppositions. However, Gagnon comes across as someone who is utterly incapable of any contemplation of another position being valid. Having built his entire rationale on an anti-gay mindset, he is so invested in the perpetuation of the war that he is philosophically, theologically dangerous to the Gospel. For him and others like him, the collateral damage (people’s lives and the Gospel Message) don’t matter one fig, just his arguments (and sadly, apparently, his reputation).

  • I haven’t read Gagnon’s new piece. I may read it later this evening.

    Gagnon’s work has been promoted through a couple different UCC renewal groups, though it looks like the primary UCC renewal group, Bibical Witness Fellowship, has made adjustments to their webpage so Gagnon’s work is no longer there.

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Rudiarah – what does that say about people like myself who read the book and still agree with Gagnon and have raised the same theological concerns? Marin just attacks us so why should we expect anything more from him about Gagnon?

    • Phelim: Go ahead and raise your concerns. Anticipate that Andrew may indeed respond to your critiques of his work and that you might not like his response. Let people decide which approach they agree with. It’s a free country.

    • Phelim – No one is asking you to disagree with Gagnon, and it’s perfectly fine that you have come to the same conclusions. The problem I have is that in this situation, you, Anglican Mainstream and Gagnon acuse, blame and name-call first.

      The pattern is more than obvious. Why would I want to engage under these circumstances?

      • Darren

        Andy, I’m not even sure why you respond to Phelim here. Phelim’s a troll: just looking for a fight. Phelim admits to jumping from one extreme to the other. The overarching pattern: always needing to be right – always needing to fight. To engage a culture warrior is to go to war. Personally, I feel that the only Christ-like response is to call defeat. You’re wrong . . . about EVERYTHING, Andy. So am I. Phelim’s right. Phelim wins. Let’s move on and actually do some good in the world, instead of allowing the Devil to have his way by getting us bogged down in arguments about who’s more noble. That’s clearly won a lot of hearts to Christ thus far . . . :-/

        • Phelim McIntyre

          Darren – I have seen a lot of fruit from my work, because I do not compromise. I have found people like that rather than a liberal, what you feel is fine. I got to my position by reading the evidence – scientific and Scriptural for myself. Did you know the only people commended in the book of Acts are the Bereans who searched Scripture for themselves to see what Paul was saying was true or false. I did not “jump” because I was not looking to become straight. I left the gay community because my feelings changed but I pulled out from working as a youth and community worker in GBLT groups because of claims about the science that I knew to be false because I get the scientific literature. But then, if you were a supporter of the Apostle Peter I expect when he was challenged by Paul you would have said that Paul was just looking for a fight.

          How I work is to get churches to go out of their comfort zone, I get them to offer prayer to the homosexual community. Yes prayer. Listening booths at gay events, just letting people unwind over a cup of tea or coffee and then offering prayer for those needs with the laying on of hands. Imagine for a middle class Christian the experience of touching a man dresses in next to nothing but what he is dressed in is either leather or rubber, or touching someone who has just told them they are HIV positive. People are opening cafes in gay villages offering the same service across the globe, nit just because of what I do but as out of their mission through YWAM, the Maranatha Community and other groups. I also encourage them to get onto the streets and hand out bottles of water to those coming out of the gay clubs or marching in the hot summer weather.

          I get churches to walk along behind gay pride marches picking up the rubbish – used condoms, hypodermic needles, party poppers, leaflets, lost buckles.

          We are asked why we are doing this, and we just tell them to show them God’s love. Yes we are challenged with the homophobia of the church, at which point I instruct people to admit that this is the case through out history, but as a member of the body of Christ we are sorry for the way they are treated and are doing this to express how much God loves them. This often leads to prayer opportunities for those handing out water or picking up litter. I have seen people go and get their friends to “watch” those picking up litter as if they are aliens. I have seen people in leather gear go and get dressed then come out of the bars and join in the litter picking. While people do not say which “church” or congregation they are part of I have had reports of how people find out the church the person who prayed with them was part of and started attending.

          The image I get people to use when sharing the Gospel is that of a piece of precious furniture, jewelry, or china. Like that precious object people are covered in the dirt of life, chips and scratches from being mishandled and signs of negligence. The owner can do three things, ignore the damage and leave things as they are allowing them to get worse, conserve the object – stopping the rot but leaving the object in its poor state, or restore the object to its proper beauty and value. Through Jesus dying on the Cross God has already paid the cost for the restoration – would they like God to work in their lives and remove the grime, the scratched and restore them to their full beauty and value. So far homosexuality has not been mentioned. If homosexuality is brought up then 1 Corithians 6 is used, Yes homosexuality is mentioned nut do they know anyone who has lied, got drunk, committed adultery, stolen, physically attacked people? Because according to Paul these things are as bad as homosexuality. If being a liar of a thief can not stop you coming to God for his loving touch neither can homosexuality.

          In the approach I use we try to be like Jesus when confronted with the woman caught in adultery, we do not condemn but we challenge the sinful behaviour. When it comes to those who are waving placards and saying how wonderful they are we take the approach of Jesus to the rich young ruler and challenge them to put down the placard and come out with us litter picking or handing out water. If they say yes then they work with someone to make sure they keep their mouth shut. Often they never come again as the work is too uncomfortable, but also they often stop standing with the group with placards.

          • Eugene

            “Yes homosexuality is mentioned nut do they know anyone who has lied, got drunk, committed adultery, stolen, physically attacked people? Because according to Paul these things are as bad as homosexuality.”

            Well, if that’s the case, why would a gay man want to be a Christian?

            • Phelim McIntyre

              Why would anyone want to be a Christian Eugene? Surely life would be better if I just got on and did what I wanted. Slept with who or what I wanted? Took what I wanted and didn’t pay for it? Where would society be then? Is that what you want? is that where we are going?

              As someone who can speak from both sides of the fence, I have been up to my elbows in the homosexual lifestyle in more ways than one, and now is straight I believed the view that homosexuality was my nature and that evangelical Christians had got it wrong. Then I read the science and realised that I was not born gay, and that there was (and still no evidence) to support biology as a cause of homosexuality for anyone. I also knew, and still know, that I did not choose to be gay.

              After reading the science I started re-reading Scripture. What evidence could I find for the view of Boswell and Scroggs? I could find none, unless there was a huge cover up they were being economical with the truth about their claims. I also looked up the words used about homosexuality (I didn’t know of Gagnon at that time) which is where I found out about arsenkoitis being based on a phrase from the Septugent and the word for abomination being used in the list of sins committed by Sodom in Ezekiel.

              But I found something else, and that is the Torah is accompanied by the Talmud (the Jewish Oral Tradition that was written down at the time of the Exile). What I read there was that the term that we translate as abomination is mistranslated. The word To-Ev-Ah is made up of the initials of the Hebrew phrase for You Have Been Deceived. This makes homosexuality not an abomination, but a deception. We are deceived that it what we are, that it will fill our needs when, and I speak from personal experience, it all too often leaves us empty and hungry and lonely. In the work that I do and get churches to do we have had the privilege of comforting those who partners have died of HIV related complications. They have spoken about how they ignored the empty feeling that they had before their lover died but now they cant hide from it.

              Jesus proclaimed that he came to give life to the full, if this means going through the pain of restoration then so be it.

              This is where Andrew’s model and mine diverge – it is about the position of the Cross. I want to offer life in all its fullness because I know how empty the gay lifestyle is for so many, as soon as I can in a way people understand. Andrew puts an emphasis on listening that stops short of the “go away and sin no more” challenge of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery.

              • Eugene

                “I know how empty the gay lifestyle is for so many…”


                The “straight” lifestyle is just as as empty for even more people. But, yes, you have been harmed by people who have been taught that gay love is worthless. And now you’re living in the past (Sodom, Ezekiel, Torah, Talmud, etc.) instead of trying to fix the present.

                This is not a solution.

                You even equate homosexuality to theft. Do you really think it will make a gay man change his mind?

          • Darren

            Phelim, those words SOUND great, but as far as I can tell, it’s just a bunch of hearsay. Don’t tell me “I’ve heard of people who started going to church”. OF COURSE you’ve heard of that. I too have heard of people who went from gay to straight! The Church says all kinds of things to make their claims seem wonderful. Half of them haven’t a shred of Truth.

            Don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny that you and your loverly friends have done all the laying on of hand, the clean up, the praying, etc. But show me someone whose heart has changed as a result – whose LIFE has changed. Because what I bet you’d find is someone who has always been psychologically tortured, and that “church” gives them a reason to continue their torture. Inside they’re miserable though. And they spend all their time on websites being a$$holes to good people who are *actually* making a difference, just to feel better about their own miserable lives.

            Put your money where your mouth is. If you’re so great to so many people, don’t be an a$$ here. It completely destroys whatever “witness” you’re trying to portray (and nobody believes . . . b/c you sound like a typical culture warrior with a HUGE chip on their shoulder).

            • Phelim McIntyre

              Darren why am I being an ass? Because I state the truth that people can change? That I state the scientific reality that there is no scientific evidence for homosexuality being caused by nature? Because I can speak from my own life of being in BDSM and now being straight? That I can point you to the testimonies of people in Exodus and elsewhere who have been involved with the gay lobby – one friend of mine named James was a member of Outrage and is now happily married with kids because of the type of ministry I do. Oh yes he has no homosexual feelings. I am often called homophobic for raising issues that people would like to avoid answering – like Marin’s use of only pro-gay theologians. If that makes me an ass so be it – God spoke through a donkey to someone who would not listen to anything else so if I’m to be that donkey to you then so be it.

              • Darren


                I’m not going to argue with you. It’s a losing game. So I’ll make this really easy for you. You win. You’re right. And God bless you. I pray you grow deeper in Truth as you journey.

              • Phelim McIntyre

                Why not Darren? Jesus never told people that they win? Neither did Paul? I have set out my position and you think I'm just out for a fight? The real issue is why people won't answer. If my testimony scares you don't give up the fight for truth – now that would be troll like, to go back into the dark comfortable cave. Its up to you – the light or twilight.

            • Debbie Thurman

              Darren to Phelim: “Don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny that you and your loverly friends have done all the laying on of hand, the clean up, the praying, etc. But show me someone whose heart has changed as a result – whose LIFE has changed. Because what I bet you’d find is someone who has always been psychologically tortured, and that “church” gives them a reason to continue their torture. Inside they’re miserable though.”

              Darren, I don’t know Phelim other than to participate in a blog forum with him now and again. But I do possess a changed heart and a significantly changed life as a result of godly counsel (truth-in-love) and prayer, i.e., from strong and destructive same-sex attractions to none, and a healed marriage. Sounds a lot like what he has experienced.

              Yes, I was “psychologically tortured” once upon a time. No more.

              • Darren

                Debbie, I too was once psychologically tortured through the futility of ex-gay programs. I wanted to kill myself. But through counsel and prayer, I too possess a changed heart and a healed marriage to a lovely man. Thank God for miracles!

  • Dora

    Conservatives can have all the theological concerns they want to, I’m still not going to go to their churches and be dissed. What conservatives don’t get is that they are attacking gays and lesbians. I have never called them non-christians, nor have I carried picket signs in front of their churches.
    Let’s make it clear who is attacking whom, and who is fighting back in self-defense.

    • Interesting you mention that Dora. My question then, is if they are attacking me too, how does that justify your stance that I am also against you?

  • Jack Harris

    All I have to say is that I don’t give guys like Gagnon any “press” because he represents a very narrow/myopic view. He has little influence and therefore I will simply let him be while I engage with those in the Evangelical community who are truly interested in building bridges. Not guys like this who seem to have little or no real knowledge of GLBT folks. I am outta here to enjoy the long weekend with other sinners : Gay, Straight, Gay Christian, get the point. PEACE!!! Jack

    • Peace brother Jack! My first reaction yesterday when I saw it was to not write anything about it. Then when I woke up this morning my Google Alert on my book’s name was blowing up on a bunch of very conservative activist sites. The comment sections were going off, so I figured I should probably put something out there in response.

      I don’t know man, trying to learn as I go along…

  • Melissa

    ::Sigh:: I read his critique, most of it anyway, and my take is that he could be the kind of guy who may never change his position. He’s allowed to stay there, I guess, and I think it’s important to hear positions like his as a reminder that we’re all in such different places on this issue. It also serves to highlight how extremely important the work you’re doing is, and how impossible it is to do without God. Blessings, Andrew!

    • Impossible without God, indeed Melissa! Much love.

  • Jack Harris


    I can see why you would respond. You have to admit not only is this uncomfortably long “review” strangely interesting., but the fact it’s only Part 1 makes you even more fascinated by what he is going to share in Part 2. I looked at his resume and the first thing that stood out to me is this person has spent a great deal of time at very liberal ivy league institutions.

    I can’t imagine his research was very well received. So, the counselor in me has taken another step back and asked “What makes someone who is CLEARLY well educated in so many areas including theology decide to spend an enormous amount of time, energy and effort desconstructing a book such as this?”. I feel that your book(although grounded in faith) was not designed to be filtered through a lense that he has most painstakingly done.
    Why does he do this? What is it about your work in the GLBT community that bothers him? I left reading his work with more answers than questions about this guy. I DO know this, God uses many different ways to reach people. MY prayer will be that this painful analysis by Gagnon will somewhow tap him on the shoulder and ask “Who do you say that i am?”

    Holla!!! Jack 🙂

    • Great, great questions and points. I wonder too, as he just continues speaking directly to a theological breakdown, when that was not even close to the point, scope or intent of my book.

      • But you did enter the “theological debate” in chapter 7 of LIAO. That was the chapter I thought was most “out of place” when I first read the book.

        To be fair to Gagnon he has only taken issue (so far) with the part of the book he is most qualified to comment on.

        Also, setting aside all talk of whether gay sex “is a sin” is a reasonable thing to do when the scope of your project is to get evangelicals and secular gay men & women to sit down together and talk/listen to each other (which I think is the main aim of your organisation?) and hopefully be able to discuss the rest of what it means to be a Christian. But, as Gagnon points out, it’s a more controversial proposal when the conversation is between a group of people who all profess to be Christians.

  • Jack Harris

    I really need an editor : Should have read More QUESTIONS that answers…geesh..i am going to blame it on friday afternoon. 🙂

  • pm

    What do these ‘haters’ have in common?

    Would it be unfair to generalize how ‘haters’ seem to work from inside their organizations to foster an environment of constant conflict by using scripture all the while pointing to the mercy and grace of God?

    Who’s to say what might be a fair generalization except when we can see a clearly repeating pattern
    that is emerging from many different incidents.

    When does such conflict become a stumbling block for those who wish to enter the Kingdom of God as humble as little children?

    • Funny to me how so many of them, from either community, all have the exact same darn things in common – just coming from a different sexual orientation point of view.

  • Dora

    I’m not against you Andrew, I just don’t think you are doing the homework on lesbian christian thought.
    There are many very fine lesbian feminist christian writers, speakers and pastors out there who could deal with the texts of terror. It’s not all about you, and the conservative men who are attacking you.

    It is the bigger picture of women being equally represented on this bridge.

    • Thank you so much Dora! Can you give me a short list of some names/book/etc so I can read-up and be more informed, because I really yearn to be well rounded. Thanks!

      • Seth

        Here’s one more: Is the Homosexual my Neighbor? by Scanzoni and Mollenkott HarperCollins 1994. It’s a little dated, but I thought it was pretty good–I have a copy you can borrow if you’re interested.

  • Dora

    Have you read a christian feminist or lesbian christian book on your own?
    Start with “Beyond God the Father” and “The Church and the Second Sex’ by Mary Daly. Then “Sexism and God Talk” by Rosemary Radford Reuther. Books by Mary E. Hunt are excellent, can’t recall a title at the moment.
    There is a huge treasure trove of lesbian christian and christian feminist stuff out there through the American Academy of Religion, which is having a big conference coming up in November, 2010 in Atlanta. Might be a good thingto check out and report on.

    Mary Hunt is one of the leading lesbian christian theologians in America, and her WATER– Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Religion — google it,is a good place to start too. She’d be a great person to interview here, because she’s brilliant and one of THE BEST lesbian christian speakers around. WATER I think celebrated its 25 anniversary recently. None of this is new, but it is unknown to the 30-somethting group. Unknown to most men I think.

    Look on the great lesbian feminist christian blogs out there. always has the latest books and visionary commentary.
    It could be pretty out there for this conservative group here, but the book lists and scholar resources and plain old art work are incredible.

    You can’t afford to not know this stuff Andrew, because not knowing is making you look stupid, and I know you are NOT stupid. This isn’t meant as an offensive thing, it’s just an observation, that you might be too trapped in battling evangelical detractors rather than expanding your knowledge of lesbian christianity.

    The trap is in battling the hopeless, and the Dr Gags out there are pretty hopeless. Male on male fights over the bible — it’s been going on for centuries 🙂

    • I’ve read a bunch of general lesbian feminst books, both out of interest as well as during college and my gender and sexuality classes – not so much specific to lesbian Christian feminists though. But I’ll check those ones out and let you know how they go. Thanks Dora.

    • Melissa

      Hey Dora! I hope I can phrase this in a way that doesn’t sound like a criticism or an attack since I really do appreciate your voice in these conversations, but this has been bubbling up in me for some time. I realize there is a lot I don’t know, and I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who hasn’t faced a lot of discrimination or closed doors simply because of my gender.

      But might it be better to give Andrew credit for what he does do? I think it’d be great for him (and he seems willing) to look at the work of some Christian women/lesbians in this area (and I’m sure he has already), but to expect him to come at this from your perspective when he’s had completely different experiences than you have seems like a lot to ask.

      Maybe you’re just asking him to consider your perspective more? To acknowledge that it’s a valid perspective and part of the conversation, too? It’s possible I’m misinterpreting your posts.

  • Dora

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the comments. I’d love to hear more about you, and where you are in this process of lesbian and straight women’s christian dialogue or bridge building. A bridge goes somewhere, and the more lesbians and straight women comment, write and are part of this process the more dynamic it will be.

    I think you have a lot to learn Melissa. I’d be up for this conversation between lesbian christians and straight women– liberal, conservative, radical– it would be fascinating and enlightening.

    • Melissa

      Thanks for the response, Dora! You’re right – I do have a lot to learn. 🙂 If you want to have a conversation off-blog, I’m totally up for it. I’m sure you’ve got a ton of info that would be valuable to me.

      I am gay, by the way, and my interest in bridge-building is fairly selfish due to where I am in my walk and how much I am surrounded by friends and family who hold a more conservative position on the issue of homosexuality (though in very different ways). I very much desire to try to maintain relationships with those friends and family, and am challenged daily to accept them as they are and where they are (just as I hope they accept me).

      I’ve written too much already! Happy weekend!

  • Dora

    Good luck with your reading Andrew.

  • Dora

    Hi Melissa,

    Yeah, it’s all complicated. If you want to email please feel free to and put your name in the heading so it doesn’t go into spam.

    Have a great labor day!

  • Br. Michael

    After 15 years of defending truth with those “Children of God,” I respect they forget to read Matthew 25. No one is perfect, especially those who play God or hide behind a Bible. God always watches…. March on Br. Andrew!

  • Here’s the problem as I see it Andrew. The folks at Stand Firm are my friends, but because they’re in the middle of a decade long struggle in the Episcopal Church for orthodoxy, their engagement with you is through that lens. The Episcopal Church (in the eyes of conservatives, of which I count myself as one) has capitulated to a liberal revisionist biblical interpretive agenda on the issue of homosexuality. When your book drops on the mat in this environment, you either have to be on one side or the other. Given that we conservatives have been fighting for years to get proper exegesis on this issue, no wonder any possible hint of a crack in the traditional interpretation is jumped on, even if what you’re doing is NOT denying the traditional interpretation but rather trying to expand it.

    What I think these folks don’t understand is that the work you’re about is not anything to do with getting the interpretation of the Bible right (or wrong). Rather, what you’re trying to do is put the things down (like the Bible sometimes) that cause the conflict and instead just try to listen and understand, not automatically condoning and promoting everything that you hear but rather just trying to build friendships across an often brutal divide. The impression I get Andrew from the time that I’ve spent with you and what I’ve read is not that you’re not interested in theology and evangelism and repentance, but rather that the call of God on your life is to simply be with people and to try and bring other people together.

    And you know what – I might disagree with some of the exegesis you present in “Love is…” (and you might disagree with me on some of the stuff I have on my website) but I know firstly that you’re a brother in Christ and secondly that you have much more credibility then many many conservatives on the subject of witnessing into the GLBT community because, unlike the huge vast majority of your critics, you’re actually doing it.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you should cut the Stand Firm crowd some slack, because they operate in an ecclesiastical environment which *hates* them by and large. Equally, they should cut you some slack, because you’re actually doing the front line work that so many people preach about but never ever really get to grips with properly.

    God Bless you,


    • Very good perspective and input, Peter.

    • Peter – I hear you brother, and I totally understand and agree with every word you wrote. The part that bothers me is that I feel some of the Stand Firm crowd etc is taking their frusteration out on me as they get pounded on so much. If someone from the outside looks at this, you can clearly see that they are the one’s calling the names and accusing, I am the one doing none of that to them. I’m here to live and love and work this thing out in real time in my own life first, and in relation to and relationship with the LGBT community at large. They seem to like to talk about me a little too much without (the majority I guess) aren’t actively, consistently and intentionally engaging many (any?) LGBTs. And engage doesn’t mean try to convince them they are right and LGBT are wrong.

  • Ralph

    Rob Gagnon is an academic who uses words with precision. As such, he goes on the attack, rather like an OT prophet, when someone else writes without clarity. He certainly doesn’t mince words. Rather than studying his reaction, one would do well to study what he has written. I believe he would welcome intelligent criticism.

    Anyone interested in the current Great Matter cannot be truly informed without reading “The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.” He clearly refutes the false teachings of the pro-homosexual activists.

    I would challenge anyone to debate him on the specific topic, “Homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.”

    • Ralph – So true. Here’s the problem I have with theologically responding to his critiques – I am not trying to enter into the theological debate. I am here to love and live in real life in real time living my Kingdom Job Description (Billy Graham quote). That is my focus; not entering theological debates. As I said in my book, you can find thousands of theological books and articles on the subject all claiming THE REAL TRUTH. They are all just theologically talking past each other instead of to each other! I cannot stand that, don’t find it productive in the least bit, and it does no good for reconciliation as they are all working off of a success/failure model. Well, my real truth is found in God through Jesus living and loving everyday in the middle of a huge LGBT community that deserves it like everyone else.

      • Ralph

        I completely agree that yet another theological debate is NOT what’s needed here. The basic question that Gagnon seems to be addressing is “What does Scripture teach about homosexual practice?”

        Theology, to me at least, proceeds from God’s revealed Word to humanity. I think that one source of confusion has been that people have been trying to “do theology” on this topic without first facing up to what Scripture teaches repeatedly about the various kinds of porneia.

  • John Tang Boyland

    I hope you could at least address Gagnon’s main two points.
    He claims:
    (1) All homosexual behavior is porneia, and a serious form of it as well.
    (2) Porneia is not something that the community to leave to the conscience of the individual Christian, but rather something requiring pastoral admonition and possible excommunication.

    On point (1), I believe he has an unassailable position. If you disagree, then you need to take the effort to understand and refute his many strong arguments. It’s no good to say you’re not interested in the arguments. It is disappointing that apparently the book does little more than quote some tired liberal arguments and then drop the issue.

    It is in the area of point (2), that you might be able to build an interesting point. If one concedes point (1), is there still any way that the evangelical community can do a better job of loving the homosexual? Gagnon uses 1 Corinthians 5 in which Paul recommends excommunication of the sexual offender. This biblical argument cannot simply be dismissed as out of context; this letter was to the Corinthian church which was ministering to precisely these sexual offenders, as much as today’s church needs to minister to the GLBT. As 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, many of the Corinthian congregation has in fact come out of precisely this population, repenting of their sins and putting on Christ.

    • John – Throughout the New Testament, porneia is not the Greek word used each time same-sex sexual behavior is mentioned as you claim. It is used at times, also at times referring to general sexual immorality, indeed, but it is definitely not mentioned every single time same-sex sexual practices are mentioned.

      But if the assumption of your argument is correct, then why did Paul use other words to describe same-sex sexual behavior? I’m not going to be the one to generalize and suggest Paul should have used porneia instead of the other words Paul actually did use when referring to same-sex sexual behavior; especially since he clearly could have used porneia if he wanted to. How do you explain that, in his choices of different words, clearly knowning the word porneia existed and could have been used to describe what he saw?

      Also, I can clearly see you didn’t read my book, but are just going from what Gagnon said. Here is another thought:

      I am not trying to enter into the theological debate. I am here to love and live in real life in real time living my Kingdom Job Description (Billy Graham quote). That is my focus; not entering theological debates. As I said in my book, you can find thousands of theological books and articles on the subject all claiming THE REAL TRUTH. They are all just theologically talking past each other instead of to each other! I cannot stand that, do not find it productive in the least bit, and it does no good for reconciliation as they are all working off of a success/failure model. Well, my real truth is found in God through Jesus living and loving everyday in the middle of a huge LGBT community that deserves it like everyone else.

      • Ralph

        In addressing the matter of defilement, Jesus used the word porneia to an audience of observant Jews who already knew what the Law says about sexual immorality.

        In speaking to Gentiles, Paul had to spell it out, and he did so in the plainest terms. (To this day, calling a Greek man by the intensely derogatory word “malakos” would surely start a bar fight in an Athens taverna.)

        This isn’t a theological debate. Some radical theologians have used rhetoric to twist and obfuscate (or ignore) the plain, simple language of Scripture, in an attempt to confuse people who aren’t used to hearing theological arguments. I agree with you completely when you say that the theologians are “talking past each other.” The recent statement from the House of Bishops theology committee of the Episcopal Church is a great case in point.

        I’d again challenge ANYONE to debate Gagnon on the Scriptural issue.

  • Eugene

    “On point (1), I believe he has an unassailable position. ”

    In my opinion, he has an unassailable position on point (2). On the other hand, his position on point (1) is tendentious. For example, he thinks that homosexuality is wrong because it necessitates “intercourse with someone who is too much of a same or like in terms of formal structures of embodied existence” (page 2) – completely ignoring the idea that a husband and wife become “one flesh” in marriage. He also thinks he can read Jesus’ mind (page 4) – to the point that he assumes that gay people are “born eunuchs” – even though their attraction to people of the same sex is just as strong as straight people’s attraction to the opposite sex.

  • Dora

    After reading all this gagging nonsense, I’d say the most serious threat to the American family is the rate of divorce among straight people. Why this isn’t issue # 1 among the Dr. Gags of the world is beyond me.

    And as for people “ministering” to me, hey, I would never have straight people EVER and I mean EVER have that kind of power. Ministry by “doing to” the “natives” just breeds all kinds of problems, from white racism in Africa and colonialism, to male supremacy and the silence around domestic violence against women in the church.

    Ministry to me conveys a kind of equality of relationship, and also a genuine peer relationship. Dr. Gag does not minister to lesbians nor do any of those guys. He is inherently out of order, his “scholarship” one-sided and obsessive, and I’d say he is probably a deep closet case who can’t deal with his own issues. Otherwise, why would he care that much?

    The right wing is out of it on a lot of things, disconnected from the people it talks about. The gays who surround him are probably closeted and self-hating. He can go on and on about sexual sins of the early church, but I think if you look at how men treated women throughout christian history, you’d uncover the real horror story of sin.

    What is it about these bores that so fascinates men? I’m hoping that at some future date, people like this are thrown on the trash heap of history along with the pro-slavery types, who are seen as completely and utterly white supremacist and evil today. Back in the day though, they fully advocated for black slavery and that slaves should obey their masters. They still love to go on and on about how wives should obey their “masters” I mean husbands. Sick, but they are still doing this.

    You really can’t have a moral code today based on life as it was in Corinth of that time. And why they keep trying is beyond me. The only thing that makes sense is perhaps the straight male’s fear of being raped by other men, or treated as sexual objects the way straight men have always thought women should be treated.

    His arguments aren’t arguments at all until he includes all the rules of the time– including arguing in favor of slavery, and using proof texts to back it up. But Dr. Gag won’t do that will he? Of course not, because he knows that slavery is no longer acceptable in this day and age, just as the hatred of gay men by proof texting the bible has no place either.

  • JM

    I understand your frustration at the review. I was frustrated as well. The main reason being that I have pointed people toward BOTH your work and Gagnon’s when discussing the topic of same-sex sexuality.

    Unfortunate boast-like qualities aside, when it comes to the topic of Biblical texts and same-sex behavior, Gagnon IS on of the world’s leading scholars. He shouldn’t need to state this, and it’s unfortunate that he did, but it’s true nonetheless.

    However, your ministry is entirely different in focus because before many people will hear Gagnon’s point, they must first experience the genuine love of those in the body of Christ in order to get beyond some of their prejudices (often deserved, as you point out in your book!) against Christians.

    What we have is one who sees truth as more important than relationships (Gagnon) and one who sees relationships as more important than truth (you). Of course this is an over-generalization, as you both would profess to desire both equally, but when it comes to what your ministries look like from the other’s perspective I believe this is how it feels.

    It’s very similar to the critiques and concerns that theologians have raised against ministries like xxxchurch or the Pink Cross Foundation. You may want to talk to those groups about how they handle criticism from fellow believers.

    I think it’s important to note that Gagnon is not really a “Conservative Theologian”; and to label him such is misleading for those of your readers who will never look at his work because they think he’s a Falwell or Robertson. His theology in general is not very “conservative” and unlike most “Conservative Theologians”, his education and scholarly credentials are very well-respected (regardless of his antagonistic tone in responding to your work).

    I would love for you two to be able to discuss things in person and both end up stronger as a result because I see what both of you are doing in your various spheres of influence and believe you are both doing necessary work for the Kingdom of God.

    Blessings from the Dojo,
    JM – The Disciple Dojo

    • Thank you so much Dojo for your words and well thought out thoughts! Seriously. The one thing I would like to point out is that I have never, ever critiqued, accused, doubted, etc Dr. Gagnon or his intentions (theological, in life, or otherwise). Never. Not once. That is not my style, and even thinking of doing such things makes my stomach cringe. I am not patting myself on my back by saying that, I am stating a fact. Can you see the disconnect in our differences in engagement? If I had a question/problem/doubt/uncertainty/etc with him, I would have reached out behind the scenes to talk brother to brother. The potential to start off any type of trusting relationship is shot after what he did. I mean, how long has he been working on this 24 page Part 1? I’m sure there is sometime in there he could have emailed/called/FB whatever. And I know he knows how to contact me because I was alerted of his public critique (which he sent to numerous public outlets and individual people – I know this because some of them have told me) by him FB emailing me saying “Critical Review” with the link. That is not acceptable.

      Also, I have also recommended his book to a number of people who have asked me for a thorough conservative theological text on homosexuality. So he can keep talking, critiquing, questioning, etc me all he wants and I hope he gets out of it exaclty what he hoped.

      I am here to live and love in real time; not academically or theologically debate everyone under the sun. I am here to live in my Kingdom Job Description (Billy Graham quote). That is my focus; not entering theological debates. As I said in my book, you can find thousands of theological books and articles on the subject all claiming THE REAL TRUTH. They are all just theologically talking past each other instead of to each other! I cannot stand that, do not find it productive in the least bit, and it does no good for on-the-ground-reconciliation as they are all working off of a success/failure model. Well, my real truth is found in God through Jesus living and loving everyday in the middle of a huge LGBT community that deserves it like everyone else. If they are not living that out amongst the LGBT community, who are they to critique me?

      If I had to pick one main theological point from my book that I ACTUALLY FOCUSED ON COMMUNICATING throughout my whole text, it is that the incarnation is real; I take it literally in belief and as a model for my life; and I am trying to live it out everyday and encourage others to do the same. The incarnation is the core basis of the Bible. Where is the 24 page theological critique on that?

  • CBN didn't endorse his book. It did a piece on Andrew's book and his ministry. If Gagnon truly feels that he should be the focus of a 700 Club piece, then maybe he should contact someone in CBN's news team and ask to be interviewed for a future piece. I mean, 700 Club airs five days a week (or is it 7?). Surely they can interview one person about one topic one day and another person another time.

    BTW, what happened to all of the previous comments?

    • I think all of the comments should be back. Let me know if you see something missing.

      • OH ADAM! YOU ARE SO THE MAN! I thought I lost everything for good… that’ll teach me. Thanks.

  • Caleb

    I’ve more or less read half the article so far, and found it very frustrating, namely for its disconnectedness from real people. He treats homosexuals as a nebulous issue, not as people. My hunch is that his expertise in the subject is purely academic, and that he probably does not have many, if any, gay friends. I could give a nice long rant on some of the things that I found particularly frustrating, but I’ll trim it down to what I see as being the most obvious issues.

    First of all, the church has been taking the “expel the immoral believer” approach to homosexuality for years, and it’s caused more ruin than repentance in my observation. If our interpretation of Scripture is bringing death and not life, in my humble opinion it means we need to re-evaluate our interpretations and how we are putting them into practice. I’ve seen people repent without ever being rebuked – they simply came into contact with people who knew how to love as Christ loved, and that is all it took. In any case, I’m amazed by the fact he is pushing this method of bringing people to repentance despite the fact it has most definitely not worked when applied to homosexual people. If anything such treatment has spawned more rebellion rather than repentance.

    Secondly, I’m amazed by the way that he keeps using the incestuous relationship referred to in Corinthians as a parallel for how to treat homosexuals. He certainly treats homosexual relationships and incestuous heterosexual relationships as an identical moral quandary, when in reality that is not the case. For me as a gay man, if I am to follow the orthodox interpretation of Scripture, my only option is to be celibate. For the man in Corinth, as far as we know he could have easily have entered into a non-incestuous marriage instead of the incestuous one. He did not have to face the chilling possibility of a life in solitude that I must, and therefore the parallel diverges at that important emotional point. Once again, Gagnon ignores the factors of human pain and doles out judgment from his academic ivory tower.

    I had the same impression that Seth had early on in the comments, that being that since he is so harsh toward homosexuals, I wonder if he is as equally harsh with those who divorce and remarry. I find that it’s a common double-standard for someone to be harsh and black-and-white on the topic of homosexuality, but as soon as you show them the passages on divorce and remarriage, they are much more inclined to leniency and broader interpretations.

    I also found his language to be very inflammatory, pretentious, and unproductive. There were even points where he mocked Marin’s writing in a frankly childish manner. It seems quite clear that he wants to be unquestionably right, no discussions or questions asked.

    Finally, he just missed the whole point of the book. It’s not a book about whether or not homosexuality is a sin, and I find it frustrating that he seems to think that is what it needs to be about. As if there are not enough books on that subject already. I’m also baffled by the fact that so many people seem to ignore Marin’s clearly stated conservative view on homosexual behavior. And despite Marin’s clearly stated personal beliefs, Gagnon still associates him (though somewhat indirectly) with the ambiguous label of “homosexualist.” Does that mean that having gay friends that you don’t continuously rebuke automatically makes you a “homosexualist?”

    He is obviously very brilliant and knows the exegetical issues related to homosexuality inside-and-out. But he clearly needs to spend some time outside of his academic bubble, and needs to get to know some gay and lesbian people and really listen to what they have to say. And to listen to them as a friend and not an exegete.

    Andrew – thanks again for showing so much strength and courage in continued adversity. I’ll keep praying that God will continue to provide you with many more supporters who will encourage you and help you continue your important work. You are greatly loved and appreciated!!!

    • Eugene

      “First of all, the church has been taking the “expel the immoral believer” approach to homosexuality for years, and it’s caused more ruin than repentance in my observation.”

      But it isn’t necessarily supposed to cause repentance. According to 1 Corinthians 5, it’s about the “bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth”. So it’s more about keeping the church pure than making the immoral believer repent.

      “I’m also baffled by the fact that so many people seem to ignore Marin’s clearly stated conservative view on homosexual behavior.”

      Where exactly are they clearly stated? He actually tends to avoid answering questions about his views on “homosexual behavior” or presents his views in an ambiguous way, as noted by Gagnon:

      “To be sure, Marin does intimate that, once homosexually active persons become believers, God will tell them “personally and individually … what he feels is best for their life” (129). Whether that includes ceasing from homosexual practice Marin does not make clear.” (page 16)

      • Eugene – It continually surprises me that you get surprised by comments people make about me and my beliefs…they read my book, you didn’t. It’s all in there.

  • Dora

    I just have so had it with straight people and this nonsense. I’m so over their claims to any knowledge or “truth” vis-a-vis faith.

    The thing is, those that drove hundreds of thousands of people away from god forever, or those who drove all those people they could not understand out of the church are going to have a lot to answer for.

    I wonder what is productive about rehashing all of this on a so-called bridge to gays. No straight person knows the truth of my life, has no expertise in how I live and feel. And the more I read this blog, the more I’m beginning to believe that I probably won’t be reading the bible much at all– and I’d prefer to focus on people who really represented the joy of god– Handel, Mozart, Purcell, Michelangelo (the artist not the gay activist 🙂

    Da Vinci, Janet McKenzie, Emily Dickison, Elizabeth Barrett Browning…

    these are the people who really understood how god is, how god loves.

    I think there is a reason that the things people most like about churches or christianity are the choirs, the orchestras, the paintings…

    These people more than any other help me maintain my faith and enhance it. All the “truth” babble from Gag and Co., well, they are not, to use a Mormon term that I like, “Faith Promoting.”

  • Mrs T

    There are many ways of serving God. I heard the story of a famous atheist scholar, probably in Britain in the 1800s. He debated Christians, etc., but apparently they didn’t convince him of the existence of God.

    He had a maid who was a Christian. She must have been a good worker & was kind, for later on this guy became a believer – not due to the debates with all the evidence, but by the faithful living of the maid!!!!!

    Sure there is a room for scholarly study & debate, but there is also room for everyday folks just living their lives. I don’t expect every LGBT person to become a Christian, but I do believe that Christians need to start living Christianity before them, not criticizing & not making them out to be worse sinners than the rest of us.

  • Dora

    Thanks Mrs. T for that story. As I said before, I think I have always been connected to the divine through music and works of art. Also, I tend to like the romantic stories — the manger scene, the animals there, the three kings coming to visit. It has an appealing quality.

    I can also relate to the suffering of Jesus, the horror of the stations of the cross, the idea that Jesus kicked the butts of the money changers in the temple, how he constantly outwitted the religious authorities of his day.

    Every now and then…. and it is so rare, it almost NEVER happens, some christian person will actually reach out at the right time and the right place.

    In one instance in my life, it was a conservative christian bookstore owner who really listened. I don’t think he could really get most of what I was saying, because straight people don’t listen very much, and don’t get much of what the real story of daily lesbian life is all about… but this guy knew that he had to take some action and did.

    And then there was a gay guy I knew a long time ago in the middle of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco…. he said “the miracle is that anyone cares at all” and that really stuck with me. But this stuff, the nit picky Paul said this or that Greek word means that… well Paul was pretty out of it on a lot of things, and feminists have long just wrote him off. I have fond memories of how Mary Daly said, to the effect, look the guy is a sexist idiot, you just move on, of course he’s going to be saying stuff like that, that’s who is he.

    We forget that the bible was written by men, and men who claim they are speaking for god, always a warning sign to me as a woman. Yeah right.

    I wonder…. It seems the greatest social change on the part of christians is coming through ordinary people, or churches that are realizing that yes, the church itself has to atone for what it has done to gay people, what it has done to women, what it has done to marginalize people all over the world. Every “major” religion goes through good times and bad– or becomes exceptionally out of it. I’d say christianity and islam right now are making incredibly bad names for themselves worldwide. Buddhism in America has become a religion of elites in many ways, and it doesn’t cause immediate hostility, I think, because people who are Buddhists have been exceptionally kind to me and my partner, as have agnostics and atheists.

    You can see the attitudes of welcome, or an unspoken understanding. Religious fundamentalism of all stripes always comes across as well– anti-feminist, anti-lesbian, anti- and the people who write this stuff seem silly and out of it. You have to at some point say, “how ridiculous can all of this actually get” — and when you are an actual gay person or a lesbian person, and you have a very long and well developed sense of the spiritual, well you feel like you are talking to legalistic primitives, or men who just have such ego invested lives “talking at” all of us, that you just have to shrug and say oh well.

    As Mrs. T says, it might just come down to a maid being really kind. Or loyalty to Jesus might just come down to a bunch of women who stayed with him at the cross while the men cut and run. Or the first apostle was a woman who announced the resurrection, while the men did not believe her.

    I think Jesus is bored often with fundamentalism and so is god. God expects people to be more intelligent and so she sends up some prophets that are amazing… she’ll send us a Mary Daly, she’ll send us a Bach, she order up Marie Curie, or she’ll cause a generation of women born in the 20s, 30s and 40s to rise up and write the greatest feminist books imaginable.

    I think god came along and said “hey Harry, you’ve got big work to do” and Harry Hay actually wrote about the purpose of gays on earth, and his vision came to him in the 1950s. You have gay men in their 70s now, who got visions of a gay Jesus, and were inspired by this divine revelation, and this is occuring all over the world.

    There is so much that is about divine inspiration, that one wonders why we don’t focus on that. Because right now, maybe the next lesbian Mozart is being born!

  • Nathalie Ais

    hey andrew,

    wow! i knew this story would blow up your blog! very tough stuff!

    how do you show love to dr. robert gagnon?

    how do we love our enemies?

    how do WE, YOU, ME STOP talking past each other?

    someone takes the prerogative. initiates.

    what can you do to get him to listen?

    pray, seek out other avenues. kindly respond..

    much love. soo much love and truth from God that is runneths over.


    • It’s a work in progress. I’m really trying as best as I can to live and love in real time. I don’t always get it right but I try and learn from each situation. At this point, I don’t know how to show love to Dr. Gagnon. But I will figure it out one day as I continue seeking the Lord’s best in this relationship. Thanks for the reminder…

  • Dora

    ..I never ever heard of the Gagnon guy until this came about, and only because it seemed like one straight guy was battling another straight guy talking about gay guys.

  • Just finished. Guess I have no place in the church. Thanks Gagnon for reminding me of my place in Christianity…

    • Jon,

      You have a place in the church.

      • Actually, I know that I do know that I have a place in the church. My church. No matter what Gagnon and his boosters believe.

        Gagnon and those who gleefully support his approach just do their best to remind me of the divide between the GLBT and Christian community. I feel grateful that I have a church community that nurtures and supports me and my family, especially in a world where so many other Christians can’t move beyond denouncing families like mine and figuring out how to expel me from Christian fellowship. It’s just frustrating.

        • What frustrates me even more is that I have my church community, as well as peace related to my faith, my salvation, and my family. How many other GLBT folks have given up any sense of hope for their salvation because others consider it their Christian duty to cast them out and to do their best to destroy their faith.

  • Emily

    Andrew, I’m a big fan. I read your book earlier in the year and liked it so much, had such a desire to discuss and explore these ideas further, that I started a book group through my church to read it with others. This summer five of us have been reading and discussing your book every Thursday night, praying and imagining how we can be different and show love to the gay community. I think your book and your life have greatly impacted (and for some of us completely changed) the way we view the GLBT community and our interaction with them.

    As we’ve had the time to read and brainstorm together, there have been some unanswered questions, and Gagnon actually touched on a few of them. In particular, the things that keep coming up for me are the questions of church discipline, loving exhortation within friendship, and accountability. Basically, what is the role of community in the spiritual formation of the gay Christian when his church/friend is not affirming?

    I agree with what you’re saying about how the Spirit will lead them as He desires and that we should journey alongside His work without taking the lead, but in other areas of spiritual friendship and community discipleship there is a place for gentle questioning and loving exhortation. How does this fit in the kinds of relationships you’re in? If a Christian loves his gay brother but also believes that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, at what point does he take into account all of the places in Scripture (like the places in 1 Corinthians that Gagnon mentions concerning church discipline and Paul’s exhortations to the church) that we are to some degree expected to “judge” those within the Church and help a brother who is sinning to find his way?

    I don’t have the answer to that, but as someone who is seeking to be a learner and have an open heart about this, I’d really like to hear how you process this in your life. Because as much as I trust the Spirit in my friends’ lives, I also know that we can be extremely good at self-deception, and Jesus intended for us to live in interdependence with one another, and sometimes that involves questioning the lives of our friends and pointing-out each other’s blind spots.

    You communicated that you have no interest in getting in a theological battle, and I agree with you that Gagnon’s tone in that paper was very condescending, and if I were you I wouldn’t want to engage someone who chose that particular way of criticizing my life’s work… but there are some of us out here who are asking the same questions he’s asking, reading Scripture in the same way, and frankly, noticing some holes in your exegesis and wondering how this lines-up with this lifestyle of love with the GLBT community that we so desperately want to be a part of.

    Can you please address some of his concerns for the sake of people like me, people who genuinely want to learn, want to love, and are trying to be as open as possible… but there are still a few unanswered questions? Because when my friends and family ask me these questions (and they have), I’d like to have a really good answer for them. As it is, I just don’t know, and I feel like I’m skirting around the issue when I talk to them. I know you said you didn’t write a book of theology, but there are still some major theological concerns that you haven’t addressed that could really affect whether Christians are able to embrace the message you’re giving, as much as they desire to.

    Thank you for your work!

    • Drew

      Hi Emily,

      I guess I’d turn it back to you and your group and I don’t mean that in a flippant “throwing it back in your face” kind of way. What do you have to offer the gay Christian (let’s start there) with an orthodox position on homosexual activity who longs for intimacy and connection over the long term? You appear to be a goodhearted and thoughtful person with strong convictions. I wonder if your group has discussed such matters. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    • John Tang Boyland

      Thanks Emily, for asking the questions I wanted to ask, but got mixed up in argumentation.

    • I would describe ‘tone’ of Gagnon’s paper as a mixture of cold-hearted (suggesting either he doesn’t know very many gay people in real life and/or he just writes/argues like a typical male) and exasperated, but he still raises some good points – especially concerning the issue of accountability within the church.

    • Nathalie A

      Thank you Emily! Beautifully written and poignant. I think you beautifully summed up the questions and concerns many people have especially those raise in conservative churches or who come from the belief homosexuality is a sin bu want to show love to glbt people or who grapple with love and truth in regards to glbt issues.

    • Emily – I really appriciate your kind words and intense questions. I will answer each of them one by one in a series of blog posts I will do in the near future, just based on your questions. You definitely are seeking after God’s heart, and it is such a blessing to read your questions. Looking forward to answering them and discussing from there. Much love!

      • Nathalie A

        Thank you Andrew so much for taking the time to answer her questions. I already appreciate your willingness! I can already feel a Love is an Orientation Part 2, second book coming out. lol. There is just so many more questions to answer and to journey on. i’m serious though, love is an orientation book 2. Love and Truth.

        with love.


  • Jack Harris


    I am sure Andrew will respond with his thoughts, but from my perspective as a gay christian male, I would simply say that if you decide to engage someone like me who has a very different theological view than yours, I would say be prepared to be challenged. While I would view you as a sister in Christ, I most likely would probably not engage you in a theological discussion. It would really serve no purpose because we most likely would reach no agreement on what scripture says.

    I would suggest that if you have gay folks in your life that you seek to see Christ in them. Seeking to “gently remind” us/them of your theological point of view is probably a waste of time….simply because, we often have a different one. Just my 2 cents.



    • Ricky

      I’m just getting in on this conversation so forgive me for being a few days late. I am also working to figure out how to share God’s love and still follow what His Word says.
      Can you give some examples of the things you say you have a “different theological view” on? Or the things “we would reach no agreement on what scripture says”?

      If you don’t want to I understand, I am just trying to grow in my understanding of how to handle this with what I was brought up believing and in talking to those around me that are more closed minded.


      • Jack Harris

        Hi Ricky,

        My theological point of view is connected to my belief in a social justice gospel. Social Justice for all …regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, socio-economic status et. al. As a gay partnered christian man, it is unlikely that engaging me in conversation regarding my “sexual sin” since I do not view it as such. Does that help? Let me know if you need for me to speak further. I have a feeling I havent fully answered your question 🙂

        feel free to drop me an email if that would be better : I am also on facebook as well under that address.

  • Emily

    Jack, I totally get that. And I’m honestly ok with a gay friend having a different biblical interpretation about this… After reading Andrew’s book, I really came to understand more of why a gay Christian is convinced by an affirming interpretation of Scripture. While I’m not convinced, I see why you are, and I’m totally ok with that. I might even change my mind to agree with you one day. I don’t think I’d have any problem at all being in a deep relationship with you when we share Christ in common. And I definitely see how if I was friends with someone like you, it would be completely pointless to have some sort of “loving confrontation” about it because it’s not like I would ever say anything you haven’t already given way more thought than I have!

    I guess I should have been more specific… When it comes to a conversation within friendship, I’m thinking more of the new Christian who is gay or someone who is not already confident that he and God are in a good place with his sexuality, not a strong gay believer. I do still have questions about how this jives with what Paul is saying about church discipline and all of that. If a church believes it’s a sin, is it obligated to undergo a discipline process? If so, how can they best love their gay members and stay true to Scripture?

    I’m only asking because these are the things I’ve always been taught, have always believed, and it’s what I see in the text. I’d rather ignore it, trust me. That’s why I want to know what Andrew thinks, because I want to be able to have the kinds of relationships he does and have a thorough understanding of how that life interacts with Scripture. I really didn’t like the tone of Gagnon’s paper, and I definitely don’t agree with many of his points, but he does raise several questions I’ve had sitting in the back of my mind.

    Drew: Not sure how to answer your question….. myself? Friendship? Right now I’m kind of at the place where I don’t think that homosexuality is a part of God’s created order and plan, but I also see it as a kind of grayish area with many more nuances than I had ever imagined. And I can 100% see why a gay Christian comes to a place of spiritual acceptance…. maybe if I were gay I’d do the same. I’m still working-out what this should look like, but I really want to open myself to being changed by someone like you, to understand how God works in your life, as well as being the bridge that Andrew talks about.

    • Eugene

      In my opinion, homosexuality simply can’t be “a kind of grayish area” in the context of Biblical morality.

      “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

      When you see a gay couple, do they seem evil to you?

      Logically, either homosexuality or homophobia is a serious sin. If you don’t think that homosexuality is “a part of God’s created order and plan”, how can you explain the existence of millions of gay people?

    • Seth

      Emily, thank you (and thanks to Jack) for taking a much more grace-filled approach with your questions! Reading your posts is like a breath of fresh air!

      I have had some of the same questions you’re asking, and I think they’re good questions–I have also decided that some of these questions (along with others on several topics) can remain unanswered, at least for the time being.

      I believe that God’s order is generally heterosexual, but not universally so. We are usually aware of enormous variation among God’s creatures; we also know firsthand that a portion of that variation his harder to deal with than the rest. But I believe that variation can be just that–just being different–without calling it sin, and without looking for somebody to blame for it. Gay men and women are made in the same image of God and are equally worthy as a result, and they are equally and extravagantly loved by God as is everyone. As with gender, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics, I think we have to start by believing that it’s truly okay to have a different sexual orientation, even though it’s a departure from the norm. And I think we have to let that idea sink in, and not just make a quick mental assent to it. We have a long, long history of teaching that different is not okay.

      After that, however, the beliefs start to diverge and diverge mightily. There are people of good faith, including some gay men and women, who believe that celibacy is the only choice for a gay follower of Jesus, unless through some remarkable means he or she can change to or recover an attraction to the opposite gender. You see a lot of commentary here from those folks, including some who have experienced the whole shooting match firsthand.

      Without elaborating much more, let me comment that the big risk is that behavior starts to govern this situation: Everything can remain okay as long as that gay (or once-gay) man or woman acts properly, and we don’t give much regard to what’s happening in their heart, or their unseen conduct (that is, until it’s discovered–ouch!). This pattern is well-documented in Scripture, and we can recognize it in all kinds human affairs in addition to sexuality.

      Other people of good faith believe that gay men and women can experience love with those of the same gender, since love is how we know God, how God makes Himself known to us. They are willing to recognize the variation among people, and validate the possibility of love between people of the same gender, because of what they know about God’s love. You see a lot of those people commenting here, too. And some of them have also experienced the whole thing firsthand, myself included. And this position is not without risk, either.

      Let me conclude with a comment about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians–being a long-time student of Scripture, but not a theologian–it seems to me that the first half of the letter addresses issues that were specific to that community of believers at that time, while the back half is of more universal interest. There are a whole series of practices, including driving out sinners, civil lawsuits between members, women keeping silent (and keeping their heads covered, while men keep their heads uncovered), and a general disdain for marriage, that most communities don’t follow these days (though there are some communities that do, and do so vigorously). We don’t follow those practices because we understand differently from the whole New Testament. We have clear instructions from Jesus in the gospels not to judge one another, and to engage “sinners” so that they understand God’s love for them. So Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians get a grain of salt. I hope that makes sense.

      Thanks again for posting!

  • Phelim McIntyre

    Andrew – I need to say something at this point and am saying it on the blog rather than in an email as I want people to judge me by all I am writing to you.

    When you are next in the UK I believe it would be good if we could meet. Firstly I want to apologise for what I have said in some arenas and how I have come across in others – a washing of feet may be in order on my part. Secondly I want to explain my concerns. I am not one of those attacking you but not willing to do what you are doing, I have been engaging homosexuals through love centred evangelism and listening and am still doing it as well as working with churches who want to do the same. Even so I have serious missiological and theological misgivings which I have tried to raise. I am sure you have good reasons behind them. I have never tried to accuse and then ask questions – even in my letters to Spring Harvest I provided evidence when asked, and am doing a big compare and contrast of your book with the book “Exchanging The Truth of God For A Lie” by Jeremy Marks as part of this. Thirdly, I am sure there are things that I can learn from you and there are possibly things you can learn from me. Fourthly I have some influence amongst conservatives, possibly because they know that I have done a huge amount of work on the science, philosophy, psychology and theology of homosexuality. As such I can say my concerns are based on reading your site and your book, and hearing you in London and recordings of you at Spring Harvest – not on what anyone else has said.

    It is up to you if we meet, but as iron sharpens iron I hope that this could happen and benefit us both.

    • Philem – I would most love to meet in person and talk. I think it would be great if you, I, Bishop Broadbent, Cris Rogers, Peter Ould, Andrew Goddard, the Nollands and Chris Sugtent (spell?) all got together. I will be sure to work with you to plan this well in advance of my next trip.

  • BMH


    I scanned through the article and Gagnon’s website. As an academic myself (professor of linguistics at a major research university), I can tell you how it looks. It looks like an insecure, egotist academic is picking on a kid who is out there actually trying to make a difference in the world. It looks like a guy desperately trying to defend his own reasoned position against real-world evidence that he might be mistaken. It reads like a position paper using scripture to argue for geocentricism as Galileo continues peering through is telescope.

    I encourage you to ignore this. If you were to respond in any substantial way, it would only validate him and he would write a response to your response. It is very hard for me to imagine other academics, much less the lay pastorate, taking this at all seriously. Though some might use it as a tool to reinforce their own staunch position, I really doubt it will sway anyone’s mind or convince anyone that the work you are doing isn’t valuable.

    Chin up. Stay strong. Ignore this guy.

    • You don’t know how much those words just meant to me. Seriously. It’s time I move on from this and other things like it that are only interested in proving themselves right and me wrong. Much love!

      • Nathalie A.

        I second BMH! I love how God gives you what you need!


        i guess the way you show Robert Gagnon love is to be available when he REALLY wants to dialogue with you. Send nothing but love his way. Deal with the anger and hurt and possibly hate and move forward.

        reading BMH was refreshing.

        much love,


  • >>I think that says enough.

    Yup. We live in a day when copping a posture trumps submission to the Word of God among evangelicals, so who’s going to listen to Gagnon? He’s a student of the Word of God and history. I mean, what’s THAT about? Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side, and hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?

    My father was IVP’s publisher back in the day when men associated with IVCF feared God and honored His Word. No longer, now, as your book demonstrates so clearly. May God expose your quite-profitable attack upon men and women caught in the bondage of deviant sexual sin.


  • As someone who has worked in the homosexual community for the past 20 years, helping men and women leave a gay-identified life, I think it’s important to plod through what Dr. Gagnon has to say about this divisive and important subject. His scholarship is quite expansive and sometimes people are put off by all that he brings to this subject. He may come across a bit arrogant. That is because no one can hold a candle to what he knows about the New Testament and his work on the subject of biblical sexuality. I would like to see Andrew and Rob sit down together to talk about their understanding of this subject and how best to reach out to those with SSA. I am not a big fan of arguing one’s perspective online. Important thoughts get lost in the written word. Okay Rob and Andrew….when can you come together and talk?

  • Jeff Winter

    Andrew….Emily’s well-worded thoughts and questions about your book needs to be addressed by you. As someone who has worked in the homosexual community for the past 20 years ( I struggled reading parts of your book because you don’t address the questions Emily asks. She asked you for a thoughtful response. You in turn asked her for the answers. Andrew, until you address what she communicated to you, your book will not have the strength I believe you want it to have. Truth and grace need to be communicated in all that we do, say and write.

  • Dora

    This discussion is really very eye opening. I’m so glad I don’t go to any of those churches anymore, if this is what the straight people are thinking about gay people. And “ex” gays running around to.

    And yes, people can have friends of a particular group and definitely be racist or sexist. Racism and sexism and homophobia are deeply engrained in many cultures worldwide, and I tend to think the people like Gagnon are actually deeply repressed “homosexuals” to use his term.

    There are many aspects of public gay life that are anything from admirable, but also, go visit any domestic violence shelter and talk to women with black eyes and broken teeth who are scared to death of their husbands— that goes way beyond the BDSM culture of gay world, believe me, and those relationships are called valid god sanctioned marriage.

    I believe we need a complete overhaul of the entire system of relationships worldwide, and this goes way beyond anything that is biblical. It calls out to true humanity. Maybe when Christ comes again, she’ll explain all this.

    • Dora, you said:

      “This discussion is really very eye opening. I’m so glad I don’t go to any of those churches anymore, if this is what the straight people are thinking about gay people. And “ex” gays running around to.”

      That comment really hurts my heart; not because I’m offended by what you said but because you have been impacted in such a way by the craziness that is going on right now with this stuff. I don’t know what to say other than thanks for always being here and voicing your important thoughts so we can learn from you and your experiences. Much love.

  • Clay

    I’ve just finished reading the post and the responses on this website as well as Dr. Gagnon’s response that he just put out. He responded to this blog post, both to Marin’s comments and several of the people commenting on here.

    After reading these, my heart is sad at the sarcasm and unloving way both of these men have chosen to respond. In some ways, I think they have both acted fine – Gagnon just giving his biblical response due to what he considers poor theology, and Marin still trying to elevate the conversation which seems to be a theme of his book. For both of these I commend them and I wish it simply stopped at this. However, they have both chosen at times to make poor statements that are not loving and not edifying to each other and to others who have commented as well.

    Now I completely understand why they have done this, I do it everyday when I feel attacked and wronged or even disagreed with. But how I choose to respond is so important and why it is so important for how y’all respond. So, guys, please stop with the sarcasm and unloving comments. I am sure that y’all are both mature Christians who love God so please consider slowing down on this issue, apologize to the other for where y’all have made poor comments, and then engage in edifying and loving conversation.

    By no means stop the conversation and discussion; I’m not proposing that. Some of those responding on this blog have done a great job of discussing while still remaining humble and loving. So, when y’all provide rebuttals against the other, please let it be full of grace and love and humility. So far, y’alls comments have not been so.

    This is what I hope b/c the world is watching and Christ says the world will know the Father based on how we choose to love one another.

    • Great words Clay! I am a very emotional guy, and I try as best as I can to be level-headed. Doesn’t always work out though. That’s not an excuse, that is me admitting I need to continue to work on this. I feel I usually do an alright job of it, unless I get blindsided and then asked questions after. That really sets me off. But I’m learning through it all. In comparrison to how I handled this same type of stuff a few years ago, I’ve definitely improved 🙂 Not improved enough yet, obviously, but it’s headed in the right direction.

      • Clay

        Andrew, it’s cool if you haven’t improved enough; I’m glad it’s just heading in the right direction. I don’t know if any of us always do good with this, especially being blind sided which definitely sucks. I’ve been reading your book and I can definitely tell that you have a very humble spirit and do great with handling criticism b/c your ministry just invites it from an non-understanding community (both Christians and non-christians) so I’m sure you deal with this a lot. In fact, I’m sure you are better at this than I am. Just wanted to give you a heads up from an outsider perspective about this particular situation.

        I do want you to know your book is really ministering to me and has been a great rebuke to the hidden prejudices in my heart. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, and I’m excited God is giving me grace and a new loving heart to a community I once was way too judgmental of and did not show love to. So thank you so much for your work and keep staying strong in it because I believe it is such a Christ-like calling.

  • Jack Harris


    I hear a lot of what you say. And I appreciate your frustrations in some regard. I just hold on to what Anne Lamott once said “In a hundred years, all new people”. –GayMen. lol

  • I have gotten a few comments wondering why some comments from a variety of people have been deleted in this thread. Here’s my Comment Policy:

    None of the comments were deleted because of criticism of me; as you can tell because there are a number of comments in this post that are critical of me. In this situation they were deleted for one of two reasons: Extreme length of the comment or focusing on a topic unrelated to the post. Please advise the policy. Thank you. Much love.

  • Ricky

    Andrew I first heard you at a YS event in Nashville, TN. I believe it is the one you have referenced before that you spoke to the whole audience and got quite a bit of backlash.

    I enjoyed your talk and you break out and have since followed you. I have struggled at times but always come back to the fact that I believe your heart if to help people know that God loves them and that we are all sinners (not just homosexuals) and in need of God’s grace.

    With that in mind, is the below excerpt from Gagnon a true statement. I don’t think so but I don’t like to assume anything either.

    “Rather, Marin is encouraging Christians not to tell persons engaged in homosexual practice that such behavior is (1) sinful and (2) could get them excluded from God’s kingdom. Indeed, regarding the second point, Marin claims that a person who is in a committed monogamous homosexual union and is ‘growing in Christ’ will go to heaven.”

    From what I have read and heard from you I don’t think so, but I’m wondering where it came from then.

    Hope you can help me understand even better. Thanks, Ricky

    • Thanks for asking Ricky. It’s funny to me, because my LGBT critics say that I tell Christians not only it’s a sin, but that all gay people should be straight as well. I have no idea where Gagnon got any of those quotes, and would love to have those quotes cited, because they don’t exist.

    • Mrs T

      Getting into God’s kingdom has nothing to do with being gay or het!
      It has to do with being born again! Please make that clear!
      Salvation is one thing; how to live is much more complex! I hope Andrew doesn’t say any behavior keeps one from the “kingdom!”

  • Jason


    I’d like to know if you think there’s a difference between a man who identifies himself as a “gay Christian,” and a man who identifies as “a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction”? If you believe there’s a difference-and a substantive one-what’s the difference, do you think?



    • What are your thoughts on the question, Jason?

  • Stephen Dawe

    Well, It’s nice to have some understanding of why Gagnon may be annoyed, but isn’t that non-sequential anyway? I mean, aren’t we all after the truth here? The question is if his critique of your ideas actually gets to the truth. He could be the most arrogant, selfish man to have ever lived, and still be correct.

  • Andrew,

    It would be helpful ifor me if you would respond to some of Dr. Gagnon’s intellecutally honest criticisms of your published arguments with equally intellectually honest rebuttals rather than personally attacking his character and motives. As Steven Dawe said above…”aren’t we all after the truth here?”

    John Sheldon

  • Alan

    Lucky you. You get to be the next target of Gagnon’s affections. You’ll see, if you do some poking around, that he publishes these screeds against anyone who dares write anything about anything gay who does not 1) cite his work, and 2) agree with him.

    Odd indeed that some — presumably — straight guy would spend 24 pages critiquing your work? (Not to mention the literally *thousands* of other web pages he has devoted to the topic.) Sorry, but it does not take a genius to figure out that Obsession isn’t just a cologne. Any straight guy that spends more time thinking about gay sex than the average gay guy… well … seems like there’s some issues there, perhaps. Then he publishes another 26 pages whining about people taking about him here, so he’s got an obsession and a martyr complex and that merits “intellectually honest criticisms” that need to be responded to?

    No. It really doesn’t. There is a difference between a person who has intellectually honest criticisms and someone who is simply a busybody, fusspot, tattletale, and scold.

    I wonder how many more examples anti-gay closet cases being found out as hypocrites the Christian Right needs before it is able to connect the dots? Perhaps people take his rants seriously for the same reason we should trust tobacco companies’ research on the safety of their products. After all, they’re the experts. Right? I’m sure as a homosexual expert, Dr. Gagnon’s opinions are completely accurate and there’s no reason he would start his work with a pre-determined conclusion, rather than performing his research to reach a conclusion.

  • Paul

    It seems to me that Gagnon deserves more of a response than “Robert has an ego.” Yes, he has an ego and an argument; choose one to which to respond.

    I’m afraid Andrew chose the easy option.

  • Andrew: I guess I don’t know why you need to respond to Gagnon’s critique. And I’m not sure that it’s fair that people insist that you need to answer to all of his criticisms. As far as I can tell, you two don’t share the same professional mission.

    This is just a flip of the coin from the criticism you were receiving a month ago from different people in the GLBT community. You’re trying to do something different with TMF. Different than what’s been done with the broader Christian community and different than what’s been done with the broader GLBT community. You can tell from comments here and elsewhere that people want you to clearly side with one group or another. As long as that doesn’t happen, the above-mentioned coin-flipping is going to continue to happen every few weeks. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there needs to be a certain level of acceptance that the criticism will occur. I just don’t want you to lose sight of your broader message b/c of other people who are committed to continuing the never-ending/ever-escalating culture war.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share when others like Gagnon or the English group or Signorille or whomever write critically or even negatively about your work. Or even that you shouldn’t comment at all. I just worry that too much attention becomes a distraction, for both you and TMF.

    Love ya and wishing you well -Jon

    • Clay

      I completely agree.

  • Paul


    I don’t want to force people to take sides. My hope is that Andrew’s response would advance our collective understanding of this hot-button issue.

    My personal preference is that we get beyond just everyone stating their position, and then leaving the rest of us to try to sort through it all. More dialogue serves the Body of Christ and the world, it seems to me.

  • Hey Andrew:

    I had no idea this had blown up until I pulled up Box Turtle Bulletin this morning. The story about this situation is their lead off piece. It’s titled “Andrew Marin Has A New Boyfriend”. 🙂

    It goes on about how this guy Gagnon has apparently been like this for years with everyone, and that the main reason he seem to write anything at all is when he feels no one is noticing his amazing expert-ness. *sigh*

    As a trans guy who grew up in the lesbian community, I would also encourage you to read some lesbian christian theology. Carter Heyward is my favorite. Her book “saving Jesus from those who are right” is pretty awesome. And by right, she means people who absolutely feel like they have the answers and shall not be moved, no matter their politicalness.

    A word of caution about Mary Daly. She did amazing work that really liberated women theologically and was very groundbreaking. However, I must point out that she is also horribly transphobic. Just something to keep in mind. I read a lot of womanist theology at this point in my life. This is theology that centers the experience of women of color. One of my favorite authors is Renita Weems. Her books “just A Sister Away” is very good.

    A non theological book that is a really good read for understanding trans experience and theory is “Whipping Girl” by Julia Serrano. Yes, it, like most trans books written, centers the experiences of trans women, with a pat or two on the heads of trans men. She also makes the assumption, as a lot fo trans women do, that us guys have barely any problems in life. Barring that, there are few other trans writers I’ve seen lay out a framework that dissects cisgender privilege.

    Well, that’s it for me, Got to get about my day. Don’t sweat this guy.


  • Andrew,

    Be forewarned that Gagnon will “debate” you (actually berate you) for as long as you respond to his rants. And he will get increasingly combative and hostile and will probably start in with the personal insults pretty soon.

    I was the topic of his obsession a couple of years ago, and I was criticizing him in a secular manner. (I only earned 57 pages, I’m sure you rate more)

    I stopped responding to him after a while, but I’ve been far from the last of his targets. I’ve found with Gagnon that ANY criticism from anyone is met with frantic ranting page after page. I truly don’t think I’ve ever encountered a less secure person.

  • David C.

    Why don’t you just respond to his article by using evidence from scripture. He never attacked you as a person just your book. I really think you got schooled and would never debate the man When somebody can’t argue the points he does what you did and it makes you look bad. Stick to his arguments not the person unless you can”t.

  • James D. Berkley


    Have you no experience with academic debates? One makes a statement and then backs it up with facts and arguments. One cannot just make a declaration and leave it at that.

    And if one gets critiqued, one does not respond in an ad hominem way: “The creep! Who is HE to question me? He must hate me…” One instead musters opposing facts, logic, and arguments to counter the critique. It’s a fair game of dealing with IDEAS and logic, not with personalities and supposed motivations.

    I am amazed that you seem to fail to see that Gagnon has had you for lunch in any resonable debate. You can rail against the fact that he skewered you X number of ways, when one would have been sufficient to make your book look foolish. But what you need to do is give us some reason to believe that you have a leg to stand on, in comparison to Gagnon, who has actual points to make and makes them superbly.

    If you’ve got the stuff to counter Gagnon, haul it out. Otherwise, retract your book and go hide in a corner, humiliated by an obviously superior line of scholarship and reasoning from an obviously superior intellect who actually KNOWS the subject.

    But skip the “poor me” stuff, and especially get past the ad hominem attacks against Gagnon. It makes your abundant “love” talk pure bunk. Deal with his ideas and assertions, not what you darkly imply to be his motives or method. In essence, pursue an academic debate like an adult and not like a petulant child.

    • James,

      I don’t think Andrew wrote LIAO to perpetuate academic debates. AM (and many others) have witnessed first-hand that those type of debates always stop any form of trust developing between Christians and gay people. He wants to open up the conversation about Christianity in such a way that gay people feel they are welcome to join in.

      He has muddied the waters a bit by actually referencing (only pro-gay) theology in the book though – which has set Gagnon off. 🙂

      • James D. Berkley


        I understand what you’re saying, but I wonder about the implications.

        Do you mean that if one starts with truth or with well-formed convictions, then gay people can’t handle that and will never trust such a person?

        I don’t believe that. I think gay people have a greater ability to think and reason and handle adult discussions than you seem to allow them. It seems to me that you’re patronizing gay people, as if they think with their loins, so don’t hit them with anything like hard reasoning or they’ll scatter. I have a higher view of their capacities.

        I realize that AM didn’t set out to write an academic book. But what if he has simple, verifiable, undeniable untruths in his book at a key spot? What if I were to write a book about geography and wrote that British Columbia is in the subcontinent of India? Would I be able to dismiss legtimate critics by saying “I didn’t intend to write for academic geographers”?

        Wouldn’t I have some responsibility to be intellectually honest about critiques that overwhelmingly point out serious flaws in the simple truthfulness of what I have proclaimed? It is so cheap to say in effect, “Oh, I won’t bother with that. I had higher things in mind.”

        Truth and factuality really matter. They matter even more when people’s faith and life and eternity rest on decisions they make. I think gay people can deal with the truth or with intellectual rigor–if they choose to. Why should they be shielded from either truth or rigor with a mindless mantra of real time lovedy love love?

        And how can Andrew so blithely sidestep major critique, when he has just been overwhelmingly proved in error? Andrew can’t be bothered by what the Bible actually says, rather than what he’d simply prefer that it says?

        • Do you mean that if one starts with truth or with well-formed convictions, then gay people can’t handle that and will never trust such a person?

          It depends on the context. Gay non-Christians don’t believe any part of the Bible – so starting a conversation with “gay sex is a sin” won’t encourage them to listen to anything else you might say about Christianity. They also might be slightly annoyed that the only thing you think is relevant to them is the gay stuff.

          I don’t believe that. I think gay people have a greater ability to think and reason and handle adult discussions than you seem to allow them. It seems to me that you’re patronizing gay people, as if they think with their loins, so don’t hit them with anything like hard reasoning or they’ll scatter. I have a higher view of their capacities.

          Hey, I’m gay – and on the “conservative” side of the theology divide. I’ve also done a bit of outreach work in the (secular) gay community and have a couple of observations to make:

          If you go into the gay community to talk about Christianity, they always assume you are a liberal. It never occurs to them that conservatives would visit them “on their own turf” so to speak. Conservatives have a reputation for shouting abuse from a distance.

          When you talk to gay men and women on their turf, they ask the same questions that straights do – such as “Why is there suffering in the world?” or “How can I trust the Bible?” They rarely mention the sexuality stuff unless you goad them into doing so.

          I realize that AM didn’t set out to write an academic book. But what if he has simple, verifiable, undeniable untruths in his book at a key spot? What if I were to write a book about geography and wrote that British Columbia is in the subcontinent of India? Would I be able to dismiss legtimate critics by saying “I didn’t intend to write for academic geographers”?

          I agree. I think he should have snipped some of chapter 7.

          Truth and factuality really matter. They matter even more when people’s faith and life and eternity rest on decisions they make. I think gay people can deal with the truth or with intellectual rigor–if they choose to. Why should they be shielded from either truth or rigor with a mindless mantra of real time lovedy love love?

          True, but a genuine attempt at building bridges shouldn’t be dismissed as a “a mindless mantra of real time lovedy love love”:

          Ask yourself, do you want (secular) gay people to stick around and listen to what you have to say about the rest of the gospel? If you do, don’t mention the one topic that is likely to kill the entire conversation.

          Theology does matter when the conversation is between Christians but the Church doesn’t agree on a lot of other important stuff too. Why must gay people profess theologically-correct views on sexuality before we welcome them to join in the wider conversation? Are women asked to declare where they stand on the issue of women bishops before they can express an opinion on anything else?

          • Drew

            Joe S:

            Spot on.

            • James D. Berkley

              Joe S.,

              Thanks for your careful and helpful comments. I agree with the methods as you write about them. One doesn’t lead with the trickiest point of conflict. Sharing about a winsome Savior is key. All granted.

              Yet at some point, one cannot gloss over the transformation of life and lifestyle that needs to be a part of the lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus as Savior, anyone can stomach. Jesus as Lord is altogether more difficult, because it means unseating self at the center of one’s life, and self really likes to stay in control.

              If I were discipling a chronic drunk, I would need to get into the necessity of moderation in drink. If I were discipling a raging womanizer, I would need to talk about purity and restraint, as Paul did in another highly sexualized culture. If I were discipling a male chauvinist who liked to throw his weight around and rule the roost, I would need to broach the subject of mutual submission and self-giving love.

              None of these subjects would be the first thing brought up, but each subject would need to be brought up before very long, because the subject would be at the heart of rebellion and sin against God and one’s neighbor. Every one of us needs someone who loves us enough to talk about the hard things with us, someone unwilling to take the soft and indulgent route of ignoring what is killing us and hurting others.

              Given the biblical reality that same-sex sexual activity is sin and is contrary to God’s will for us, eventually the subject of sexual behavior would need to come up in the discipleship growth of a gay believer. The subject would be awkward. It would be hard. It would entail the danger of losing the friendship or the ear of the one counseled. But it would be necessary, because serial, unrepentant sin tragically darkens and destroys a relationship with God.

              Thus, if one starts out with the premise that same-sex sexual behavior is harmless or of no consequence, or if one leaves that impression by bending over backwards not to scare off a skittish gay seeker, then the ability to help that person at his or her deepest point of personal brokenness and need is pretty well lost.

              One could possibly “bait and switch,” by starting out saying it is no big deal, hooking the person, and then saying that actually it is rather important after all. That would be intellectually dishonest and relationally a disaster. Or one could just ignore the whole matter, failing to help the disciple grow into the image of God in a key and vital part of that person’s life. It would mean living a lie, withholding vital information, depriving someone of the opportunity to confess and be forgiven.

              I would find either the bait-and-switch method or the just-ignore-it method lacking in integrity. Careful, sensitive, clear, and loving work in laying out where one stands and where one is headed seems to me the more decent route to follow.

              That is where I believe that Andrew Marin is either misguided or too clever by a half, because he does not seem to finally come down on the side of biblical morality about the sinfulness of homosexual practice. He leaves it mushy, inchoate, or maybe even falsely stated. I believe that will, in the end, be a fatal flaw–especially when combined with what sure appears to be a callous disregard of serious critique and fundamental accuracy.

              Again, Joe, thank you for writing as you did.

  • Jack Harris

    David C and James D. Berkley,

    I am not here to fight Andrew’s battles but it seems to me that none of you guys truly get it. Why don’t you spend more of your time focusing on loving others as Christ loved us. Worry less about who gets “schooled”. This isn’t a theological debate. If you don’t like the message Andrew is sharing then ignore it–it’s America afterall. End Of Rant. Jack

    • James D. Berkley


      Jesus Christ–the real one of the Scriptures, not the convenient avatar of personal construct–loved in truth. Truth matters, and if people are being fed something popular but simply untrue, they will make decisions based on something sweet-tasting but poisonous.

      If we will “love others as Christ loved us,” we will love in truth, not in mindless, feel-good indulgence. And that truth could very well take us where it took Jesus–to ridicule, mockery, and even death.

      Those who don’t love (which equals not caring) can be indulgent and truthless in their “love,” but those for whom the will of God is important and for whom Scriptural truth still holds authority will decide to love in ways that are difficult and not always popular.

      It is actually a greater, more costly yet redemptive love. To simply “ignore it” would be about as callously unloving as one could get.

      But it would certainly be simple–and so very popular these days.

  • Bren

    I am reminded by two very old sayings:

    1. Those who can’t, teach – hint James D. Berkley and Gagnon
    2. Actions always speak louder than words – all those desiring Andrew to respond to Gagnon’s critique.

    Lets not forget where this entire issue began and that was with an article entitled “CBN and the dubious Christian outreach to homosexuals” It seems there are those who feel Andrew jumped into the personal arena too quickly, but Gagnon’s critique and tone are littered with personal innuendos and the title of the first written article is a personal attack.

    Perhaps Andrew is too sensitive, but he has admitted publically to trying to work on himself and his responses. However, I will admit that I for one appreciate someone who loves and leaps without looking and without asking questions or asking for something in return. I know my Jesus loved with an unconditional and tangible expression. Jesus asked for us to choose Him and Andrew I believe is giving back the opportunity for those in the Gay community to choose Him, which the Church and the broader Christian community has seemingly stolen from them. There are no judgments and yes, I would presume that all who are on this blog can read and have an understanding of biblical context. Whether or not one believes being gay is a sin is up to that person and their relationship with God. How dare some of you pretend to even understand what it means to stand in the middle and to reach out to physically touch, love, and attempt to heal the wounds which have been caused by the Church and Christians. Jesus ate at the table with sinners and went to their homes. If we applied Gagon’s theory none of us could enter a church or even have a meal with our selves.

    A PhD is simply someone who had time, money, and encouragement to accomplish their academic work. Anyone who had all three of these aspects could do the same. But there has to be people like Andrew who are willing to study the word and truly understand how to apply it in real time to people who are in need of reconciliation, kindness, and love.

    Gagnon, Berkley, and others can sit and point fingers from their desks, academic worlds, ministry positions, computer screens, but are you in the tension filled place? Do you get your hands dirty? Or do you simply sit and point fingers, spew critiques without follow through or guidance, and hide behind your accomplishments academically and professionally.

    My world life is not theory life is messy, complicated. I am so thankful for the grace which has been shown me on a daily basis by my Lord and Savior and by my brothers and sisters both Christian and non-Christian.

    You think you have all the answers because you can write it down on paper in black and white. No one wants your opinion because you are not making significant changes in the lives of everyday people. Jesus didn’t sit behind a desk, computer screen, He went to the people and spoke to them and allowed them the opportunity to come and choose Him to follow Him.

    You didn’t have to be sinless or perfect to follow Christ. In Christ we are transformed and must all seek holiness in whatever form that will be.

    I am thankful I do not have to pass judgments because I by no means am qualified to do so, but I am glad I can be Christ like in loving my neighbor as myself. Point fingers from your pedestal behind your academic credentials. I for one will stand and get my hands dirty with Andrew Marin. I will be the physical hands and feet as I have been called to do for my Lord and Savior. I will be here living life in real time, with real people, in real struggles until all have heard

    YOU may be the only BIBLE anyone ever reads…

    • James D. Berkley


      You must be a fine Marin disciple, because you have learned to respond as he did: ad hominem. Forget the matter at hand and just sling invectives.

      From top to bottom, you are attacking me, my experience, my motivation, my love, my practice, my understanding of people. That’s not the way to carry on a thoughtful conversation. That’s cheap and reactionary and crude.

      You ironically write: “I am thankful I do not have to pass judgments…”. Okay. Go back and reread what you just wrote about me. Do you think you may have made a handful of judgments about me? Is not simple self-awareness or practicing what you preach prized in your world?

      You don’t know me. You don’t know my heart. You don’t know my ministry. You know nothing of me, except that I challented Andrew to face up to the fact that he is not operating from the truth or with intellectual integrity. No need to attack me. Simply prove Gagnon wrong–not insensitive, not driven, not supposedly mean.

      And it may surprise you that I do not live in imaginary time with imaginary people with imaginary struggles either. Let’s not be mindless about this whole thing like a bunch of cult followers, spouting meaningless jargon.

      • Bren

        James D. Berkley

        Let me clarify I was referring to eternal judgments. My perceptions of you and Gagnon stand and as you say that I do not know you I would challenge that you do not know Andrew nor his heart and you certainly cannot distinguish that his calling is to work with and in relation to the Gay community vs. your calling as an academic.

        Thank you for passing judgment upon me for being a simply minded, how do you put it, “Marin disciple.” As you so clearly state that I do not know you personally please do not presume to know me either.

        I am pretty sure I stayed within the context of the “matter at hand” however; I chose to present my side with a different perspective. I do not believe that your approach or Gagnon’s approach will accomplish Kingdom principals when it comes to being with and in relation to the Gay community. So I chose to critique you and Gagnon based on a different theory of approach and communication.

        Again, I will say You may be the only Bible anyone ever reads. It is by example and actions that lives are changed.

        Thankfully throughout all of my education (which if you care is extensive although alas I do not have a PhD but I do have a few master’s degrees) my professors challenged me to understand the theories and learn how to apply them into action. It was not about having knowledge alone but being able to disseminate that knowledge to all people I interact with.

        Continue to teach… As I will encourage all students always question your professors, always be critical of theory, especially theory that does not work in the field, understand the source who is presenting you with the material, learn to research and discover on your own, read the commentaries from varying scholars, pray and ask God for interpretation and understanding…

        Be confident in knowing that one who holds a PhD is not more intelligent then you are they simply have either been alive longer and had more time to accomplish their studies or they had time, money, and encouragement to finish. I have no doubts in my personal ability to complete a PhD I simply do not have the money or time as life and its realities have caught up to me 🙂

        Andrew be encouraged that you are the hands and feet to the world. Let those who spend their lives in books and academic circles go around and around on the debates that have ostracized and hurt too many. You keep changing lives and following your Kingdom job description: “Its God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirits job to convict, and your (and my) job to love.”

  • Mateen Elass

    I read Gagnon’s critique before finding my way to this website. I’m rather surprised and saddened by many characterizations of Gagnon in comments on this page as well as by Mr. Marin. Instead of rejecting Gagnon’s critique out of hand because it seems so long to you as a reader, it would be most constructive to understand his arguments and respond to them. It is clear that he speaks with great passion against the views espoused in Marin’s book because he believes that such an approach will leave those engaged in sin in jeopardy of eternal salvation. It is not hate or self-aggrandizement (as far as I can tell) that motivates Gagnon (though he comes across abrasively at times) but rather love for the eternal destiny of those to whom he thinks lies are being told, enabling them to remain content in their condition of separation from God.

    Please don’t ignore his arguments with an ad hominem attack. Discover whether his critiques are valid and if so adjust your position accordingly. If they are not, you have material for a new book!

  • Jack Harris

    James D,

    I have heard your “truth”, and find it to be in error. End of story. You can move on. Hope this helps.


    • James D. Berkley


      You simply declare that I am in error. You neither show why nor prove it. That doesn’t cut it.

      God can make such declarations. We mortals need substance, proof.

      That you don’t LIKE what I say has nothing to do with whether what I say is correct or not.

      How easy it is merely to ignore an inconvenient truth! There truly are none so blind as those who will not see.

  • Jack Harris

    James D,

    It’s not that I don’t have a strong theological grounding as to why I believe what I believe, it’s just that it serves no purpose to engage you in such a discussion. I am one of those “smart gays” you see. You and I could probably discuss our viewpoints for hours with really no agreement. Now, if want to engage in a discussion on areas where we CAN agree, now THAT would be something worth having.

    Spending inordinate amounts of time going back and forth on theology would not be worth your or my time.


    • Clay

      I agree with Jack here. James, you have good points about not making personal attacks b/c Jack should not assume he knows your heart and your reasons. I am sure you do have very vital ministries and God is using you in great ways. But I think Jack is spot on that if he did engage this with you, it wouldn’t lead to anything fruitful. I could be wrong about this though. However, your comments to him and to Andrew both question if they have any truth to rebut you b/c they haven’t come out and explained it in a theological paper. B/c of this, you think they have no firm ground to stand on and are wrong. And that’s fine and that makes sense to me because you think you are right. But please recognize that that’s not everyone’s take. I just think you should value and acknowledge their no-doubt rigorous theological study on the issue, even if it differs from yours.
      Plus, Andrew’s whole point in writing this book is not to engage in theological debate, he clearly states this. He is trying to change the conversation in a way that starts with the church loving this community in such a way that does not continue to add to this great divide that exists. Maybe there are theological holes in the book, but that doesn’t mean that he himself has theological holes, he just hasn’t chosen to come out and defend them, and we need to accept that. I think Andrew is fine with his niche in this area, which is different than scholarly debate; he simply chooses to spend his time and energy in a different way b/c that’s what he feels God is calling him to. God has probably called James to a different realm of ministry and that’s great b/c we as the church need that too.

      I just think that those whose primary bent is towards theological study and understanding, they value this most highly and this dictates their ministry. This is how they love God too, loving Him with an emphasis on the mind. But God also has gifted others as well in different ways and people love God more with an emphasis on heart, or soul, or strength… all are equally important and the church needs each. Not to say we shouldn’t each desire all of equal measure and seek to grow in the other areas but we should serve in ways God has gifted and called us. The only perfect in all ways of loving God is Christ.

      So, let’s celebrate how God is using each of these men and women in the ministry He has gifted and called Him. And by all means, let’s continue to search and discuss Truth, b/c I don’t believe that everything is relative which some may suggest, I just think we need to first begin these discussions with a different foundation – an understanding and appreciation of what God is doing in each person’s life, even if it looks different than yours and whether you agree with it or not.

  • Dora

    Ah Lincoln, I forgot about good old Carter Heyward. One of my favorite books of hers is “Touching Our Strength.” And she had many perceptive things to say about the christian right. One of the original women ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1974, she’s been a wonderful activist and inspiration for a whole generation of lesbian feminists. I went to many of her workshops, and was a part of CLOUT– Christian Lesbians Out Together– a groundbreaking Christian lesbian group founded in 1990.

    • 🙂 I was almost part of CLOUT for a heartbeat in my first incarnation as a young butch. It was an outgrowth of my trip to Presbyterian General Assembly one of the years when we were having “the battle over ordination” yet again. So glad I’m no longer a Presbyterian, Baptist, or anything else and have gone to MCC. I feel much more solid being grounded in a FUBU (For Us By Us) church. I can be listened to for my opinions about so much more than being the resident gay expert.

      Trangender theology is still forming a solid base, but there are some really good authors. Vanessa Sheridan’s books are both very good. Though I prefer Crossing Over: Liberating The Transgender Christian to Cross Purposes. Transgendered by Justin Tanis is also good. Unfortunately, I’ve had to hear that second hand, as I’ve only ever been able to make it through the first chapter before having to admit to being lost. *sigh* I am still a work in progress, as we all are.


  • Robert Fisher

    So Andrew, if Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris disguised themselves, made friends
    with you, and then removed their disguises at some point and shouted, “Surprise!
    we’re atheists!”, your response would be, “Drat, now I guess I’ll have to affirm that atheism is true”.

    Is your faith really that shallow and uninformed?

    • Andrew might not affirm that it’s true, but he’d certainly affirm that that’s their perspective. He’s gone on about the affirmation vs. validation numerous times on this blog and elsewhere.

  • Jason

    ultimately no one can make another decide whether or not to abandon homosexuality, or, put another way, whether or not to act on homoerotic desires. Or any sin, for that matter.

    similarly, no one can make another believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, God-made-Man, who takes away the sins of the world.

    One thing that occurred to me in reflecting on the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus: one thief recognized his punishment was just and that Jesus’ punishment wasn’t. He seemed to appeal to Jesus’ mercy, which means he seemed to recognized that Jesus was One who could grant mercy in the first place.
    The other thief–even in the midst of excruciating punishment–cursed God even to his dying breath.

  • Jason

    I just read my last comment and I have to apologize for coming across as a judgmental hypocrite.

    For the record, I admit the reason I personally care so much about this topic is because not more than 6 or 7 years ago, I would have identified as a gay man. I am not saying is that I’m completely free from being attracted to guys. What I am saying is that if Jesus was raised from the dead, Jesus saves, and he saves because he loves.
    I have failed in a great many ways. I’ve been hypocritical, I’ve been filled with anger, envy, you name it.
    I personally don’t want to be the blaspheming thief, nor do I want that for those who struggle with envy, lust, alcoholism, homosexuality, etc.
    My comment above assumes that homosexuality is a sin, and I think scripture and 2000 years of Church history affirm the same. It’s never easy to renounce self and follow Jesus–as my own life demonstrates–but what do we get in return? What’s the alternative?
    I like what Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Maybe for those willing to take on what will surely be a lifetime struggle, there’s something behind the anguish that will be experienced, and I think that beyond the anguish of this struggle is the sure knowledge that Jesus is beckoning us from the other side of it, encouraging us to stay the course and fix our eyes on him, the author and finisher of our faith. The pain is really only and index of what is really an unfathomable love.
    Once again, I apologize for judgmental comment.


  • Dora

    Some of this is making a bit more sense. If you truly feel that gayness is not “the real” you, and that it appears to be a “struggle” then there would be a strong motivation to want to change this.

    However, there are millions of people for whom gay or lesbians selves are not a struggle at all. I would argue that the idea that homosexuality was condemned for the past 2000 years is simply inaccurate. Once upon a time, men believe that women were simply incubators for babies, and didn’t contribute to part of the child.

    So the people who come here obsessed with the sinfulness of gayness, like Jason, actually didn’t want to be gay or were conflicted with a bisexual nature. This might be a problem if you were a woman married to a man, and then fell in love with a woman. But if you feel in love with another man, the church would be fine with the divorce, you would not have people waving hate signs at you as you left divorce court, for example.

    I tend to look at biblical texts with what we in christian feminism call a hermanuetic of suspicion. We simply don’t believe a lot of what the “fathers” had to say about women, and we would certainly find suspect most of the holiness codes.

    Anyway, I think of lesbianess as not a struggle at all; it is perfect for my nature, and perfect for my life. My spiritual life is not conflicted with what others think I am, and of course no men can really say much about my life at all. I don’t abide by male commentary on my life as a spiritual person or in my love for my partner. Most spiritually advanced gays and lesbians I know are out to search for a greater truth, and even early christianity was not that in favor of marriage and kids either.

    The conflict comes when you might not be happy with gayness or the culture you might find yourself. If I had been a gay man in say New York City circa 1978, I might not have been all that thrilled with the meat market either.

    Since men seem more forced to rely on women to be the “social sane” component of their lives, a gay life makes this harder. Just as lesbians, who don’t have male access to corporate control or power will have a harder time earning a living because of sexism AND homophobia.

    Most integrated gays and lesbians have simply moved beyond the very limited and outdated views of gayness itself; we aim for something far higher and more advanced than just settling for a conventional or conforming life.

    My conflict arises from people who would deny me rights that other citizens have.

  • Jack Harris


    With regard to your last comment : nicely said. You stated what I have been saying all along. There are MANY of us who are gay and lesbian that have been able to fully accept the fact that our sexuality can be integrated with our belief system as a Christian and have a LOT more success being happy. I am NOT saying non-christians can be happy being gay because many are. Since the blog focuses on Christianity and the GLBT community, I think its important to point out that many of us do not struggle with our sexuality as it relates to our Christian faith.

    I FULLY understand that there are many out there that DO have a difficult time reconciling the two. I truly pray for those that struggle. It just so happens that I PERSONALLY do not struggle. I live a VERY normal life with my partner, and pets. I am active in my church and feel very happy with where I am in life both personally and spiritually.


  • Dora

    Well Jack, it is an odd thing. Even when I was much younger and had not even been to an MCC yet, I still did not think of myself as sinful, and I didn’t think there was a conflict between believing in god and being a lesbian. There just was no issue there at all.

    In fact, I never ever heard any of this “gays are going to hell” stuff when I was growing up and going to church weekly and attending Sunday school.
    I was happy with the church as a kid, and learned a lot of valuable lessons about how to live.

    My issues with the church stemmed largely from it’s vicious discrimination against women and girls, and it was this observation of discrimination when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old that seemed like an outrage. A black child might have faced racism when she wasn’t served an ice cream cone at a white store at the age of five, and I noticed that girls were not allowed to serve at the altar or read in church, and that seemed like the same thing. I associate church with discrimination against girls and women as a very early memory.

    Most of conservative Protestant Christianity seems incomprehensible in so many ways. I have a more Catholic/Jewish perspective, and am not as obsessed with the Bible as inerrant. I believe the Bible was inspired by God, but it was also filtered through the culture and male attitudes of that day. So it just doesn’t have much power over me as a lesbian feminist, and I find the use of the Bible against women’s rights so awful and persistent throughout history, that I don’t spend too much time agonizing over it all.

    Gays and lesbians come from a variety of backgrounds– we had a lot of people who came from fundamentalist backgrounds who had the most trouble with gayness and Christianity being one, because they hear the hell fire sermons. Those churches seemed to really damage so many people, and it is no accident that MCC was founded by someone from that background.

    MCC was a bit of a culture shock because gay men were so literal in the interpretations of the Bible, and so unwilling to have lesbians as pastors, leaders or have inclusive language as part of the service. Lesbians fought two battles — one against sexist gay men, and one against homophobia of the malestream churches.

    I tended to trust the lesbian scholars in theology, philosophy and religious studies a lot more than I would pay attention to male authors, again because of their unchecked sexism and retro attitudes towards women as church pastors and leaders. Lesbians of my generation have no patience with this, and take no quarter if there is a battle to be fought. We were fearsome debaters, ready to go to war should we encounter male opposition to women’s leadership. Not a pretty sight I can assure you.

    The funny thing is I know many straight Christians, and none of the weird stuff on this blog ever gets discussed. No one asks me if “I’m saved” which is a very odd concept to me. Saved from what? The language of fundamentalism is very very odd to me, I can’t relate to it at all really.
    I hear fundamentalists talking about LOVE all the time, but it has a very suspect tone to it.

    There are so many deeply spiritual Christian gay and lesbian believers out there, and all of them have been very helpful to me. I am very culturally lesbian, so it would really be hard for some straight guy to even have anything to do with me socially that would allow for a discussion of Christianity or belief. And they really wouldn’t know where I was coming from in terms of my feminist christian theology either.

    Again, as Jack said, we don’t struggle, we are happy with our lesbian and gay lives, feel energized by faith and for me its creative and artistic power.
    I find sacred music the most amazing thing about God’s inspiration, and find that Handel, Mozart, Shakespeare, Blake– Caravaggio (who was a gay man BTW) have the most impact on me.

    Somebody like Andrew, who is probably a very nice man, would be fun to talk to, but he’d be pretty far behind on feminist theology, and certainly I would not find that much of interest in straight Christian ideas very much.
    Not that what is said here is ill intentioned, it’s just that after 30 some years reading and studying, and being a part of the huge feminist and gay liberation movement, mainstream “preaching” and “getting saved” and “the Lord” do not work as spiritual tools for me.

    It’s almost as if my partner and I live in an alternative Christian reality.
    Conservatives cause damage to gay people for shaming them and humiliating them. They cause damage to gay children.

    I talk to conservative men all the time; there’s just not much to say really about these issues. Conservative women I have much more of an interest in, because I believe we share common values as women, and I know that conservative women battle patriarchy and demeaning attitudes towards women within their own traditions. This is too long, sorry, but there is too much angst and not enough reporting on the happily gay and lesbian Christian communities and individuals out there.

    • Robert Fisher

      Dora, I’m not trying to flame you. I’m just curious as to why you think as you do:

      “I still did not think of myself as sinful, and I didn’t think there was a conflict between believing in god and being a lesbian. There just was no issue there at all.”

      Why do you think that your subjective feelings are the measure of morality? Humanity has made many missteps because of this.

      “Conservatives cause damage to gay people for shaming them and humiliating them. ”

      Why do you not see the other way of looking at this? We call you to be FREE of sin. You are not merely the sum of your sinful desires. You can be saved from them. We must ALL combat our sinful desires, and we can only do so through the atonement of Christ through the regeneration of the Spirit. Why have you decided that calling people to repentance (from whatever) is “damage”? I won’t reply. I just cannot understand how you think as you do and would even want to be identified as Christian.

      • Robert: Being gay isn’t sinful. Anymore than being het isn’t a sin. Specific sexual or relational behaviors might be sinful, but being gay isn’t a behavior.

        The issue of damage to GLBT folks by the church is frequently minimized or denied by Christians. But GLBT folks directly experience this damage. Damage like rejection by family based on religious conviction. Or the damage experienced when GLBT Christians are pressured into poorly-yoked het marriages (I’ve personally seen this one way too often). Or the damage inflicted by religiously-motivated quasi-professionals running ex-gay programs. That’s a faith-killer like few others.

  • John

    Thanks to Jason above for his courage in expressing his personal interest in this situation. The church has not done well in integrating and accepting testimonies such as his. As someone who has served in conservative congregations, there is a great lack of comfort in even discussing sexually from a traditionalist perspective, which does, I think, fail the Gospel.

    And thanks to the other posters who have shared their own perspectives and reasons for understanding sexuality the way they do.

  • Irmgard

    This is not about feelings, Andrew Marin, this is about matter-of-fact arguments regarding biblical interpretation. You can agree with them or you can dispute them or you can say that this doesn’t really matter – but ad personam arguments are in such a case about the worst possible arguments for your cause.

  • Dora

    I have long been a supporter of the alternatives out there. CLOUT was an excellent organization and about the only place where you could meet 30 + lesbian clergy at national conferences. It was an excellent venue for lesbian christians. Haven’t gone to their events in awhile, but i really wanted the lesbian community worldwide to create, rather than battle the patriarchal powers that be.

    There was an incredible group of Presbyterian lesbians in town, and we did a lot of stuff together. All of them finally said, enough is enough, and some formed their own churches or are now MCC clergy.

    I think you reach a point in your spiritual development where you tend to just lose interest in mainstream institutions, and you find like minded women worldwide.

    I’ve read much trans stuff as well — Justin Tanis. secular writings, and of course MCC always had an ongoing ministry with trans dating back to the early days of the denomination.

    Gays going to mainstream churches is, well just too mainstream for my taste. I didn’t want to do gay or lesbian 101, but really wanted the advanced classes. So I’ve loved the women who were so creative and powerful. I actually don’t believe that lesbians belong in most of these places, because the reception is tokenistic and kind of out of it.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found a good MCC in your area and keep reading. We have more queen christian commentary, art and music than just about at any other time in history. So it’s pretty exciting. I just can’t read those guys anymore, can’t listen to them, the gagnons, the theologians… the boredom of the sexism… you reach a point where you know that they aren’t going to do the work, and you want to reach out and do the advanced lesbian thinking. You want the most powerful women to come together and create an authentic woman centric worship, and also to find a path of true liberation of women. Now I just won’t go back to the old time religion, and really believe it just is… Do you know what CLOUT is doing now Lincoln? Anyway, best of luck to you!

  • Dora

    Well Robert Fisher, I guess we will never understand each other.

  • Konstantin

    If in three weeks, three of your friends said they are attracted to the same gender (and not seeing it as a problem) to you, gosh what sort of circle of friends did you select? There is an old Russian proverb “tell me who is your friend and I will tell you who you are”. I am truly interested where do you go on searching perverts? Are you a perv-magnet or something?
    Really…What if next month thee of your other friends will tell you they have orgies with their parents, what will you do then? “Love is an orientation” volume 2″ ???? All this makes me wonder…

    • Andrew A

      What sort of logic is this?!

      I don’t even know how to begin to reply to this post.

      First of all, regardless of one’s theological stance on homosexuality, Andrew had his 3 Best Friends come out to him as gay. After initially being scared and running away, he later chose to go back to them and stay a faithful friend. The questions around homosexuality are deeper than just “Why did you choose to be a pervert?” For those who are gay, they live in a great deal of tension with their relationships, their faith, their families, as they try to work out their identity and (if they desire to be a Christian), their walk with Jesus.

      Andrew Marin does what he does because we live in a world where very few Christians choose to walk alongside gay folks as they try to answer these questions of faith.

      Also, calling gay men and women perverts is horribly offensive. I assume by your statements that you believe that gay people can change their orientation. If you believe that, why would you publicly berate them by calling them perverts? How would that inspire them to change? (Just assuming that you, Konstantin, believe that, not anyone else that’s commenting)

      And, you are clearly a “Christian” in this conversation, but your ignorant and rude comments are doing NOTHING to advance the cause of Christ, and everything to make us all look horrible and insensitive in the eyes of the world and the readers of this blog.

      Your last question should not even be dignified with a response.

      • Eugene

        “Also, calling gay men and women perverts is horribly offensive.”

        So what? Even Jesus didn’t have a problem with offending people:

        “Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
        He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” (Matthew 15)

        From a Christian perspective, homosexuality is either a healthy variation of human sexuality planted by the “heavenly Father” or a perversion of God’s will that “will be pulled up by the roots”. There is no middle ground. So I don’t really see the point in trying to sugarcoat it.

  • Dear Mr Berkley,

    since you failed to grasp the difference in literary genre there exists between Andrew’s book and Gagnon’s monograph, you have no business whatsoever expressing an opinion, let alone pronouncing Andrew a beaten horse. The former is a personal testimony grounded in a visceral approach to the Bible, the latter a theological treatise trying to push a conservative, right-wing view of faith-based politics. They do not cater to the same readership.

    As far as scholarship is concerned, of course Gagnon has the upper hand, being far more cognizant than the layman Andrew of the primary texts, their context and the history of their reception ; but the sheer amount of name-calling in his piece squares ill with the thinness of his scholarly apparatus, meaning that he does not look nearly as impressive as his academic credentials would have one believe. As in his big book, Gagnon in his charge against Andrew does not appear to have read one single monograph or learned paper written in German or French, not to mention Latin – parochialism is indeed a charge which European Biblical scholars have been raising for decades against their American fellows from an Evangelical background -, and unlike what was the case in his 2001 work, he gives virtually no bibliography in support of his claims, thus positioning himself in something that appears suspiciously akin to a scholarly vacuum. Last but not least, none of the very scholars who have taken a stance poles apart from his on the issue of Biblical homosexuality, viz. Saul Olyan, Susan Ackerman, Martti Nissinen, Thomas Römer, and this writer, made a fuss for not having being asked to pass judgement on “Love Is An Orientation”, whereas it irked Gagnon to no end, prompting him to react in such a scurrilous way : obviously we are dealing here with vanity and self-promotion.

    On the whole, Andrew can reasonably be forgiven for declining to learn from such a piece as Gagnon’s.

    Truly yours,

    J.-F. Nardelli, PhD.
    Université de Provence (France).

  • Derek Sire

    Dear Mr. Marin –

    I am so sorry about Dr. Gagnon’s note. I read just part of it. I feel he ignores very important things about the 1 Corinthians 5 passage:

    “…I fail to see how us Christians (who are not divinely inspired in the same way and to the same extent that biblical writers like Paul were) are so confident in what we believe to be divine discernment to kick the “immoral brother” out of our churches and families. What’s more, we dare feel righteous in following through on that belief. For concerning the situation of openly affirmed and celebrated incest in the Corinthian church (see 1 Corinthians 5, NASB), Paul, “though absent in body but present in spirit,” “already judged” the specific person in question. Paul declares he has judged the man, and that they are to, “in the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit,” take disciplinary action against this “immoral brother.”

    This course of action is seemingly to be followed only after a three-fold standard is met: they are to be assembled, possibly hinting at communal discernment; they are to do so in the name of Jesus, emphasizing that their actions must line up with Jesus’ message of a love which takes precedence above all else; and, finally, that they are to do so when Paul’s spirit is present and in agreement with the given course of action. This is powerful stuff, this is powerful communication via the Holy Spirit, who inspired Paul to right down the words of this book—words that would become part of the Biblical cannon, words that addressed to a specific sinner, words intended as instruction for a specific church, words sanctioned by a specific spirit, the apostle Paul’s spirit.

    Do we dare equate our situation with that of this church, this church leader, and this sinner? I cannot but answer no, for the tendency to read as universal that which is theologically and textually hinted to address a specific situation astounds me.”

    Just a thought. I find it unbelievably confident Dr. Gagnon’s belief that we ought kick gays out of our churches.

    In Christ,

  • christopher shell

    Questions of truth are never going to be avoided by honest people. Even if you (subjectively) don’t like someone’s tone, their tone is a separate issue form their points of substance, and there is nothing in the world preventing you from addressing both these 2 points separately. That is why avoidance of questions of substance for that ‘reason’ looks like an excuse.

  • Bo Parker


    I did not read through all the comments, so you may have already answered this, but have you have read Gagnon’s book The Bible and Homosexual Practice? A friend recommended your book which I am going to read, but it would be helpful to me to know if you have read Gagnon’s book.