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Lotharson • 7 years ago

Dear John,

first of all, let me say I really liked whay you said about self-doubt's dependency on one's emotional state. We should only change our mind when new evidence comes in and not just because of one's feelings.

As far as the alleged sinfulness of homosexuality is concerned, I'm entirely on your side . I'm also disgusted by the fact that so many Conservative Evangelicals focus so much on this issue while neglecting problems of social justice .

Still, I find you wrote some pretty worrisome and almost outrageous sentences.

First of all, it isn't true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are "anti-gay". If someone views taking drug as a sin, it just doesn't follow that he is "anti-junkies". As I was an atheist in my teenage years, I viewed homosexuality as a deviant behavior out of ignorance but I was not anti-homosexual.

Likewise, it's just false to state that Christians speaking out against homosexuality are EITHER "Crazy" OR "Gets Paid to Promulgate Anti-Gay Christianity". Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people. Indeed, I know quite a few such Christians in Continental Europe.

So I think that the use of such an aggressive rhetoric is putting off many of your Conservative readers you could have touched through a more loving and moderate tone.

And I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

So I think that your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified.

Progressively and fraternally yours.

allegro63 • 7 years ago

Is it? Or is the topics John covers finally giving people a chance to think about this, to discuss what is happening and to shed light at how bad homophobia actually is? Trust me, its worse than many realize. In the US, there are several states, including the one I live in, where it is quite legal to deny housing or employment to people, just because of sexual orientation. There are hundreds of churches in my county. Two are LGBT affirming. Many counties have none. We had our state legislature remove funding from two state colleges because of a couple of gay friendly books.

Yet my adopted home town hosts an annual Pride rally. The state capital also has one. Its getting better here, but in a place where bi-racial couples are still looked down on, and a black man reaching into his car to get out his registration for a basic traffic stop, gets shot by a white state trooper, we have a long way to go.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

it isn't true that Christians considering homosexuality as morally wrong are "anti-gay"

If someone believes being gay is morally wrong, then it follows that they believe being gay is a choice. Who could be considered morally wrong for being born with green eyes or left-handed? Taking drugs is a choice; being gay is not. Taking drugs is illegal; being gay is not (unless you happen to live in one of the many states where you can be discriminated against for being gay).

Plenty might be sincerely convinced it is wrong even if they love homosexuals as people

Please. Not the old "hate the sin, love the sinner" tune again. That record's broken.

putting off many of your Conservative readers

I'd have to ask John: how many of your readers are conservative?

I know Conservatives who have become homophobic due to people disapproving of homosexuality getting fired.

Why aren't they gay-affirming due to gay people being fired for being gay?

your strategy is really counter-productive and should be modified

Oh yes, let's play nice. Let's play nice with the people who believe gays should be put to death, who are going to hell, who are child molesters, who are the worst kinds of perverts. Yeah, that'll work.

Lotharson • 7 years ago

Hello Barbara, thanks for your answer!

Conservative Christians don't believe that having sexual desires towards persons of the same sex is wrong in and of itself but that it is wicked to act on this desire by e.g. kissing such an individual.
In other words they say: "Yeah he's attracted towards men as I'm attracted towards females and that's not wrong. BUT he must never act accordingly."
Do I believe this principle is sound?
Absolutely not. I think that a life-long marriage is one of the most beautiful things one can experience during this life time.
What's more I also believe that God does not forbid us things arbitrarily.
Consequently, I wholeheartedly affirm the right of Gay people to marry their loved ones.

YET it is also completely false to say that Conservative Christians (in general) believe that Gays are wicked human beings for being born that way.

What is more, how many percent of Conservative Christians think that homosexuals are child molesters and the worst kinds of perverts who should be put to death?

In French-speaking and German-speaking Europe they represent perhaps 0.001% of all Conservative believers.
How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people. But if they read such kinds of texts they feel they're being UNFAIRly treated. They inevitably consider all of this as ignoble propaganda.

And this naturally diminishes their willingness to step in when Gay folks are being maltreated.

Friendly greetings.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

Conservative Christians don't believe that having sexual desires towards perons of the same sex is wrong in and of itself...YET it is also completely false to say that Conservative Christians (in general) believe that Gays are wicked human beings for being born that way.

If you believe this, you must not read this blog often and see what I see. The vitriolic and hate-filled comments I and the other mods delete completely belie this notion.

There are many Conservative Christians who passionately oppose the discrimination of Gay people.

This poll just came out.

http://www.pewforum.org/201...

From this poll:
White evangelical Protestants express the strongest support for allowing businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings (71%).

How many proportion do they form in America? Sincerely?

There are to the best of my knowledge no statistics on this. However, they pop up with appalling regularity. Here are a few examples of pastors calling for the death of gay people. As pastors go, so goes the flock.

http://www.huffingtonpost.c...

http://www.huffingtonpost.c...

http://www.christianpost.co...

http://www.patheos.com/blog...

While it would be all sparkly unicorns and fluffy bunnies to think conservative evangelicals oppose discrimination against gays, I am not seeing evidence for it.

Lotharson • 7 years ago

Hi! I agree there are horrible fag-bashing bigots in the States:
http://lotharlorraine.wordp...

But everything in America seems to be far more extreme than in Europe.

Still, there are lots of Conservatives disapproving of homosexuality who do oppose the misdeeds you evoked.

You and I probably agree it is wrong to bully Muslims having a peaceful interpretation of Islam due to the existence of many terrorists.

So why should it be any different when Conservative Christians are concerned?

Cheers.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

In case you are unaware, the term "fag" is considered a hate term here.

Lotharson • 7 years ago

Okay I used it emphasize that those fundies are truly hateful. Now it's removed.

Bones • 7 years ago

What were those Evangelical nobs doing in Uganda and Russia?

US Evangelicals are influencing other countries to criminalise homosexuality (Uganda) or take away civil rights from homosexuals (Russia).

They can't do it in your country so spread their poison to others.

Lotharson • 7 years ago

There are many different groups of Evangelicals out there.

You can't include all of them into the evildoers.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

Examples, please.

toujoursdan • 7 years ago

Many thanks John.

Brandon Roberts • 7 years ago

nice article.

John Masters • 7 years ago

As summation to the wonderful way John responds to the first letter, I like to remember this quote (to whom I cannot find attribution), "One can't reason a person out of a belief they didn't reason themselves into in the first place."

Sheila Warner • 7 years ago

Great advice to the mom. It is also useful for those of us who have transitioned from anti-gay to gay affirming. Thanks!

jjp803 • 7 years ago

Just found this and am looking forward to seeing more of the site. I think for the most part John is right about the people who say hurtful things largely fall into the for money or crazy for hate variety. I think though that making a thoughtful opposition to what they say and then moving on is a good approach. You are not going to change the minds of the vocal fighters, what you might do is gain ground with silent listeners or readers. Also as tempting as it may be to be just as hurtful as they are, they are not the audience, the silent people are. We need to "turn the cheek" to gain the consideration of watchers and readers.

silicon28 • 7 years ago

I sort of agree, but would add a third category. There are still folks coming out so vociferously against our need as Christians to really welcome LBGT folks, (beyond that crap of "love the sinner, hate the sin nonsense) that are doing just that from what is obviously an unenlightened, yet faithful attempt to take their discipleship seriously. Granted, many in that particular category are often in thrall to pastors or leaders that fall into the other two categories... but we still need to make an attempt to reach out in the hope that some will see God in the process of broadening their horizons. My read is that a dialogue will quickly evolve to the point where you can tell if you are wasting your time or not. but I'm usually not willing to jump to a conclusion with only one or two thoughts shared without at least being willing to explain my reasoning and seeing if there's any possibility of further dialogue. I'm often frustrated at the end, but every now and then I see enough hope to continue at least trying...

Snooterpoot • 7 years ago

My take on "love the sinner, hate the sin" is that it is a canard. It provides a shield for people who hate but don't want to admit it.

Andy • 7 years ago

If by "a canard" you mean "horse shit", then I agree.

Snooterpoot • 7 years ago

I try to avoid using vulgar language, but you're pretty much spot on. Thanks for the chuckle.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

As well as creating a convenient category of sin where it did not previously exist.

Sven2547 • 7 years ago

I was a Christian for most of my life (thus far). Being anti-gay was never a tenet of my religion, and shame on those who claim it is!

mike moore • 7 years ago

To "Stay Silent or Never Speak-up,"

I'm usually so with John on advice, as he is an Oracle ... and while I agree that, as a rule, words would are wasted on the Crazy and the Crusaders, I still veer a slightly different course.

Never stay silent.

In my mind, NALT (Not All Like That) is speaking to two groups: the first, it's letting LGBT people and their allies know that not all Christians are anti-gay and are, often, even our allies.

The second voice I hear from NALT is directed to the anti-gay Christians, saying "hey, you don't speak for me, stop saying you speak for all Christians, and, btw, a lot of good Christians don't agree with your reading of scripture." And while Crazy will engage in circular conversations which you'll never win, it never hurts to state your opinion, once, and then move on, dismissively saying, "that's all." **

(** That was a test, btw ... if you're gay or almost gay, you should just have pictured Meryl Streep/Miranda Priestly in "Devil Wears Prada.")

I'm think I'm one of the most harsh and combative activists/commenters here, with very little patience for homophobes ... but I also know we've got to give people a chance to evolve, and that kind, quiet, conversations - over a lunch, a bridge game, kids' soccer practice, the "small group" break-outs of people's churches, etc. - definitely fuel the rate of said evolution.

If it fits, making it personal can help: "hey, that's really hurtful, that's my daughter/son/friend/hair stylist/decorator/Michael Sams you're talking about."

And you know what is a TRULY DEE-LIGHTFUL consequence of the evolution of Christians' beliefs?

As more and more Christians begin to believe Gay is OK, the money dries up for those who are just out there to make a buck off of anti-gay crusades. There's a reason Maggie Gallagher, a founder of NOM, has been putting distance between herself and her own hateful group ... it's hurting her brand. Not good business for syndicated columnist.

And for the donors to these crusades, it's quickly becoming more and more of a lost cause, money flushed down the head. Example: last week Martina Navratilova proposed marriage, JumboTron-style, to her girlfriend, during the US Open ... assuming such an event could be countered by the haters (which I don't) it would take millions and millions of ad dollars to counter this televised event, watched by millions, instantly viral. As a business model, professional hate is quickly crumbling.

(sorry for long-ass comment ... just finished a big deadline, still wired)

tewaz1 • 7 years ago

Thanks Mike,
This means a lot to me. As a gay man who was raised in an evangelical household I've been on a quest for he past ten years or so to put the fear and pain I experienced in that environment behind me and grow beyond the anti-Christian bias I developed as a result by actively working to understand Christians and convince myself that the torments inflicted on me were the result of sick people and not the result of the Abrahamic religions in entirety.
While in my quest I've met a few truly loving Christians, people who shone so bright they lit up the world, I still considered that the aberration and the fundamentalism I was raised with the default Christianity. To this day when I discover someone is a Christian, while I try to remain open minded and not become the monster that bit me, I still find myself holding my breath and waiting to see what kind of cudgel they'll start beating me over the head with. It's easy to say that Michelle Bachman and Tony Perkins don't speak for all Christians, but they're the ones we hear most often. There are almost no voices to drown out the vitriol, to find them you have to look, whereas the poison is spit in your face every day, at every relevant court hearing, on the news, at school, in our families, at our work.
It's only through this blog that I'm starting to realize that the extremism I was raised in was the aberration, that the evangelical fundamentalist movement is the definition of a cult. I'm starting to finally see that, while decent, caring people may not be as loud as the talking heads, they're there, and they're defending me even if I don't see it.
Shout on, don't be silent. It's the only way people like me can hear you over the roar of the Pharisees.

mike moore • 7 years ago

My work often intertwines with the entertainment industry, and the unfortunate fact is: extremists like Perkins, Bachmann, and all the others who pile out of that clown-car create drama and emotional (good or bad) responses which lead to good ratings.

allegro63 • 7 years ago

So, good press, bad press, its all press.?

mike moore • 7 years ago

Unfortunately, it's rather more cynical than that ... antagonistic is what they're aiming for ... lots of drama, as that engages/angers people, and then the viewer won't change the channel. There's little interest in presenting reasonable dialogs ... that's what NPR and PBS are for. And until that changes, guys like Tony Perkins will always have a platform.

Ultimately, it's just theme and variation on, "if it bleeds, it leads"

Snooterpoot • 7 years ago

The thing that bugs the crap out of me is that Tony Perkins is often interviewed as a legitimate opposing thought. Until the media learns that hatred is not a legitimate thought we will have to put up with this bull scat. It makes me mad as hell.

Falken • 7 years ago

The media will always put on what sells. And sadly, until more of the public learns that hatred is not a legitimate thought enough to turn off the TV, not buy the paper, and basically step away, it may just keep going on.

allegro63 • 7 years ago

So that explains the longevity of Jerry Springer and Pat Roberston's shows. Crazy sells like crazy

And I do get my news from NPR. Its sane and thoughtful

Jill • 7 years ago

Which unfortunately continues to reaffirm my reflexive, cynical view of the evolution of the species. We just love our drama stories.

mike moore • 7 years ago

amen, sister. amen.

Jill • 7 years ago

And hefty donations

John Shore • 7 years ago

Yeah, I mean ... as you know, I've spent the last seven years fighting anti-gay Christians about as aggressively and consistently as any person could. But the way I do it is so unique that I obviously can't recommend it to anyone who ... doesn't run a pretty influential blog, basically. But, yeah, this letter certainly does reflect the degree to which I'm just ... burned out on arguing with people who really only WANT to argue--who get off on that, and benefit from it. Today any Christian who still believes being gay is a sin isn't about to change.

Michelle • 7 years ago

I started following your blog a month ago. I have grappled with my conservative upbringing and the beliefs about whether being gay is or isn't sin. GRAPPLED.
Today, after a year of not going to church because I couldn't stand the hate toward so many groups I went back to church. An episcopal church with a woman priest that affirms gay Christians. So please, don't assume if Christians haven't yet evolved today that they won't. I am evolving right this minute and your voice in the conversation is valuable to me. And contributes to what I teach my children about this subject.
Thank you for doing difficult work for the kingdom.

Snooterpoot • 7 years ago

I have to thank you for this. Teaching children to respect everyone is so important. There is a song in the movie "South Pacific" that perfectly describes this. It's called, "You'veGgot to be Carefully Taught." I hope John Shore doesn't mind if I post the lyrics here.

"You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"

Thank you for teaching your children otherwise.

mike moore • 7 years ago

dear wonderful John ... I hate to break it to you, but I think you're quite wrong when you say, "any Christian who still believes being gay is a sin isn't about to change."

And the reason you're wrong is .... you.

Look at what you have set in motion over the past years ... your blog, your books, NALT ... you've given, and continue to give, so many of us the words and the reasons and the ways we can talk about this with Christians. If you only think about the kids and young adults -- and I believe your reach is far broader than that -- who are raised in homes where being gay is considered a choice and a sin ... and then they happen across your writings or NALT or someone who is passing along your words ... and their view of "the gay" is completely changed.

I know for a fact your work has changed faculty and admin minds (minds with hither before set theologies) at Westmont. I know for a fact you've been a topic among students at BIOLA ... "is he right? is he wrong?" Whatever their answer, you set a new dialog in motion at a very conservative school.

You built the field, and they are coming. Now let's go have a catch. xoxoxoxo

John Shore • 7 years ago

I appreciate what you've said, Mike, and agree I wasn't thorough enough in my original answer. So I've added some words to it that I think bring it more inline with .... a better answer. Thanks for all YOU do.

lizdyer • 7 years ago

John, I'm continuously grateful that you use your "stage" to keep pushing back against the anti-gay message! You are a gift to LGBT people and their families! <3

John Shore • 7 years ago

Thanks, Liz, very much.

lizdyer • 7 years ago

Mike, I know what John is saying ... there is no changing most of the people who would bother saying such stuff out loud and it can be burdensome for many people - especially those who have a personal stake in the game - BUT like you I won't be silent either ... if for no other reason so that my gay son and other LGBT people will hear a voice crying out in their behalf!!

Ford1968 • 7 years ago

This queer guy is grateful to you.

Guest • 7 years ago

John...thank you for providing sound advice to the people who have written to you.

John Shore • 7 years ago

Thanks for this, JJ.

BarbaraR • 7 years ago

As a mom who completely accepts and affirms my gay son I still have times when I worry that I might be wrong—that somehow my love for my son has misled me

This disturbs me deeply. That somehow your love for your son is misleading? That your acceptance of him is wrong?

This is the insidious twisted poison of fundamentalist anti-gay teachings - that a parent putting the well-being of their child before the dogma is wrong and God will be displeased.

You are NOT wrong. What is wrong is the teaching that makes you feel that you are in grievous error by loving your child unconditionally. That's just fucked up.

gimpi1 • 7 years ago

I thought that same thing, that if your beliefs tell you love and compassion are "misleading" you, the problem isn't your love or compassion, it's your beliefs.

Anakin McFly • 7 years ago

I don't think it's that simple. My mother actually expressed similar thoughts to me recently, about how she was afraid that her love for me was making her accept and support my sexual orientation and gender identity when perhaps she shouldn't have. (Important distinction: it's not the same as accepting and loving *me*. That part she never questioned.)

But she'd just come from some unrelated talk in which the speaker had mentioned how their love for a friend or relative and wanting her to be happy had led to a drug addiction that spiralled out of control and eventually landed her in jail, and that if she had done something earlier, saying "look, I love you, but this is wrong and you need to stop", then things might not have ended that way. So my mother's concern was that this might be something similar, and that her love for me was letting me go on a path that might ultimately hurt me; it was precisely because she loved me that she was afraid she might be doing the wrong thing with her support.

(Though perhaps the worst part of this is that any time my safety or general well-being or happiness is threatened because of me being LGBT and people being jerks, it renews all those fears of hers that I'm doing something that's going to end badly, and it would be her fault for not stopping me while she could.)

gimpi1 • 7 years ago

The thing is, there's a difference between being addicted to something that's causing you harm, and being who you simply are. You can't be addicted to honesty, to straightforward self-awareness. The two things aren't similar at all.

Also, the drug-addiction has natural consequences, from health problems to money spent feeding it. Being gay has no natural consequences. The problems arise because of how other people are taught to view you, not as an outgrowth of your actions.

Andy • 7 years ago

Wait...she fears that it would be her fault for not stopping you for doing what? Being yourself? Not lying to the world about who you are? That's a hell of a conundrum.

Anakin McFly • 7 years ago

Nah, more that I may be mistaken and doing the wrong thing that will irreparably harm me in the end*. Which is a reasonable fear, because I'm extremely insecure and have similar fears all the time.

*of course, lots of people doing the right thing also get irreparably harmed in the end.