A God of Love


"Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny."

Some of these Christian bigots are going to hell.
Oh, and thanks John Shore. You're a keeper.
Christian Bigots sounds like a punk band name. They only sing about rainbows.
correction [sing only]
Too bad John can't realize that he's only picking and choosing what parts of his religion he thinks are good to believe in and follow, and ignoring the icky Leviticus "you'll burn in hell if you commit sodomy" parts. There is morality (and charity and empathy and love) without religion, John. Come to the atheists.
I agree with @5; liberal xtians are simply living with huge cognitive dissonance. At its core, xtianity is an authoritarian religion, and this notion that "sin" per the bible can be quantified in some logical calculation is wishful thinking.

Best to chuck the whole endeavor, cling to Jesus as an interesting philosopher, take his good points and discard the rest, and weave together a cohesive world view recognizing the limitations of finite beings to do so.

But, if we're hoping that rational xtians will save us from the general hatred of xtianity, we build our hope on a bed of sand.
Wonderful to hear a voice of reason.

#5 and #6 you are exhibiting the very behaviors you are condemning, get over yourselves already
@5, your choice of words shows that fundies aren't the only game in town for tone-deaf piety.
Sin is just another Christian myth. Take religion out of the lives of people who don't want it. I don't want any religion. I don't believe any of them or anything they stand for. To me they are primitive delusion. Believe what you want but keep it to yourself.
@5 - One of the commenters on the blog tries to reason out the bible on homosexuality:

I don’t believe the Bible — well, not the New Testament — condemns homosexuality.

1) Leviticus has 2 verses against homosexuality. But the Old Testament has laws against eating pork and shellfish, and wearing different fabrics together (among others). Can you explain why you choose to follow this OT rule, and not others? (Try not to spill your bacon-wrapped shrimp on your cotton-polyester blend shirt when you answer.)

2) 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy: Paul used the Greek word “arsenokoites”, a compound word composed of “male adult,” and “bed” (with a sexual connotation–we get the English word “coitus” from this Greek term). This word appears almost nowhere else in Greek literature. No one knows what Paul was referring to when he said “sex-bed-men.” It’s translated into 26 different words in different versions of English Bibles! It could be referring to male prostitutes, males who participated in other religions’ ritual sex acts, pederasts–there are a zillion possibilities that DO NOT include regular ol’ gay people.

Both passages, by the way, very strictly only apply to men. If you think the Bible contains ANYTHING against lesbians, you’re making stuff up.

So — most people think the Bible is against homosexuality because of an randomly-followed Old Testament law and what is very probably a messed-up translation. Having studied these passages, I don’t believe the New Testament is against homosexuality at all.

Sorry for repeating myself from a couple days ago, but I can’t be silent on what I believe to be a serious misinterpretation.

I've heard a few Christians say that the Old Testament is mostly defunct from a moral standpoint post-Jesus. They argue that the whole point of the New Testament is to replace the Old Testament as a guide for morality. I'm an atheist but I don't begrudge liberal Christians to pick and choose parts of the bible as long as they don't use their faith as a weapon to remove the rights of others.
@5: Christians don't keep kosher nor a whole other slew of Jewish laws. Check Paul Ardoin's comment on John's blog. Summary is that Christians are picking and choosing which laws in Leviticus they are following and the supposed prohibitions in the new testament are ambiguous at best.
while its a commendable argument it seems weak if only for the fact that the whole concept of sin is at best relative and more realistically, imaginary.

And those same people also have imaginary virtues, of which celibacy is one.

We don't need a concept of sin. The things we call sins that are self evidently bad are generally recognized by people any faith, or even lack of faith. They have a Darwinian or Memetic base that can be logically understood.

While other things, like working on the sabbath or women showing their faces are not.

It makes more sense to argue that homosexuality is not a sin based on the fact that sin is imaginary, than to try to argue that homosexuality is not a sin while holding on to other magical arbitrary rules. As long as you keep the mystical bit around you just have to say "well MY version of god says you're wrong."
Wait, @6, you say "Best to chuck the whole endeavor, cling to Jesus as an interesting philosopher, take his good points and discard the rest"

Why can't you believe Jesus is the son of God/ physical manifestation of God (or whatever) AND that the Bible is inherently tainted by human bias, thereby taking his good points and discarding the rest?

I was raised Catholic, find it bores me to tears in seconds and don't get why anyone feels any desire to associate themselves with any religion.

However, I know that I can love the US and my people without loving the whole of the government (especially during the Bush years.) I can love Chicago and be thrilled that Hizzoner Jr. is finally leaving office AND still know that corruption will not end.

Similarly, I respect that same ability to discern in my family and friends that continue to believe and practice the good, loving, accepting parts of Catholicism, even while scowling and disliking Pope Nazipants and the unjust, bigoted, intolerant bits.

How do you know John "can't realize" that, @5? He's thoughtful and measured and I think he knows damn well that's what he's doing and why the hell not? Why insist that just because he is religious, he can't acknowledge morality (etc.) without religion? Why promote "it's all-or-nothing?" That's the kind of thinking we should want to discourage.
As if any Christians, fundy or otherwise actually followed the Bible. Throughout history, the Bible has been reinterpreted to match the times. It's no longer used to justify slavery, and for the most post, using scriptures to subjugate women is a thing of the past. Soon, it will no longer by used, except for some extremist folks (who still don't really follow the Bible) to condemn gay people.
@ 5 - A bit of historical linguistics: A long, long time ago, "sodomy" meant "any sexual activity outside holy matrimony". The sin of the inhabitants of Sodom was not to fuck each other in the butt, it was to ignore their religion's prescriptions on marriage.

As sex outside marriage become more and more accepted throughout the centuries - as evidenced by Boccacio's stories from the time of the Rennaissance, among others - the meaning of "sodomy" became more and more restricted to things that people still didn't accept, until it came to mean only "gay sexual activity" (as a sidenote, "gay" used to be applied to all who didn't restrict their sexuality to the same religious rules, i.e. courtesans, prostitutes, homosexuals, etc., but the same type of specialization occurred).

When the more puritanical protestant religions appeared and the Vatican answered them with the ultra-regressive counterreform, "sodomy" had more or less acquired its modern meaning. So heterosexuals got a free pass, but that was really all it was: a distortion of the true meaning of these texts.

So no, M. Shore is not ignoring the parts he doesn't like. All other Christians are.
His heart's in the right place, but that's still a long way to go to rationalize a foregone conclusion. There's a much shorter path: sin isn't real, and there aren't any gods who care what we do with our bits.
@ 16 FTW

Don't you wish you could be there when Christians fundamentalists die and realize there is no afterlife, no god, no heaven or hell? But then again, they don't get to realize it, they just die and (mercifully for us) cease forever to contaminate the world with their presence.
Nice to see this written out. It's always good to read that someone else is wading into the discussion, as this is a conversation that I've had many, many times.
It's gotten to the point when I'm actually surprised to find any Christian who actually seems to have read and understood the Gospels.
OK, so I see the usual things I'd expect to see in these comments: there is no god, religion is evil, religious people are primitive, nobody actually follows the Bible, blah blah blah.

No one seems to realize that we're not the target audience for this guy's writing. He's not writing to convince a bunch of liberal atheists. That should be acknowledged.

Everyone on Slog crows about wanting the "good" Christians to confront the fundamentalists, and wanting people who choose to practice Christianity to not use their faith as a weapon to suppress the rights of others, but rather as a tool to reinforce civility and peaceful living with others. That is EXACTLY what John Shore is doing. I don't see why you're all still complaining, this is what we want Christians to be doing, right?
"When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them—what you really mean—is for them to be celibate. What you are truly and actually saying is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life devoid of love. [and the rest of the paragraph and the next one]"

Isn't this exactly what the Catholic church demands of its priests? That's worked out pretty well, so what's the problem with extending it to gays?
@21: People choose to be priests and nuns, whereas being gay is not a choice.
Be ye cautious, atheists. Keep in mind that there is no more empirical evidence denouncing the existence of God or reason in the universe than there is evidence in support. The fact that organized religion is crap (and it is) is not actually a checkmark on your scorecard. Denouncing organized religion does not automatically make one an atheist. Atheism is not the only logical path to traverse once you accept that organized religion is no more than a system invented and perpetrated by people. Go ahead and be an atheist if you like, but if humility is really a value you hold dear, then remember that your belief in the non-existence of God is a CHOICE, a choice meant to suit your own set of values the same way a christian chooses to believe in Jesus as the son of God. Insistence in the non-existence of a supernatural concept is no more empirically supported or rational than belief in its existence.

Live by your values, let the idiots try to define God.
@ 20:

Yes, Hernandez, that is what I believe some on Slog have called out for. I personally find this encouraging. People often forget that religion comes with a "cultural-linguistic" tradition, and to engage others raised within the "cultural-linguistic" tradition you have to speak the language. You have to know how to speak Christian to engage Christians. I thought Mr. Shore did an excellent job. I admire his humor and eloquence. It is my hope that I sound a bit like him when I engage my fellow Christians as I sometimes feel that I'm speaking to either a brick wall or a hardened heart. If I've succeeded in making them think then I feel fortunate, because maybe a crack has opened in the wall or the hardened heart has found a little tenderness.
@ 21 - It's worked out so well that there are now thousands of people accusing priests of sexual abuse. And the Catholic Church has always done its best to cover it up.

Pretty well indeed.
@24 Yes, precisely. Having been raised Christian (although not currently practicing) it is abundantly clear to me that he is speaking very precisely in order to present his argument in a way that other Christians would specifically understand. And he's doing it in order to confront the hatred and hypocrisy of Christian fundamentalism. I find that encouraging as well.
@20: We want all religious people everywhere to stop being religious and turn into Vulcans, and we won't be happy until then, Dammit Hernandez! Lol, but yeah you're exactly right, and if religion is good for anything, it's for occasionally brainwashing people towards compassion.
@ 22 & 25 Re: 21 - Sarcasm folks. Sarcasm.

I thought the "That's worked out pretty well" and the signature would have made that obvious, but I guess not.
@28 - Sorry, didn't read the signature, but apart from that, well, your sarcasm was too subtle; sorry to say this, but you did sound like a fundy.
#20 & 24--FTW!!

John Shore did an excellent job speaking to his intended audience; trying to bring the conversation with other Christians back to the central theme of Christianity: Love. Dan was nice enough to share this conversation with us, and the Slog response (in typical fashion) is to be sarcastic and judgmental. No matter what your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), anyone who is committed to love and compassion should be cheering on Shore for his work. Remember, the bigots won't listen to the Slogging-type. They've already written us off. But they might consider a discussion with a self-identified Christian (progressive as he be) who speaks their language and understand their perspective. Give the guy a break; he's on our team!
@20, 24 & 30

I have no patience for people like John Shore who, because they are "believers," try to work within the perverse, irrational constructs of organized religion, even, really particularly, were I happen to agree with the social perspective they are championing. He is picking and choosing every bit as much as the bigoted assholes he is attempting to (but will not) convince.

Moderate apologists for religion are more dangerous than radical fundamentalists. They insist that their fucked up magical thinking bullshit beliefs must be "tolerated" and perpetuate irrationality and stupidity thus perparing the ground where the seeds of radicalism grow and flourish.

Moderate, socially liberal religion is a trojan horse. Burn it.
A bunch of atheists smugly condescending to a Christian. Now I get to feel superior to both!

@28: Sorry for not detecting the sarcasm - it looked a little too much like actual fundie posts. In the Shore's blog, one woman was equating the Christian expectation of lifelong celibacy from homosexuals to her waiting until marriage to do anything with a man. Even after it was pointed out that her pastor wouldn't let homosexuals marry, forcing them to remain celibate forever, she obstinately maintained that she knows a few old maids who will probably never get married and if they can't find a man, then tough break for the gays as well.

Anyway, the whole thing is messed up because the problem isn't with what religions proscribe to their adult adherents. The issue is that the fundies are trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else, and their children don't have a choice in the matter. If a gay fundie wants to "control his demons," that is his choice. But it crosses the line when they push legislation and damage their kids.
@10 "I've heard a few Christians say that the Old Testament is mostly defunct from a moral standpoint post-Jesus. They argue that the whole point of the New Testament is to replace the Old Testament as a guide for morality."

Sorry, they don't get that as an out either. Matthew 5:17: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." That's Jesus talking, and according to him the OT is just as much in force as ever. Of course, you can tell them that till you're blue in the face, but that doesn't mean they'll listen.
Is anyone else disturbed by the fact that the Bible doesn't condemn pedophilia?

What a fine, well-thought-out moral guide.
Thank you, Morrolan @ 31,

I appreciate hearing your perspective and opinion, and I mean it sincerely. As I appreciate reading the thoughts of everyone else on these threads. As to Mr. Shore, I do not know what type of Christian he is, as I didn't give his blog more than a cursory glance. That is always one of the harder areas of discussion amongst Christians, as it is easiest to presume that the belief system is identical, but just the opposite is true. It is heavy simplifying to reduce Christianity to two groups, but there is a distinct division that warrants it. So here it goes, and as simply as I can make it.

Group X
*The Bible is a divine product with divine authority.
*The Bible is interpreted as both literal and factual, infallible.
*The Bible functions as a revelation of both doctrine and morals.
*The Christian life emphasis is focused on the afterlife and what what to believe and/or do to be saved.
*Affirms the idea that their religion is the only one true religion.

Group Z
*The Bible is a human response, written by humans in response to their experience of God.
*The Bible is interpreted as a mostly metaphorical document with some history to be found within its stories. Having being written by humans it cannot be considered infallible.
*The Bible functions as a means of sacramental worship and metaphorical study.
* The Christian life emphasis is about transformation in this life through a relationship with God.
*Does not proscribe to the idea that there is a one true religion.

My point is that if Mr. Shore is a Group Z, then he is less likely to be cherry picking the parts he likes. I really don't know. And, I understand how it is easy to paint with a broad brush especially as the catholic (meaning universal) church has such a bloody and filthy history that one wonders how anyone could remain a part of it. For some the words of one of the US most influential preachers, Tony Campolo, (according to Christianity Today) sums it up beautifully: The church is a whore, but she is also my mother. Having been raised in the "cultural-linguistic" tradition they feel at home and deep down they want to see change come. Maybe that is why they entire the dialog with other "family" members who have differing opinions?

Best wishes.
It might be a good idea for everyone to realize that not ALL Christians view, read, worship, etc. the Bible as a divine source of authority or consider it infallible. Although, it is easy to see why people see it that way. I won't repeat @ 36, but a very real division exists and it maybe helpful for you to know that. Or not.

I'll shut up now.
Don't ever shut up, Kim. Your combination of intelligence, clear-headed-ness, and compassion is a rare commodity on Slog, and many of us are the better for it.
Anal sodomy? For a really big surprise, google The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Then click once or twice until you get the surprise, which will be...too much work?
@37: But you have to admit that the xtians brought the "defining Christian" problem on themselves. The Christian church has been schisming ever since it's invention, and now there's 10,000 flavors from Phelps to Pope, all still call themselves Christians. The word just has so many different meanings to so many different people that the term has lost almost all ability to effectively communicate an idea to a diverse population.

& Group Z is still moronic, but I'm with nocutename all the way.
the only "sin" lay in hurting someone else unnecessarily. all else is made up drivel. hurting YOURSELF isn't a sin, it's simply stupid.
Outercow @ 40:

I don't disagree that the schisms and/or evolution makes defining things difficult. Is not that the case for many things, though? The English language is full of words whose meanings are ever changing, gaining new definitions. That is a consequence and reality of life.

I will have to disagree that I'm a moron, but you are more than welcome to think that I am moronic. We all get to have our own opinions, it makes life so much more colorful. :-)

And, now I'll take my $0.02 somewhere else, I'm going to shut up and go live my weekend.

Best wishes for your weekend.
To the people who are bringing up Leviticus as a proof that the Bible is BS and Christianity is bunk, you may think you're helping, but you're really not.

What you're really doing is telling already conflicted individuals that there really is no other option, they have to choose between their faith and their sexuality, the exact same message they're hearing from their fundamentalist churches. That's not helping, it's just telling them that what they've heard all their life is right, that they're going to have to abandon everything they believe, turn their back on their faith, and that they're going to risk hell because of something they can't change.

Once, an elder at the church I grew up in actually said in a Sunday School class that it would be more merciful if God just called gay people home; about the most horrible message you could possibly send--that you'd be better off if God struck you dead than to be gay. A kid who has grown up hearing horrible things like that needs to be told that no, the Bible doesn't teach that, that there are broader cultural contexts that people ignore, and that being gay doesn't mean turning your back on Christianity and damning themselves to hell. Telling that kid that the bigots in his or her church were right and that the Bible really does say they're going to hell (but see, that's why the Bible is bunk) is risking pushing vulnerable kids over the edge into killing themselves.

It may seem perfectly rational to you, but to the kid who's heard this stuff all their life, it's another matter altogether.
Thank you, Moi.

I appreciate your comment. I'm on the sideline of one of those moments. Our eldest child's best friend is coming out on Saturday to her conservative Christian family. We've made room in our home for this child and our eldest will be there to support her friend. Still the stress level is high.

I'm glad I used my phone to check one more time before going off the 'net.

Best wishes to everyone on Slog.
@43: I have to disagree on several points. 1st, you're advocating lying to impressionable young people about the history of their religion because the history of their religion is repugnant, and if they learn the truth that may upset them? Wow, like to whitewash history much? Then by all means, don’t let them read or watch the news either, best keep them locked in the basement so they never encounter the truth and horrors of religion. And you're wrong in thinking that if one discovers the religion they were raised in is based on lies, that they consequently have to abandon EVERYTHING THEY BELIEVE. That's complete bullshit. It’s just not this all-or-nothing battle you make it out to be. Religion is hardly the basis for all of human morality and experience. When people become atheist/agnostic they usually don’t run out raping and murdering people right after their deconversion. They just realize that many (read: not all) of the things they were taught at church were wrong. The important stuff, like the Golden Rule, is a pan-cultural human belief, and the majority of atheists & agnostics figure that out rather quickly since we’re all wired that way (props to evolution there). You don’t seem to understand that people don’t think they’re risking Hell once they realize Hell doesn’t exist. Once you realize that what the pastor is saying about homosexuality is bullshit, it’s not that big a leap to think his opinion on the afterlife may be just as much bunk.

It’s not our fault for pointing out the evils of religion, it’s religious peoples fault for attempting to whitewash history. By all means, call yourself a Christian and teach children to think of homosexuals as complete equals, but when they eventually find out about Leviticus and such on their own, will you be prepared to tell them why those parts of the Bible are now ignored by civilized people? Will you have the courage to tell them that the fear-mongering authoritarian cult of the Dark Ages was dragged kicking and screaming into it’s present shape by the secular enlightenment and not that God just forgot to mention a few things?
Thank you. I am a "Christian" and yet I am constantly embarrassed and frustrated by the whole gay sin issue among fellow "believers". People I love dearly are gay and I support them experiencing LOVE 100%. To quote from the God Speaks book: "That love thy neighbor thing... I meant that -God". I choose to support love. My biggest struggle is trying to love these "believers" who are ignorant, judgmental and speak hatred about people I love. I think the hatred it is a reflection of spiritual immaturity. It seems that people who have evolved more in their spirituality seem to be more enlightened about the beauty of love... irrelevant to sexual orientation. Jennifer Lee
@47 - You're absolutely right that it's impractical to imagine that we can cleanse the world of religion, however much we might like to. As you say, I was being intentionally over the top in order to make a point about notions of tolerance.

I do not advocate actual violence or physical destruction. Nor, though, do I advocate giving "moderate" religionists a pass on their irrationality and hypocrisy in the name of tolerance.

I am glad that there are people out there who, DESPITE the fact that they believe whacked out supernatural stuff, nevertheless arrive at a loving, accepting, kindhearted way of being. That doesn't mean I think it's OK that they believe and act on irrational ideas, or that I must tolerate their belief structure, in the face of the great harm it has done and is doing.
Yeah, but...

Sin doesn't exist. It means to disobey God, which doesn't exist. It means to disobey scripture (I guess) which is full of immoral commands,

There's morality; it exists.

But here's what you have to do now: throw out sin, because it just isn't real. Morality is about choice and judgment. Christianity is about obedience--and to judge IS a sin. Hence, Christianity HAS no morality. Whether you're liberal or fundie, it just don't make no SENSE.
21/28- No, you're post was perfectly clear. I saw the signature line and knew immediately that it was sarcasm.
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Great post! I was looking forward and didn’t expect to see it so soon! Again, great, sound advice. Looking forward to read more under those new tabs you added!

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