How Frank Bruni misunderstands Christians—and why it matters

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If liberals want to energize their opposition on religious liberties, a column like Frank Bruni’s is exactly the kind of thing that will do it. - (Image: Konstantin Flavitsky, "Christian martyrs in Colosseum" courtesy of Wikimedia Commons -

If liberals want to energize their opposition on religious liberties, a column like Frank Bruni’s is exactly the kind of thing that will do it. - (Image: Konstantin Flavitsky, "Christian martyrs in Colosseum" courtesy of Wikimedia Commons -

If liberals want to energize their opposition on religious liberties, a column like Frank Bruni’s is exactly the kind of thing that will do it. - (Image: Konstantin Flavitsky, "Christian martyrs in Colosseum" courtesy of Wikimedia Commons -

If liberals want to energize their opposition on religious liberties, a column like Frank Bruni’s is exactly the kind of thing that will do it. – (Image: Konstantin Flavitsky, “Christian martyrs in Colosseum” courtesy of Wikimedia Commons –

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wants conservative Christians to change their thinking on LGBT relationships. Unfortunately for Bruni, he doesn’t know the first thing about them.

In his most recent column, “Bigotry, Bible, and the Lessons of Indiana,” Bruni argues that while conservative understandings of sexuality are understandable, “homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.” At the conclusion of his article, he says furniture maker Mitchell Gold told him “church leaders must be made ‘to take homosexuality off their sin list.’” Bruni then comments that Gold’s “commandment is worthy—and warranted.”

Most conservative Christians probably stopped reading after the headline—calling people “bigots” isn’t the most effective way to start a conversation—and Bruni’s arguments are not exactly novel. But the bigger problem with this column is that the author misunderstands the very people he hopes to persuade. As a result, his column will likely embolden, rather than convince, America’s conservative Christians.

Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backwards.” Those who hope to direct Christianity’s future must comprehend its past. The world’s largest faith was built upon the ashes of martyrs and forged from the fires of persecution. And the narrative of oppression and struggle has united Christians throughout the centuries. To wit:

  • The anonymous “Letter to Diognetus” (AD 80 – 200): “Christians…love all men, and are persecuted by all.”
  • Augustine (AD 354 – 430): “If you see that you have not yet suffered tribulations, consider it certain that you have not begun to be a true servant of God.”
  • Martin Luther (AD 1483 – 1546): “Men despise the Evangel and insist on being compelled by the law and the sword.”
  • Dietrich Bonheoffer (AD 1906 – 1945): “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

Keeping this history in mind, how might you predict conservative Christians will respond to a columnist—especially one who works for a publication many already consider to be suspect—issuing a “commandment” that church leaders be “made” to abandon what they believe to be orthodoxy?

Predictably, conservative Christian responses have already started rolling in. Rod Dreher in The American Conservative issued a call to arms saying, “It is really useful to learn where the lines are in the current and coming battle. Don’t say you weren’t warned, readers. Prepare.” Samuel James of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission saw this piece as a badge of honor, writing, “When Christians see public, outright rejection of the basic precepts of religious faith, we know the field is ripe unto harvest.”

Because Bruni doesn’t know what makes Christians tick, his words will only tick them off.

Every good pastor knows that before standing to preach, they must carefully contemplate their audience. Frank Bruni believed he was issuing a prophetic sermon from behind an elite pulpit. But because he didn’t consider his congregation, the columnist ended up only preaching to the choir. He persuaded no one, but rather worked to unite his opponents with the language of coercion. [tweetable]If you really want energize Christians, try coercing them.[/tweetable]

Here’s the thing: I don’t think Frank Bruni cares that he isn’t convincing Christians with his column. He and many liberals have now seemingly abandoned their desire for reasonable debate—something this important issue deserves—and adopted strong-arm tactics to force their opponents to capitulate. And this is deeply troubling.

I’ve opposed the most recent state-level RFRAs, but the brashness of some liberals lends credibility to claims that religious liberties are being threatened. If liberals want to energize their opposition, a column like Bruni’s is exactly the kind of thing that will do it.

  • Mark Luke

    If you really want to engage the Christians, use the Bible! It’s that simple.Any discussion about the Bible will get a Christian excited! 🙂

  • Mark Luke

    “He didn’t die so that we can tolerate sin.
    He loved us enough to FREE us from it!”

  • Frank Bruni’s coercive approach (on Good Friday, the day the world and the devil thought they got rid of Jesus for good), contrasted to Ross Douthat’s calm and rational “Interview with a Christian” (on Sunday, the day God changed everything by raising Christ from the dead) is fascinating to behold:

    Please remind me again: Which of these two groups is supposedly the intolerant one?

  • Greg

    Frank Bruni is a bigot. Why do people like that even write or comment about religion??? What he doesn’t understand, is that Christians are to show no partiality (James 2:1), but we are called to convince all people to repent, and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15). In other words, be open to all who seek, but lead all to Christ, teaching the ways of God (Matthew 28:19)

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    Did anyone doubt the bigotry against religious believers that festers and boils at the NY Times.

  • The Great God Pan

    “Because Bruni doesn’t know what makes Christians tick, his words will only tick them off.”

    Give me a break. The only thing that doesn’t tick Christians off is capitulation.. You people have been energized, ticked off and at war with everyone who doesn’t share your beliefs for as long as I’ve been alive. The only difference now is that your declared enemies are treating you in kind AND WINNING, and you don’t like it one bit. The shoe isn’t so comfortable when it’s on the other foot.

    The notion that Bruni’s column inspired Rod Dreher to write the same kind of thing that Rod Dreher has been writing for years is nothing but laughable. The only funnier thing I can think of is the notion that some kind of “reasonable conversation” with the likes of Dreher is even possible.

    “Live and let live” isn’t something the Christian mind seems capable of comprehending. It only understands victory and defeat. So be it.

  • Jon Altman

    Since Bruni was raised Roman Catholic, I think he understands Christians just fine.

  • Ben in oakland

    I don’t really have time to write about this now, because the husband wants his dinner.

    I disagree with Bruni, as represented here. But I haven’t read his column yet. Also, though I generally tend to agree with Mr. Bruni, if this is truly what he is saying, I REALLY disagree with him. I don’t know a single person who agrees with this sort of rhetoric.

    That being said, I’m with Pan. For centuries, homosexuality was “the crime against nature, not to be named among Christians.” you could talk about the gruesome murder of the man god, and in loving detail, but love, sex and romance between two people of the same sex? Nope. IT WAS SILENCED.

    Until 12 years ago, in 13 states in this country, if the law caught you in a homosexual act, you could face prison. Christian conservatives celebrated that fact, and lamented when the last of those laws went down. That was the theory, wasn’t it? “THOSE PEOPLE MUST BE STOPPED FROM THEIR FILTHY SINFULNESS.”

    Even today, we have so-called Christians who call for our murders, our executions, our deportation, and our imprisonment. Judge Roy moore just filed a brief with the SCOTUS, citing Leviticus, and cheerfully mentioning, as did Bower v. Hardwicke, and that in the time of HenryVIII, gay people were EXECUTED. Sounds like silencing to me. They regularly call us threats to marriage, family, freedom, children, faith, and Western Civilization.

    so, first and foremost, I’m not going to get upset about Bruni’s opinion. It’s just his opinion.

    Second, we are fighting back because we are really sick of people calling for our deaths, and imprisonment, our deportation, and our disadvantagement in all aspects of life.

    Third, with all that they have done to us for centuries under color of law, what they are really upset about is that we are fighting back, and winning hearts, minds, and legal and political battles.

    So, of course, they have to make themselves into victims, because…

    Fourth, they really are afraid that at some point, we will do to them exactly as they have been doing to us.

  • opheliart

    Mark Luke,

    “If you really want to engage the Christians, use the Bible!”

    “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written NOT WITH INK, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of THE HEART.”


  • James Carr

    And this Bruno works for the NYT? Wonder what the outrage would be if he told the LGBT to recognize Christian morality and the concept of sin? Course, that couldn’t happen in this degenerate age.

  • Be Brave


    Nero was an LGBT activist as were many, many anti-Christs in early Christian times. Nero’s gay marriages were an affront to Christians 2000-plus years ago and the LGBT culture and community are as antithetical to Christian life now as it was when Roman-LGBT’s were screaming for the lions to eat the Christians. They have ALWAYS been winning.

    And no law is ever going to be able force Christians that follow the Gospel and the teachings of the Apostles to fit the LGBT rainbow mold. There is no compatibility with an active gay life and Christian truth. Jesus was executed by the soldiers of rainbow mobs back in the day. Christians are not going to fare any better with the reengaged power grab that the debauched of the 21st century have gained.

    This has all been known to “Christians” since Jesus taught it in Roman Judea years before His followers were even called Christians.

  • Be Brave

    @Jon Altman,

    You have no idea how wrong you are. Catholics are taught what it takes to qualify as a Catholic. Reading the Bible in full is not part of that.

  • Mark Luke

    The basic precepts of religious faith comes from the word of God which is the Bible and not from the secular world.

    If you want to engage a Christian don’t counter the word of God, instead, use the Bible!

  • Ben in oakland

    If only some Christians would recognize their particular brand of Christian morality for what it is, and repent of their sins of hiding their prejudices behind their religious beliefs…

    as so many Christians have…

    Well, we can dream.

  • Larry

    Sociopaths know how to interpret rules to suit personal ends, This is why so many turn to religion.

  • Doc Anthony

    Wow, lots of good Gay Gestapo drama today. Meanwhile, thanks for the interesting essay Mr. Merritt.

    As for that half-baked rot-gut var-mint that calls himself Frank Bruni, who wants to force Christians to kowtow like slaves to the Gay Activists, just BRING IT ON BABY !!!!

    In fact, come git on this discussion board right now, so we can discuss some goodly BUSINESS !!!!

  • Larry

    Ross Douthat has veracity issues and is a shameless booster for any kind of conservative cause.

    His “interview with a Christian” was simply lobbing softballs and pandering to a crowd. Everyone likes to be tickled. Bruni is expressing self-righteous anger. Of course the people its directed at will take it badly. It was the point.

    As for intolerance, its the Christians who want their prejudice given color of law. That makes them the bad guys in the balance of things.

  • Be Brave

    @James Carr

    Kuh-bang !!!!!


  • Larry

    Don’t tell James Carr that, he will burn you at the stake!!

    LOL, Christian sectarian animosity is so hilarious.

  • Be Brave


    Ben, the thing is, Christians cannot justify or excuse away their own sins. So, you LGBT’s are not going to get them to celebrate yours.

    You can dream of a day you lord your power again over the Church, but when the choice is raising a family is near a gay bar or a Conservative Christian Church . . . the place in which any husband and wife will make to raise their children, is the neighborhood where the Church is located.

    Those places are already called “the Suburbs.” Where men and women flee to when they want a normal life for their children to be reared.

    No bigotry, ignorance or prejudice need apply nor be applied. Just good old fashion experience and making a good choice.

  • opheliart

    Be Brave,

    what of the Catholics in Kenya? And other places of unrest where ‘Christians’ are being murdered and children are kidnapped (likely for wives and recruitment). Why do the bishops not lead the children and their parents to safe houses? The RCC can afford it—right? Why does your church expect the Governments to protect these people? You go to the suburbs, but what of those without? Your pope speaks a lot from his law of mercy and giving to the needy … what is your church willing to give up to save these people?

  • Jon Altman

    The Roman Church says that LGBT persons are “objectively disordered.” Some evangelicals say they are “abominations.” The United Methodist Church officially says they are “incompatible with Christian teaching.” When it comes to expressing animosity toward LGBT people, denominational differences are pretty meaningless.

  • Tom

    As I watch the continuing downward spiraling of our culture my heart continues to break. I am one who grew up with what became a deeply ingrained homosexual identity. But in my adulthood my feet were set upon a different course.. My sense of identity was remolded by coming into a close personal relationship with Jesus. I am not a hater. I know full well that it took a great deal of love, mercy and forgiveness to transform my embittered heart. I also understand those who vehemently seek to justify their broken sexual identity. I used to do the same thing myself. I had to come to terms with the reality of the sin in which I was engaged. (Oops, yes, I used the dreaded sin word.)

    I chose to follow the Lord. It was not an easy choice and I had to endure the pain of much inner healing. I walked through a great deal of grieving as I learned to walk the pathway of mercy and forgiveness. Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, He can and will strengthen the faint of heart when they are willing to surrender their lives to the truth of God’s Word. (Yes, I said the other dreaded word, truth.)

    By the way, I have known quite a few others over the years who made the same choice as I to surrender their lives to the love and truth found in the bible and abandon homosexual behavior and belief patterns. Yes, it can be done because it is not an inherently natural characteristic though it can seem to be from birth since many of its underlying roots are planted so very early in life. But, it is not on par with race which is a function of the marvelous adaptability of the human frame to gradually adapt to the physical environment, both geography and climate.

    It should not be afforded the same protections as race. I very well understand the difference between racial and sexual development.

    I well realize that my comments will be inflammatory to some. I at one time would also have been angered by my words. But I am not the same person I once was.

    I pray that the truth will set you free. Be blessed in Jesus

  • Be Brave

    @opheliart Apr 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm post:

    What happened to the “Catholics” in Kenya is that Muslims came and murdered them. No differently than Mohammad did to countless other non-Muslims in his day and age.

    You would do much better for the planet if you used your time and efforts to get Islam and Muslims to finally stop the slaughter and subjugation of anyone and anything that isn’t Islamic.

    You LGBT activists want to rant and rave against Christians, but all of the real horrors you try to lay on Christians are actually really perpetrated by Muslims against anyone that chooses to reject Islam.

    Obtain the book ISLAM IN FOCUS by Hammudah Abdalati. Read and realize that Islam is perfectly intolerant past the point of violence on anyone and anything that refuse to “submit” to Islam. Islam means submission in Arabic.

  • Diogenes

    Well put.

  • Diogenes

    I fully expect the animosity towards historical Christian faith and practice to grow, eventually to the point that it becomes enshrined in law. The Lord and His disciples all prophesied that in the end, those who reject both Him and the precepts that He taught, would believe they are doing God a service by persecuting His people. The militant gays, adamant progressives (read: Secular Humanists), and rock ribbed atheists will win the day…in the short run. And in the event, prove to be among the most indifferent, intolerant, callous and cold species of humanity ever to trod the earth. The author of Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” I’d think about that.

  • opheliart

    WEll, dear Mark Luke … when someone not using “the bible” as boxing gloves instead using HOLY Scripture in impartial agreement …

    Why do so many Christians refuse hearing in the Essence of the Spirituality of Christ? Where two or more are gathered in …


  • opheliart

    Jon A.,

    They canonized their official belief on the matter of homosexuality. It’s called John Paul 2. The ‘sainting’ of this man solidified an understanding in the Roman Catholic mind (there was agenda to this for sure 🙂 but oh the irony! that JP2’s darling Marciel Marciel was something of a ______ and that JP2 could not see his evil says what about his vision?

  • opheliart

    BB says …You would do much better for the planet if you used your time and efforts to get Islam and Muslims to finally stop the slaughter and subjugation of anyone and anything that isn’t Islamic.

    You LGBT activists want to rant and rave against Christians, but all of the real horrors you try to lay on Christians are actually really perpetrated by Muslims against anyone that chooses to reject Islam.
    I think you need a lesson in comprehension, or maybe you, like a few other commenters are hell bent on dishonesty to try to prove points. I am no LGBT activist. This is too funny!

    We called you out on your Institution’s lack of sense and reason, but you can’t handle it so you twist and turn and squeal and throw your silly darts. You no NOTHING about our work.

    Can’t answer a simple question … truly sad …

  • opheliart

    Diogenes! Are you so enshrined in doctrinal malaise that you cannot hear the ring? This is not “the end” … good grief! This is a BEGINNING! The Return. The Spirit cannot be contained in your sacramental wines and club chrismation practices, dear Diogenes. All that favoritism. Don’t you understand PROPHESY?
    The Spirit is what? It continues. Its Voice cannot be silenced by Man’s articulated madness. Read the words of the Prophet Isaiah. You, my dear are being called OUT. Know what take up your bed and follow Me reveals.

    Why do they not see this, Lord?

    Their eyes are hazy with the blood of their martyrs.

    O ye of little faith …

    Peace 🙂

  • opheliart

    The research is telling …

    there is the Orthodox man who enters into his third marriage. He tells me the Greek men love their mothers but so many live double lives (now THAT makes an interesting passage in a book!) … and there’s the Roman Catholic man married for years with children … and we spoke with him as a novitiate … his story is that he left his wife and family to become a priest. No problem! The annulment should do the trick … and the wife and all the family are upset. What is this? they ask. Hypocrisy in the church?! We thought divorce a bad thing! they cry, but the church is …

    *Sigh* And they wonder why people leave their churches …

  • Lieutenant Marco

    “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, most gentle and good hearted person I have known in my life”

  • John

    You truncated the United Methodist statement. It refers to actions not persons. This difference may not matter to you, but it may to some.

  • Be Brave


    Prove that.

    Start with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and move on to James Eagan Holmes and Adam Lanza and get back to us.

    Product of secularism one and all.

    Once again, your foaming at the mouth hatred for Christians is showcased for the lunacy it is. Hopefully you don’t own guns.

  • Larry

    (Face palms)

    The fact that we can have discussions on religion without sectarian violence is the product of secularism. As is your free exercise of religion.

    I don’t think the word secularism means what you think it means.

    As for proof of how sociopaths use religion, I merely have to quote you. Most of your posts are barely seething hostility and malice in a religious trapping. There is is usually nothing socially redeeming about how you reference religious texts.

  • Jon Altman

    That’s a distinction without a difference.

  • David Sinclair

    The thing about reasonable debate is that, at some point, it runs its course. What’s left to be said after thirty years of discussion?

    Those who hold religion-based anti-gay beliefs refuse to acknowledge the harm inherent in their doctrine. Traditionalist theology says that gay people are uniquely flawed in a way that makes them unsuitable for even the possibility of romantic intimacy. It says that gay couples – and by extension the people in them – are immoral and inferior. It is emotionally and spiritually abusive. It causes undue distress in the interior life of gay people and in the communities in which they live.

    So, to Bruni’s point, all theology is a choice. And, with all we now know about human sexuality, with the tragic evidence of the consequences of this toxic belief, traditionalists are either being willfully ignorant or they are choosing to cause harm.

    It’s not unreasonable to be intolerant of damaging heterosexism any more than it’s unreasonable to be intolerant of anti-Semitism.

  • Bill

    The irony of that last sentence is amazing. But, even more ironically, the author will not get it.

  • David Sinclair

    This behavior/person distinction serves only to somehow justify the dehumanizing theology. The relationships formed by people who are gay flow from our personhood of which sexuality is an essential part. To say the relationships formed by gay people is a “behavior” is to diminish our person. In other words, if the intimate relationships we form are immoral and inferior as church teaching suggests, then so too are the people in them.

  • James Carr

    Wrong, Lariat,
    The Bible is only part of Catholicism. Catholics do not, wisely, interpret the Bible themselves, but are taught what the Scriptures truly mean by authorities going back to Apostolic times.
    Tradition is of equal importance to Catholics, since it is the handing down of knowledge and truth to each generation.
    So, only you are eligible for the stake at this point.

  • Jon Altman

    Exactly, David

  • James Carr

    Then sin does not exist for you? All of a sudden, Religion is supposed to hear the cry of sinners and remove the sin from history? Society cannot change a truth that God is the author of. They can pretend to, but it has no binding at all in reality.
    Catholics reject abortion, contraception, gay marriage, divorce, and extra marital sex…….all sins society balks at today. Is the next step to close down Churches because they will eternally condemn those who legalize and practice these sins? Is it discrimination to label someone a sinner?
    I can envision the LGBT lobby going after religion on this issue, but even that would never change what sin is. It would be the complete destruction of any moral center. Sorta like Sodom and Gomorrah. God fixedit

  • Pingback: How Frank Bruni misunderstands Christians—and why it matters - Jonathan Merritt()

  • James Carr

    You are a Saint, sir……and truly grasp the idea of accepting your nature, but sacrifice acting on it for the sake of a love for God. People should respect this choice, but mock or trivialize it today. I believe humans are born with a same sex attraction, for it is a lifestyle no one would choose……the proof being the anguish one goes through when they realize they are gay. I admire your frankness about your choice.

  • Bwen in oakland

    Well, Mr. Merritt, I just read Bruni’s column, and I am as outraged as you are…

    AT YOU!!!!

    You should be ashamed of yourself. you take ONE sentence in the whole article, where bruni is quoting someone else, and determine that this is the entire point of what he has to say.

    Bruni used the word bigotry, and it certainly, and frequently, applies. You just have to read the screeds of our resident homobigots on these very pages, or look at the daily pronouncements of those claiming to represent god, to see it. just because it is religious bigotry, doesn’t make it somehow ok. His example of slavery was quite apt. He could have gone on about 2000 years of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism, 250 years of protestants and catholics slaughtering each other, and five hundred years of witch burning. All of these were things touted as sincere religious belief, when they were nothing of the sort.

    It is one thing to believe that gay people are unrepentant sinners. It is quite another thing to make up a whole bunch of absolute crap about gay people, our lives, and our families, and then use the lies you (generic) just made up as a justification for 2000 years of imprisonment, judicial murder, beatings, and demonization.

    However, in any case, the so-called Christians have been more than a tad upset at the uppity gays for over 45 years. Their outrage machine has been going full blast for decades. I’m not overly concerned that Mr. bruni has called a spade what is clearly a digging implement.

    And I’m certainly not concerned that they are going to be “digging in”. It’s what they do, as long as there is power to be accrued, money to be made, and dominion over others to be elevated into a virtue.

    Meanwhile: As far as I can tell, the primary teachings of Christ were to love one another, help the sick and weak, and not judge. He died for EVERYONES SINS, not just the sanctimonious moralizing busybodies who use His name to further their own business or political agendas.

  • Bwen in oakland

    so, are you now heterosexual, or are you seeking the praise of those you consider your betters just for not having sex? You didn’t need Jesus for that. You just needed to say no.

    There are plenty of gay people who consider that they are gay AND have a relationship with Jesus. So are you now the arbiter of the relationship of god to anyone else on the planet, or just for gay people.

    It’s not praiseworthy, it’s just sad.

  • opheliart

    Jonathan Merritt,

    I can see you grinning from ear to ear.

    The anonymous “Letter to Diognetus” (AD 80 – 200): “Christians…love all men, and are persecuted by all.”
    Augustine (AD 354 – 430): “If you see that you have not yet suffered tribulations, consider it certain that you have not begun to be a true servant of God.”
    Martin Luther (AD 1483 – 1546): “Men despise the Evangel and insist on being compelled by the law and the sword.”
    Dietrich Bonheoffer (AD 1906 – 1945): “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

    I still think Augustine was a two-fisted Patriarch ( just wondering how many kids he fathered 🙂 before his “conversion”. And that part in CITY OF GOD on the peacock meat not decaying is just plain nonsense. It was COOKED meat for heaven’s sake! I wonder if Augie were writing today, would he desire to retract that …

    “When Christ calls a man, he bids them come and die.” Sweet.
    What happens when Christ calls a woman? This is not a trick question—or is it?


  • Larry

    BB insulted your faith and you didn’t pick up on it. Evidently Catholics don’t read the Bible in full according to him.

    You guys can sort it out amongst yourselves. After all there is such great history of Catholics and Protestants getting along 😉

  • Yen Lo

    “Tom, Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?”

  • Bob

    You all keep bickering over the number of angels on the head of a pin. Meanwhile, I’ll keep enjoying my amazing life with my husband our our newborn son. Life is beautiful.

  • Bob Greenpoint

    I do think Bruni nailed it in this passage: “the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

    It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.

    It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.

    And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, because to look honestly at gay, lesbian and bisexual people is to see that we’re the same magnificent riddles as everyone else: no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified.

    Most parents of gay children realize this. So do most children of gay parents. It’s a truth less ambiguous than any Scripture, less complicated than any creed.”

  • Barry the Baptist


    Your god’s method of fixing things is no better than the methods the Ottomans used to fix their “problems”: it’s just discrimination and genocide in the end.

    Can you please bring a solution to the table that does not involve the marginalization or destruction of human lives? Your own, independent solution is preferred: your deity has a terrible track record in dealing with human problems, if that book is to be believed.

  • Jon Altman

    Rightly said, Bob

  • Barry the Baptist

    Why do you pose this as the only choice? That makes your whole argument a fallacy. Conservative Christian communities can be terrible places to live and “gay bars” are not the only institutions that have come out of homosexual communities.

    Another farcical notion you present is that all men and women flee to the suburbs when they want to raise a family: suburbs that you implicitly define in narrow terms. Nothing in that statement holds up to scrutiny: there are couples that don’t “flee” and there are suburbs that don’t always hold to the same values you do.

  • Barry the Baptist

    Did it ever occur to you that you weren’t strictly homosexual? Or that you are not strictly heterosexual? Is it possible you are bisexual or pansexual?

    Is it possible that the culture you lived in, which demanded that you conform to one particular behavior, simply molded you to only allow expression in a part of the range that is your genetic birthright?

    Could it be that what is possible for you, because of the inherent flexibility your sexuality possesses, is not possible for others for the same reason: because their physiology lacks that flexibility?

  • Barry the Baptist

    Agreed: that was very well said.

  • Paula Stephens

    It’s quickly getting to the point where we will have to chose…GOD or country.

  • ben in oakland

    Or, choice 3: THE TRUTH.

    Bruni did NOT say that people must be MADE, presumably by the government, to do anything. He quoted someone else, in one sentence of a long column.

    The TRUTH? It is very telling that the only people claiming that there is some sort of persecution directed at conservative Christians by gay people are the conservative Christians themselves. Certainly, liberal Christians and mind-your-own-business-Christians and judge-not-Christians are not experiencing this persecution. why is that?

    Another truth? Choosing between god and country? Whatever happened to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”?

  • James Carr

    Why do you critique Tom’s personal statement? Why can’t you accept what he states is just that, without subtly mocking his choice? Having sex is not the ultimate goal of a person’s life, and I didn’t read any pride in his comment that belittles active gays.

    Perhaps you can’t stand the fact that a fellow gay can be the master of his appetites? Should all gays be the same?

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    How come those big corporations whose policies are usually abhorred by the Left suddenly have become the darlings of the Left over Indiana. Yet many of these corporations do billions in business in countries that execute Gays–yet hardly a peep on that issue showed up in most of the Leftward media.
    Little mom and pop pizza places make so much safer targets. Is the terrorism directed to tiny businesses- but giving a pass to horrendous practices of big business– caused by cowardice or hypocrisy????.
    How many of the inexpensive goods Walmart sells is done by slave labor around the world.??? Where are the calls for boycotts of big business for the economic crushing of all peoples??
    I remember the days when the Left was far more interested in economic issues than in crushing attempts to protect religious liberty–which clearly is under assault (noticed by most- except by those behind the assault}.

  • James Carr

    Loving one another does not include sex, so you misquote Jesus horribly.
    And “Christians” have been battling the gay agenda for 45 years because their demands are increasingly out of synch with rationality or reason……like abortion is.
    Marriage is being redefined falsely, for same sex couples can reproduce nothing and their coupling is only an imitation of the real thing.
    Gays have absolutely no right to point a finger at the Church and demand it refrain from calling homosexual acts a sin. The Church is not the American Psychiatric Assoc. and has no desire to agree with their definition of homosexuality. Gays have all the civil protection they need, and have succeeded in fooling the public that two people “in love” equates marriage. Wrong !

  • Jack

    Jonathan Merritt is coming oh-so-slowly to the realization that he’s going to have to get off the fence as a Christian, because Frank Bruni and friends are poised to knock him off of it.

  • Jack

    Bob, that train left the station long ago. You and Frank Bruni are now doing the equivalent of arguing for women’s suffrage or minimum wage laws, as though neither already exists.

    And yes, the analogy does work to a point. Being for women’s suffrage and deciding to beat the stuffing out of the few people who for whatever reason are still against it are two different things. I’m proud, for example, that my ancestors were on the forefront of that battle in this land. But that doesn’t mean that if I were to run into someone who opposed it, I would demand they change their mind or try to destroy them. I would just as strongly urge their right to disagree with my position.

    That’s America to me. We can disagree without trying to shut each other down.

    Trying to bully people into agreement is not American.

  • Jack

    Funny how the one lone time that Jonathan Merritt wanders ever so slightly off the politically correct reservation, people treat him like he’s to the right of Pat Robertson.

    It should be a lesson for Mr. Merritt, but my prediction is it won’t be….at least not yet.

  • Jack

    Wrong, Larry. If you really believe that, then you are ignorant of the history of religious freedom in the West, and especially in America.

    It began with people who believed that the emergence of authentic faith in the human heart depended on an absence of any semblance of coercion by the government. It was precisely to protect the purity and integrity of faith that Christians like Roger Williams and others strongly supported freedom of religion. They believed that coerced faith was an oxymoron…..if it was coerced, it was bogus by definition.

  • Jack

    The hard left is not the same as the old liberalism. It has hijacked the word, liberalism, even though it is illiberal on issue after issue. The rise of political correctness corresponded to the death of the old liberalism.

    There is nothing historically liberal about totalitarian demands that people surrender their right to speak their minds and believe what they wish in their hearts so long as they are not making physical threats to anyone.

    If the old liberals like John Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Hubert Humphrey, people most of us know only from history books, were here today, they would recognize that those who today call themselves liberals are often totalitarians who care nothing about the processes of democracy and human rights, but only the outcome of getting their way, by hook or by crook. They are Nixonian-like cynics who believe in winning by any means.

  • Jack

    There’s a difference, Larry, between an adult expressing “righteous anger” and a child throwing a temper tantrum dressed up on tenuously adult verbiage.

    You’re so used to reading publications which conflate the two, you probably don’t even know the difference anymore.

  • Jack

    We need to start talking about the Middle East, so we can get Pan off the social issues so he can post rationally again.

  • Jack

    Apparently not, Jon. Just look at Max.

  • Jack

    Nobody on the extremist left has answered that obvious question — ie why the lack of outrage over the utterly despicable treatment of gay people in such countries.

    This is the number-one moral failure the left today – its inability to muster even a smidgeon of outrage over the sheer barbarism against fellow human beings in the name of radical Islamism…..

    Its mind and heart are so poisoned with hatred against Christianity, and by extension, Judaism, it feels absolutely nothing but deadness inside when fellow humans of every religion, background, and sexual inclination are burned, flayed, beheaded, crucified, enslaved, and violated in every conceivable way by ISIS and others. Why? Because ISIS is a sworn enemy of Christendom.

    So it comes down to the old adage: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    Really? How foolish…..and how utterly wrong.

  • Jon Altman

    I just re-read Bruni’s piece. He’s actually quite well informed about the full range of contemporary Christian thought in regard to LGBT issues. Jonathan’s piece, on the other hand, responds so poorly to what Bruni actually wrote that I wonder if Jonathan read it.

  • Jack

    If Bruni is in fact a “bigot,” it only goes to show that bigots come in all forms.

    It proves the obvious — Bigotry is a personality and character flaw more than a function of any one ideology.

    Put an anti-religious bigot in the Jim Crow South and raise him in that environment, and he will be a fire-breathing racist.

    A bigot is a bigot — left-wing, right-wing, or no wing.

  • Jack

    “You people?”

    What the heck is that?

    You give ME a break, Pan.

  • Jack

    Okay, Jon, I will read Bruni’s piece right now.

  • Larry

    No Jack, if you are attacking secularism, you are openly declaring, “Freedom of religion is only for me and nobody else”.

    Roger Williams was a pioneer of secularism. The man was the progenitor of the term “separation of church and state”. Again, I don’t think you know what secularism means. Either that or it has some definition among the Bible thumper set which is completely divorced from the rest of the world.

    Secularism is that very wall of separation Williams discussed. It is an idea related to, but not synonymous with atheism. In fact secularism’s chief proponents are minority faiths frequently discriminated and persecuted against by mainstream faiths such as you own. (Like Williams’s sect family group of Anabaptists)

    Religion and secularism are not opposites except to fundamentalists. People with no regard for religious freedom. People Roger Williams had to run away from when he founded Rhode Island.

  • Larry

    “The hard left is…” evidently full of strawman arguments and ad hominem where Jack pretends to describe the positions of those who are not himself and just makes crap up.

    “Nobody on the extremist left has answered that obvious question ”

    None of them are here. I think someone has a spare Kim Jong lying around somewhere if you need an example to talk to.

  • Larry

    Like you would know? LOL!

  • Jack

    I read the piece and unfortunately, Jonathan Merritt is correct. I say “unfortunately” because I was hoping that perhaps he was exaggerating.

    The problem is those last few sentences, which reveal where Bruni’s argument was ultimately heading. It’s a well-crafted, well-structured piece, where those final sentences flow easily, if not inevitably, from what preceded them.

    Bruni speaks about choices. Well, he made his choice by concluding his op-ed with the words he carefully chose. Take those words away and it’s a standard defense of what some believe to be the compatibility of Scripture and his view of gay marriage. But add those words and it becomes something very different and disturbing, and yes, revealing. They compel the reader to conclude that this was the intent of the article from the get-go… bring the reader to the point where he agrees with coercion.

    Merritt is correct this time.

  • Jack

    Tom, that’s a very compelling post, but understand that there are skeptics out there who believe that stories like yours aren’t true or aren’t even possible.

    As to the second argument, the one of impossibility, I would urge you to stand your ground if you’re for real against an argument that is frankly circular.

    As to the first argument, that’s the more serious one….because I would guess that there are some people who will make up a story like yours for any number of reasons. I believe you, because you sound credible, but don’t be dismayed if others who read you do not. Don’t get angry, either, because they have a right to be skeptical if they haven’t met you. If you’re telling the truth, don’t back down. If not, then shame on you, but I believe you are.

  • Jack

    Huh? I just read Bruni’s article myself, and it is crystal clear once you read the ending that this was where he was heading with his argument. In other words, it was no afterthought……this was a well-crafted, well-structured op-ed with nothing out of place.

    Merritt is correct in what he is saying.

  • Jack

    Ben, he quoted the person approvingly. He agrees with the “command.”

  • opheliart


    He didn’t wander necessarily … why do you think I wrote that he was grinning from ear to ear … what I see in this is Jonathan challenging the author of the article and in doing so, he challenges himself. Believers challenge, but not for indecent sport. It’s an exercise that believers of Spirit go through to grow. This is our contest. Farmer. Athlete. Warrior. It is necessary exegesis in order to mature in greater awareness. It helps in vision— and to hear and see better. We endure under what is often a backlash. Most times it just happens and one comes into understanding of the exercise. Many are called; few are chosen. Why do you think I challenge the RCs so much—and their pope/institution? Being Mr. Popular is not teaching. Read the quotes again, Jack. When you see much ahead … being prepared is important. It is time for them to move! They have been sitting quite comfortably in their halls of justice … ah, but the flesh is what? And weighs heavy on the heart, which cannot ascend to join in marriage with the mind. Seeing is of the mind. Hearing is of the heart. Together they help to form our Conscience.

    A ‘prophet’ is not accepted in own country. (not saying Pope Fran is a prophet, but the understanding is “the prophet’s share”)

    To always be approved, always right, always accepted does what to the ego? The monastic tradition of the ancient wisdom texts like The Philokalia speak on these exercises. If everyone thinks you are so wonderful you end up quite dull in the end, not having come into your Spirit Gift. The “saintly” image of the religionist is poorly paraded.

    As one of gnosis, we live for the breath of Spirit Gift—the HEARING—the solid food. This is the water changed to wine.


  • opheliart

    To add … if the Religious can begin to hear … they will be able to know if they have a sheep in wolf’s clothing among them—the flock. The Clergy abuse, Jack.


  • opheliart

    Sheep-Wolf. Did I get that wrong? No, Jack … that is yours to discern.

  • Jack

    Mother Jones, Larry? Give me a break.

  • Jack

    Okay, Larry, what I think you’re saying is that what led to religion without sectarian violence is a belief in an absolute wall of separation between religion and state.

    Nope……try again.

    What led to religion without sectarian violence was a belief that no one belief system, religious or non-religious, should be enthroned as the monopoly belief system. Each should have its say and its expression in the public square.

    That is not the same as advocating an impenetrable wall between religion and state….because to erect such an absolute wall would necessarily drive religious expression completely out of the public square and public life, and would discriminate against religious expression in favor of non-religious expression.

    Put another way, the absolute separation model is a French model, not an American one. The American model involves separation but can be better expressed by reference to the First Amendment’s establishment and free exercise clauses…..No establishment of any one religion, ie no state church or state ideology or theology, and no material infringement on one’s free exercise.

    What it amounts to is true freedom to believe or not believe as one wishes. It means we’re completely free to be theists or agnostics or atheists of any kind….and that government should do nothing to coerce us in any direction. That means no state religion, and it also means a well-populated public square where everyone has their say…..

  • Jack

    So here’s my question, Opheliart. If a person could read just one book in their life that you believe could make a real impact on how they think and live and treat people, which would you recommend and why?

    This is not a trick question…I’m just curious about it…..and I’m thinking of asking other people that question, too…..

  • Tom

    Thank you for your kindness toward a stranger. There is more to my story. Though I did not pass through my childhood with any normal sense of sexuality I was granted that gift once I had walked through sufficient healing. I eventually married a strong and godly woman. She had become my best friend after God took hold of my life and I had once again become involved in ongoing Christian fellowship, commonly known as going to church. The deep love and friendship we had come to know was ignited by the Lord into romantic attraction. My first reaction was to try to run but God had greater plans. It wasn’t long before we were married after having been good friends for two years. We’ve been married now since 1992.

    Be blessed in Jesus,

  • Tom

    Thank you. I pray you will find encouragement in knowing that my life’s turnaround came about as a result of an abrupt and powerful encounter with the God of the bible. I wasn’t looking for such drastic changes as what God wrought and had to choose a pathway that was very much personally challenging in order to follow God’s will. I had to walk through a massive reordering of my life. Though it was extremely frightening and rather emotionally painful initially I came to understand it was far better to trust in God’s truth when in opposition to my opinion.

    Be blessed,

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  • David S

    Hi Jack:
    I’d say The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Because human flourishing happens when we give our whole selves to the world around us.

    As Rabbi Martin Buber taught, “God does not want to be believed in, nor be debated and defended by us, but simply to be realized through us.”

    (Any one of The four gospels would also be a good choice.)

  • Diogenes

    My dear Opheliart, I truly appreciate the tenderness and mildness of your spirit, but much of your posting is incoherent to me; it reminds me of nothing so much as the recycled blandishments of the 1970’s, a wholly incoherent time. For my part I try to take the bible literally where it is meant to be literal, metaphorical/allegorical where it is meant so, and frame my arguments from that perspective. Whether we are approaching the End of Days I can’t be certain, but the bible is clear that such a day will come. The signs I read in this present world suggest to me that the time is ripe. Clearly, hostility towards orthodox Christianity is growing. Kindness and good wishes will not prevent it; though that is no excuse to be unkind. I hope my inability to comprehend you is not an insult to you. As you are wont to say, Peace.

  • opheliart

    “So here’s my question, Opheliart. If a person could read just one book in their life that you believe could make a real impact on how they think and live and treat people, which would you recommend and why?

    This is not a trick question…I’m just curious about it…..and I’m thinking of asking other people that question, too…..”

    Good question, Jack. A non believer in Spirit once asked me a similar question: of all the people in history, who would I most like to meet? He said Jesus. I said Jesus. If asked this question today, I would say, the process, which is a Spirit Movement, and this would include what came before Mary and Joseph and those “chosen” by Christ. The point being: the Spirit is ever flowing—continuous—not contained or defined by a Patriarchal Establishment with a long history of exciting text and art and homily, but also a long history of denial and abuse. They don’t know all there is to know about “God”. This is a process of Man and God evolving understood as Prophesy. Diogenes saying, “I truly appreciate the tenderness and mildness of your spirit, but much of your posting is incoherent to me; it reminds me of nothing so much as the recycled blandishments of the 1970’s, a wholly incoherent time.” is stagnation. His God is found in his Orthodox Doctrine. Not necessarily wrong, but lacking in that EVOLVING of Spirit Awareness. His view of Spirit is filtered through a limited lens called Orthodox Theology, and everything “incoherent” to him is his way of saying, “Since I don’t understand your Spiritual Language, I won’t even try.” Why would he though—his Theology, Tradition, practices are what? He has shut the door on REVELATION. He has engraved in stone a creed which he carries around as his cross. Ah, but Eastern Orthodoxy is a fine feed! I studied it intensely, was given special appointment … I was there, loved the Greek patronage and rich liturgy, but I could not stay. It was never for me to become chrismated and become like them (did have two Orthodox priests offer to chrismate me though). Religionists cannot fathom Movement, at least not in the sense of Spirit Intellect. Gnostics can. Religionists have made their bed in Religion. Is this wrong? Only when it refuses the Christ (Spiritually speaking).
    We have only to ask one question, Jack, and this “where is your church?”

    *It is somewhat wearisome to hear Religionists, esp of a long standing Tradition like Eastern Orthodoxy, treat my incoherence as a sort of drug, or to call one like us a winebibber 🙂

    In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.


  • opheliart

    and allow me to add …
    when I started research in the Greek Orthodox Church, the priest said to me:
    You think a lot don’t you? My wife and I thought you must not be from around here.
    I replied, “It’s not about where I am from but where I am going.”

    And you know something … ‘some’ of those same priests tend to keep their parishioners silent. They don’t want them to mature. They want them to bring people into their brand of Christianity, but seem hesitate, even fearful, of students sharing gift. And we wonder why there is such animosity and dissent regarding Christianity … and why so many of our young people are moving away from the churches. Many of these kids “think” differently. I can’t see them necessarily picking up The Divine Ladder of Ascent and engaging in this as I can, but even I moved into expressing these gifts in ways not “religious”. Gnosis is sorely misunderstood, and was poorly labeled by Religionists. People weren’t allowed to seek. Not good. The “bible”, which I prefer to call Holy Scripture, is not bound to Man’s ideology and this alone. Good grief! The air gets stale …

    New wine cannot be put into old wineskins, which brings us up to date: Bonhoeffer … and I have an essay to write … 🙂

  • Ben in oakland


    I think you are projecting wildly. It’s not liberal Christians who are insisting that they have the only possible proper religious beliefs, that this is a (conservative) Christian nation, or that their beliefs about what constitutes Christian morality should be enshrined into law.

    Where I can, I protest against the abuses of gay people elsewhere in the world. but I am an American and I live here. When my people here are secure, then perhaps we can turn our attention more to other countries.

    Meanwhile, I notice you’re posting on the internet. how many of the products you use are produced at slave labor rates in foreign countries?

  • Ben in oakland


    Nonsense. There are plenty of gay people outraged over the treatment of gay people elsewhere. We do what we can.

    I’m more outraged at the treatment of gay people HERE, because HERE I can and will do something about it.

    I have listed many times the people in our country who call for the deportation, execution, and imprisonment of gay people. I have questioned why so many so-called Christians in these very pages repeat the most vile slanders about gay people, and yet the Good Christians (TM) say nothing about their vileness, in direct contravention to Corinthians?

    If you want me to respect the morality of some Christians, then maybe some Christians need to start behaving morally.

  • Ben in oakland


    Now, here we agree. but I don’t think Bruni is being a bigot.

  • Ben in oakland

    So where are all of the Good Christians (TM) calling out BB on his vile slander?

  • Ben in oakland

    Simply paranoia. If the Church were not trying to force Catholic dogma in people who don’t share it– and that would include a majority of catholics in this country–

    you’d be surprised how little so many people care.

  • Ben in oakland


    I don’t disbelieve his story. I’m just saying that it is HIS story, not mine. And for every TOM, there are the many people I know who tried being heterosexual for decades, weren’t, and gave up.

    if it works for Tom, good for ohm. It also works for Alan chambers. but alan admits her is as gay as he ever was.

    In other words, like Tom, he is bisexual. I am not.

    Plenty of Good Christians– no TM here– have tried for decades to be heterosexual, and concluded that neither God, nor freud, nor the fraud of ex-gay therapy works.

    They have also concluded that god likes them just the way they are. My question to Tom still stands:

    There are plenty of gay people who consider that they are gay AND have a relationship with Jesus. So are you now the arbiter of the relationship of god to anyone else on the planet, or just for gay people?

  • Ben in oakland

    I didn’t treat him that way, Jack. I just question his interpretation of bruni’s column.

  • Ben in oakland


  • Larry

    You are making strawman arguments here with phony distinctions between “absolute wall of separation” and whatever sectarian discriminatory scheme you think is the opposite of such things.

    Secularism, aka the wall of separation between religion and the apparatus of government is the ONLY thing which as worked to avoid sectarian bloodshed. Once religion becomes entangled with government it ALWAYS led to sectarian discrimination. It wasn’t that religions got calmer, it was that they weren’t given the weapons of political power to play with.

    Secularism, is not the absolute removal of religion from public view, it means government must be neutral to religion. That is either by not showing favoritism of it in government function or its opposite, embracing ALL faiths in an ecumenical fashion. One does this to protect the free exercise of religion from discrimination under the color of law. Again this is done to protect all faiths, not just ones with political power and social prominence.

    The “absolute model of the French” doesn’t work even today because they omit the important part, of government protection of free exercise of religion. Using them as an example is pointless.

    The 1st Amendment as it stands is a perfect example of secular government and secular principles. Religion is free to be expressed without government compulsion. Nobody ever has to coerced to care what you or anyone else has to say on the subject of religion. People who oppose secularism or use it in contrast to religious belief are pushing a form of belief which ignores or attacks beliefs that are not theirs. They seek government sanction for sectarian discrimination.

    Again, I wonder what definition of secularism you are using.

  • Larry
  • Shawnie5

    “How come those big corporations whose policies are usually abhorred by the Left suddenly have become the darlings of the Left over Indiana.”

    LOL! That “abhorrence” is only for pandering to their constituencies during elections. Every politician, left or right, is in someone’s pocket.

    Democrat politicians care no more about the poor than Republican ones care about abortion. They’re simply selling to different markets.

  • Jack

    Ben, I wish it were nonsense. When I saw a video of a gay person pushed off a cliff by ISIS thugs, I literally wanted to put my fist through the TV. I feel the same way about any other innocent civilian being savaged in that way.

    You tell me what you would do about it if you had the power. I’ll tell you exactly what I would do. I would march back in there and stop ISIS in its tracks….and I would make an example of them that the world would remember for the next century.

    So you want to know what we can do about it, Ben? Put unrelenting pressure on Washington to do something now. Tell them that if they really care about gay people — and other people who are being butchered for absolutely no reason whatsoever — they will do their duty and put troops on the ground and get rid of ISIS. (And yes, it is our duty…..we deposed Saddam, and rather than establishing a modicum of order in his place, we dithered around aimlessly for years under Bush, until the surge, and then abandoned ship under Obama.)

    Then, tell the White House to put unrelenting pressure on Pakistan and other nations to respect and defend human rights or face a cutoff in aid.

    But the problem is that the left is so relativistic these days, so reluctant to appear as imperialistic or colonialist before the world, it won’t defend its own values. It cares more about feeling good than actually doing good. It cares more about right speech than right action.

  • Jack

    I don’t know, Ben. The article could be taken either way until the end.

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  • Jack

    Not sure what point you’re making, Ben. I simply wished Tom well, warned him to expect opposition, and then distinguished between opposition that was based on reasonable questions — ie believing someone on an anonymous board vs. someone in person — and opposition based on circular reasoning.

    As for your other points, I was about to make them myself until I read your post…..I was about to caution that many gay people have said repeatedly that although they have tried to be heterosexual for a long time, they have not succeeded. If Tom is for real, his story cannot be ignored. And if they are telling the truth, theirs cannot be ignored, either. We cannot throw out either without doing injury to truth….nor can we easily explain either away.

  • Jack

    Tom, again, that’s a wonderful story.

    My guess is that you have tremendous spiritual insights to offer not just to gay people, but to us straight people as well…..and equally, if not more so in some ways. You sound like a humble guy who doesn’t like to brag, but were I a betting man, I’d bet anything that you have a real depth of understanding of the relationship between God and those who love Him.

    God bless you, and all the best.

  • Jack

    David S, thanks for sharing that. I haven’t read much of Martin Buber, but I do recall reading “I and Thou” and liking it a lot. We really have to stop ourselves each day and ask whether we’re viewing others as “thou” or as “it.”

    I will check out The Giving Tree….I confess my complete ignorance of the author or book…..but thanks.

    Of the Gospels, I like the Gospels of John and Luke the best.

  • Jack

    I don’t recall thinking about you when I said that, Ben, so no worries.

    We agree to disagree on his interpretation of Bruni. I might agree with you were it not for those fateful final few lines.

  • Tom

    If I have anything of viability and depth to share it is from a source greater than I. This is not to say that I on my own am without value. Just a reminder that five loaves and two fish placed in the right hands can become so much more than a single boy’s lunch.

    Probably one of the key elements in my journey was a change of self perception. At a very pivotal point in time and in a somewhat extraordinary manner God stripped me of my definition of my sense of self. He strongly convinced me to abandon the identity found in labeling myself as gay. And in exchange He told me that I was now a child of God. It felt as though my whole world was collapsing. I had many thoughts flood my mind swiftly. What would happen to me? How could I give up so immediately on a 10 year relationship with a man who had shown me more kindness and caring than any other person ever had prior? What did a child of God think, do and feel? My heart felt torn asunder. How could I do such a thing in order to follow a God I could neither see nor touch nor audibly hear and had only really come to know just three weeks prior? I was terribly afraid. And angry as well. How could God have allowed my life to reach such a point where I had to make such a terrible choice? But I chose to follow what God had shown me in my encounter with Romans chapter 1. I saw that in my life choices that I had put men in the place that only God deserved to occupy. I had to face the bold truth that I was worshipping the creature and not the Creator. I was trying to have identity through horizontal relationships rather than receiving my identity from God. My honeymoon with God was over. I either abandoned my sin or be willing to lose the relationship with God that I had just begun to develop. I made the extremely hard choice to follow the Lord.

    It was a very painful price to pay. But I gained far much more in return. Believe me when I say that sticking to this choice was not easy. I had been shaken to the core of my being in so many ways. Many choices lay ahead for me. I faced opposition from several sources. But with God’s help I persevered. I grew stronger over time. And I watched myself being transformed through a multitude of experiences, scripture reading and Christian fellowship. And I was gradually healed of some very deep emotional and relational wounding. Much of it self inflicted.

    Nothing left to say but Praise God for His grace and mercy.

    Be blessed,

  • Tom

    There is a Christian author and counselor named Leann Payne whose works, including “The Broken Image”, you may find interesting. I was blessed to read a book by an English psychologist, Elizabeth Moberly, titled “Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic” at a key point in my healing journey. All of the root emotional traumas listed in her book had occurred in my family. I felt like I had been set up to develop a homosexual identity which God later challenged. It was in following God’s prescription, which included relabeling my identity from being ‘Gay’ to being a child of God that I was able to understand homosexual attraction as symptomatic of some very deep emotional and developmental issues. Like the bible says, ‘As a man believes so is he.’ And ‘And the truth shall set you free.’ As well as, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.’

    I very much realize that God has done a great deal of work in my life and is not done yet.

    I hope to be an encouragement to others. I have found the Lord to be far more powerful than many people will comfortably realize. That brought about a major adjustment in my thinking as opposed to the weak training I received as a child in church. Believe me when I say that God does not suffer from anemia. His work can be hindered though by people with anemic faith.

    Be blessed,

  • Tom

    I have read a little of what you have written. The least understood personality in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. Because of the structure ordained by God for human families the Father and the Son are much more readily understood. But from a practical experiential perspective the Spirit is much more elusive and difficult to comprehend. Yet the Spirit is the very one whose presence once deposited into our human heart draws us into a vital and vibrant communion of fellowship with God. I did not learn this until I had a ‘road to Damascus’ sort of experience. I quickly learned that a great deal had been missed in my childhood by the spiritually anemic churches I attended.

    Be blessed,

  • ben in oakland


    This is the number-one moral failure the left today – its inability to muster even a smidgeon of outrage over the sheer barbarism against fellow human beings in the name of radical Islamism….. –

    Exactly the same thing could be said of the right. That’s why were have created the mess in the middle east. \

    And I hear no one on the right decrying the violence against gay people. In fact, Brian Brown of the National Organization for marriage has applauded Russia for its antigay laws. A great portion of the hard conservative Christian right has done exactly the same in their anti-0gay efforts.

  • ben in oakland


    Actually, the explanation is quite simple. BISEXUALITY. It’s a known phenomenon.

    I had heterosex a few times nearly 40 years ago. I was curious, tried it, and knew it wasn’t for me. By brother-in-law, quite heterosexual, tried homosex once, and knew it wasn’t for him. Neither of us is bisexual by any stretch of the imagination.

    Tom, like alan chambers, apparently is bisexual, even though he described his youth as gay.

    You know I don’t believe any of the god stuff. But maybe, in tom’s own terms, God was telling him that he really wasn’t gay after all, just bisexual. That doesn’t mean that that is god’s message to every gay or bi person.

  • Jack

    Ben, I know plenty about what the Putin regime has been up to on a host of issues, including the one you mentioned. I am totally against its legislation against gays.

    And you are correct that some people on the right are soft on Putin on that issue, and actually a whole host of other issues as well. They think he’s a champion of Christian values, but he is just deploying such rhetoric for his own purposes. He is an enemy of freedom in all ways.

    But the majority of people on the right today are far ahead of the far left in standing up for freedom around the world. It wasn’t always that way but it is today…..

    And again, note the reason. The left has become so culturally relativistic, and so overly sensitive about America’s flaws, it can’t muster the will to stand up against tyranny in the world the way it once did decades ago.

    The bottom line is that the left can’t bring itself to the reality that if we are going to fight tyranny and stand for liberal democracy, we are going to have to us the US military in a very decisive, albeit judicious way. When the left hears, that, it freaks out, but facts are stubborn things.

  • Jack

    Tom, yours is a powerful story indeed, and what you’ve since shared confirms my strong hunch that you have at least as much to say to us who have never been gay as those who have. You hit the nail on the head about trying to replace a vertical relationship with God with horizontal ones with people.

    The hard and difficult but necessary message you can bring to us is that every man, in order to fulfill his calling in this life, must be to God what a bride is to her husband. That is the one tough and humbling truth that I suppose gay people have an ability to understand better than we do.

    Perhaps it may be said that while the gay sin is to turn that bridal relationship meant for God into a physical relationship with an earthly male, maybe the “straight” sin is to ignore the need for a bride relationship with God completely. Maybe that’s why so many marriages are failing…..maybe men can’t be good husbands to their wives until they become good “wives” to their God.

    And that means that heterosexual men who are not in that kind of relationship with God or with anybody are no better or worse than homosexual men who lack the same relationship to God while substituting it through relationships with human males.

    We’re all in the same boat, in other words……and the difference is that homosexuals are vainly trying to fill the void whereas heterosexuals are simply running and hiding from the whole problem.

    I know that sounds odd, and I’ve never heard any pastor put it that way, but I’ve been pondering this for a while.

    If I’m right, this is a message that is for everybody.

  • Jack

    Ben, do you really want to be reduced to having to explain away every testimony like Tom’s by saying the person is really bisexual?

    Shouldn’t the scientific response be more openness to the obvious alternative to that explanation?

    I’ve subjected my own beliefs — theological, political, cultural — to questions many times over time, just to be sure I left no stone unturned. As a result, a number of my beliefs have changed from what they once were. I have moved to deeper conviction about Biblical truth, but sometimes that has brought surprising results in other areas…..hardly revolutionary but also hardly predictable ones in some cases.

    Isn’t it a good idea for all of us to question ourselves sometimes?

  • David S

    The science is clear on this. While we don’t know what causes a homosexual orientation, we do know that it is fixed around a point on a spectrum. There is a little more fluidity in women; and, for some people, sexual abuse might influence sexual identity (but not orientation). Conservative Christian researchers Stan Jones and Mark Yarhouse show that while changes in behavior is possible (I.e., sexual repression), change in orientation is exceedingly rare. Alan Chambers, former director of Exodus International, said recently that reparative therapy is completely ineffective thus he’s supporting the President’s call to ban such practices.

    Being gay is not a choice and cannot be “cured” (as if homosexuality is an illness).

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  • Tom

    I am a traditionalist though I definitely was not at one time. When I was in college I helped establish the first gay student union at that university. I was an effeminate boy who even played with dolls. My childhood was rather painful. Sports were a joke for me and I was usually the butt end of them. I became sexually active through a neighbor boy at age eleven. I later came to understand this as childhood sexual abuse. By age thirteen I was solidly convinced of having an irreversible identity as a homosexual. Others were far less kind. I often heard myself referred to as a pansy or a sissy.
    At age fifteen I attempted suicide. But God intervened to preserve my life. He knew a great deal more about my future than I did. At age 16 I finally became connected with some adults in my Bible Belt community. They had a strong attraction for underage males. I suddenly found myself to be desirable, though I was in essence prostituting myself for the attention. I couldn’t understand this at such a young age. And I didn’t understand the real emotional and psychological dynamic that was occurring. Nor the continuing damage that was being done by the homosexuality I had come to embrace. And I continued to meet adult males who found me to be a prime specimen. This gave me a sense of worth and empowerment. What a sad trade off.
    At eighteen I entered into a monogamous, mostly, partnership that lasted over ten years. But then I came upon a healing journey at 28 through adult children of alcoholics. Unknowingly I began to work through some of the underlying emotional, psychological and familial relationship trauma that had given rise to my very broken sexual identity. Some of those roots went back to my mother’s womb. So I quite naturally believed that I had somehow been born a homosexual and was angered by any who suggested otherwise. By the way, my first sponsor in the twelve step program was a homosexual priest. So my sexuality wasn’t at all being challenged in that arena.
    It was only after I had a dramatic personal experiential encounter with the Lord that many biblical truths began to be introduced into my thought processes. I began to join in with Christian fellowship. My sponsor warned me to be careful. I told him that if there was any hint of condemnation of my lifestyle that I would make a quick exit. But that did not happen. People never had a chance. It was God who confronted me in some very creative and powerful ways along with use of His word. At first I was shattered and heartbroken. My battle for a life transformation was certainly not an easy one. I did not realize that in seeking to find repair from the traumas of growing up in a family traumatized by alcoholism that God would go so far. I did not know initially all that I would eventually surrender to have an ongoing relationship with Jesus.
    I share this to say that I cannot agree with the cynicism you project. I am one who confidently states that real and fundamental change can be brought into the lives of those who are bound by sexual identity brokenness. Admittedly it can be a messy and painful process. But it is of great value for such to occur. Far more than you could perhaps understand.
    I suppose you will be tempted to offhandedly dismiss my words. But I do speak from the vantage point of personal experience. If you do dismiss me know this that rather than being closed minded as some might suggest I found that I experienced just the opposite. I had to become very open minded. And I have developed a life with better character, a greater ability to be more focused and a far greater capacity to love in healthy relationships.

    With just a little food for thought,

  • David S

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for sharing a part of your story. You’re experience is aligned with the research – that for some small segment of people who identify as gay, sexual abuse is a contributing factor.

    But to suggest that you’re experience is universal is to ignore the overwhelming majority of gay people who did not experience abuse. It also ignores the overwhelming testimony of those who desperately tried to change their orientation and could not.

    We are all dealing with post-fall sexual brokenness. To express ones homosexual orientation is no more an act born of brokenness than expressing one’s heterosexual orientation. Those who say differently are insisting that gay people live contrary to God’s creative intention for humanity. Such a belief is not only dehumanizing, it is demonstrably harmful. The bitter fruit of traditionalist theology is well documented. To choose the traditionalist doctrine is, in fact, choosing to perpetuate harm.

  • Jon Altman

    Exactly, David