John Shore may be all things to disaffected homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders, but when it comes to Christianity and the Bible - and pornography, it’s a different story.
John Shore may be all things to disaffected homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders, but when it comes to Christianity and the Bible - and pornography, it’s a different story. Shore is adamant about reproving Christians who don’t accept homosexuality, bi-sexuality and transgender: They are out of line. The Bible may be too. But then he thinks mocking a woman who complains about pornography on a Delta Airlines flight is just the cutest thing. Pornography good or bad? He can’t make up his mind.
So he asks people who read his blog, while cynically lampooning Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, for her youtube video. She complains about a man viewing pornography on his iPad on a Delta Airlines flight at 6 a.m. He uses the headline on his blog to make it seem like Hawkins uses profanity in her video. She doesn’t. And that she may be doing it to make money.
Maybe He hasn’t talked to Pastor Bob (his pastor) about the merits of pornography. Another solution he offers is to simply not leave one’s house. The message is, if you see something you don’t like, either ignore it or stay at home. He obviously does not “stay at home” for other issues. On that front, homosexuals are supposed to engage Christians they don’t agree with, get in their face. His books include: “I’m OK - You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Non-believers and Why We Should Stop,” “10 Ways Christians Fail to be Christians and other such essays,” “UNFAIR: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work.” But he may be best known for his blog on huffingtonpost. com, the liberal news web site, edited and owned by Arianna Huffington.
For people who don’t read the Bible, Shore gets a lot of traction. This is unfortunate, since in other ways he does offer some balance to mainstream Christian thinking. His UNFAIR book asks Christians to take a step back and think about homosexuality and other sexual variations. And they would be hard-pressed not to, if he had a solid interpretation of the Bible, one that does not depend almost completely on the letters he receives. It’s not that as Christians, we should not demonstrate compassion. It’s that his interpretation of the Bible is not convincing.
One of his three signature scriptures is Galations 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ.” It seems like he is presenting an argument for being homosexual, bi-sexual or transgender. But going back to Galations 3:27, the apostle Paul writes: “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism, have been made like him.” So this is not referring to the sexuality of Christians. If it were, is he saying that Jesus was both a man and a woman or bisexual?
He confuses different kinds of love referred to in the Bible, the Greek words agape, philia and eros. Agape is Godly, unconditional love, phileo, is brotherly (or sisterly) love and eros, is romantic or sexual love.
“Here is the big difference between homosexuality and other sins: There is no sin I can commit that, but virtue of committing it, renders me incapable of loving or being loved. I can commit murder. I can steal. I can rob. I can rape. I can drink myself to death. I can do any terrible thing at all - and no one would ever claim that intrinsic to the condition that gave rise to my doing that terrible thing, is that I am, by nature, simply incapable of giving or receiving love.”
He diminishes God’s unconditional, agape love, by comparing it to eros love. Homosexual (used by example) love is deemed to simply be different from others who commit sin, such as robbers, rapists, and others. The question he gets to is: Shouldn't God’s unconditional love make it okay to for homosexuals to sin? If this were true, then what humans do, say or feel could change God’s character, and his character is the reason why his love is unconditional.
Or put another way, is there a difference between God’s unconditional love and homosexual or other erotic love. For many, like Shore, it seems there isn’t. And are other sins really all that different? I would hope that a rapist or any one else in prison would not be able to experience many things, because they are in prison (or sent there). And other sin for the example, drinking oneself to alcoholism, would very much cause one to be incapable of doing many things, including experiencing love and enjoying sex. At least you would hope that one’s wife or other women would provide some tough love.
But more importantly, all of sin is really selfish in a sense, isn’t it? Alcoholism, robbery, rape. Wouldn’t is make sense for people who commit such sins to not experience sexual love in the same way as those who don’t commit these sins? But what about Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount on thinking about sin? Or pick one from the ten commandments, and compare it with homosexuality. It’s hard to argue logically, that homosexuality is not sin just because someone feels bad - or good about it an attraction to the same sex. Don’t people struggle with sexual temptation? Is it better not to?
The central logic problem is that Shore argues from a point that homosexuality is simply not a sin, but from a backward position. He attempts to tell God where he is wrong. So it's not that he does not believe other sins are wrong. He just believes that a good God, a loving God, a God who demonstrates unconditional love, could not possibly allow homosexuals, or those with other sexual preferences, not to experience their kind of eros. He likes to focus on Christians, but ignore God and what the Bible says about homosexuality. In one sense this makes it easier for him. But in another, he really should be blaming God, or the apostle Paul, not Christians. Even if Christians acted with perfect love toward homosexuals, would it change God all that much?
Another quote again shows how he is confusing God’s unconditional love, with erotic love.
“The sinful temptation that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love. Being, of course, the one thing Jesus was clear about wanting his followers to extend to others.” Again, love for him is not unconditional agape love, or even phileo, brotherly love (although that could be argued), but eros, sexual love.
“10 Ways Christians Fail to be Christians and Other Such Essays” also demonstrates his confusion about Christianity and the Bible.
I have selected a few of his topics:
“Too Much Money”
He thinks there should be no “wealthy” Christians. And perhaps he has a point in referring to Christians who do not give to the church. He references Luke 12:33, where Jesus tells his disciples to sell what they have and give to the poor. The problem with his reference is that Jesus does not tell us in this passage what is and is not wealthy.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says “No one can serve two masters ... You cannot serve both God and money.”
Shore is selling his books and hopefully making a profit. And he probably owns a house and a computer and has the funds to fly across the country at speaking engagements. Is he wealthy? Compared to people in many of the countries, and perhaps the majority of the population, Mr. Shore is a millionaire.
Should he sell “all he has” so that, adjusted for the world’s population, he is not “wealthy?” The point is, it is not his place (unless of course he is Karl Marx or Vladimir Lenin) to tell Christians that they should not buy and sell goods or use their collective wisdom to be wealthy.
“Too confident God thinks we’re all that - and a leather-bound gift Bible”
He thinks that we should spend more time thinking about how we displease God. If I’m not mistaken, that is reflecting on our guilt and sin. Sexual immorality is just one of those, but certainly not the only one. When we are talking about not measuring up, aren’t we talking about guilt or missing the mark of God’s perfection? And do we really need to meditate on that a lot? There are lots of people who spend too much time thinking about that already.
The problem with this argument is that God does think “we’re all that” in Christ. He says so. Try reading Romans 8 or John 3:16 or John 14 - 17. He does not seem to understand the price that God paid for our salvation. It had to be someone - God’s son - dying on a cross. It was a high price. That’s why Christians are “all that.”
“Too quick to believe what God really means by what he says in the Bible.”
If he had some kind of reference point for this, it might be more plausible. But the passage that he refers to is not very ambiguous: Luke 8: 9-10. He says that the disciples have been permitted to understand some things, but the stories conceal the meaning from outsiders, which is actually a fulfillment of scripture: Isaiah 6: 9-10. (It’s probably in Shore’s Bible too). That’s not that difficult to understand. There were some “outsiders” in Jesus day. Have you heard of the Sadducees and Pharisees?
“Too invasive of others generally”
Shore doesn’t seem to like Christians who get involved in government - and speak their mind. I think he must be referring to some legislation that protects traditional marriage.
“It is my humble opinion that anyone trying to mix church and state has failed to understand the proper role of either. Being founded upon the principle that all men are created equal and deserving of equal protection under the law is what makes the American system of democracy such a gift to mankind. Attempting to mix the inherently exclusionary imperatives of a particular religion into the resolutely inclusive system of the American constitutional form of government is to work against everything that America stands for. Religion is a personal subjective affair for the individual; politics and public policy is an impersonal, objective affair for everyone.”
This seems to be an attempt to make sense how parts of our constitution, system of government is based on the Judeo - Christian ethic. Endowed by the creator (God of the Bible) with certain unalienable rights is one example. Should we remove that so that we can maintain a separation of church and state? In his personal blog site, he has a “wonderful guy” quote from Eric Metaxas, the author of "Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery," and, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.”
I call your attention to both books, but particularly the tale of William Wilberforce, who heroically worked as a legislator in England, as a committed Christian, against slavery - for decades. He was mocked as a Christian for exactly the same logic that Shore uses. And he seems to be unaware that the beginnings of the constitution, the Mayflower compact, was drafted by Christians.
And then what about Bonfoeffer? What would he say to him? Dude, keep your Christianity out of politics and public policy? Keep the spying to the non-Christians? And whatever you do, don’t go back to Germany and try to kill that awful Hitler. What about the Christians in Ohio and other states who shepherded slaves to freedom from the South, when it was illegal? What would Shore say to them? It’s one thing be Quaker. I get that. But it’s another to act on your “religion.” Do you have to take the Bible so literally when it comes to public policy and slavery? Why don’t you just go back to being passive Christians?
Here are a few other important individuals who did not keep their religion to themselves: Martin Luther King, Jr., a pastor. I think we know who he is. Abraham Lincoln, former president. Started each day as president meditating on a Bible verse from the King James Bible.
Surprisingly, he gets positive quotes from a number of Christian writers, who probably believe in scripture that he might cut out of his Bible. Shore gets quotes from such luminaries as Stephen Arterburn, and Robb Bell.
He acknowledges Dan Savage and Bell together in the UNFAIR book with links to both. “Huge thanks to Dan Savage and Rob Bell.”
He has no doubt received a lot of publicity from Bell’s endorsement, who says Shore is “awesome.” I guess he was referring to his pant or shirt selection. Maybe Bell was confusing clothing with the Bible.
Arterburn may be one of the more balanced Christian psychologists in Christianity today; he has written recovery books and other Christian resources, including commentary in the Life Recovery Bible. It’s hard to say why Arterburn would support him. Perhaps Arterburn is hoping that some of Shore's followers will buy a copy of the Life Recovery Bible.
Savage is a popular sex columnist, and author of “Savage Love.” He provides “enlightenment to the erotically challenged.” Savage is a homosexual and has been in a relationship with his friend, Terry, for more than ten years.
© 2012 Larry Ingram
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