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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quest Church: Good for Women, Bad for Gays

posted by on June 28 at 8:33 AM

Eugene Cho, the lead pastor of Quest Church, sent me a nice note a few weeks ago after reading my review of Quest in our “Month of Sundays” feature package.

Unlike Mars Hill, which his church resembles, Quest embraces women in positions of leadership—a female pastor opened the service on the day I visited. About the only thing that bothered Questers about my piece, some other members told me, was seeing their church described as a “Mars Hill wannabe.” That stung, apparently, because little, loving Quest isn’t anything like Mark Driscoll’s huge, hateful Mars Hill.

When I was working on my piece I poked around Quest’s website, and read through the church’s brochures, in an effort to find discover Quest’s position on homosexuality. They embraced women, what about the gays? But there was no info posted on Quest’s website, up on Cho’s blog, or in any of Quest’s brochures. So I asked Cho directly: Quest is good on the female thing. Good for you. What about the gay thing?

I took it as a bad sign when I didn’t hear back from Cho right away—and my interpretation of his silence was correct. This email arrived this morning:


Sorry for the delayed response. Not that you were waiting by your inbox waiting for my reply…

Because we are theologically so different than Mars Hill, that’s why the “Mars Hill wannabe” definitely rubbed a few of our church folks that wrong way. As you might assume, MH and driscoll can be fairly polarizing so for those on the other spectrum, it’s not the best thing to be compared to him.

Regardless, to your question about our position on gays. No matter how I answer, I know it’s going to always hurt or offend one side or the other. I say this not to be trite but it’s been a difficult issue. Always is when you’re dealing not just with an issue but one that deals with people…human souls. Quest welcomes the gay community but does not affirm the gay lifestyle.

While I can’t speak on behalf of every single person at Quest, I believe I speak for many when I share that there’s much hypocrisy in the church especially when we isolate homosexuality out of the context of the larger conversation of sexuality that needs to be addressed. Heterosexuals have much to answer to. So, while I do not affirm the lifestyle, I also believe in human rights and the rights that the gay community deserve—the most important one being the freedom to be safe. I wrestle with how a gay person can feel safe in the church—even if they are “welcomed” when their lifestyle isn’t affirmed as God honoring…

Let me know your thoughts if you have the energy.


I sent this email to Eugene Cho:

Is the right to marry included on your list of rights to which we’re entitled?

Re: The gay lifestyle. What you mean is gay sex, right? My “lifestyle” is probably shockingly similar to your own: go to work, go home, eat, take care of my kid, pay the bills. It’s the sex I have with my partner that rubs you the wrong way, so to speak. There is no “gay lifestyle,” Eugene. Some straight people have no kids, never marry, and sleep around—which is what the phrase “gay lifestyle” invokes. My unmarried, 45 year-old heterosexual brother Billy lives a much gayer “lifestyle” than I do.

And, yes, straight people have their own sins to answer for—but your philosophy at least allows for straight people to have fully intimate lives, loving partners, and some sexual release. Your theology disallows that for me, so… I don’t see as how that amounts to equal treatment. Copping to hetero shortcomings (“Hey, look at the way we dress!”) while advising gay people to forgo all intimacy, a.k.a. “the gay lifestyle,” does not amount to the loving tending o’ the flock that you seem to believe it does. Telling people that God disapproves of their deepest needs for love and companionship, and that they must forgo that “sin” in order to be right with God, is an act of emotional and spiritual violence.

If there was a God, you would answer for it one day. But there isn’t and you won’t.


P.S. As I told one of your parishioners—and should have told you when it first came up—“Mars Hill wannabe” was more a reference to the aesthetics of the place. The warehouse, the dark colors, the art, rock and roll, etc. Now I see, however, that at least on the gay issue… well, there’s no daylight between you and Driscoll, is there?

RSS icon Comments


figured this was the case when i couldn't find any info on gays on the quest website back when the "sundays" article was published. thanks for reporting this.

Posted by josh | June 28, 2007 9:02 AM

Their god is so shallow.

Posted by Mary | June 28, 2007 9:05 AM

You tell 'im, Dan. I love a verbal ass woop on a religious hypocrite.

Posted by bitch on heels | June 28, 2007 9:05 AM

You'd better post his next reply.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 28, 2007 9:11 AM

This is why I am happy to see "affirming churches, etc." at the Pride Parade if for nothing else to cancel out bigots such as Quest Church.
Thanks, Dan for making this known.
Quest Church is for bigots.

Posted by rich | June 28, 2007 9:18 AM

Now where did I put my "shocked" face...

Posted by monkey | June 28, 2007 9:25 AM

I wish every letter I wrote that verbally kicked the shit out of the recipient was written for the betterment of mankind and not just my ego. You're a better man than I, Dan Savage.

Posted by Carollani | June 28, 2007 9:39 AM

When it gets right down to the biggest hangup for a lot of people seems to be the sex thing. Now that more people know open and happy gays and see they're not a bunch child abusing heathens with a penchant for street drugs many of the anti-gay arguemtns kind of fall apart.

It's pretty easy to deny rights to someone who you think is living a shallow empty life, its much harder to do the same to the family across the street with the kid, dog, and regular old job. But, you can always fall back on the sex things (especially with gay men). Did you know they fuck each other in the ASS of all places. Culture and society argues that is gross and wrong so it provides a nice hook on which to hang bigotry (especially in religious circles). If only gays could find another way to have sex, or better yet not fuck at all.

Posted by Giffy | June 28, 2007 9:40 AM

Good response. Now I wonder if he'll actually reply back...I kind of doubt it. I bet he'll blog about this, though.

Posted by Joey the Girl | June 28, 2007 9:42 AM

Love that last line.

Posted by J.R. | June 28, 2007 9:49 AM

Great letter, perfect response.

Even better, and classier, than the flaming bag of poo the Corinthians used when responding to St Paul.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | June 28, 2007 9:56 AM


While I do agree with your sentiment, it seems a bit... caustic. Rather than a dialouge it's a writen kick in the ass.

*shrug* If that was your goal, you succeeded.

Posted by Phelix | June 28, 2007 9:58 AM


As much as I love your response, I can’t help but think that it will fall on deaf ears.

You simply cannot present logic and facts in a debate with a religious person. That strategy is doomed from the outset because they suffer from what psychologists call a “self-reinforcing delusion.” Every fact or argument, whether congruent with their DHB (Deeply Held Beliefs) or not, simply confirms their preconceived notions no matter how totally bonkers. They also have a stunning lack of empathy or sympathy for anyone that they think their Flying Spaghetti Monster condemns.

Better to save the reason and logic for people we actually have a chance of convincing like non-believers and the semi-religious, who only go to church on holidays.

Posted by Original Andrew | June 28, 2007 10:02 AM

Tilting at windmills.

Maybe it's time we accept and live areality-based life and realize that whatever concepts of "god" humankind makes up or imagines to be real, we're probably waaaaay off anyway and doing tons of damage along the way, so what's the point? Fuck God, fuck Allah, fuck Mohammed, fuck the Devil, fuck witches, fuck up this made-up "neo-pagan" shit. Start living for people and the planet instead of fairy tale monsters who expect subservience and obedience ... or else.

What if we all spent more time fighting lawmakers for and protecting the rights bestowed on humankind by the Natural God of the Constitution rather than convincing the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster members that we gays are worthy in their eyes of federal tax breaks or the right to be left-the-fuck alone? It shouldn't make a bit of difference to our lives and our happiness whether they "accept" us or not.

Asking the pathologically superstitious to label gays as "okay" is, in my biased opinion, a monumental waste of time, spirit and energy.

Tilting at windmills.

Posted by Brad in Seattle | June 28, 2007 10:09 AM

@8: That only works until straights start fessing up and admitting that they like anal sex too. :P

Posted by supergp | June 28, 2007 10:10 AM

i think dan's letter is great. it might be a little abrasive... but that's exactly what cho was expecting. it was not, however, rude or insulting. it is the kind of discourse many people reprimended dan for avoiding in prior posts.

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 10:11 AM


When Cho says he disapproves of "the gay lifestyle," and he means sex, what he's saying is: Nothing good can come of gay sex, it's a sin, it offends God, it shouldn't happen--period." So what he's saying, essentially, is that the desire--for sex, for intimacy, for companionship--that brought me and my boyfriend together has lead to no good. That kicks my ass.

What Cho is saying is, "You're welcome in my church, and God loves you, and I love you. But your relationship is a sin, your sex life is an abomination, and everything that gives your life richness and meaning--your 'lifestyle'--is repugnant." And I'm supposed to respond with sugar and honey to that?

"Nice relationship you've got there, Dan, too bad it makes Jesus throw up"?

You're being suckered, Phelix, because Cho is speaking in unctuous, faux-compassionate code. Oh, he's conflicted, he struggled with this response, he's on the cross! But his reading of the bible requires this of him! How awful for Cho, who is required to sacrifice nothing to be right with his God. If a church told Cho that he would have to forgo all intimacy in order to be a member, or a pastor, he would take his straight ass elsewhere. Hell, he may have already: Maybe there's a reason Cho isn't a celibate Catholic priest? Maybe Cho concluded that he couldn't live without the love and physical intimacy he urges me to live without.

Cho's letter, his use of "the gay lifestyle," are insults, Phelix, and the theology he espouses has done damage to millions of gay people over thousands of years. His letter is, therefore, infinitely more toxic than my response.

Posted by Dan Savage | June 28, 2007 10:12 AM

@15 Give us time. We just started admitting we like sex period. :)

Posted by Giffy | June 28, 2007 10:20 AM

Dan, you absolutely kill me. I loved your response. It was perfect--perfectly worded, perfectly phrased--perfect.

Posted by Jaime-Leigh | June 28, 2007 10:20 AM

@18: Wait, we're talking about sex now?

Posted by Darcy | June 28, 2007 10:21 AM

Does this really surprise you, Dan? I'm not a Christian, so maybe I'm missing something that magnetically draws people to the church, but I've never understood why a homesexual would want to be a part of a Christian church anyway. The bible spells it out pretty loud and clear: (Christian) God doesn't like the gays (I think this is pretty hard to spin pro-gay: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13)). I know there's a lot of revisionist hypocrisy already embedded in Church doctrine-- they don't stone adulterers and heretics to death anymore, for instance-- but given the clear anti-gay bias of the holy book, I've always been a little puzzled by some gay people's burning desire to be accepted by the Christian church, and by extension, their deeply intolerant Deity. Remember, the Bible is supposed to be the perfectly revealed word of God, and if you are a Christian and doubt any part of it, including the anti-gay bits, that makes you a heretic (a capital offense, at many times in history). I know people have family attachments, etc, etc, but most gay Christians I meet seem deeply unhappy. Not only have they been rejected by their familys, peers, etc, but they are constantly guilt-ridden about their relationship to God. Like the Jewish Nazi or the Black Klansman, they've chosen an ideology which only affirms their own inferiority. It seems to me to be a recipe for unhappiness. Atheism seems to be the only sane response. Or maybe Buddism or something, I don't know. As per your last line, if God does exist and he's letting this kind of bigoted intolerance go unpunished, then he's kind of a dickhead anyway, right?

Posted by Mr Me | June 28, 2007 10:25 AM

You have to give him credit for talking to you, and for letting you talk to him. He doesn't agree with you on a fundamental point -- but you have to allow him that. He's not excluding you. I don't know what his position on gay marriage is, and neither do you, yet. But he is "wrestling" with his thoughts, and you could be helping him rather than scoring points off of him.

The "gay lifestyle" argument you present is a good one. You will find when you talk to open-minded, thinking Christians, that they have a lot of received ideas (as do you, about them). The most important part of opening up this dialogue is education. Part of the mental crackup of the Christian Right is the gradual awareness of disconfirming views. When they come into contact with gay people who do not confirm the stereotype -- a stereotype that SOME Christians have taken from straight ideology decades ago and progressively, deliberately, demonized, but still -- this causes confict in their mind.

Obviously you don't owe this guy anything, not even fairness; but I think if you offered it to him, you could help him to come around.

Christians are not the enemy, Dan. It's a particular strain of Christianity that is. Other types of churches have always, or at least for decades, been welcoming, not just of your bodies in their pews but spiritually welcoming. These churches, some of them, used to be at the forefront of public spirituality, but they aren't anymore. Since the rise of the Religious Right, since Reagan at least, it's the Religious Right who speak for Christianity. But they DON'T speak for Christianity; they don't even speak for all (or even a majority) of evangelical Christianity. And when you get someone like Mr. Cho, who is from the evangelical tradition, actually start to take a look at the divide, and the position he has found himself in, and start to think about how he got there and how that divide can be bridged, I think that's a fantastic opportunity to change the tone of the public debate.

As for the "gay lifestyle", I'm trying to reconcile your denials with your article about Pony above! I don't care how slutty your brother is, he's not sticking his dick into glory holes in public toilets. I think the sexual panic on the Right is in large part about the anonymity of the promiscuity, not just the mechanics of the sex acts themselves. He's got a stereotype. He knows it's a stereotype, and he sees gays all the time who do not accord with the stereotype, but the stereotype is a mental image that takes a long time to fade. Remember though, you have a stereotype in your mind, too.

The goal is not total victory here. The goal is not you parking your butt in his church every Sunday, or Cho hanging out at Pony with all his new buds every night. The goal is for Cho to come to an understanding, and to share that understanding with his parishioners and his fellow pastors, and to have that understanding spread. He doesn't have to agree with you; he just has to stop arguing (if in fact he is) against your political rights. I think his dialogue with you is a fantastic opportunity, and I know for a fact there are a lot of real Christians who are watching him, and watching you, and it's changing how they think.

Posted by Fnarf | June 28, 2007 10:29 AM

No, straight people don't use glory holes. Or have anal sex.

No, wait. They have anal sex. Lots.

But the only reason straight men don't use glory holes is because... women won't. It's that straight men wouldn't, Fnarf, but that they *can't.* (Except, of course, for the straight men that do--whenever glory holes get busted, it always seems to be straight identified guys -- including pastors -- that get busted.)

As for Pony's gloryhole, it's clearly not intended for use, and never really was. It's about decor, and invoking the sleazy gay bars of lore. Not that some idiot isn't going to try and stick his dick into it -- and any guy with a dick long enough to use it probably won't be able to get his dick through it anyway. Dicks 10+ are going to be too thick for that hole.

Posted by Dan Savage | June 28, 2007 10:34 AM

@20, Yes, but you have to use euphemisms and absolutely no talk about oral or anal sex. Its also preferable that the woman not orgasm. If you must, just make sure you feel guilty afterward.

Posted by Giffy | June 28, 2007 10:40 AM

Well, it's partly because women won't, but it's also because men WILL. I wouldn't stick my dick through the hole unless I knew for absolutely certain that every other person in the bar was a woman, because otherwise, yick. Might be a dude.

Yes, the desperately straight man-sex-lover is a powerful trope that causes a lot of anguish in right-wing church offices around the country, because (I'll bet) most if not all anti-gay pastors have at some point in their deepest darkest corners felt the terror of "maybe I'm gay". After all, the public campaign against homosexuals could never have gained traction without that core of fear. Fear is the fuel rod in all of the right-wing's social movements.

Myself, I'm hung like the handle of a wooden spoon -- 14", 1" circumference, so if all you guys could clear out of there for a few seconds I could totally avail myself.

Posted by Fnarf | June 28, 2007 10:49 AM

Eh, whatever.
Churches don't want me, and I don't want them, neither.

Posted by Dade Murphy | June 28, 2007 10:56 AM

@21. I have always felt the same puzzlement about women in the Catholic chruch. Why would a woman want to be a part of a religion that does not believe her to be 100% equal to a man in the eyes of God (assuming that's the underlying reason why women can't be priests)? A female Catholic is at least in part buying into the fact that they are somehow "less than" a man.

Posted by Julie | June 28, 2007 11:01 AM

To any followers of the Bible reading this; There are also parts of your book that tell slaves to obey their masters. We all agree that is B.S. (I assume) If you can dismiss the pro-slavery parts of the Bible then why not dismiss the anti-Gay stuff too?

Posted by Mary | June 28, 2007 11:04 AM

Dan, I know almost nothing about Cho's church or him personally. I'm quite firm in my atheism. Solely from reading his letter to you, my impression is that he is wrong, but also that he may have an open mind, and he could potentially change his viewpoint.

Your response, while correct in fact, was completely combative in tone. In taking that tone, you've completely shut him down and given up any chance at a teachable moment.

I actually thought your response (@17) to Phelix was much better. You explained yourself well, but your tone in that response was persuasive, not combative. If either Cho or Phelix have an open mind, that kind of response is likely to work better.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Cho is a completely bigoted douchebag with a silver tongue. But if I'm right, that Cho is potentially teachable, then your response to him completely closed that door.

Posted by SDA in SEA | June 28, 2007 11:09 AM

Thank you Fnarf, I completely agree. Dan, I completely understand your outrage as a lifetime of being told you are inherently wrong for loving who you love is just f-d up.
But reducing this issue over and over into a complete polarization hurts your cause. There are huge amounts of Christians out there who are pro-Gay and appalled by churches that are not. It would just be nice if you devoted a wee bit of time, say 10% even, to highlighting the many churches in our community who are affirming and the many Christians who are extremely pro-Gay.
It's people like you and your family who are going to slowly and steadily change the minds of those people who still view homosexuality as wrong. In fact, I know several people, who after living near awesome gay families, changed their minds on the gay marriage debate.
Civil rights take take. It sucks and it's not fair but it takes time and exposure to people and families who break down stereotypes.

Posted by Weary | June 28, 2007 11:11 AM

Thanks for the reply Dan,

I guess as a former/not-so-former Fundie it's a bit difficult for me to see that toxicity. It's still a struggle for me as a queer christian to recognize the bad in much of what I was raised with. I'm still working on dividing what to keep from my Religion and what to toss out in developing my Faith.

That said, the idea of a charismatic/non-denominational christian church that welcomes queers really appeals to me. I just need to find it somewhere.

Anyhoo, thanks again for the direct reply.

Posted by Phelix | June 28, 2007 11:12 AM

Fnarf @ 22
I have to agree with him (on most things). While I'm not a Christian, most of my family is. They truly believe heterosexuality is a sin. You can't just expect them to not believe this, because it hurts your feelings, is exclusive of you, or any other reason. This is their belief. What you can do is 1) call them on their bullshit that what they object to is the gay lifestyle, it's not, it's the gay sex (and that's where I think you're wrong Fnarf) 2) Press them on supporting full gay rights (including marriage).
Also, I think that pretending he gives up nothing for his faith is, not only wrong, but foolish. I'm not going to argue with you that it is as important and central to a happy life as an intimate relationship is for most poeple. But, first, there are all sorts of people who don't find an intimate relationship that important. More importantly, an intimate relationship isn't sufficient for most people. Christians often give things up that are very central to their lives, and in some theologies, it is required to give up something important.
Again, not that I think he's right (especially that his objection is to the "gay lifestyle") but you can't demand that his beliefs conform with yours in order for him to be a good person...only that he not discriminate based on those beliefs.

Posted by hattio | June 28, 2007 11:12 AM

If the church is bad for gays, it really isn't great for humans of either sex. If they don't mind having women preach, they still want the women to preach intolerance. How good is that for women?

Posted by Lorin | June 28, 2007 11:17 AM

If the church is bad for gays, it really isn't great for humans of either sex. If they don't mind having women preach, they still want the women to preach intolerance. How good is that for women?

Posted by Lorin | June 28, 2007 11:17 AM

Loved your response Dan. It was perfect, with one minor nitpick. In general, I don't think it's very helpful to this discussion to bring up the existence or non-existence of god. It has nothing to do with an individual's stance on homosexuality. Plenty of straight people believe in god (the Christian capital G God or something else) and also accept gays as no different then themselves.

Cho is engaging in the discussion, so, maybe, just maybe, there is some possibility that he will learn something, broaden his mind, and change his thinking. If not him, then surely there are others who would benefit from an understanding of the points you raise in your letter. But your comment about the non-existence of god might cause those people to shut down and close their minds/ears to what you are saying (i.e., he doesn't even believe in God so what does he know). Since you not believing in god is totally irrelevant to the points you make, and it may make him less likely to listen to what you're saying, then I would have left it out.

If you want to change minds rather than just respond to his hateful thinking with more hateful thinking, then I think "sugar and honey" is the way to go...

Posted by Julie | June 28, 2007 11:25 AM


I get what you're trying to communicate, but you're a little off base on a couple of your points. The question of the bible's judgments on homosexuality can't really be broken down that simply. The verse to which you refer is the verse on which most Christian anti-homosexual rhetoric is based, but that verse (and the other four or so dealing with the topic) are wildly abused and, really, bastardized in order to support the premise they're pushing. Even still, these verses could only be taken as absolute instruction if you believe the bible is inerrant--which not all Christians do. In fact, the only people who really push the inerrant point are the fundamentalists.
Stay with me, here, I'm headed to the point.
What I'm getting at (at the very least trying to) is that the bible does not spell it out as loudly or as clearly as these people would have you believe. Yes, there are a few verses that can be interpreted in such a way as to make it appear like a loud and clear message of prohibition, but that is the product of the interpreter’s agenda, nothing more. In fact, there’s little to no mention of homosexuality, pro or con, in the entirety of the new testament.
Why would a gay man (or a woman) be drawn to the church? Does it matter? They are drawn to it, they and millions of people around the world are drawn to spirituality, to religion, to worship. And, while it is not something to which I subscribe, Christianity has some pretty alright qualities as well.
The point, then, is that being a Christian and being gay should not have to be mutually exclusive. There are a number of tenets of Christianity, taken from bible verses like the one to which you refer, that have been rejected as false, or at the very least, no longer applicable—and should Leviticus 20:13 be one of them, gays and Christians could get along like anal sex and lube.
Listen, I’m not a Christian—it ain’t for me—but it doesn’t seem fair to chastise homosexuals for seeking to be embraced by a religion that purports to stand for, above all else, love and grace.
And if you want to be all throw in a verse about it, I think this is the one we should be focused on—(allegedly) from Jesus himself—

"You know the law by heart but you've forgotten the heart of the law: justice, mercy and truth."

Posted by Jaime-Leigh | June 28, 2007 11:33 AM

I don't understand the idea that we all need to hold bigot's hands and walk them through the argument for gay rights. Being angry at someone for his closed-minded views isn't going to scare him away from open dialogue for the rest of his life. If someone tells me (or Dan) that they don't approve of my lifestyle, I shouldn't have to smile politely, make a big effort to understand him, and then gently guide him to my point of view from his standpoint. If he says something ignorant and condescending that pisses me off, I should be pissed off.

I mean, it's one thing to respond by spewing vitriolic hate speech, but that's not what Dan did. He called the man out on his bullshit, and told him why his church's policy on homosexuality isn't satisfying. Just the right response, I'd say.

Oh, and @21: just about every Christian has to tweak his or her faith around passages of the Bible that they don't believe in. The book that you quoted, Leviticus, condones slavery. Leviticus also condemns the consumption of shellfish in the same language he condemns homosexuality, as an abomination. If Cho can approve of "the shrimp coctail lifestyle" (and let's assume he does,) Leviticus shouldn't stop him from approving of "the gay lifestyle."

Posted by Alphonse | June 28, 2007 11:38 AM

if you are not or were not a christian it will be difficult for you to use the bible to pursuade a christian that begin gay is okay. very few christians i've met in my life have EVER thought that the LEV passage still applied. it's OT, and in the NT believers were set free from the Law. it goes deeper, but bringing up that passage, and ones on slavery, won't really convince.

there are different ways to bring about change. you can protest, you can argue, you can insult, debate, be nice, just live your life as an example. each does in their own way. some of us would like everyone to be nice, but others have reached the end of their tethers...

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 11:44 AM

It seems that several others have commented on the appropriateness of the "sugar and honey" approach vs. the combative approach. This topic was also discussed yesterday in the comments to the piece about the lesbian who slapped the protester at the parade.

So, what do people think? Teachable moment, hold the bigots' hands, "sugar and honey"? Or, slap the protester, be pissed off, "you'd answer to god if there was one"?

Posted by Julie | June 28, 2007 11:46 AM

slapping shouldn't represent the extreme. slapping is just not appropriate. you can hold hands and be nice, or yell and protest. those should be the extremes. both are acceptable. i prefer the honey approach, though mostly because i think that just knowing people who are "different" can bring about change.

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 11:53 AM

Once again, Dan, you take the fight to them. Good on ya! I find it laughable that they'd be offended by being compared to another church, yet can say they condemn the "gay lifestyle" as if gay people can't/shouldn't be offended. The whole "lifestyle" talking point is crap, and Dan you lay it out right for him. Again, thanks for that.

How sad for these people that their concept of God is so small, so tribal and so insecure. How could anything we do be offensive to God? Are parents offended when their children misbehave or disobey them? I don't think so. Angered, maybe, but not offended. Besides, if God is so much like us as to be able to be offended then he's not God!

And yes.... the "Shrimp Coctail Lifestyle" is a great argument. Is it too much to ask for Christians to at least be consistent with their religious laws? Don't shove your mouth full of shellfish and then tell me that homosexuality is an "abomination". Don't wear a fringeless, mixed-materials, red outfit and tell me that God hates what two loving people do with one another in the privacy of their bedroom. Sheesh!

Posted by Jonathon | June 28, 2007 11:54 AM

Ok, #38 I agree that many Christians believe that the NT has pretty much made the rules of the OT obsolete but if that's the reason not to use the bible to back "our side", then what do they have to hold up their stance on homosexuality being wrong?

Did God tell them in a dream? I assumed that if they believe that it is "wrong" then they have something to back up their belief? What, if not the bible? (and, if THEY are using the bible to back up their belief, shouldn't we get to as well?)

Posted by Tivity | June 28, 2007 12:08 PM

speaking as a former fundie - early in the NT believers are told they are free from the law, but in later letters, certain rebukes are provided. yes, a vision (found in acts) actually confirms any food is okay. i cannot remember anything about mixed fabrics -- so they are assumed okay. but there is ONE verse (in cor) that pretty much says homosexuality is still a no go (plus sex outside of marriage is a no go). it also does not say that slavery is not "good", but that if you are a slave you should obey your master (to a point). it also says state laws should be followed unless they force you to commit sin.

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 12:28 PM

oh, not that there isn't debate over this stuff still. the SDA's, for instance, think that many of the OT laws should still be followed -- and they are not alone (just one of the larger denominations). you will, however, at least find a certain amount of consistency with them on this issue. and the volunteer park church is old but the people are usually nice and accepting. i am not, nor have i ever been an SDA.

there are three things you can hope for from christians:

1. they renounce their faith
2. they fully accept homosexuals and treat them as equals
3. they fully accept that the US is not a theocracy, and do not interfere politically, while still not performing gay marriages in church.

maybe 4. they disagree with the law, but still follow it...

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 12:33 PM

I think Dan's response to Cho was appropriate given that Cho believes Dan and his gay ass are going to hell for eternity for their collective sins. Sugar-coat it all you want, but Mr. Savage and Mr. Cho have a fundamental disagreement and they should figure out what it is (God? Leviticus? What?) and then figure out how to live and work in the same city peaceably. I commend their conversation and hope that it will result in clarified thought for both.

Posted by Katelyn | June 28, 2007 1:10 PM

Arguing out of the Bible is never going to get anywhere. Jaime-Leigh is correct: very few Christian denominations believe in Biblical inerrancy. But it's the ones that do that get all the press, because they're the ones making all the noise.

It is not encouraging to see that the "gay side" of this issue is riddled with every bit as many stupidities and misconceptions as the "Christian side". Like many of the posters here.

In the not-very-long-ago days, the vast majority of Christians in America believed that the Bible was a book inspired by a relationship with God, not the literal word of God. There was, and still is, a tremendous body of work on this subject, but no one in the public eye ever talks about it anymore.

Posted by Fnarf | June 28, 2007 1:42 PM

@24: Thanks for the guidelines. I live in the sticks; news travels slow out here. Is it also okay if I rim my boyfriend, then freak out and question his sexuality when he seems into it? I could still do the guilt thing after, too.

Posted by Darcy | June 28, 2007 3:32 PM

@47 happy to be of service. Ahhh I see you know the "is my boyfriend gay?" test While an important test in any relationship the transgression from true sex does correctly entail guilt. Just make sure your next few sex encounters last no more then 30-45 seconds and involve no foreplay. It might be hard at first but soon you'll be fucking like a good hetro.

And don't anybody come back with any mumbo gumbo about nerves or prostates. Thats just liberal science trying to foist a 'gay lifestyle' on us all.

Posted by Giffy | June 28, 2007 4:10 PM

The total number of times homosexuality is mentioned in the bible, both old and new testament, is something like seven. All rather obscure, highly open to interpretation, and attributed to figures other than Jesus himself. JC never chimed in on the subject.
On the other, hand the bible makes literally hundreds of references to economic injustice, a subject Jesus was pretty fond of harping on, what with the money lenders and all. The role of Christian leaders in the debate over equal rights for gays seems a bit odd. Jesus didn't seem too worried about it, and shit, he knew Romans, I mean real damn hell-ass old school Romans. I'm almost certainly preaching to the choir here, but I think it deserves asking: why don't fundies hate rich people the way they hate gays?

Posted by douglas | June 28, 2007 4:21 PM

@49 douglas -- great point. this is something i bring with my christian friends all the time:

why so against homosexuality? it's a social reason, not a religious reason: they were taught it's gross and weird and wrong and etc... it's not like christians protested en masse when no fault divorce was legalized. it's not like there are laws against adultery, getting hammered at home, and what not.

Posted by infrequent | June 28, 2007 4:41 PM

douglas @ 49,

Haven't you heard? God wants you to be rich, so they've tossed all that 'helping the poor' s&!t.

Posted by Original Andrew | June 28, 2007 4:42 PM

@51 But only if you know The Secret.

Posted by Giffy | June 28, 2007 4:47 PM

i've emailed back dan. and i'm sure he'll post on this blog. i was surprised that my personal email would be posted here but regardless, my hope is that it would spur conversation and dialogue. i've posted my email reponse to him on my blog as well:

you're welcome to blast, engage, dialogue, probe, question, or whatever - but let's attenpt to have dialogue.

#45 i have not damned dan or the gay community to hell for eternity nor do i believe that.

Posted by eugene | June 28, 2007 5:05 PM

I've answered eugene, my response was as follows:

I can hardly belive that you cannot see how bigoted your position is. If you replace the word "gay" with "inter-racial" in the questions you posed perhaps you will see what makes your position untenable.

"Is it possible for a person to be in friendship with you that holds a different position on the gay issue?
Is a person – despite their friendship with a gay person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share your view?"

Is is possible for me to be friends with someone who believes that inter-racial realtionships are wrong? No.
Is a person – despite their friendship with an inter-racial person – automatically a bigot if they don’t share my view? Yes.

It's a ridiculous claim to say I accept you but not what you do, the two are intertwined. To separate the two is a false dichotomy.

Posted by clarity | June 28, 2007 5:52 PM

clarity, check your definition of bigot before you throw stones. Looks like you've already divided people into separate camps without knowing them.

Posted by mirror | June 28, 2007 6:05 PM

Why do gay people like to use the terms "bigot" and "homophobic" to anyone who detests their lifestyle?

Don't you understand that the majority of human beings find your lifestyle degrading? We're not fearful of you and we don't discriminate against you, we just disagree with your sexuality.

But you people jump up and down like a yo yo and hurl names at the rest of us. Grow up.

Posted by layGuy | June 28, 2007 6:09 PM

Putting the issue of gay rights aside, I find your final comment about answering to God rude and inappropriate. No matter this man's opinions, he wrote to you as a representative of a religious organization, and he spoke to you with respect and politeness. Though he expressed a viewpoint you find offensive, he did not deny your right to other opinions, and in fact he invited you to respond with them. Imagine if HE had written to YOU: "If there was a God, you would answer for it one day."

You responded to a respectful letter by insulting his faith. Shame on you.

Posted by an atheist and a lesbian | June 28, 2007 6:28 PM

Mirror and LayGuy,

Please take note of the quotation marks. Eugene used that term himself, and I was merely replying to him.

And " you people jump up and down like a yo yo and hurl names at the rest of us"???

Who are "you people"? Gays? F.Y.I. I'm not gay, I'm a straight person who believes in equality for all.

Posted by clarity | June 28, 2007 6:30 PM

Also, Fnarf: I hope for your partners' sakes that you mean a 1" diameter, not circumference. Otherwise you're describing a garden snake.

Posted by an atheist and a lesbian | June 28, 2007 6:34 PM

No, no, circumference. Snake is an apt description: the head dances and swivels around freely, and emits a hissing sound. I call him "the Cobra".

Posted by Fnarf | June 28, 2007 7:14 PM

Who would go to a church named after the phone company?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | June 28, 2007 7:15 PM

@46: I understand that many Churches now don't believe in the Bible's infallibility, and are all lovey and inclusive as a result. I understand that the Church long ago agreed to forgoe slavery, gruesome public executions of heretics, etc. But what's the point of picking and choosing from the Bible? If you believe parts of it are wrong (for instance, the pro-slavery bits), then why would you believe other parts of it are true(virgin births, for instance). It seems to me that this is the dilemma facing all tolerant Christians, and gay Christians in particular. Why would you place your faith in a system that is either deeply intolerant and backwards, or massively flawed and outdated? Again, I think it is a recipe for unhappiness.

Posted by Mr Me | June 28, 2007 7:21 PM

You can only hope a ten-inch-long dick is appropriately thick; I've had many moments of disappointment in my life.

Fnarf--I love you, but no, nobody has to give credit for anyone who stoops to actual communication. There should always be dialogue, but we're past the point of agreeing to disagree on this subject.

Gay people are people who have sex with people of the same sex. It's the hot, hot fag/dyke sex that defines us. "Lifestyle" is just whether we wear Prada or have flat-screen TVs, and it's a shitty word to throw at us.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | June 28, 2007 7:24 PM

Mr. Cho:

I am a born-again and was raised in an extraordinarily conservative church. I appreciate that many Christians earnestly struggle with how to approach the "gay issue." Over time, however, I've concluded that the Bible is infallible, but human interpretations are not. Churches have used the Bible to justify a myriad of evils. I can almost guarantee you that in 50 years Christians will add our "love the sinner, not the sin" treatment of gays to that list of injustices carried out in the Lord's name.

The Bible is timeless and timely, but it was written in a historical context. When the Bible was written, homosexual acts were most publicly carried out in one of two ways: As rape to prove your power over another man (think prison) or to worship pagan gods. If God's Word said something like, "A man shalt not live with a man as he wouldst live with a woman" then I would agree that the Bible forbids homosexuality. But it doesn't. It condemns sex acts that were, at that time, used to hurt people or glorify idols, which should be offensive to Christians regardless of the genders involved or the era in which the acts occur.

Posted by Mary | June 28, 2007 10:46 PM

You know what this conversation needs? A little R. Kelly. C'mon everyone, put it on repeat while you read this and it mellows all the arguments out a little bit. Even the bigots seems kinda tolerable (except layGuy, that dude is hella hateable).

...sippin' on coke and rum, I'm like so what I'm drunk, it's the freakin' weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun...

Posted by no one in particular | June 28, 2007 11:09 PM

Stop using your book to justify your own small way of thinking, Mary. You are free to live your life according to the bible. The rest of us are equally free to ignore the bible and live free of that book's influnce. The bible should have no more influnce on our lives than the koran or Harry Potter. If you are so lame as to need an ancient book of nonsense to guide your opinions then I feel sorry for you. How fortunate that according to recent polls more young people are rejecting religion and thinking for themselves.

Posted by Mary | June 29, 2007 4:24 AM

Other Mary:

I apologize that my post wasn't clearer. I'll clarify: People wrongly use the Bible to justify homophobia just like people have used the Bible to justify the Inquisition, the Crusades, slavery, segregation, marital rape, polygamy, witch trials, anti-Semitism, etc. These things are all just as evil as homophobia.

Although you don't believe in the Bible, it's good to know what the Bible actually says-- and doesn't say-- about homosexuality so you can respond when people use it to defend their bigoted crap. A quick google search will bring up a ton of good stuff on the original Greek and Hebrew texts.

Posted by Mary | June 29, 2007 7:13 AM

Mary 1 - you're absolutely right. Pretty much everything the bible says "condemning" homosexuality is either a matter of translation, or an edict involving cleanliness (anal sex wasn't exactly hygienic in those days) or a story who's moral is mis-interpreted (Sodom and Gomhorra).

It's also important to note that in the days of early Christian society, they were very small and needed to encourage procreation in order to insure that their numbers would grow. They also needed a way to set themselves apart from the Greeks, who embraced homosexual behavior (albeit in a rather different set of social forms than we understand it today).

What you have to realize about the bible is that it is a long and diverse historical/anthropological document. It is a mishmash of documents from different times and of different types. Fables, oral histories, geneologies, letters, poems, prayers, laws held by ancient societies, all from different eras and different traditions, combined into one document in a packrat manner that defies all logic.

Modern (protestant) Christian tradition treats the book as if it has one author because the book had been around for centuries before the invention of the printing press made it possible for the common person to read it. Once this happened, people didn't know what to make of it, having had no access to education about it's historical roots, so they assumed that the whole thing had just been written by God. They then proceeded to come up with wildly variant interpretations based not upon historical fact but upon their own biases and socio-political agendas. It's a big damn book; you can use it to justify anything.

This, of course, continues to this day. The religious anti-gay agenda does not actually come from the bible; the bible (and protestant attitudes of uneducated bible worship) has merely proven an effective way to propogate it.

So what causes it? Patriarchy, of course. The drive to define gender roles in strict terms and make people conform to those roles, to, essentially, turn women into baby-making and baby-raising machines and men into inseminating and fighting machines. This is the best way to support imperialistic agendas of war and conquest.

Posted by Laurelgardner | June 29, 2007 8:43 AM

Strictly for the sake of discussion, just where does this fall in the free speech debate? Personally, I don't agree with the KKK in the slightest but their right to their positions (as odious as they are to me) is protected. How do we disagree passionately about religion and stop short of the intolerance, even the intolerance of the intolerant?

Posted by jk3689 | June 29, 2007 10:58 AM

Dan, one thing's pretty clear -- it's likely that Mark Driscoll would take your email, read it aloud to his congregation, and openly mock it and force guufaws of laughter from his congregation. I say this in jest but with some uneasiness...

You should at least give Eugene some credit for responding candidly and cordially to your question, despite your disagreements with his position. Coming to Seattle after 25 years in the midwest affirms just how lucky you and I are to have this kind of non-obtuse dialogue with people of faith.

Posted by m@ | June 29, 2007 6:10 PM

jk36989 - "Freedom of speech" means that you can say what you will without fear of being imprisoned, hurt, or killed. It does NOT mean that the rest of us have to twiddle our thumbs and say, "Oh, they're just excersizing their free speech, so we can't say anything negative or discouraging about them because that would be CENSORSHIP!"

There is no reason whatsoever to be tolerant of the intolerant. I won't support efforts to shoot them or harm them or imprison them (unless they have plans to do the same to me or someone I love, and frankly, the KKK's track record is not exactly good on this front), but I have every right to use MY free speech to insult them and denounce them, and I have every right to freely associate away from them and to expect others to do so. That means I don't have to support a publication that gives them a flatform or any establishment that supports them.

Posted by Laurelgardner | June 30, 2007 7:36 AM

I am a man of faith who just moved out of Seattle to find work in the Bay Area. I believe, we are familiar with the walls put up between racial lines, however, there is a wall put up between cultural lines as well. A wall of anticipation, assumptions, and retaliation. It is unfair to put populations together to define their individual belief as a whole, although it usually faults on the side to protect your own culture.

The challenge is for both sides to lower their walls and to engage in personal conversations. You know very well that a president does not always have the same views as his people. You know that everyone has their own, personal outlook on life. I believe that every Christian has a personal image of God and faith. Not all will reflect the hypocrite that you see.

In the same way not every Black man is a thug
not every Asian is a dry cleaner
not every Jew is a seamer
not every German is an engineer
not every Hispanic works on a farm.
not every Christian is narrow minded
not every Gay is sexually promiscuous

So, if you want a Christians to be slow to judge, you have to expect treat him with the same courtesy... this is how we will be able to understand and love each other.

Posted by Steve Liu | July 1, 2007 7:18 AM

I am a man of faith who just moved out of Seattle to find work in the Bay Area. I believe, we are familiar with the walls put up between racial lines, however, there is a wall put up between cultural lines as well. A wall of anticipation, assumptions, and retaliation. It is unfair to put populations together to define their individual belief as a whole, although it usually faults on the side to protect your own culture.

The challenge is for both sides to lower their walls and to engage in personal conversations. You know very well that a president does not always have the same views as his people. You know that everyone has their own, personal outlook on life. I believe that every Christian has a personal image of God and faith. Not all will reflect the hypocrite that you see.

In the same way not every Black man is a thug
not every Asian is a dry cleaner
not every Jew is a seamer
not every German is an engineer
not every Hispanic works on a farm.
not every Christian is narrow minded
not every Gay is sexually promiscuous

So, if you want a Christians to be slow to judge, you have to expect treat him with the same courtesy... this is how we will be able to understand and love each other.

Posted by Steve Liu | July 1, 2007 7:18 AM

I doubt Dan, or anyone else, still cares about this anymore. But on the off chance that anyone does--

That was a perfect letter, Dan, except for the random attack on Cho's God. Why was that necessary? How do you expect him to respect your beliefs if you insult one of the most core aspects of his life? Maybe you don't care at all about him respecting your beliefs--maybe you figure he's too "Christian" for you to influence anyway--but I would disagree. I think Cho is earnestly trying to listen, and doesn't deserve that slap.

I can't stand to see religious groups knock down secular humanists for not following religious doctrine. It's a completely invalid and hurtful criticism. But I can't stand to see secular humanists completely dismiss someone who derives their moral compass from the bible, either. Even if religion doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean that religion is invalid for everyone who practices it. It can be an extremely positive force in people's lives. It can also be a source of prejudice and persecution. But we're never going to be able to change that if we don't reason with religious leaders. Plain insults won't get us anywhere.

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Posted by ktbnq usdqtmy | July 5, 2007 7:01 PM

I see that you did not put Eugene's response to your email up on this blog. Why is that? You just made it a one-sided conversation by putting your bigoted response of his flippant usage of the word lifestyle. Are you so shallow that you cannot put the response up? I just read the response and for anyone interested it on Eugene's blog. Of course, you didn't respond to his email. You are no better and no different! Who the hell cares if someone misused the word lifestyle? I mean seriously! It wasn't a personal attack against you nor anyone else. Yes, I don't buy the garbage "hate the sin, love the sinner" because it isn't true but you can't act like this was the end of the conversation. You ended the conversation after Eugene's last email because you are too stuck on yourself and what you think he said to have a decent conversation.

And to some of the comments people made. You cursing a church for not being at a gay rights parade? Who the hell are you? Churches aren't here to affirm or not to affirm humans! Churches exist to affirm whom they claim to serve and for Quest church that is Jesus Christ. They don't serve the gay community and go out of their way to affirm it. They go out of their way to affirm Christ. Christ would open His loving arms to the gay community because there is no freaking difference between the gay community and the straight community! They are still human!! Humans make mistakes and all humans agree and disagree on what those mistakes are. So get over yourselves!!

Posted by Amstardam | July 10, 2007 9:55 PM

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