Eugene Cho

the gay dialogue

This was THE POST, entitled “the gay conversation” that got it all started.  One church visit led to one article which led to one email exchange which led to a blog response which led to 300+ comments and counting. It is probably the one post I’d recommend sharing with others – not because of what I wrote – but because of the dialogue that ensued in the comments.  It’s real, raw, and a glimpse of the conversation that rarely ever takes place.

This is certain. I am richer and deeper as a result of the conversation. It has led into a more continuous dialogue.  Over the last two Wednesdays, I hosted an open forum as a follow up because several folks inquired about getting together for a face to face chat.  Thus, the gay dialogue.

I had no idea what to expect but about 30 folks showed up each respective meeting – mostly different folks at each meeting.  The first was understandably a little awkward but the second, for whatever reason, was incredibly engaging, challenging, dynamic and fluid.  At least, I thought so…

Some of the thoughts amongst many that stuck out:

  • Everyone has an agenda.  Let’s be honest.  The Church has an agenda and the Gay Community has an agenda.  When people speak about the influence of Christians, consider the influence of the Gay Community.  The example I gave:  How many Asian males are represented in Hollywood currently [2 – Hero and Lost] and compare that to the number of gay characters.  It’s neither good nor bad but a simple statement to say, “We all have an agenda.”
  • The Church is guilty of hypocrisy but it does not mean that the Church can’t say anything about sexuality and sexual beauty and depravity.  If no one but perfectly consistent people can say anything, who can say anything?
  • The Church must apologize for many things.  Many things.
  • The Church must learn how to listen.  We can hide in our churches, study diligently on our desks, and blog away but if we don’t know or learn how to listen, we can never even remotely come close to understanding the stories of others.
  • The Bible does speak – ever so briefly – about homosexuality.  But when it does, it speaks strongly. But, if we are honest about the Bible and what it says, it speaks contextually about homosexual behavior and not so much about identity which is what proponents of homosexuality often cite.  And yes, it’s still confusing.  But the Scriptures do speak about God’s ethics of His created order which is what shapes my convictions.  I can write more here but I’ll refrain.
  • This is a human issue.  Simply meaning, let’s not forget that this involves people.  Everyone that showed up to the “gay dialogue” knew someone – a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, or a neighbhor that is gay.  Couple gay people also were present and contributed much for many to ponder about. 
  • Let’s not underestimate the role and power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life.  We can’t change people.   We teach, communicate, lead, guide, shepherd, love, rebuke, edify, etc. but ultimately, the Holy Spirit is at work.
  • The word I keep coming back to is “reconciliation.”  Isn’t that the heart of what we are called to?  To be ministers of reconciliation?  What does that look like? It’s an immensely complex issue with many, many layers.  Which leads me to the question, “Can folks still be in community together?”

As some may know, I entered this situation unwillingly.  I am not afraid to engage it but it wasn’t my intent to have that engagement take place publicly.  Behind the scenes, I’m now enjoying the one to one conversations and even what may appear to be friendships that are developing as a result of the conversations.  In some ways, I feel a certain burden to convey to people who are on different sides of the issue that while perfect reconciliation may not be possible in our present realm, steps must be taken.

This is why I’m considering an offer to submit a book proposal with a large and reputable publisher.  I’m not entirely sure if I want to or if I should, so your prayers for discernment are much appreciated.  If I submit a book proposal and it gets accepted, I think I have a title for it.  I never imagined that my first published book could be entitled, “The Gay Book.” 

It’s been an intense couple months.  There are times I’d just rather be on one side or the other.  Would have been easier.  Navigating the middle with grace has been extremely difficult because you take shots from both sides.  “Welcoming But Not Affirming” is an attempt to navigate that middle with grace.   Easier said than done.  I am challenged, intrigued, and in reflection over a recommendation from a Quest congregant who suggested an alternative:  “Welcoming and Respecting.” 

Who knows…maybe it’ll come up in the book if I get around to it.


Related Links: All Hell Broke Loose; Listening; Gracious as All F#*k; and The Gay Conversation

Filed under: christianity, church, culture, religion

47 Responses

  1. nancy says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts and posts. Like you shared, I don’t really need to read any more about theology or biblical interpretation, I’d like to read someone articulate how that applies to real life and real people.

  2. […] Related Links:  Listening; Gracious as All F#*k; and The Gay Dialogue […]

  3. Randall says:

    Yeah, treading the middle is difficult. It’s like Mr. Miyagi said in Karate Kid, “Walk left side road, okay. Walk right side road, okay. Walk middle, squash like grape.”

    And I wonder if the narrow road that Jesus talks about (Matthew 17:14) is difficult to find because it runs right down the middle.

  4. Ben says:

    I remember one of your sermons that resonated with me a year or so ago re: “relativistic middle-ism” and how society is heavily conditioned by it today to a fault.

    There is a right and there is a wrong so let’s be candid about this and not skirt around the right/wrong with all this analysis and dialogue. Homosexuality is sin and cannot remain in any way, shape or form a part of one’s walk with the Lord.

  5. Neil says:

    This is a good and thoughtful summary and analysis.

    “The Bible does speak – ever so briefly – about homosexuality. But when it does, it speaks strongly.”

    I might add that when it speaks about God’s plans for marriage and parenting – it speaks loudly and consistently – one man, one woman.

  6. Jennifer says:


    Sin is a part of every Christian’s life. The particular sin of homosexuality might not be the one you or I struggle through, but I’m sure you can think of your own sin struggle, and I can too. I am grateful that God does not demand perfect obedience from me on every issue. I think he is just as concerned with what is going on behind the sin as he is with the particular behavior. When I act prideful or smug toward another person, I think God is just as concerned about what’s going on in my heart as he is with the words I used. Why would I act that way? What hurt part of me is still needing love? Sure, God cares about my behavior, but he also cares about my heart.

    If you want to say homosexuality is a sin, then I think you need to give the same grace and space to the people who struggle with it. It would be so easy – so, so easy – if we could just say that the Bible speaks against homosexuality, therefore you should not engage in _______ activity. But, I think there can be a million heart issues behind why someone is drawn to homosexuality and that God wants to meet people in their hearts as much as he wants correct behavior. Telling someone to just stop the behavior, and that is simply has no part of Christianity, isn’t really fair – to them or to Christ. Jesus can meet a homosexual person on any level they are willing to engage with him – just like he does with all sinners.

  7. […] thoughts here are catalyzed by an ongoing discussion happening with Pastor Eugene Cho of Quest Church in Seattle. We are privileged to have him coaching us as a new church. Our take on […]

  8. Ben says:

    I see your points, Jennifer, but let’s, again, not overcomplicate things.

    Homosexuality is a sin and there’s no way to pull it into the Christian fold to make it tolerable or OK in one’s walk with God. And I understand that sexual desire is a powerful force as commensurate to the popularity of the discussion at hand.

    I’m not saying at all take grace and compassion out of it – just understand that you need say this is right and this is not right and go from there. One may take offense to it, but sometimes the truth hurts and we can certainly talk about it. But bottom-line, handle it, else come back later should you so choose. You know?

  9. Jennifer says:


    I appreciate that you have a desire for following God and obeying what you believe, even when it is not popular. That is a good characteristic.

    I think what I hear you saying is that if someone can not completely walk away from their homosexuality, they should not identify themselves as a Christian or be part of a faith community. They can “come back later”.

    That’s a really hard thing for me to accept, not because I don’t think homosexuality is a sin, but because I know that MY sin is not something I’ve been able to walk away from 100% in a clean break. (And I imagine that your deepest secret sin isnt something you’ve been able to make a totally clean break from either. We’re all in this together). I can’t even begin to tell you how much the sin of worry is in my life today. Would your response to me be : the truth hurts, handle it or come back later? I hope not. If we were friends, I hope you would accept me where I am, pray for me, and help bear my burden. Shouldn’t a homosexual be offered the same grace? Sometimes it just takes space and time for the Holy Spirit to work. Growth in the Christian life is not an instant thing, even when we want it to be. I dont see why there can not be a lot of room for people to live and process, even when they dont meet some standard, just as I mylsef miss that standard so often.

  10. e cho says:

    If you read what I’ve written, I’ve made it very clear where I stand on the issue. What’s right and wrong isn’t the only converstion. What, then, does “grace and compasssion” look like for you.

    For those that have ears to hear or for those that want to come and particpate in the life of the community and I’m very thankful that there are several who are gay that choose to call Quest their home church. So, what then, does “welcoming” really mean for a church or for a christian?

  11. Rebecca says:

    Eugene- You are so right when you say that everyone has an agenda. When we focus on our own agenda, we forget to see the other person for who they are: created in the image of God. And when we ignore the other person’s agenda, we take everything as truth without carefully weighing all factors and the entirety of Scripture. Both sides like to take parts of Scripture to prove their own particular point, instead of wrestling with the whole convoluted, complicated thing.
    I think that the larger Christian community could stand to hear your views on how to extend grace while standing firm in your convictions. And the gay community needs to hear that we still love them even when we don’t agree with them. Write the book!

  12. Brian says:

    Ben, hi I’m Brian. I am a bit troubled by the shortness of your remarks with this dilemma.

    I think I’m troubled because I view it as so incredibly difficult. I believe that because hermeneutics (interpreting texts) is a part of it. Pesonal truth and story (my friend who is gay, OR yours who are not) is a part of it. Cultural phenomena (homosexuality becoming closer and closer to being almost mainstream, even though there is still great injustice toward gay people) is a part of it.

    “Relativistic middle-ism” is only dangerous if there is no attempt for love and truth in the process. I would argue that Jesus was a relativist in his time: turning the other cheek and such…fulfilling the law but not abolishing it…that sounds like “relativistic rubbish” to me. If I were a pharisee I would be so frustrated with JEsus, wanting him to stop riding the fence.

    to claim to know something simply because the Bible says so is dangerous. The bible is ONE picture of God, not THE picture. A person (gay or not) is also a picture of God. Our stories of pain echo the depraved state we find ourselves in, and our beautiful faces give light to the glory of humankind, as God’s creation. So, to simply ignore anything except for the Bible on this subject feels minimalistic and narrow. You may choose to disagree and I am okay with that, but I urge you to consider the face of gay people as you write remarks about their identity, because someone’s face is just as much a picture of God as the Bible is.

  13. Katherine says:

    Brian, Thanks for those words.

  14. Joel says:

    Many gay people who are also Christian urgently and desperately need a clear, rational Christian direction of where to go and how, which distincts itself from the usual unhelpful “Gay is bad” mantra.

  15. Helen says:

    Eugene wrote: “Navigating the middle with grace has been extremely difficult because you take shots from both sides. “Welcoming But Not Affirming” is an attempt to navigate that middle with grace.”

    The middle? Eugene, may I respectfully say, I don’t think you’re in the middle. I think you’re at the extreme end and trying to put a friendly face on it.

    You make the rules “no intimate relations for you gay people – that’s only for us straight people!” (yes I know you consider them God’s rules, based on the Bible, but what relevance has that to people who consider it an ancient fairy tale?). You consider them inviolable. That is not middle ground. There is no compromise there. Listen to Dan when he says he sees no daylight between you and Mark Driscoll on this issue. He is telling you something important about whether you are in the middle ground or not.

    Does it bother you that what you take for granted with your wife, you deny gay people? Do you feel bad for them? Have you ever considered becoming abstinent, for their sake – identifying with them in that way?

    If not then, you haven’t really felt their pain. (the part you CAN feel – you can never feel the stigma they bear because you are not one of them) You don’t really get what you are asking of them. It is too easy for you to deny them intimate relations, because it doesn’t involve you giving them up yourself.

    This is only my opinion and yes I know I’m being provocative. I’m tired of seeing Christians who ‘oppose the gay lifestyle’ feeling good about themselves because they are ‘welcoming’ to gay people. Every moment they are with you they know they are unequal to you; you have a privilege they do not have, according to your beliefs.

    Please stay welcoming – but is that really as far as you can go? Because the middle is still way out of sight from where you are (imo).

  16. e cho says:

    Thanks for dropping by and for your ‘respectful’ comments.

    You are right. If I see things from what I perceive to be your worldview in this matter, there are other two “sides” and nothing close to a middle ground. While I have a hard time hearing the word “extreme” associated with some of my thoughts, I can see why you would see it in that manner.

    I am not denying folks anything – certainly not intimate relations or whatever else you have in mind. I can’t force, coerce, manipulate, or exert someone to do anything or nothing. I am simply – with as much integrity as my hypocritical life can muster – trying to convey what I believe to be God’s ethics for his created order.

    I have taken and continue to take the thoughts, words, and convictions of others as I seek to be an open book. But if I took everything that Dan says to heart, I’d have to believe there is no God.


  17. Helen says:

    Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for your gracious response.

    I understand you are doing your best to convey God’s ethics. But to those who don’t believe in God, I think your message must come across as your restrictions; you are the instigator and the denier of their rights. I know you don’t see it that way but I was attempting to represent the viewpoint of those who don’t believe. By definition they don’t see God standing behind Christians who pronounce morality. So it is the Christians doing it.

    I understand that you are not able to both believe in God and agree with Dan – I respect that. If you gave up something in order to identify with him then you would be doing something a lot like God who gave up what he didn’t need to give up in order to identify with humans – right? I think it’s interesting that I doubt any heretosexual Christian would ever do that even though it’s a way of following the way of Jesus. Maybe I shouldn’t expect pointless denial, but then Jesus did seem to assume people fasted, which is equally ‘pointless’ unless there is some intrinsic benefit in unnecessary self-denial.

    I keep coming back to this – is self-denial a core part of the emerging Christian way? If not should it be? It seems like it was at the core of the Christianity I learnt. Is it one of the shackles the emerging Church should throw off or is it at the heart of Christianity, something precious which shouldn’t get lost as other worthwhile shifts are made?

    And so I wonder, do gay people perceive Christians as sacrificing anything for their sake? Do they feel ‘served’ by Christians? Do they feel they got the seat of highest honor, that Christians say “here – take my seat; I’ll move down lower”.

    Anyway, I’m a hypocrite too, so there’s one thing we have in common 🙂

    Peace and well-being to you too.

  18. Jennifer says:


    Hi there! It’s good to see you in this space 🙂 I know you to be someone who is passionate about justice issues, and I have appreciated that about you.

    I’d like to ask your opinion…

    I too am trying to find a middle way in this, and I’d love to get your reaction. Does it seem reasonable to you for a Christian to walk a middle road that says homosexuality is not God’s plan for people and is sin, but that those people who feel they are homosexual should be allowed to marry, have the same rights, etc and that they make good friends and neighbors.

    How does that hit you?

  19. Helen says:

    Hi Jennifer!

    Not opposing gay rights is definitely a more friendly approach than to do otherwise.

    In general I think this is a very sensitive issue because gay people feel their sexual orientation is part of who they are. So if you believe homosexual behavior is sinful, gay people hear that as “something central to who I am is more sinful than you”.

    I’m not sure how to define the middle, but it seems to me it should involve some give and take on both sides. I’m not sure what you’ve given if you hang out with gay people, whereas what they give is being in the situation where who they are is more sinful than those around them. Letting them marry etc – I don’t think that necessarily counts as giving unless you also count that gay people let straight people get married.

    It’s not an even playing field, so how does one create middle ground?

    My sense is that gay people feel their sexual orientation is part of who they are. And so when they hear the “it’s sin” message as “at the core of your being you are more sinful than I am”.

    Also, it’s only the Bible which frames homosexual behavior as morally wrong.

  20. Helen says:

    (p.s. sorry, that was a bit repetitive because I rewrote bits and forgot to delete the old bits)

  21. Jennifer says:


    I do appreciate your perspective. Thank you. I’m not pretending to have any complete answers here.

    One partial response I would like to make about what each “side” gains or gives up when they are friends is this : friendship is opportunity to influence. When I say that homosexual people make good potential friends I mean that there could be a genuine give-and-take there. If a person who believes homosexuality is a sin becomes friends with a homosexual person, they are giving opportunity to be influenced by that homosexual person. Last week I listened to an interview with marriage researcher John Gottman as he talked about how homosexual couples tend to have certain strengths in areas where heterosexual couples tend to struggle. I think Christians (not all, but some) could acknowledge that homosexual couples could teach them something about relationships. This levels the field a bit.

    Even in “regular” pairings of friends this same dynamic plays out. No two friends agree with each other 100% on everything, but friendship (and influence) is still possible even when one thinks the other is in some state of dysfunction.

  22. DH says:


    You wrote: “Also, it’s only the Bible which frames homosexual behavior as morally wrong.”

    Huh, you really believe that?

  23. Helen says:

    Jennifer, yes, I agree with you about friendships: they are risky if we open ourselves up to the possibility of being influenced, which I think is inevitable in real friendships. And the idea of heterosexual people being willing to lean from homosexuals about how to have better relationships – yes, I would see that as venturing onto middle ground. It would take a lot of humility, I think. But it’s hard to imagine people who are convinced those relationships are sinful saying “Yes, I’d like relationship tips from you”.

    DH, yes, I do believe that. If you think otherwise, please elaborate – I’m very curious. To me, if the Bible is set aside, then morality comes down to how humans treat each other. (That is part of Biblical morality also but not the whole)

    So, in non-biblical human morality, either two consenting adults in relationship together is morally ok or it isn’t. If it is then it is whether they are the same sex as each other or different sexes. If it isn’t, then again it isn’t whether they are the sex as each other or different, so then heterosexual relationships are wrong also.

    As I said I would love to learn what the flaw with this reasoning is from your point of view. Since by implication you disagree.

    If someone had a choice I would recommend against being gay because it is more complicated and stigmatized. So in that sense I would not wish it on someone. And if there was a way of changing sexual orientation and a gay person asked me “Should I take it?” my feeling would be, yes, because then their life would be easier. On the other hand, when something is core to someone’s identity there is the fear of losing oneself with any big change, so I would understand people saying “No, I will continue to live with this because I want to continue to be ME”.

    Maybe it is a choice for some people and maybe sexual orientation is something some people can change about themselves. But on the whole it doesn’t seem like it is a choice. Because if it was, more people would jump ship, notwithstanding the identity issue I just mentioned. I don’t think it’s just an education issue. People feel what they feel. I can’t imagine how I could change and become attracted to the other gender from the one I am attracted to now. I have every reason to think gay people feel the same way. Who am I to presume their feelings are less inate and more changeable than mine?

    Because of my view that it’s morally ok aside from the Bible, then I can’t help feeling, it really is none of my business what other peoples’ sexual orientation is and what they do about it. It bothers me that various forms of Christianity I’m familiar with tell me it IS my business, that I am 1) supposed to agree it’s morally wrong and 2) not be obnoxious about it, yet, somehow make that clear to gay people I know.

    The word ‘respect’ has come up on this page – I used it too – and to me it’s very relevant. If I respect people then I respect their self-understanding. I do not presume to know them better than they know themselves, no matter what any book says. If I think I have seen something they have missed about themselves, I proceed with the utmost caution and tact, hoping we can build a relationship with enough trust in it that I would have permission to share that at some point.

    Christianity creates a great inequality because it tells Christians to have opinions about the behavior of other people, not based on its results but based on the measuring stick “God doesn’t like this” which sets up a universal standard. Other people don’t think that way. They assess behavior according to its ramifications. Not according to a measuring stick only visible to some. I can deal with the way people who aren’t Christians think. Being around Christians can be crazy-making because of how some (not all) of them hold up their invisible stick and say “uh huh – you’re arrogant!” They know nothing about me – they don’t know how I treat others or whether I presume to be better than them; which to me has to be considered in determining whether I am arrogant. But no, they are certain I am just because I don’t share their beliefs.

    In the same way I’m sure gay people are equally bewildered by the invisible measuring stick. Yes, it’s true that the stigma against gay people exists among non-Bible believers. But I would say this is not because it’s morally wrong. In my opinion it’s because it’s human nature to fear and suspect what is different. To the extent we give into that, we facilitate small to huge sins, small prejudices all the way up to genocide.

    Over and over again Jesus opposed a focus on what’s wrong with THEM and said, no, you pay attention to what’s wrong with YOU. When we say ANYTHING about a sin which by definition we never can commit, we are on the dangerous ground of what’s wrong with THEM. We are in a place Jesus kept redirecting people away from. And for good reason because the other people whose specks we are pursuing can see our planks very clearly. And they have every reason to wonder why we are not busy working on those. Jesus came to serve. Gay people have every right to think “I will know when I run into a Jesus follower because I will notice I am being served”.

    This isn’t just about gay people; it’s about the wider issue of the relationship between Christians and everyone else. If Christianity is about serving others then why do Christians hold the invisible-to-others measuring stick? Why don’t they say “if I am serving you I had better submit to the reality that that means you hold the measuring stick; you get to say whether you feel served or not” Christians see themselves as servants of God but they often don’t act as if they are servants of other people.

    Sorry if none of this applies to you folks, if you are already out there serving and letting others be the judge of whether your service is meaningful to them or not.

  24. e cho says:

    it’s stuff like this that the [C]hurch has to apologize again and again.

  25. Me says:

    I am female.
    I am over 40.
    I am half Korean, half American.
    I served in the military.
    I am a military brat.
    I don’t drink.
    I don’t smoke.
    I don’t curse.
    I’m always the designated driver.
    I work in the computer industry.
    I have above average intelligence.
    I’ve never been in trouble.
    I’ve never been a partier.
    I’ve worked since I was 12.
    I own a house.
    I love to read.
    I am Christian.
    I have a very fulfilling life, although it would seem boring to many.
    I am the queen of useless information.
    I am fascinated by everything.

    People spend a lot of energy looking down their noses at others. Are constantly judging a book by it’s cover. How many times have you done the following:

    Seen a person with a smock or head scarf and wonder if they were Islamic?
    Seen a Hispanic person only speaking Spanish and wonder if they were an illegal immigrant?
    Seen a person dressed not so nice on the street and wonder if they were a homeless person?
    Seen an African American and wonder if they were going to do something bad?
    Seen a homosexual couple and wonder if they have AIDS?

    I could go on and on. Why think the worst about people? What makes anything any worse than eating pork or wearing clothing of different materials? What could be worse than judging others or excluding them?

    The downfall of man is the spoken/written language. People make up words and whatever they mean. When we teach children what love means… do we teach that it is to open our hearts to everyone? Or do we teach that it is sex between a man and a woman? Or marriage?

    Before you look at this one very narrow area, maybe you should reevaluate your understanding of language and words. Once you have understood the hypocrisy of it, then maybe you can circle back around to all of the other atrocities of minimizing something you can’t possibly relate to unless you are going through it yourself.

    Just a thought…

  26. Jerry says:

    Me: If the downfall of man is the spoken/written language, why in the hell did you write so much?

    Just a thought.

  27. Me says:

    I didn’t say I was perfect? Just human.

  28. blackpoetry says:

    Are you half korean and half black or are you half white. America has two primary cultures (well three with the growth of the latino American).

    African American Children

  29. e cho says:

    Here’s the church’s statement and the context behind the MSNBC article. makes you think that not everything is always so simple.

  30. Julie says:

    I have to disagree with your point about everyone having an agenda. I am not a member of the Church nor of the Gay Community (nor do I have any family members or close friends who are gay). I do not approach the issue of homosexuality from a place of trying to justify my beliefs (religious or otherwise) or my lifestyle (or the lifestyles of those I am close to).

    If I have any “side”, I suppose it is the side of logic. I find it totally illogical that anyone could think of homosexuality as wrong or bad or “a sin” or any different from heterosexuality (for reasons I discussed in the original post’s comments). Maybe I do have an agenda… wishing people were more rational and logical in how they formed their belief systems.

    Helen – loved your thoguhts about the measuring stick. Also agree with your comment about people being inherently afraid of things that are different from them. I’m sure no one would consciously admit to such a thing (racists, homophobics, etc. would never say that is why they hold their beliefs), but it is without a doubt there. And frankly, I think it is here on these blog comments as well…

  31. Derek says:

    Julie, if you are not trying to justify your beliefs, I am curious why you would even bother explaining your wishful “non-agenda”.

    Also, rationale is itself colored by a person’s worldview, religious or not. It is not enough to say that being logical is right and being illogical is wrong, without recognizing competing “logics”. I find it totally illogical that anyone could think of homosexuality as NOT being any different from heterosexuality.

    While you may not believe me, even as an atheist I would not want anyone to be homosexual for a plethora of “non-religious” reasons. If then by my rationale I conclude that homosexuality is wrong, that is indeed a perfectly logical belief.

  32. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    I posted in the wrong spot, I see. I had posted my comments here, under the original post on this topic:

    I just read through more of Eugene’s posts. Specifically, I just read Eugene’s post on women in the Bible, in which he shares a more egalitarian exegesis than is usually applied to the Bible.

    I congratulate him on that, but wonder about how selective his powers are. It seems that in terms of “safe” content, the stuff that doesn’t make him squirmy as a heterosexual male, he has no problem with reading the Bible in context, and as a document open to interpretation. But when it comes to the issue that makes him personally uncomfortable–homosexuality–he cannot seem to accept a view of the Bible in context, and as open to interpretation.

    Scholars (and the Pope) were CERTAIN that Mary Magdalene was in fact a prostitute. They could point to all sorts of passages in the Bible that they said PROVED it but in fact did so only squishily, if you torqued the passages *just so* so that they could be read in that light.

    The same can be said–and I say it–of the passages heterosexual bigots use to condemn homosexuality. It shocks me that Eugene, whom I don’t know, but who seems comfortable adopting a mantle of hipness (hair product, swear words, gender inequality and all) where it suits, cannot seem to get around his only heterosexist bias when it comes to homosexuality.

    Welcoming but not affirming just strikes me as equivocation. I really think he should never had said it.

  33. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    Erm, “gender equality and all,” it should read.

  34. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    Brian, BTW–well said, in all your comments. Donzo, me.

  35. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    Okay, let’s try this in reverse.

    Because my post contained a link, it was dumped in moderation (I’m guessing, as someone who administers a bunch of WordPress blogs). So I’ll try reposting:

    I posted in the wrong spot, I see. I had posted my comments under Eugene’s original “The Gay Conversation” post.

    Anyway, I just read through more of Eugene’s posts on this site. Specifically, I just read Eugene’s post on women in the Bible, in which he shares a more egalitarian exegesis than is usually applied to the Bible.

    I congratulate him on that, but wonder at the selectivity of his powers. It seems that in terms of “safe” content, the stuff that doesn’t make him squirmy as a heterosexual male, he has no problem with reading the Bible in context, and as a document open to interpretation. But when it comes to the issue that makes him personally uncomfortable–homosexuality–he cannot seem to accept a view of the Bible in context, and as open to interpretation.

    Scholars (and the Pope) were CERTAIN that Mary Magdalene was in fact a prostitute. They could point to all sorts of passages in the Bible that they said PROVED it but in fact did so only squishily, if you torqued the passages *just so* so that they could be read in that light.

    The same can be said–and I say it–of the passages heterosexual bigots use to condemn homosexuality. It shocks me that Eugene, whom I don’t know, but who seems comfortable adopting a mantle of hipness (hair product, swear words, gender inequality and all) where it suits, cannot seem to get around his own heterosexist bias when it comes to homosexuality.

    Welcoming but not affirming just strikes me as equivocation. I really think he should never had said it.

  36. e cho says:

    daughter in law of a gay person,

    thanks for your comments. i would have emailed you directly but your fake email address doesn’t work.

    you’ve taken some time to take some shots at me: my bigotry, my hair products, my swear words, and other stuff. that’s ok.

    all i can do – to the best of my ability is to go about my work and calling as a minister – and if it doesn’t please you or others, you have the choice to disagree. that’s ok. we’re free and ok to disagree. isn’t that great? and if you are a “church-going” person, you can also make the choice of saying, “i will never go to a church led by that eugene or led by someone that thinks in similiar prejudiced ways like eugene.” and that’s ok too.

    i’m sorry i can’t seemt to get around my heterosexual bias. you are enlightened. i am still waiting to be enlightened…

    peace to you.

  37. Daughter-in-Law of a Gay Person says:

    I’m not providing an email address because you made public comments, and opened up the dialogue to the public, so I am addressing you in this forum.

    I’m not taking shots at you because I am trying to make an ad hominem attack. I am pointing that you seem to be selective in how far you will go with joining the progressive movement.

    To me, you can’t dabble with the signifiers of the progressive movement–a bold contempt for traditional perspectives on words you use in “polite company,” a meterosexual commentary on hair and hair products, and a concern with gender equality–and then be so ummoved about “the gay issue.”

    Again, that is not an ad hominem attack. That is a breakdown of the tropes you use in your discourse, and the signifiers you adopt in your bid to be the hip pastor of the urban, multiethnic church.

    If you feel attacked by what I said, then I am sorry. But I don’t know that you understand how gay people feel equally attacked by leaders in their spheres (in your case, the church) refusing to affirm their identities as valid.

    I want you to understand this: I say this as someone who is not gay, but who has family (through marriage) that is gay.

    I don’t pretend that I am enlightened–actually, I quite can’t stand that word, since it’s bound up in ideas about the enlightenment as a philosophical tradition.

    In fact, I readily admit to my faults, which are ever so clear here: I have temper and a fiery passion, as well as a fierce loyalty; I type up my comments quickly when under the sway of that temper and passion, and perhaps don’t stop to be polite or moderate enough as I do so, which is not always a good thing; I also post comments when I am tired (I’ve been up all night completing a freelance project) and so make a whole bunch of mistakes in my posts, which diminishes my credibility, disrespects your space, and makes me sound like an idiot. So there.

    But I stand by what I am saying and I feel that by allowing yourself to feel stung by my comments without stopping to consider what they mean, you are exiting from a chance to really think about what you are doing in your leadership. Why do you adopt some signifiers of progressivism but refuse to scrutinize your own heterosexist biases, enough to admit that you are not being objective in your assessment of homosexuality, and as such, should probably not be commenting on it in an official capacity?

  38. e cho says:

    daughter of a gay person,

    i applaud your passion and loyalty. it is better to care than to be apathetic.
    and no, i don’t feel personally attacked by you. my hair does but i don’t.

    and i will continue to examine my prejudices and biases.
    after 400 or so comments and another 200+ emails in my inbox on this matter, i hope you understand if i choose to take a few steps back to soak it all in.


  39. Julie says:

    Derek – I explain my “wishful non-agenda” to bring another point of view to the view that Pastor Eugene said was agreed upon at the in-person meetings: that everyone has an agenda.

    I have never heard anyone provide a reasonable argument that did not involve religion as to why they think that homosexuality is wrong. In fact, I was really, really hoping that someone in the original comments would do so (I asked in one of my comments if someone would), as I am really interested in how someone who is not religious could be against homosexuality.

    I “get” religious disapproval of homosexuality. I don’t agree and think it’s totally ridiculous, but I get how people have formed those beliefs. If you are an atheist and disapprove of homosexuality, I would love to hear why. I agree that if you have a logical rationale for this, then, sure, of course that would be a logical belief to have. It’s just I’ve never heard anyone give a logical, rational reason that wasn’t connected to religion.

  40. James says:

    hey daughter in law of a gp,
    so, you’re saying that in order to be progressive, you have to be consistent on all “the issues.” you can’t think for yourself and have opinions on different matters. that’s as narrow minded if not more as the nimrod religious fundamentalists. i’m sick of christians who think that if you believe in god, you have to vote pro-bush, pro – war, republican, anti abortion, pro death penalty, etc.

    you get what i’m saying?

    you are criticizing rev. cho for trying to think?

  41. James says:

    i think you’re missing the point in my opinion. it’s not about religious disapproval. there are many people in the larger non-religious culture that “disapprove” of homosexuality. why?

  42. Julie says:

    Um, James. That’s exactly my question. I don’t know any of those “many people” that you refer to who think homosexuality is wrong for non-religious reasons. I’ve never met or talked to anyone who fits that discription. So, “why” is indeed my question. How could one think homosexuality is wrong without religious-based reasons? I don’t know the answer to that question so was thinking that this might be a good forum to hear others opinions on the matter.

  43. James says:

    i’m not quite sure what to say then. because i know many people that are not religious that don’t agree with the “gay lifestyle.” i think we’ve been influenced by the media in thinking that this is a “culture war” between christians/religious freaks and the gay community.

    in terms of why, i think it’s because whether folks are religious or not, we’re shaped by some level of morality. aren’t we? i hate christians that think that they have the market on morality. i’m not religious per se but feel like i have views about right and wrong.

  44. Julie says:

    Yes, obviously, non-religious people are shaped by a sense of morality. I am not religious, but still have an internally-derived morality that sometimes matches up with “traditional” religious morality and sometimes does not. Certain tenets shape this internally derived morality (e.g., something is immoral/unethical if it physically or emotionally hurts another person).

    My point is, that I don’t see how someone who is not religious (but of course still has their own sense of right and wrong), could think homosexuality is wrong. On what basis would they think that? It doesn’t emotionally or physically hurt others. It may cause some emotional harm to the self to be gay, but that is only because of our society’s treatment of and beliefs regarding gay people (I don’t think this would be the case on a desert island, for example). I am being repetitive here, but I have never been able to come up with a non-religious reason why someone would think homosexuality is immoral, nor have I ever heard someone provide a reason that made sense to me (though I have heard several non-religious reasons that didn’t make sense — e.g., homosexuality is immoral because anal sex is physically harmful to the body).

    Now, if in your comment above, you were using “the gay lifestyle” to mean “the behaviors which some Americans (wrongly) believe go hand-in-hand with homosexuality (e.g., promiscuity, meth use, etc.)”, then, well, that is a different conversation altogether. But, I’m assuming you’re not equating being homosexual with this stereotypical “gay lifestyle” (since, for example, not all gay people are promiscuous and heterosexuals can be promiscuous as well, then promiscuity is a behavior whose morality needs to be judged independent of homosexuality).

  45. Imageodei says:

    Interesting to see where these conversations go if you change “homosexual” to “rape” or “child molestation”. They comments should go the same direction and we must be consistent with all sin. (Evil, good, compassion, mercy, protection,justice.) I have all three vices (those who have been involved in these “lifestyles”) in my church. And I have people who have suffered at the hands of all three.

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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