UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question

by John Shore on November 10, 2011 in · 60 comments

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The touching, brave, and frequently heartbreaking letters in UNFAIR should be required reading for any Christian who claims that gay people can’t also be Christians–and for LGBT people who feel there’s some conflict between their sexual orientations or gender identities and their faith. John Shore is sharp, he’s funny, and he’s right. To find out why I’ve called him America’s preeminent non-douchey Christian, buy and read this book. And I challenge anyone who believes that the Bible justifies the persecution of their gay and lesbian neighbors–particularly those on the religious right who’ve made lucrative careers for themselves out of bearing false witness against their gay and lesbian neighbors—to read this book’s opening essay, Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality. — Dan Savage (American Savage, Savage Love, founder of the It Gets Better Project)

John Shore (who is straight) is one of America’s leading Christian writers on the subject of the relationship between LGBT people and Christianity. His pioneering, galvanizing essays are widely credited with being central to the sea change in Christian thinking that has occurred on this issue in recent years. UNFAIR offers the best of Shore’s writings on homosexuality and Christians/Christianity, along with thirty extremely moving life stories from people telling what it’s like to grow up both gay and Christian. The book’s opening essay, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality,” is a must-read for anyone seeking clarity on the relationship between the Bible, Christianity, and LGBT people. If you read only one book on this subject, make it this one. (This is the revised and updated edition of Shore’s book, UNFAIR: Why the ‘Christian’ View of Gays Doesn’t Work.)


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More praise for UNFAIR:

For most of us, the fact that gay kids growing up in evangelical homes are made to feel worthless, unloved and unwanted is just plain depressing. For John Shore … it’s a challenge–an opportunity to teach, to preach, to gently mock, and, most importantly, to throw the love of Jesus right back at evangelicals. — Randy Roberts Potts

Amen! A book that gives voice to the thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people who have been told they must sacrifice their identity to be Christian — Believe Out Loud

John Shore writes a very popular blog on religious and social issues. Early in 2011, I observed as a few folks began emailing John about their struggles with the church’s position on homosexuality and the prejudice they faced from the church because of their sexuality. Without fail, John responded with grace and love to those letter writers, and in his responses, issued numerous challenges to the church to repent of their sins.

Sensing the power of these personal stories, John issued a call for folks to share their stories, to share the pain inflicted upon them by the church, and their struggles to reconcile faith and sexuality. Those letters form the framework of this book. Each of these letters tore at my heartstrings as I read of the hatred and abuse heaped upon the writers, and I am angered by the fact that this abuse was committed in the name of Christ. Yet there is liberation in the letters as well, as some of the writers relate wonderfully touching, amazing personal experiences of a God that offers no condemnation, but only love and welcome.

Interspersed between these letters are John’s own reflections, in articles that challenge the church to actually inhabit the gospel of grace and share that grace with others.

Finally, John and his wife Cat systematically lay waste to all so-called “biblical” opposition to homosexuality, taking each of the so called “clobber passages” and stripping them of the rhetoric that has been attached.

As a former conservative evangelical, and now progressive pastor; I have studied the issue of homosexuality for years. I can say that without a doubt, this book is the best treatment of the subject that I have ever read. This should be on the desk of every pastor, every teacher or youth leader. — Roger McClellan, The Progressive Christian Alliance

I just finished reading John Shore’s UNFAIR: Why the ‘Christian’ View of Gays Doesn’t Work.

I’m not trying to exaggerate, but anyone who reads this book and still has a hard heart towards gay people defended by a christian worldview, I would seriously question the existence of their soul, conscience, heart or ability to reason.

Shore presents a collection of letters that he’s received over the years from GLBT individuals who have had a first hand experience of the Church’s discrimination against gay people (he writes a blog, so he gets a lot of mail/email from readers), interspersed with essays written by himself, all ultimately demonstrating “Why the ‘Christian’ View of Gays Doesn’t Work”. The last chapter is an essay written by Shore and his wife entitled Taking God at his Word: The Bible and Homosexuality, which addresses the 7 specific verses in the Bible that appear to refer to homosexuality.

The letters themselves are what I found most powerful about this book. Personal accounts of people who have lost relationships, livelihood, and love because of the Church’s insistence on defending the lie that God does not accept gay people as they are. Some of them lost hope and lost their faith. But a very good many of them learned to separate the Church (humans) from God, and found that God loved them and wanted to have a relationship with them. It is really beautiful, and this testament supports the overwhelming truth of this book. God loves everyone, he created everyone to be exactly who they are, and he intended gay people to belong in his Church body.

Shore’s essays are sharp and clairvoyant. He has a gift for seeing the true nature of things, and expressing it concisely with words. He clears the cloudiness in our minds of why this issue makes people uncomfortable, why they fight it so strongly, why this topic, hardly discussed in the Bible, is blown SO COMPLETELY out of proportion as to destroy people’s lives. He exposes the blatant hypocrisy in the church on this issue, that should leave just about anyone who identifies as Christian, not just a little embarrassed. He is confident that things are changing, and that it is only a matter of time before the church hardly remembers a time when it excluded gay people.

John Shore is a straight, married man. He didn’t become a Christian until he was 38 years old, but he is very earnest about his faith, and I think that’s why this is so important to him. He came into the church later in life and was horrified to see that this was going on in communities of believers. People who grow up in the church I think become immune the appalling attitudes of the church towards GLBT people.

Please, for the Love of God, read this book. — Fish out of Water: The Life and Times of a Gay Girl in the Midwest

John Shore, a straight, humorous, insightful man has written UNFAIR: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work. The “quotes marks” around Christian are on purpose, in case you were wondering. Now, lest you think this is John’s only book about Christianity, what works and what doesn’t, think again. He’s been writing these thought provoking page turners for a while.

UNFAIR offers thirty powerful pieces of writing that ran the gamut of personal persecution stories to gays by people who feel the Bible justifies them and makes them right in their thinking, and an additional eighteen pieces of writing by Mr. Shore that point out why what these “Christians” are doing in the name of Christianity is so wrong. It’s pretty potent stuff. The beautiful thing is that much of the book is done with insight and humor, which make it eye opening without being inflammatory — Shelly’s LGBT Book Review Blog

{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

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Helen Bolshaw-Walker via Facebook April 14, 2012 at 3:21 pm

John, you sum up everything I believe. If only the world had more folk like you, fanatics in all forms would never win.


Susan in NY December 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Did you read the book? Most of us here can spew back what we’ve heard from our pastors regarding homosexuality. That does not mean that the spewage is correct.

The line, “Sometimes, repentance means deliverance from a lifestyle a person thinks they were born with,” is just downright rude, since it is obvious that you are referring to gay people, as opposed to sinners or other bad folks.

Why not hang around and read John’s blog, and maybe read the book. Then get yourself some gay friends and family members and then shoot us another comment.

Susan in NY


Susan C Timm via Facebook December 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm

oh yeah, baby!


Angel Thompson Brasok via Facebook December 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

John is this available in Canada?


Tom December 24, 2011 at 4:14 am

I was trying to find it at Chapters/Indigo in Canada too, but, it wasn’t there. Canada NEEDS this right now John. :)


John Shore December 24, 2011 at 7:00 am

No, the book isn’t for sale in bookstores, but only online and directly from me (because I’ve published it myself). And yes, I ship to Canada.


Jesse Hall December 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

Love your insight, John. As always, thanks.


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