UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question

by John Shore on November 10, 2011 in · 52 comments

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 is  one of America’s leading Christian writers on the subject of gay people and Christianity. His 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 heart-wrenching yet inspiring letters from gay people telling what it’s like to grow up, and live today, 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

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda Hiland November 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

When is the exact date that this comes out on paperback? :)

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Christine November 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great :) Love Kathy’s work too.

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Todd November 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I am very interested in acquiring your book. I have been looking for something like this on the B&N site (I have a nook) and couldn’t find anything!

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Katy November 29, 2011 at 8:57 am

John, Sherri doesn’t even deserve a response. No need to get into a pissing match with the delusional. She hasn’t read the book. She doesn’t get it. And I’m not speaking of your book. I’m speaking of the Bible. The whole “multiple marriage partners” statement… Obviously shows her lack on biblical scholarship.

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DR November 29, 2011 at 11:06 am

I disagree. I don’t think Sherri has the capacity for meaningful dialogue and her “defense of faith” is nothing more than an emotionally-fueled rant by someone who uses Jesus as a hiding place from her own rage and homophobia. I certainly understand your intent but the world watches those of us who are also Christian in these moments. When she’s not countered, our silence means approval.

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Sherri Richardson November 29, 2011 at 8:16 am

“Grow up” “That’s how the grown ups do it”
This is how you respond to respectful criticism? Who’s the childish one. Seriously.

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DR November 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

Sherri what you fail to realize is that your initial posture upon entering this forum was aggressive, hostile and frankly very rude. But you won’t see that because as we’ve discovered before a thousand times, people who enter into conversation just like you did believe they are fueled by the righteousness of God. That you’ve encountered people who are “hurting” Him and it’s obedient to speak in the ways you do.

Your zeal for God – the God we serve too – makes you blind to your own bad behavior and then once your bad behavior is raised to your awareness? You will either dismiss it or you will justify it or simply ignore it all together and leave. We’ve seen it a million times. Perhaps you’ll be different but I hold absolutely no hope that Christians like you have the capacity or even the desire to take ownership for how you’re received in these kinds of conversations. So there you go.

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DR November 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

In short? That you actually characterize your comments as “respectful criticism” is creepy and unsettling. You don’t even see how rude you were. It’s scary.

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Todd November 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I don’t believe that this is how he responds to respectful criticism.

Do you have any respectful criticism?

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Sherri Richardson November 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

So the Bible is open for interpretation for our purposes? Laughing at “Woe”. Sir, Woe to twisting the scriptures to suit our own “itching ears” is not something to laugh at.

Will your next book support multiple marriage partners? That’s the newest way society is perverting the sanctity of marriage. After all the many verses that say Marriage is to be between one woman & one man surely must have MEANT something else? right?

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John Shore November 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Why are you concerned with what my next book will be, when you so clearly haven’t read this one? Read UNFAIR, and then criticize it, okay? That’s the way grown-ups do it.

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Melody November 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Oh. My. God.

Grow up already. You say that like we haven’t heard it from a million other ignorant fundies like yourself. Who told you the Bible could only be taken one way? Go educate yourself before passing judgment on something you know absolutely nothing about.

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BMac November 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Multiple marriage partners is absolutely NOT a new concept. In fact, it’s older than the 1man 1woman concept we have today. When Paul writes that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband he is making a revolutionary statement. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, kings Solomon and David (among many, many others) all had multiple wives and concubines. Plus, he’s writing to Ephesus, a town plagued by pagan rituals involving sex and has nothing to do with marriage as we know it 1900 years later. In fact, Paul probably wouldn’t recognize the romanticized version of marriage we have become accustomed to in the last 150 years.

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DR November 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

Christians, take note. This is exactly why people can’t stand us. Sherri has entered this forum, inserted extensive meaning into what John has written while at the same time, asking him to defend this meaning she’s inserted (that he didn’t even offer).

It’s symptomatic of people who are threatened and give themselves license to do this kind of thing in the name of “Jesus. And Sherri is our mess to clean up because she’s the reason why people won’t thoughtfully engage us. We can’t sit back silently and allow people like Sherri to treat people with such disrespect – she won’t change, she doesn’t have the capacity to but as we counter her and call her on her manipulative behavior? Online or off? Reasonable people watch us do that and we redeem their hope that Christianity isn’t just a place for the emotionally unstable and character-challenged of our world.

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Deborah Thomas November 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thank God, finally, someone who knows the bible and is able to intelligently express what is said without the “Cherry Picking” that most people do. I think the LBGT society is totally discrimanated against, and it is just wrong. Anyone I know who is gay, has known it since they were young. I don’t think they chose their orientation, it’s just who they are. We bend over backwards to be politically correct about everything else – sometimes to a ridicolous degree – except this. An elderly friend of mine (who I’ve never know to go to church or to read anything but Vouge & House Beautiful & those Tabloids) told me it says it’s wrong in the bible. When I asked her what verse or what exactly does it say, she hesitated – most likely because she hasn’t read the bible – then said with much certainty: “The bible says it’s wrong” Oh, ok – can’t tell me where or what it says exactly……to cut her a break, she is in her 80′s, although my mom is in her late 70′s and she’s more live and let live, & she doesn’t think it’s a random choice they made. I grew up in the sterotypical family from the late 50′s; Mother, Father & 2 kids, a boy & a girl, a dog and a cat. It was an extremely dysfunctional and abusive, terrible way to grow up – due to my Dad, when he passed away, I cried a little – he was my blood father, and I am human, but – I had dreams for about a year that he was alive, and I’d wake up and remember he was gone, and can’t come back and hurt us ever again & then I’d feel so relieved. The gay friends I have who’ve adopted children are wonderful parents, they had to try so hard to get their child(ren). So what if some kids have 2 moms or 2 dads, if they’re loving, giving, teaching right from wrong, preparing the kids for the real world without breaking them down & killing their spirit (as my bro & I were) they are very lucky kids. It’s so refreshing to have someone who actually knows what they’re talking about regarding the bible, to not use God against them. And, what about that crazy cult who goes to soliders FUNERALS and make a mockery of these poor people who hve lost a loved one who was fighting for our rights and freedom for everyone…..except the LBGT community. I don’t get the cult, or what is there screwed up reasoning? What does a poor dead soldier have to do with LBGT? Is it because we have the “Don’t ask and don’t tell”? I just don’t get the connection, even If I did get the connection it is so disrespectful, and crazy, and horrible for the families. Can someone tell me please – what is in their tiny minds that has them doing something so horrible to people who have just lost a loved one, a very brave loved one fighting for the rights of everyone…….even that idiotic, off the wall, disgusting, dispecable, cult? I apologize for my rambling & going off on tangents, I wish I could say things more succinctly – but, I can’t. I talk this way also, which, people who don’t know me well are sometimes bewildered at my point, and what is it, and will I ever get there? FYI, I usually do, but it’s like a road trip, where we stop at places that catch my attention along they way. Raise your hand if you think it’s ADD! Thank you for your time!

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Christie Landtroop via Facebook November 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

John Shore – is it for the pastor who you met with some weeks or months ago who said he couldn’t be open with his beliefs re: LGBT & Christianity because the congregation would flip out?

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John Shore November 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

In large part, Christie, yes.

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Sue Hatcher via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Personally, its my mission to educate, inform and build bridges between the LGBT community and the church. Its an ongoing process…

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Sue Hatcher via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

We need to keep on educating and informing…its a mission.

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Pat Hux via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Some are giving up the fight to educate…… both gay and straight. Never, never, give up. What if the Freedom Ride never happened because they all just gave up….? Come on!

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Patrice Wassmann via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I NEED this for my church…

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Scott Hacker via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Great work John – you really hit on the important messages and meanings with this one.

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Sue Hatcher via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Thanks John…much appreciated. It will be extremely useful.

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John Shore via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Sue: as Pat says: download the kindle e-reader ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000493771), which you can then use to read any kinde book. Or wait for the paperback, due out in, I believe, a a month.

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Erika Beseda-Allen via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

WANT! put me down for one.

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Sue Hatcher via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

ok thanks

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Pat Hux via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm

sue, you can download Kindle for PC from Amazon for free. I don’t think there is a hardcopy…

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Sue Hatcher via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Will Wings on a Pig be available in hard copy? I don’t have a kindle.

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Cynthia J Yanchury via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Maybe God at God’s Word?

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Pat Hux via Facebook November 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

cool – just got the Kindle book…..

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John Shore via Facebook November 15, 2011 at 5:47 am

Thanks, Michael D. Watt!

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Michael D. Watt via Facebook November 15, 2011 at 4:05 am

Great book, John! I finished it yesterday.

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Marianne November 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I don’t need this book to tell me what God says about homosexuality. All I need is what God wrote to us Himself. The Bible. It’s very clear in there. There are many, many passages that tell us His attitude toward His creation and those who pervert it. There’s also many passages that tell us what happens to those who lie about His Word. Woe!

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vj November 15, 2011 at 2:55 am

Marianne – are you new to this blog? If so, please take some time to read some of John’s recent posts (including all the comments) dealing with Christianity and homosexuality. I know that you think the Bible is crystal clear on this, but please allow yourself the possibility that some of what you have always thought is clear is actually clouded by CULTURAL issues (both in Biblical times, and in the ages since), and that many, many people who love Jesus just as much as you do have come to a different conclusion to your own. While there are *some* Bible passages that have historically been used to teach that homosexuality is a sin, there are vastly MORE passages that deal with issues of love and grace and not judging others and not marginalizing those who are ‘different’.

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John Shore November 15, 2011 at 5:24 am

“Woe!” Really?

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Melody November 15, 2011 at 9:18 am

I know, right? What century are we in, again?

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Christy November 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

But what if you are wrong, Marianne? God asks us to be discerning….which means weighing and considering all the information available, not simply following what we have always been told. If we never consider another point of view, how can what we have be called faith? How is what we believe a choice of free will? If all you are ever served is spaghetti, how do you know that spaghetti is the only right type of pasta to eat? That’s not faith. That’s just eating what you have been given.

PS: God didn’t write the bible. This is why nuance and accuracy are important.

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William November 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm

“All I need is what God wrote to us Himself. The Bible. It’s very clear in there.”

what God wrote??? Ha Ha :D Ha Ha :D Ha Ha :D Hee Hee :D Ho Ho :D

It’s very clear??? Hee Hee :D Ha Ha :D Hee Hee :D Ho Ho :D Hee Hee :D

I’m laughing because that kind of childish ignorance is so sad. I don’t want to cry.

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Mindy Brown Carney via Facebook November 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm

This may be the best review I’ve ever read about anything. Perfection!

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John November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

It’s TOO BAD that many Evangelicals don’t have the backbone to admit that their attitude toward LGBT people is the product of BADLY misguided thinking! More power to folk like John Shore!!

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RuthAnn Wilson via Facebook November 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I downloaded and started reading… Wow…

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John Shore via Facebook November 10, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Here’s where to get the Kindle reader app for any computer or device: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000493771

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Christy November 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I downloaded this today for my mac. It worked beautifully.

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Kathleen M Isabell via Facebook November 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’m looking forward to the print book. I recently donated several progressive books on “homosexuality & the Bible” to my church library (which were welcomed enthusiastically & have been much in demand since). I’m glad that the subject is still being researched in a scholarly fashion by people like yourself, against the backdrop of the understanding that a diversity of people has always existed, and no “God” would have damned His “creations.” Thanks.

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Jenni French via Facebook November 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I have a Kindle on order as a Christmas gift to myself, but I downloaded the Kindle app for my computer so I could read this TODAY. I’ll take time to write more later, but this book is definitely worth it, folks. :)

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