Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

John Pavlovitz Can be My Pastor


John Pavlovitz is my hero. A Christian pastor and father of two, he recently penned this blog post on what he will do if either or both of his children realizes they are gay. He won’t love them in spite of being gay or because they are gay; he’ll just love them for being awesome people and for being who they are. He understands that being gay is not a choice or a thing to cure. He will pray for them not in order to “fix” them or change them, but in the hopes that they aren’t subjected to abuse just for being themselves.

I can’t sum up his words as lovely as he writes them, so you should just go read his blog post.

What’s heartening is that John has seen an outpouring of support since he blogged about this. It was an incredibly brave thing for him to do; he feared the reaction the post would receive.

I was raised a Christian, but I left the church when I was young. I didn’t believe in God anymore. As I got older, I was drawn back to the teachings of Christ, not because I had faith in his existence (or that of his dad, despite the obvious dual miracles of cocoa and coffee beans), but because I liked to think of Jesus as one of several revolutionaries of his time who tried to change how we see the world and how we treat one another.

I was fortunate to grow up with an openly gay uncle and openly gay friends. It gave me early role models, so I didn’t have to overcome any ingrained bigotry. I don’t take credit for feeling this way; I’m a product of circumstance. Others have a lot more to overcome, a much steeper climb. I think that helps me avoid the feeling that I’m anywhere near a moral pinnacle. I obsess instead over this puzzle: What are the many ways in which future generations will look at my supposedly modern views as abhorrent?

Every age likes to think it is an enlightened one, but if history is any judge, we do plenty today that will be seen as barbaric in just a generation or two. Perhaps it’s eating meat (which I do with quite a bit of guilt. I consider myself a Jeffersonian Vegetarian, which is someone who knows it’s wrong and does it anyway. Which is probably a lot worse than doing something out of pure ignorance).

In the near future, a generation might puzzle over the fact that we had the technology to have self-driving cars and could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, but we dragged our feet. Or that we let totalitarian states like North Korea fizzle out rather than rushing to aid the oppressed. Or that we watched a virus run rampant and gave a half-assed effort to put a stop to it. There are probably half a dozen things I do poorly while feeling smug about getting a handful of obvious things right, like loving my neighbor. I’m a troglodyte who thinks the wheel is as cool as it’s ever gonna get.

My view of our religious texts has changed over the years. I now see the challenge as being to somehow unravel what parts are real–in the sense of capturing something deep and meaningful about the human condition–and which parts were just the people of their time being afraid to take their minds and hearts to the next level. Fear and love are mixed in those works together. It takes a deep reading to tease them apart.

Because wouldn’t it be boring if our sacred texts had all the answers, spelled out right there in black and white for us? If we don’t have to do any work, what’s the point? One way to look at the Bible or the Koran or any such text is as a puzzle given to us by a lost time (or a higher power if you prefer). The challenge is to defy our peers, our parents, and our culture to read the work and interpret it with the ultimate in compassion and kindness.

These books aren’t recipes. They’re treasure maps. The goal is to figure out where (and what) the treasure is and how to get there.



13 replies to “John Pavlovitz Can be My Pastor”

Anyone interested in reading about Christianity and the wrong turns it’s taken in treating gay people–from a personal context rather than just dry theology–should consider reading Torn by Justin Lee (most awesome book I’ve read in years), and The Cross in the Closet by Timothy Kurek. They helped me on the way to accepting things I needed to accept. :-) They’re very powerfully written, and personal, without claiming to know every answer in the world.

You know, one of the things I find interesting is that in the Bible, Jesus was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem, and everyone thought he came from somewhere else so he couldn’t be the messiah that had been foretold. This was a huge stumbling block that everyone had to decide about on their own. Some used it as an excuse to dismiss everything about him; others didn’t. He never told them the truth about this–he left it up to them to get over the “impossibilities” on their own.

I want everything to make sense, to have no hurdles to get past, reconciling my faith with the world I live in. I want closure, and for everything to make sense and be right–now. But every place where people are sure that they do have the whole truth (and only they do), it seems like Jesus condemned them for being prideful and smug and lacking compassion for others.

I believe if Jesus were here today he would not be the one condemning gay people. He would be on the front lines loving gay people more than anyone else in the world.

The wounds we put on each other in the name of religion would shame him deeply.

Sorry for the long comment.

<—Spiritual, Christian, and a gay ally here who took a long and painful road….

When we finally colonize the Moon and Mars and Outer Centorium in the 5th Nebulla Precinct … which “Book” should we give to them to guide and live their live’s by … the Bible? The Koran? The Tora? The ???????????? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, man will have evolved enough by then to know what is best, without having to quote some “guy” who existed on the far side of the Universe ten thousand eons ago? Funny how it’s always a guy and not a gal who is the Hero or Protagonist in these ancient story books. My eldest daughter is gay, her kid sister has Down Syndrome. Guess which one rocked my world the most? Current so called medical health screening in the USA leads to termination of 9 out of 10 children with Down Syndrome before they get a chance to express their beauty. That’s a higher success rate than Hitler had during the Holocaust! I sure hope that my eldest daughter is commander of the first ship to colonize Outer Centorium and that her kid sister is her co-pilot. That way, at least the 5th Nebula Precinct will really rock!!

That’s a good question. The best single source I’ve found on morality was a “The Teaching Company” program. Can’t remember the name of it. I think it had “morals” in the title.


You, sir, are an odd fish. Personally I have never felt guilty about how tasty my steak was. I don’t see many guilty tigers, either. Unless you think the value of the cow’s life is about the same as yours, why feel guilty? The sun is the source of nearly all life energy on this planet, which means if you aren’t a bacterium or a plant or a fungus you’re eating something to live. It’s very natural.

I don’t 100% agree with you about homosexuality not being a choice. Attraction to the same sex isn’t something that gay people choose, to my understanding. The way we identify ourselves is, though. In other words, not all gay men are Richard Simmons. So I think some of it is self-identification.

The lesson to learn from Christ is love. To summarize Galatians 3, God let humans try out a merit system to show us that we’re all flawed and all need love and forgiveness. So that’s our job now, to show love and grace and mercy to all people.

I went that way for a while, giving up the idea of gods and thinking the jesus story was enough, but the problem with that is the jesus story most know is the religious version of him, not the historical one. IF there ever was a single guy the myth is based on, his name was Yeshua, and outside of the bible the only place he was ever mentioned was in a proven forged copy of a work by Josephus, where all he did was mention a guy with the name of jesus being crucified…obviously fake because the name jesus wasn’t chosen until 300 years later. People forget, or never knew, the bible has been rewritten hundreds of times, always changed with each new edition.
The point is not to argue history, but to point out that there were many gospels, most taken out of the bible around the year 300. One of those books was the Gospel of Thomas, possibly Yeshua’s twin brother, who wrote that after Yeshua brought Lazurus back to life, he “lay with him until morning”. Modern Christians hate this gospel(if they even know about it), but they forget homosexuality was very common in Rome at the time. A common saying of the ruling class was ‘women are for babies, boys are for pleasure’, so it is very possible Yeshua was bisexual.
So the point, finally, is that it is ironic that a religion might be worshipping on a guy who represents everything they hate, and we praise people who go against the hatred their religion preaches…we praise them for being normal and not filled with hate?
I studied for the priesthood, none of this is opinion or belief, it is historical. I study it because I find it fascinating, people believing with all their heart and soul things told to them, stories, when the reality is so much more interesting… Like, the Shroud of Turin might be real, and the church deliberately wanted it proven fake, why? Because whoever was inside the shroud was still bleeding, and dead people don’t bleed. (Shroud historians can track the shroud back 200 years earlier than it was supposedly made).
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a book well worth reading, ignore the fake conspiracies in it and just focus on the history…..

I can think of at least one ethics-based argument that supports meat-eating (at least in the case of cows), if it helps your conscience :)

Consider this. There are perhaps few animals less suited to surviving the perils of evolution than the cow. Besides their mass, they have practically no ability to defend themselves, or escape from predators, and absent domestication by humans, almost certainly would have failed as a species sooner or later. So one way to look at things is that we (humans) made a pact with cows: they get to continue as a species and we get to raise them for food. I do have a problem with how they are treated by factory farms, though, which is why I try my best to only eat organic, grass fed, free range, etc., etc. animal meat (plus it’s healthier).

Not sure i agree, cows got fat because we made them that way, they are from the same family as the buffalo, and no one messes with a buffalo. Your arguement can be used for dogs too, most dogs now wouldn’t survive without us, but all dogs come from wolves and they survive just fine. Never call a cow weak when her hubby, the bull is nearby, he will show you how well they can survive, lol.
Personally I think surviving nature is easier than most thnk, the Dodo bird survived fine until we came along. Nature finds a balance where all can survive, we disrupt that balance. That balance will never come again, there are 7 billion of us already.

Other things to consider:

Planting a field in soybeans destroys the ecosystem that was there when it was a meadow. Harvesting the soybeans kills the field mice and other creatures that manage to live even in soybean fields. It’s imply not possible to live on this earth in the corporeal form without harming other species: plants, insects, rodents, small mammals.

Possible responses to this connundrum? Denial: if I am vegetarian, I hurt nothing. Not true. Gratitude: thank you for your death, that I might live.

We’re not very logical creatures.

Eating vegan kills millions more animals than eating meat does. But the animals it kills aren’t cows or pigs or chickens, or any of the big animals that show up in our childhood picture books, and make funny noises that little kids can imitate. Instead, it kills animals we don’t like very much, like mice and voles. So it’s ethical to kill them, apparently, even if we kill a lot more of them. A vole just doesn’t count as much as a cow.

Giving up meat doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Reducing is great. Two people cutting meat consumption by 50% equals one person becoming fully vegetarian.

My wife and kids are vegetarian and our home is meat free (my wife is from a traditionally vegetarian culture). But I still eat meat at restaurants. I’m killing animals, but fewer than I used to. I take some satisfaction in that.

Given our deep seated liking for the flesh of animals, I think the best we can hope from society’s standpoint is kill fewer animals and treat them better when they’re alive.

A lovely post, Hugh. Thanks for bringing John Pavlovitz to my attention. My religious views pretty much mirror your own, and that said, it’s always inspiring to read about good people doing good things.

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