I've been a faithful reader of Andrew Sullivan since I started looking at blogs. I've very much enjoyed his analysis, and I even agree with much he's said lately about gay marriage (though certainly not all of it). When others have abandoned him, I've stuck with him. I'm not sure if I will continue to do so.
I'm not going to link to his post that offended me, but you can find it if you look. He linked to a site making fun of evangelical Christians who take seriously the authority of scripture on homosexuality with the slogan "God hates shrimp."
Amidst some decent (but ultimately minor) criticisms of The Passion of the Christ, he's been saying some things bordering on the offensive by belittling orthodox Christian views on the atonement, as if Christ's suffering and dying for our sins is a backward, dangerous, and hateful view and that Christians should switch to other ways of talking about Jesus. He's compared the orthodox view of the purpose of Christ's suffering to sado-masochism. (He makes all sorts of unsubstantiated claims that Mel Gibson invented the depths of violence in this film, where anyone who paid attention to the Diane Sawyer interview could tell how carefully he had researched this film in order to fill in the gaps that a modern reader wouldn't know about what would have been done to him, which a first-century reader would consider obvious background information. He didn't get all the details right, but he wasn't just making this all up.) He's taken a few Mel Gibson quotes out of context and has referred to older quotes that Gibson has later clarified or indicated he's changed his mind on, all to make the man look like he hates lots of people. He's joined the bandwagon of those who ignore Gibson's claim that the Holocaust was an atrocity by saying Gibson won't say there was ever such a thing as the Holocaust. In other words, Andrew Sullivan has left all reason behind when it comes to these issues.
Now it's possible that I'm misinterpreting him on some of this, and ultimately he's free to say what he wants about people's views. I don't think that's the intent of the post that really got to me. I can handle disagreement and argumentation. This seems deliberately designed to offend people simply for applying one biblical command but not another, as if no one had ever thought previously to this discussion about hermeneutical issues with the Torah from a Christian perspective. It's an insult to the evangelical biblical scholars throughout church history who have addressed that very issue, and I couldn't let it stand without saying something.
This shrimp thing may turn out to be the final straw. I haven't removed my link to him in my blogroll (though I did demote him), and I'll continue to read his blog to see how he deals with this, for now at least, but I sent him the following letter last night. [He hasn't responded as of this posting, either by email or on the blog. We'll see if he's willing to acknowledge the fact that he's insulted the very people he's trying to win over. I'm going to have a very hard time continuing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this for very long, though. I'd like to see him at least comment on this issue.]
I've very much appreciated your commentary on many issues. I'm an evangelical Christian, and I agree with you on many of your points about what a secular government should do. I've engaged with some of your posts on my own blog and learned a lot in the process. As people have abandoned your blog, I've stuck with it, though I do think the quality has gone way down as you've been posting anything you can think of mostly on just one topic. Unfortunately, this shrimp thing may be what loses you my support. The flippancy with which you've been treating the deeply-held views of many Christians has astonished me, and this one takes the cake. Many evangelical Christians think very carefully about their views and have a well worked-out method of interpreting and applying the scriptures that still turns out to say that eating shellfish is ok but homosexual sex and relationships are morally wrong. That doesn't require going around saying "God hates fags", and it doesn't require making issues about homosexuality a priority (which from your perspective would be a good thing if the view is that homosexual sex and relationships are morally wrong).
I would appreciate an apology to those people who have faithfully read your thoughts but are offended by this post, as I am. It insults the reasoning of someone who holds that commands in the Torah that are continued in the New Testament still apply (but that those that are discontinued, such as dietary laws, do not), so the argument is just stupid. Only on a completely wooden view of scripture that in fact ignores what it says will that sort of point have any force (except to an orthodox Jew).
But my concern isn't really about the argument. It's about the tone you take in perpetuating a bad argument designed to make evangelical Christians look stupid. You're acting as if this reflects a truth that Christians who take the Bible seriously are total idiots, and anyone who takes the Bible as authoritative will get that sense, as I did. It takes a lot to offend me. I'm working on a Ph.D. in philosophy, and I'm used to back-and-forth banter arguing this and that. I can handle criticism. This is more than criticism, though. I don't think the site you linked to or your way of describing it will help promote your cause or your intellecual honesty among those whose intelligence you have insulted, and I don't see why you would have thought it funny to classify, at least in effect, a very large group of people as entire idiots. I've never written a letter like this before, but I've come to enjoy your posts so much that I was really taken aback by this.