Fear and Danger: Responding to the SBC's Richard Land
And if Christians like me become more and more afraid of Christians like Dr. Land, and Christians like Dr. Land become more and more afraid of Christians like me, where will that vicious cycle lead?
So what do we do when people feel threatened, cornered, and afraid, and in their fear, they become dangerous to others, who in turn become threatened, cornered, and afraid? If we call them out as dangerous, they feel more afraid, which potentially makes them even more dangerous. But if we don't call them out, they're still afraid and potentially dangerous. So what do we do?
I don't know. Except for this. I want to assure Dr. Land (and people who feel as he does) that I know many, many gay people, and many, many "gay rights activists," many of them Christians like me. Not one of us wants to recruit heterosexuals—adults or children—to be homosexual. Not one of us wants to brainwash children in public schools or anywhere else. Not one of us wants to destroy marriage. Might there be someone out there who feels this way? Perhaps, but painting us all with that same brush would be like painting all people like Dr. Land as equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan.
Speaking of the Ku Klux Klan, they used to accuse African American and Jewish people and their allies of plotting horrible things against white people. Now we know those accusations were false. So because I want Dr. Land to have the freedom to disagree with people like me freely and openly—without being compared to the Klan—I appeal to him and his friends to stop using rhetoric that makes those comparisons seem more likely.
We need the freedom to disagree—openly and even vigorously—but when we click into victimization narratives, we run the risk of becoming dangerous to one another. So, Dr. Land, be not afraid. Let's disagree. But let's agree not turn ourselves, or one another, into victims.
Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders. Among McLaren's more prominent writings are A New Kind of Christian (2001), A Generous Orthodoxy (2006), Everything Must Change (2009), and A New Kind of Christianity (2010). His lastest book, Naked Spirituality, offers "simple, doable, and durable" practices to help people deepen their life with God.