Jonathan Zeng was offered a job to teach music at a nondenominational Christian academy. But just hours later, he lost the job after one of his interviewers had found something fishy about the portion of his application in which he described his religious views. Zeng explains what set off the alarm bells:
Shortly after the conclusion of this meeting, Mr. Thompson called and asked me to return to complete some necessary business they had forgotten. He explained that there was an issue weighing on his mind because of my application answers regarding my belief in Christ’s unconditional love and that we as Christ’s followers are to show that love to all without judgment. These responses prompted him to ask if I was a homosexual. [Read more and petition.]
It turns out Zeng does not only hold gay beliefs such that Jesus advocates unconditional love which his followers are to non-judgmentally show to others, but he is indeed actually gay too. And it turns out that not only are a great number of Christians homophobic bigots, at least one is starting to actually calibrate their gaydar so that it goes off when someone professes to believe that Christ has unconditional love and wants his followers to love others without judging them.
So, all you Christians who insist on explaining to us that Christianity is not primarily composed of homophobes but of non-judgmental people, the evidence mounts all the time that you are wrong. And now it turns out your theology is a hint you may be gay. Which, by the way, is something I would personally embrace, if I were you.
As I have explained before, I strongly admire the gay community of the last few decades for the extraordinary ways that they have managed to create their own values, defy the enormous cultural hegemony of homophobic straights, and on innumerable individual personal levels do the incredibly difficult work of creating and owning identities that were authentic, against so many attempts of the larger culture to erase them. I wrote:
Let me just take the opportunity to let all my LGBTQ friends know how much I admire your resilience in the midst of so much cultural hostility. Individuality, self-definition, self-creation, self-overcoming, and values-innovation are all extremely high ideals to me (in no small part due to my Nietzscheanism). And the increasingly successful struggle of gays in the last 40 years to overcome extraordinary resistance simply to be who they are has in so many instances led to extraordinary people, extraordinary feats of counter-cultural self-definition, self-creation, and beautiful, progressive, ennobling values re-definition.
I admire the courage of anyone willing to risk so much abuse and discrimination in the name of being true to who they are and who they love. I admire anyone able to find the fortitude to understand themselves at cross-currents with arbitrary and often brutal and dehumanizing social molds. I admire anyone willing to risk losing family, friends, employment, all for the sake of the truth. And I admire anyone who in doing all of this helps the stubborn, traditionalistic, reactionary, difference-hating, tribalistic human brain shed another of its outmoded knee-jerk prejudices and embrace humane, fair, progressive reason over irrational, primitive disgusts.
In the last 40 years so many brave gays have made themselves open targets for abuse by vulnerably coming out to family and friends. And as they have taken this risk in greater and greater numbers they have changed an astounding number of hearts and cultural attitudes. Their courage and fierce insistence on the right to be themselves and love who they love is still steadily increasing straight empathy and understanding and the younger generation of gays is already benefitting so much. There is so much for the older, trailblazing gays to be proud of and I sure hope they are.
Those willing to be hated for the sake of the truth have made possible not just increasing tolerance but increasing love and an ennobling cultural discussion on the meaning of love. I see the struggle of gays for full cultural acceptance (and not merely the consolation prize of backhanded “tolerance”) as a defining battle in the war of reason against traditionalism for the essence of morality. The central question has become whether we will be people who define morality in terms of fairness, equality, self-fulfillment, self-creation, self-overcoming, love, and progressive adaptivity, or whether we will let it continue to be synonymous with the reactionary conformist, fearful, closed-minded, irrationalistic, emotionalistic traditionalism that its self-proclaimed protectors demand? That’s the struggle of the Enlightenment against the Dark Ages, of freedom against authoritarianism, and of rationalism against traditionalism.
On a personal level, a large impetus for me to abandon faith-based reasoning (and my faith with it) 10 years ago was that I saw the way that it forced me to stand behind moral judgments that I did not believe in purely on the basis of authority and faith. It created an unconscionable and unjustifiable wedge in one of my most cherished friendships. Coming to terms with my faith’s immorality, irresponsibility, and unfair irrationality with respect to gays was one of the most pivotal factors in making me realize that everytime a faith asks you to believe and judge in accordance with principles for which it does not give adequate justification, it is immoral, irresponsible, unfair, irrational, and regressive to the cause of knowledge and justice.
And so for all these reasons, I extremely strongly identify the cause of gay rights with the cause of rationalism, Enlightenment, love, and freedom and feel complete solidarity with the gay rights movement. I feel your victories as my own and your losses as my own. You have my passionate support and my personal admiration.
So just as I feel like the cause of gay dignity, gay autonomy, and gay values creation is a fantastic avatar for the Enlightenment in its most invigorated and instructive contemporary iteration—one that serves as a role model for contemporary secular Enlightenment-inspired people of all stripes—similarly liberal Christians might consider making “gayness” the avatar of the unconditional, non-judgmental love they claim their religion is about. Because these days, whether for better or for worse, the litmus test of whether or not someone is a Christian in the non-judgmental, loving, good-Jesus sense or a Christian in the hypocritical, pharisaical, selfish, exclusionary, bigoted, hateful, bad-Jesus sense seems to be how they think about and treat gay people.
And no groups of people are more zealous apostles of unconditional inclusiveness and love than those in the various LGBT communities. It is no wonder that at least one homophobe is starting to think that the gays are the ones responsible for spreading this idea that people should love uncondtionally and non-judgmentally. In a contemporary context, they are the ones doing that the least equivocally and seemingly most sincerely of anyone.
In that way, we could all do well to sound gayer and less traditionally Christian.
P.S. For the sake of the pedantic: yes, I know full well that being moral means having to make some moral judgments and not being unqualifiedly inclusive. But we need to be far more philosophically sophisticated, personally humble, and humanely loving than impenetrably hard-headed, hard-hearted, closed-minded, dogmatic, reality-denying fundamentalists are, when doing so. Here is my roadmap of how to properly judge people morally. And much more specifically, here is my comprehensive take on gays, Jesus, and judging.
And below are several posts more posts explaining all that is wrong and incoherent and harmful about Christian condemnations of homosexuality.