A Response to ‘I’m a Christian, Unless You’re Gay’

A number of you have sent me this article as a wonderful example of a Christian getting it right when it comes to homosexuality, adding that we ought to give credit where it’s due.

It’s a three-part post written by Dan Pearce in which he admits he’s hurt people despite trying to act “Christian”:

My friend [Jacob] hesitated. “Dan, you are the only friend I have that knows I’m gay. The only freaking one,” he said.

“What do you mean? I know you’ve told other friends.”

That’s when his voice cracked. He began crying.

“Every single person I’ve told has ditched me. They just disappear. They stop calling. They remove me on Facebook. They’re just gone,” he said. “They can’t handle knowing and being friends with a gay person.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t say anything.

“You don’t know what it’s like, man. You don’t know what it’s like to live here and be gay. You don’t know what it’s like to have freaking nobody. You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”

How do you respond to that?

I wanted to tell him it was all in his head. I knew it wasn’t. I wanted to tell him it would get better and easier. The words would have been hollow and without conviction, and I knew it.

You see, I live in this community too. And I’ve heard the hate. I’ve heard the disgust. I’ve heard the disdain. I’ve heard the gossip. I’ve heard the distrust. I’ve heard the anger. I’ve heard it all, and I’ve heard it tucked and disguised neatly beneath a wrapper of self-righteousness and a blanket of “caring” or “religious” words. I’ve heard it more times than I care to number.

Hell, in the past (and to some degree in the present) I participated in it. I propagated it. I smugly took part in it. I’ll admit that.

And I did so under the blanketing term “Christian.” I did so believing that my actions were somehow justified because of my beliefs at the time. I did so, actually believing that such appointments were done out of… love.

It sounds pretty powerful so far… As you read on, you get the feeling that Dan gets it. He gets how Christians, despite their best intentions, have only managed to make things worse for gay people.

At least that’s what I gather from the thousands of comments left on that post.

As much as I want to, though, I’m not captivated by this guy.

Maybe it’s his writing style.

Because.

This.

Gets.

Annoying.

After.

A.

While.

Maybe it’s the fact that I have to click on three separate pages to read one post.

Maybe it’s because Dan falls into a trap so many well-intentioned Christians have stumbled upon before him.

Even though he talks about how we all need to sing Kumbaya and hold hands and love each other, he never gets to the heart of the biggest issues.

Most mainstream Christians have no problem “loving” gay people. They oppose physical or verbal abuse against gay people. They don’t mind protection against discrimination for gay people in the workplace.

But all too often, these same people refuse to say gay people have a right to get married. They refuse to say that homosexuality isn’t a sin. They won’t admit being gay isn’t a choice. They think you can be gay… as long as you’re forever abstinent. They think you can be cured of your homosexuality, as if it’s some sort of disease.

The Christians who are more savvy about it never wade into those issues at all. They avoid discussing them altogether. That’s what Dan does. He toes the party line to keep everyone happy and ends up not saying anything at all.

I’m not here to say homosexuality is a sin or isn’t a sin. To be honest, I don’t give a rip. I don’t care. I’m not here to debate whether or not it’s natural or genetic. Again, I… don’t… care. Those debates hold no encumbrance for me.

You don’t care, but the rest of us do. Christians treat homosexuality as a sin worse than many others, and because of that, they vote against marriage equality and elect representatives who stop same-sex couples from being able to adopt children.

Jacob is a dear friend. He’s my brother. He’s a damn good human being. He’s absolutely incredible.

He’s also gay.

But why does that make any difference at all?

It doesn’t. Not to me.

That’s nice. But don’t pretend that it’s a big deal when it’s not. It’s only a decent start.

Dan also thinks religion isn’t part of the problem:

In truth, having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others. It doesn’t make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn’t make a person befriend or not befriend others.

No, but it’ll make a person think an ancient book with sloppy moral teachings has more wisdom in it than anyone who speaks to common sense and human dignity. Why do Christians have such a hard time accepting homosexuality? Because some incompetent pastor told them the Bible doesn’t approve of it.

Look: It’s easy to say we should all love each other. Of course we should.

It’s easy to apologize “on behalf of the Christian community” for the way it has treated gay people.

But it takes courage to tell fellow Christians that they’re wrong about their beliefs and they need to fix them. It takes courage to be that change.

That’s why I’m inspired by atheists and liberal theists who go out of their way to fight for equal rights. We don’t stop at being nice. We won’t be satisfied until the LGBT crowd has the same rights and privileges as straight people.

The problem with Christians when it comes to homosexuality isn’t that too many of them act like members of Westboro Baptist Church with their “God Hates Fags” signs. The problem is that too many of the “good Christians” refuse to support same-sex rights like we do.

Do I appreciate Dan’s post? Sure. I wish more Christians could act that way. But let’s not go overboard. When he actually does something to show us that he’s not just talk and he’s willing to take serious action to make up for what he and other Christians have done up till now, then we can take him more seriously. Not yet, though.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Donovan

    I think you were accurate on your analysis of the writing. I wish I believed this was a real letter, but I don’t. Some of the phrasing just sounds too atheistic for me to buy into it. If he, as you say, starts acting on this and gets out there to fight for this, maybe I will feel differently. 

  • http://denkeensechtna.blogspot.com Deen

    I’m not here to say homosexuality is a sin or isn’t a sin. To be
    honest, I don’t give a rip. I don’t care. I’m not here to debate whether
    or not it’s natural or genetic. Again, I… don’t… care. Those debates
    hold no encumbrance for me.

    That’s your privilege speaking. I’m sure that if you were gay, you would care greatly about whether homosexuality isn’t a sin.

    • Brian Macker

      He didn’t mean it the way you took it. He meant that it is unimportant to how Christians should treat gays. Obviously he’s also being irrational and hypocritical but what do you expect from a guy following an instruction manual with so many contradictions. At least he’s making a better interpretation than many others. I mean the “least” part.

    • Brian Macker

      “That’s your privilege speaking.”

      How is this different than saying “That is your sin speaking?”. Privilege theory even has the implication of original sin. One is born with it and a priori guilty regardless of belief or act. It also requires one to have bought into an irrational ideology. you might as well have said he holds his opinion because he is influenced by the devil.

      One difference from original sin is that you can never wash yourself of *privilege*. One can only admit that one has it, yet it never goes away. It is always there as a convenient way to dismiss your *privileged* opinion without actually having to argue a position.

      Next time try a word like “ignorance” that does have all the crazy ideological baggage.

      • JeseC

        “Privilege” does not and was never intended to imply guilt.  You’re not *guilty* for being heterosexual/white/male.  Privilege means that you get to ignore certain issues that others have to worry about, because of the way you and they were born.  That’s what is going on here.  As a straight person, Dan has the privilege of acting like it doesn’t matter whether homosexuality is a sin or not.  Just like as a white person, I have the privilege of going through life acting like racism doesn’t exist – something my non-white friends don’t get to do.  That doesn’t mean I’m supposed to feel guilty over it.  It does mean I should be careful to notice the effects of race and consciously avoid it.

        Privilege is the right word here.  Ignorance simply doesn’t say enough here.  The issue is not that he is ignorant, but that he is allowed by society to remain ignorant, even encouraged to do so, in a way that is simply unavailable to someone who is not heterosexual.

        • Brian Macker

          of course it implies guilt. The word “ignore” implies moral guilt when what you are ignoring is an injustice. An unearned privilege is the very definition of an injustice. Certainly a true privilege granted merely on the basis of race would be unearned. If there is no moral guilt the is no basis for asking for a change in behavior.

          You must live in a cave if you are white and can act like racism(or race) doesn’t exist. Whites haven’t cornered the market on that. Guess you never dated a black woman and experienced the angry stares from black guys. I’m just scratching the surface here.

          The issue is that your last paragraph makes little sense. Ignorance even if encourage by “society” and even if not available to others is still ignorance, not privilege.

          Citizens of the USSR were ignorant, encouraged to remain ignorant by their society of all the issues of capitalism the rest of us in the US had to deal with. That doesn’t make them privileged.

          You’ve just been sucker by the newspeak of the left that allows equivocation between the old meaning of privilege, and the new. An equivocation that allows you to moralize at others. Your morality is flawed as it rests on an equivocation.

          • JeseC

            When did I ever say all ignorance was privilege?  Ignorance is one component of privilege.  By attempting to dilute the concept down to just ignorance you miss the entire point of what is being said.  The point is not that he is ignorant, but that he is allowed to be so in a way that is damaging to a specific group.  By reducing the word privilege to the word ignorance you essentially deny the role of society in enforcing discrimination, rather than merely the actions of individuals who “don’t know any better.”

            There is one area where your analogy does work – when it comes to guilt.  Not all ignorance bears guilt, just as not all privilege bears guilt.  It is only when we have been made aware of our ignorance, or have willfully blinded ourselves, that we bear guilt.  No one bears guilt simply for being a member of a privileged class.  They bear guilt insofar as the are or should be aware of the injustice and fail to take action to prevent being a part of it.

            P.S. in the future, it would be easier to take you seriously if you refrain from ad hominem attacks. And from assumptions – I have in fact dated a black woman before.

            • Brian Macker

              Yes, sorry I should not have assumed you could do basic logic, and deduced that you would understand that your claim about whites was false.

              I’ve now corrected that assumption. Which I, if you’ll notice already labeled a guess, and also included the condition of being stared at by black men. Next time read more carefully.

              My argument does not in fact assume all ignorance bears guilt. Privilege theory isn’t based on an ignorance of not knowing but one of not being. I’m guilty because I’m white, of two supposed things ignorance of what it is like to be aware of race and racism (the very crime you accused me of without bothering to ask), and having got where I am through a raced based privilege. Both of which are false. Both of which require the acceptance of some quite afactual ideological baggage.

              Exactly where do you think I made an ad hominem attack. Perhaps you misread something else?

              I’d also like to point out that this new use for the word privilege originated somewhere, and it is quite clear from the original sources that the concept assumes guilt by mere existence, even if you would like to try to separate.

              “White privilege” and “Heterosexual privilege” do not merely my boil down to actual privilege in these areas. In fact as defined there isn’t even the requirement to show a privilege. The mere fact that you are in the majority is used as a criteria for showing privilege. Go read Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, do it with a skeptical eye if this is not your first time. The criteria are ridiculous. There are reasons why some privileges are wrong. Privilege theory ignores the reasoning and gets right to admonishing it’s out groups for all the wrong reasons.

    • Charles Black

      Wow are these Christians even stupider than I realise?They basically attempt to whitewash their disgraceful behavior towards black people in the past for example with so called “apologies” which after they say sorry they’ll backstab those minority groups they apologised to.
      How can anyone with the ability to think take these “apologies” seriously?

  • Semipermeable

    I agree with your analysis, and you have almost perfectly touched on why I feel, irritated, when some of my religious friends say that they love the person but hate the sin. 

    It just feels like a cop out to avoid the idea that, perhaps the Bible isn’t perfect, and to avoid the contradiction of their institution claiming to be good and charitable while overwhelmingly donating time, money, and manpower to attack a minority for no practical or charitable reason.

    Also, of course debate of natural/choice or sin/not sin hold no encumbrance for him, after all, he does not have to be encumbered by the idea that he might be chased down and beaten if the wrong people see him with his partner or see a comment on his facebook. 

    This is a reality for many gender/sex minorities, and it is a reality for my friend who spent several weeks in a hospital he could not afford.

  • littlejohn

    Um, you don’t like short, concise sentences? What do you think all journalism classes teach? Have you ever read “On Writing Well?” Omit unnecessary words.

    • Brian Macker

      His issue is with paragraphs, not individual sentences

  • Secular Planet

    To be honest, his writing style reminds me a lot of yours, Hemant. You use a lot of breaks like that.

  • Aimeejoe3

    I liked the message on the whole, the message of love thy neighbor and all.  Yes, it was nice.  

    However what I don’t understand was why it was deemed a “courageous” act?  This was not written 30 40 or 50 years ago.  We have been down this road.  Homosexuals are out!  I agree we still have ground to cover, mostly legalities and that struggle continues.  I just don’t see how it was brave of the writer to out himself as a “tolerant” christian.  

    Thanks for that comment Donovan, I knew something bothered me about this blog post.  The guy does mean well, however and that should not diminish that part of his message.  Of course his message IS about as old as humanity itself.  

    • Joop Kiefte

      The problem is that we don’t have a clear explanation of the bible that gets this all out of the way, so people don’t know where to look for the justification of homosexuality.

      • Anonymous

        The problem is that some people look to a 2000 year old, badly written book, created by and for ignorant people to find answers to modern issues. The Bible isn’t a  how-to manual for every little thing in life. It’s at best a guide and framework. There are plenty of other places to look

        • Anonymous

          Stev84, Why is it a problem for you that people use the Bible as the basis for their worldview?  The critiques that you give provide no support for your claim.   you can look in history and find countless christians that would not be calssified as ignorat people look at CS Lewis or Alister McGrath for two more recent examples.

          I agree with you that the Bible is not a how-to manual for every little thing in life, for example it would make a terrible cake cook book.  That being said it does speak to many issues including homosexuality and for those issues it is the best measure for Truth and Reality.

          You state that there are plenty of other places to look, where do you recomend.  What do you base your worldview on? 

      • Anonymous

        Joop, if i understand your post correctly you are saying that the Bible is not clear on the issue of homosexuality and therefore it continues to be an issue.  It that indeed is what you are saying you are wrong.  the bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.  This passage clearly states that homosexuals right along side theives, adulterers, drunkards and others will not inherit the kingdom of God (heaven), but don’t stop at vs 10 you have to hear vs 11. which states, “such were some of you” This was a letter written to the church in Corinth. from what the text says Paul actually knew people that were homosexuals who were no longer homosexuals because of the transforming power of Jesus Christ in their life. so from this one passage we have a clear passage stating that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God, but that Jesus transforms and saves people from homosexuality.

        • Erp

          The problem is that we really don’t know the meaning of the Greek words used in 1 Corinthian 6:9 that you’ve translated as homosexual.  The two words are malakoi and
          arsenokoitai.    The former has been translated as effeminate but also as pliable, people who take the easy way such as not opposing injustice if it means risking anything.  The latter word has in recent years often been translated as homosexual but it has also been translated as masturbator, pimp, male temple prostitute, etc.  See http://www.religioustolerance.org/homarsen.htm

          • Anonymous

            Erp, I appreciate your dialogue into the Greek text.  I am guessing that from this reasoning you are arguing that the “masturbator, pimp, male prostitute, etc”. are  the ones that will not inherit the kingdom of God but yet the Homosexual will.  Being that you know something about the scriptures, since you are referring to the Greek, I will assume that you are familiar with the biblical passages that establish the paradigm for human sexual relationships being heterosexual monogamy.   As a refresher or for those that are not familiar this is established in the first relationship of mankind, one man and one woman (Genesis1-2).  Homosexuality is a distortion of the Biblical paradigm.  This can be seen in Romans 1:24-27  In this passage it states that, “…their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts…”  Homosexuality just as idolatry is a distortion of the natural order established by God.  It is sin and all sin is deserving of God’s just penalty.  Yet while this is the case Jesus Christ died for sinners that through faith in Jesus god would see his righteousness rather than our sin.  If you are interested in a theological paper written on homosexuality you can find one here.

        • Joop Kiefte

          I mean to say that people don’t know how to react. I think that the bible clearly illustrates that the right answer to whatever human being, sinner or not (and remember Jesus’ words “let him who is without sin throw the first stone”) is to be a friend, a companion, to them and to not condemn them. It’s not our task to judge people. It’s our task to live the gospel in every step we make.

          I hereby show my compassion for all those christians still living in the sin of condemnation of God’s children.

          About homosexuality being a sin or not, I think the issue is very much in the realm of remarriage etc. As far as I see the biblical context it was a warning against the practice of fucking everything you can fuck, and transmitting diseases and all with that. I think gay marriage for example is a good way to stay away from those problems. About homosexuality (and a lot more things) being curable: I think the only one able to make that judgement is the person himself. If he asks for that, I think it’s definitely possible. But we are definitely not in the position to tell people to do that. It won’t work.

  • Justin Miyundees

    What mealy mouthed bullshit.  Gee – thanks for nothin’ Dan.  “In truth, having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others.”  I can certainly agree with that, but it sure packs a punch when society is choosing a scapegoat upon which to hurl fears and insecurities.  What we have here is a weak mind working extra hard not to assert itself.

    • Karmakin

      Just to add on to this, what I would like to see is the following.

      A. “You know something, yes, my religion does make people act in this way”

      and

      B. “In order to try and prevent this, we should change my religions in ways X, Y, and Z”.

      That is what I want to see out of these types of statements. Talking about how not everybody believes in what results in anti-homosexual behavior is totally besides the point. Lots of people do. If they’re so wrong, what can be done to help them become right?

      (My personal answers would be working to divorce religion from morality and even going as far as to work against strong monotheistic language, as I do believe that strong monotheism is where all this comes from)

  • Brian Macker

    “But all too often, these same people refuse to say gay people have a right to get married. ”
    Why would they. It doesn’t even fit their definition of marriage. You certainly have the right to marry, using their definition, the existing definition.

    “They refuse to say that homosexuality isn’t a sin.”
    It is a sin. It seems silly to argue otherwise. You can’t win that argument in their framework. Sin really has no proper mapping outside that framework. Why should an atheist care what is or is not a sin?

    “They won’t admit being gay isn’t a choice.”
    This is ambiguous. The desire or the act?

    “They think you can be gay… as long as you’re forever abstinent. ”
    I see no contradiction in that. One can be attracted to girls who are under the age of consent and yet not act on it. He’ll if no one ever consents to sex the you can abstain from sex your whole life and still be heterosexual. Rape always being an option but refrained from because it is a sin.

    “They think you can be cured of your homosexuality, as if it’s some sort of disease.”
    If it is genetic then perhaps there is a cure. Once one has decided homosexuality is wrong the hereditary disease model certainly is more appropriate response to claims that “I was born this way”.

    Deciding homosexuality is wrong is a different issue. They already have an answer for that, “God says so.”

    • Forrest Cahoon

       

      If it is genetic then perhaps there is a cure.

      Just like that dreaded disease of having dark skin, then.

      • Brian Macker

        No one has posited that dark skin is a disease as far as I’m aware, so no you are wrong.

        It is very likely that there are many different causes for homosexuality. Some could be treated as disease related. The actual problem is in fact that this analogy is completely wrong. We don’t, for example, treat a congenitally blind person as a moral degenerate while we try to cure them.

        For those genetic causes of homosexuality there is no reason why a parent might not decide to treat them to effect a cure to align there brain development to be in line with their sex. The victim would then never experience the trauma of believing themselves born into the wrong sex. Of course this is going to trigger the same feelings some of the deaf would have to the same suggestion to curing hereditary hearing loss. Some go out of their way to have a deaf child, and feel it an insult to find a cure.

        My own personal morality holds that it would be immoral for a homosexual to pretend to be otherwise under certain circumstances. For example, marrying someone of the opposite sex deceptively. There would be exceptions however that I won’t explain in detail other than giving an example. It would be moral in a society that had arranged marriages and capital punishment for homosexuals. You can be held morally responsible for acts you are forced into at penalty of death.

        I’ve thought about morality, homosexuality, and other issues over decades. These glib and shallowly thought out responses are little challenge.

        • SphericalBunny

          I’ve thought about morality, homosexuality, and other issues over
          decades. These glib and shallowly thought out responses are little
          challenge.

          I’m sure you consider yourself an intellectual powerhouse on these matters, however you’ve betrayed yourself with this remark;

          For those genetic causes of homosexuality there is no reason why a
          parent might not decide to treat them to effect a cure to align there
          brain development to be in line with their sex. The victim would then never experience the trauma of believing themselves born into the wrong sex.

          You’ve conflated transgenderism with homosexuality, which do not necessarily have a damn thing to do with each other. Spectacularly epic fail.

          • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

            Not to mention he conflates homosexuality with disabilities like blindness.

            • Brian Macker

              Homosexuality is a disability from a reproductive viewpoint. I hate to break it to you but if all lions were homosexual then their species would be just as doomed as if the were all blind. You really haven’t thought about this have you?

              • Kiy

                You’re saying homosexuality is a
                disability. I’m not quite sure how you can support that, unless you
                also agree that heterosexuality is also a disability, with
                bisexuality as the ideal, IE someone who has the “ability” to be
                attracted to any gender. That may be a strawman, and if it is I
                apologize. If the “dis-ability” of which you speak is natural
                reproduction, I’d invite you to take up the discussion with any of
                the thousands of sons and daughters whose parents came out later in
                life. The parts still work, it’s just that we don’t have the hormonal
                urge to act on them. The human race wouldn’t die out without
                heterosexuality.

                But I suspect your argument is more
                like “Heterosexuality is most common, is socially acceptable, and
                it serves an evolutionary purpose”, therefor it is superior to
                homosexuality. Sorry, that doesn’t fly either. It is dependent on the
                naturalistic fallacy, and it’s just not true that those urges that
                are natural are therefor acceptable. They must instead be weighed on
                their own merits. Heterosexuality is convenient for animals without
                higher-order thinking, perhaps, because they might not decide to
                reproduce without the hormonal urge to do so, but that argument falls
                apart for humans due to the multitude of options for reproduction:
                surrogacy, sperm donorship, and plain old fucking a good friend
                (whilst thinking of England). Adoption gets an honorable mention, but
                it doesn’t create new individuals, which I think is your point.

                Getting to the point: your
                categorization of homosexuality as a disorder or disability is
                problematic for two reasons: first that is plainly IS NOT,
                empirically speaking, and secondly that in our society and in similar
                societies being gay is highly stigmatized. Homosexual individuals and
                LGBT people in general have been arrested, tormented, raped, beaten,
                thrown out of their homes and schools and jobs for being a member of
                this group. Because of these injustices, your statement about
                homosexuality is not merely a statement of fact or falsehood, it is
                also a political statement. There are millions of people in the USA
                saying things quite like what you have said on this comment thread.
                Perhaps they are saying it less eloquently, but the fact is that when
                these opinions are widespread, it causes alienation, shame and guilt.
                People kill themselves because of speech not unlike yours. And I’m
                sure that isn’t your intention.

                Free speech should not be curtailed in
                any but the most dire circumstances, and I don’t know if this is one.
                But it could be, so I wanted to address not only the truth-value of
                your proposition, but also its propensity for causing social harm.

              • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

                I know gay people who have kids.  Your hypothesis is easily refuted, all you need to do is read about homosexuality in bonobos to see how it is an evolutionary advantage in a social species like ours. It’s almost as if YOU are the one who hasn’t thought about this at all.

          • Brian Macker

            Yes I did skip between the two. Sorry but my brother in law is both transgender and homosexual, and I was thinking of him. Attracted to women in a woman’s body.

            • Brian Macker

              Of course it is not an epic fail because the reasoning is still applicable. From the parents perspective (and the cured child’s) the result is correct. It is also correct from other perspectives such as the other genes trapped with the defective on that caused an attraction to the wrong sexual partner (the one it is impossible to mate with).

            • Anonymous

              Then, per definition he is straight. While many transmen spend some time in the lesbian community, sexual orientation is referenced to the target gender

          • Brian Macker

            Even us powerhouses make slips of the tongue, and typos. People like these commenters don’t think beyond what one person or another has indoctrinated them into and then state it with authority. There is no authority other than reason. If I make a mistake I will admit it and that was a slip of the tongue, so to speak.

            I don’t believe in your dogma, and yes I have obviously thought about it more than my critics, who haven’t even considered what has been pointed out by others on this subject.

            What’s hilarious is the don’t even see the hypcrisy in their own positions. The want medical coverage for sex change and at the same time claim that there is no problem. Yes I am talking about a subset of homosexuals here. Another subset likes their gender but wants artificial insemination covered. Again a hypocritical position.

            See my position would be that it is a medically correctable deficiency (in some cases) that should be covered.

    • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com/ Tea Cosy

      He’ll if no one ever consents to sex the you can abstain from sex your
      whole life and still be heterosexual. Rape always being an option but
      refrained from because it is a sin grossly unethical violation of another person’s bodily integrity.

      Fixed that for you.

      • Brian Macker

        No you didn’t fix that for me. I said exactly what I meant. Perhaps the conversation is to adult for you or beyond your comprehension. I don’t have to believe in sin to discuss it. Something you may have to learn.

        • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

          You should have accepted the fix.  It would have been the only smart contribution you made to the discussion.

  • http://thomaswhitley.com Thomas Whitley

    When he actually does something to show us that he’s not just talk and he’s willing to take serious action to make up for what he and other Christians have done up till now, then we can take him more seriously. Not yet, though.

    I agree with most of what you’ve said here, Hemant. His blog post has not changed the world and he does equivocate quite a bit on the natural/chosen and sin/not sin bit but I understand that he’s writing for a certain audience for whom this type of equivocation works best to get the largest number of readers. However,I was struck by your need to see “serious action.” Can’t the same be said of anyone who calls for loving people and equality – “I need to see them do something before I’ll take them seriously”? And isn’t his post about how he’s changed (or at least is changing) from the way he used to act and treat gay people. Also, why is it his responsibility to “make up for what … other Christians have done up till [sic] now”? Certainly he needs to take responsibility for what he has done in the past (and it looks like he’s doing that), but nothing he does will “make up” for what other Christians have done. I certainly don’t see it as your responsibility to “take serious action to make up for what other Atheists have done.” I am all for holding people to high standards when it comes to pushing for real equality, but this sentiment just doesn’t seem to do that, only to ask something of him that is impossible.

  • Sarah T.

    My issue with this is that it reads very closely to similar treatise on color, aka “I’m color-blind!” Whether or not Dan wants to admit it, his sexuality (and yes, I mean Dan’s presumably straight sexuality) DOES matter. Loving his gay neighbor as commanded by his bible doesn’t magically erase that fact.

    • Brian Macker

      Ones sexuality does not in fact matter to the validity of ones argument despite the popularity of this claim. The argument stands on it’s own. You have the burden to show both that he is in error and that the error is due to his heterosexuality. It’s not automatic. Seems more likely to me that any prefabricated bigotry would be due to his religion, not sex. There are after all homosexual Christians who have bought into the idea that sodomy is a sin, some even believing themselves cured. They can in the same fallacious fashion claim that no it is the homosexual who suffers from ignorance, and a biased view point. Claiming to be “gender-blind” in this case is NOT a claim of being genderless, or having experience how it is to be what you are not. It is a claim of being unbiased.

      You’d be better served in your argument to show how he is biased. It certainly is not in this case a lack of empathy for what gays live through. Unsurprisingly humans can empathize with an explanation. I don’t have to have my child killed to know that sucks. He was quite convincing in his empathy.

      His error lies in accepting false claims from the dogma of his religion, not with being heterosexual.

  • Anonymous

    The post is just rambling. I made it to page 3 before I stopped. He says so little with so many words that he could have condensed it to one page. It’s a lot of pretty and emotional words, but very little content.

    And what content there is does indeed reek of the sick and twisted idea of “Christian love”. He talks a lot about love and whatever, but never once says how that is supposed to translate into reality.

    I really, really don’t get why it’s so popular. It’s hardly anything new

  • John Tully

    I’m surprised that I’m the first person to point out that Dan isn’t Christian. According to the FAQ on his site, he was raised LDS but bailed on that, and considers himself “spiritual”, but not a member of any religious faction.

    He even says, “Now, I’m not religious.” on page 2.

    Hemant loses journalism points, zippow!

    • Anonymous

      I’ve read people pointing out that his language and some phrases he uses are very Mormon. Apparently he is still influenced greatly by it if you know what to look for

    • Deven Kale

      Mormonism is hard to shake off. I was raised a Mormon, but left the church behind 15 years ago. I still frequently find myself thinking about the world from a Mormon perspective. Even just the other day I realized that something I’ve held onto and fought for most of my life, “modesty”, was actually more of a religious/patriarchal control issue than “being aware of what your clothes say.”

  • Anonymous

    When two people (of legal age, etc…) regardless of gender love each other and show that love through physical intimacy, that is a beautiful, moral thing.  Any moral theory that says that that is immoral* is just wrong.  That’s the really deep problem here.  It’s not one of lack of support for LGBT political rights, it’s the fact that the moral claims of traditional religions are just flat-out wrong. 

    *I am supposing that the religionist accepts the general principle that something being sinful implies that it is immoral.  I don’t believe that anything is actually sinful, and thus would rather engage with the traditional religionist on moral grounds.

  • Anonymous

    Couple of things:

    - The post seems to imply that Dan is a Christian. He is not. He’s a former Mormon. It’s in the post itself. On page 2 he says “Now, I’m not religious.”. Even if he is “spiritual” it seems to be a mistake to say he’s a Christian.

    - His post does NOT seem to be the “Oh I love you but I’m still gonna try to keep you from gaining equal rights” but rather “What you Christians call love has no relationship to actual love, and I’m calling bullshit”, which is an awesome message. He’s trying to avoid the politics altogether and get at the day to day problem gay people face of personal rejection by the religious. It is of course possible that Dan would be an “I love my gay friends but I’ll vote to ban them from getting married” kind of guy, but it’s by no means assured by this post. He is disussing a different subject, which is fine.

    - I have to disagree with him when he says:

    The greatest spiritual leaders in history have all preached love for
    others as the basis for all happiness, and never did they accompany such
    mandates with a list of unlovable actions or deeds. They never said, love everybody except for the gays. Love everybody except for the homeless…

    ?!?!!!!!! Really? These great “spiritual leaders” never did anything unlovable? These religions never mandate “exceptions” to the love others rule? Is he reading the same holy texts I am? Quentin Tarantino movies are Bambi next to the Bible or the Koran.

    I understand he’s trying to convince the religious that love is the core of their religions and they should not make exceptions, but it’s patently disingenuous to pretend that homophobia finds no aid and comfort in many religions. There’s a reason nontheists are the demographic that far and away most supports gay marriage equality. There’s something we don’t believe that others do that makes us more accepting of gay people, and that thing is usually in hardcover with gilded lettering. I think his intentions are great, and I commend him for it generally, but this one piece I can’t agree on.

    • 456321

      So glad that at least one person on here can READ..he is NOT Christian…I thought atheists in general were supposed to have higher IQ’s? From this page one would not think so.

  • TychaBrahe

    I think you’re missing a very important point.  Dan is a religious man writing to a largely religious audience.   I get that you say on the 10-step path to gay acceptance he’s only taken one or two steps.  But the people that he is writing to, many of them, are still back on step one, and a lot of them have their back turned to the path, refusing to even consider taking one of those steps.

    Try to put yourself in the mindset of these people.  What would it feel like to have the Bible and your preacher telling you that gays are bad, that they are sinners, which means that they are actively ignoring the word of God at best, and have given themselves over to the Devil at worst.  To accept gays, even just to allow them to live their lives, might contaminate your soul, threaten your own access to Heaven.  (Randall Terry preached this very thing, called Blood Guilt, related to people who lived in America and tolerated the sin of abortion.  Not had one themselves, but didn’t do everything they could to prevent other people from having one.)

    Did you read the follow-up?  Did you read the letter from the man who came out as gay to his family and was rejected by them?  Whose mother showed up on his doorstep holding a printout of the article, crying, the first time he’d seen her in seven years?  Did you read the letter from the guy who admits to bullying a gay coworker who says he has seen the error of his ways?So the guy has taken only a few steps.  He’s already made a difference with the people back on the first step.  He’s dragged a few of them with him.  What happens to the gay-basher who starts including his coworker in weekly nights out for beer?  What happens when he meets the coworker’s partner of 10+ years?  What happens when he realizes that these people share a love that looks pretty much like the love he shares with his wife?  

    Most people can’t make the light-year leap from homophobia to 100% comfort and acceptance all in one go.   If you criticize this, why not criticize the Civil Rights movement?  After all, it was almost 50 years from the desegregation of the Alabama schools to the election of a Black president.   Maybe these people will never get there, but maybe they’ve just made it hugely easier for their children to get there.

    “Inch by inch and row by row.”

    • BrandonUB

      I think the reason people are criticizing Dan isn’t because of his positive actions, but because his delusional mindset prevents him from correctly identifying the root of the homophobia in his community.

  • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

    Thank you Hemant. I read the article and I was annoyed by some of the very same things you were. Maybe we both dislike the overuse of double returns.

    it’s not that I disagree with the post or think he is off the mark. I think it’s commendable and like you I think it’s at least a good start. it sure sounds like a lot of his readers needed to read it and discuss it among themselves. 

    To me, it stated the obvious. I wouldn’t fill 3 pages with statements about the sun raising in the morning and setting at night. 

    But good for him he is at least thinking along those lines and presenting those topics to his friends and readers. Many sound like they can really use it.

  • Gerry

    I tried reading this and made it to page 3, but seriously, I was bored out of my skull. It’s like he’s talking to babies. I mean, religious people may be misinformed, but can they only be talked to like they’re in a fog? hm, maybe I’ve answered my own question.

    And…who are the kids in the photos?? Clip art of happy boys and girls? I found that confusing, but I’m not familiar with his blog, so maybe he does that to get people to read. Usually images or photos are used to relate to or clarify the adjacent content. Using generic imagery is kind of lazy, not to mention misleading.

  • BrandonUB

    What an absolutely, completely and utterly, pathetic copout on the part of Dan. While managing to come to the conclusion that pretty much all decent people need to, he manages to reject that the reason other people don’t come to that conclusion is their magic beliefs, and insists up and down that his magic beliefs are no problem at all, no obstacle to decency. That’s so blatantly and obviously untrue, that it’s hard to know where to go with it.

    • 456321

      I think you missed the point of the article…remember the part that talks about one’s need to be better than others? Maybe you should re-read that…also re-read the part that talks about how HE IS NOT A CHRISTIAN OR A RELIGIOUS PERSON…

  • penguin

    “I think homosexuality is a sin, but i don’t hate gay people!” is a load of crap.

    Nobody would ever pretend that someone who claimed being black was a sin didn’t hate black people on some level.

    • Brian Macker

      Black isn’t a behavior so the analogy does work. I’m afraid you don’t understand some strains of Christianity. Look up “love thine enemy” and “original sin”. According to xtians we are all sinners. You think they hate everyone including themselves? Xtianity has some a profoundly pacifist teachings. Don’t get too hung up on assuming consistency that isn’t there. What could be more inconsistent than loving ones enemy.

      • David Fairbanks

        Brian, I’m trying to think of a more appropriate analogy. I’m also trying to respond to your comment in a way that might get you to see things from the other perspective.  I’m having trouble though. 

        Let’s try this:  Pretend there is a religion that taught that owning a dog was a sin.  Adherents of this religion would say things like:  “I don’t hate the dog owner, just the dog.”  The problem is that they might start to discriminate against dog owners.  They might try to get laws enacted to make dog ownership illegal.  They might punish their children if they were sympathetic to dog ownership.  They would probably ditch their friends if they found out they owned a dog, or wanted to own a dog.  In short, their behavior would show that not only did they hate dogs, but they hated the people who owned them.

        It’s almost exactly like that with Christians and their “I think homosexuality is a sin, but i don’t hate gay people!” mentality.  Gay people are more than just their sexual orientation.  They are actually people like you and me.  The problem with Christians and their “hate the sin” mentality is that it blinds them to that simple truth.  Once they find out their friend is gay, they either stop believing that being gay is a sin, or they stop seeing their friend as a person.  It’s sad really.

        Christians who emphasize the sinfulness of homosexuality aren’t inconsistent like your comment implies.  They consistently dehumanize homosexuals. 

        Also, the love your enemy nonsense is part of the problem.  If you emphasize the importance of showing love to a homosexual by reminding yourself that you are supposed to love your enemies, you are in the process of mentally categorizing all homosexuals as your enemies.  Don’t do that, it doesn’t help anyone.

        • Brian Macker

          I already understand this perspective. Some Christians do hate gays for precisely the reasons you outline. To claim all Chirstians think this way is to over generalize.

        • Brian Macker

          I was not claiming that love thy enemy was the basis. It was a more extreme example for which I could give real world examples of actual christians behaving as if the believed it. Like Amish forgiving a guy who just got done mass murdering their children.

          There is “love thy neighbor” and “love the sinner but not the sin” also.

          love isn’t rational in the first place.

      • Anonymous

        Being gay isn’t a behavior either. It’s not something someone can turn on or off. That’s the profound mistake religious people make about this.

        And yes, on some level, deep down, Christianity hates humanity. Life itself is a condition that needs to be overcome to achieve any sense of being good

        • Brian Macker

          Being attracted to the same sex does not get you into hell. It specifically refers to the carnal act of a man laying with another man. The later is a behavior. You confuse the two and they do not. In this regard their thinking is superior to yours in being more precise. Sorry.

          • Anonymous

            You just don’t get it. You are completely ignorant and clueless

            • Brian Macker

              Nope, I get it. Again, they aren’t condemning you for being born attracted to a man if you are a man. For most it is the actual act that is the sin, not mere fact of being gay. Wanting the red sports car is fine, but stealing it gets you into hell.

      • Anonymous

         I understand xianity all too well, having been raised in it. First of all, “hate the sin, love the sinner” is a total crock. Right from the word go, you are labeling the other person a sinner, standing in judgment over them, claiming to hold the moral high ground over them. That’s not love, it’s condescension. Also, original sin is a seriously fucked up concept. It’s like humans are inherently dirty and disgusting as soon as they are born, unless they have some mumbo jumbo intoned over them.

      • Anonymous

        Wait, you think being gay is a behavior?

        I guess that makes me asexual, since I’m not actually having sex with a man this very instant.

        • Brian Macker

          No. I think the term refers to two things because that is how it is used. Homosexuality the behavior and homosexuality the orientation.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    To be honest I don’t really care whether it’s genetic or not either.  Sort of like how I don’t care whether left-handedness is genetic or not.  Also, I don’t believe in the sin/temptation model of ethics, so I don’t care about that either.

    But yeah, I don’t really expect the best of attitudes from people who are immersed in a vast culture of homophobia, even if they themselves are relatively decent.  This guy is right up there with homophobia in front of him all the time, so he feels the need to make concessions to it.  Most atheists I know are much better about it because they don’t feel the need to make any concessions whatsoever.

  • Charles Black

    Oh was this supposed to make me think Christians are no longer homophobic in general?
    What a pathetic attempt to whitewash history concerning their despicable behaviour towards minorities throughout history such as black people, disgusting really.

    • 456321

      Seriously? Did you even read the article? This is so off topic that it’s unclear…

  • http://dnivie.livejournal.com/ Eivind

    It *does* get better. The progress is much too slow for my liking, but it’s undeniable nevertheless. If you plot peoples attitude towards gays over time, the trend towards more tolerance of gays, is steady and undeniable.

    But it’s much too slow, there’s not much comfort in “it’ll be somewhat better in 20 years, and fairly good in 50″

  • 456321

    to quote from the article…unless I have missed something this writer openly states he is NOT Christian or religious…not sure why some of the comments here seem to refer to him as such?

     “Now, I’m not religious. I’m also not gay. But I’ll tell you right now
    that I’ve sought out religion. I’ve looked for what I believe truth to
    be. For years I studied, trying to find “it”. Every major religion had
    good selling points. Every major religion, if I rewound far enough, had
    some pretty incredible base teachings from some pretty incredible
    individuals.”

    Just like the over-zealous Christians that attacked his article, I am not surprised to find the same level of arrogance here. Ultimately, if you have your set beliefs/lack of, and simply want to whine about everyone else whilst you congratulate fellow believers/non-believers that is your prerogative, but at least be mindful that that is what is happening. I find it odd that so much disdain could come from a powerfully positive article.

    • Anonymous

      It’s certainly impossible to tell. The piece reads like something a Christian would write and it is steeped in religious language. Maybe he is non-religious or spiritual. In any case, I’d say regardless of his religious affiliation, his religious upbringing still influences him. Which is hardly surprising for an ex-Mormon

      But it doesn’t really matter. It’s badly written in any case

  • Anonymous

    Why do you care about what Christians think about homosexuality?  Isn’t the issue separation between church and state.  In other words, whatever people think about homosexuals because of their religious beliefs is irrelevant to how the government should treat homosexuals.  Hence, homosexuals should have all the rights to which straight citizens are entitled. 

    There will always be Christians/religious folks who believe that homosexuality is a sin and a choice.  That is irrelevant to how homosexuals should be treated by a secular government, such as what we have here in the US (and in other democratic countries).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      It’s not so much that I care if they think it’s a sin. But they vote based on their beliefs and their beliefs are ridiculous. The reason gay people *don’t* have the same rights as straight people is due to religious bigotry. It’s as simple as that.


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