The piece I did on George Michael and his one-person Christian hate group went mondo-large. And in the swarm of responses to it came the criticism that it was wrong of me to say that for every one hateful, gay-bashing Christian there are two hundred loving, gay-affirming Christians.
Fair complaint! That would have been an off thing to say. Which is why I didn’t say it.
Boy be slow—but not that slow.
What I said was:
For every one person like Keith I’ve ever known—for every person who’s ever fanatically endeavored to transmogrify the beautiful love of God into the horrible hatred of men—I’ve known two hundred who are quietly and humbly working, in Christ’s name, to make the world a better, more loving place for all.
The part of that sentence that I just bolded marks the critical distinction between what I actually said, and what those who about this have been fairly railing at me mistakenly assume that I said.
I referenced only my personal experience. Maybe it’s a matter of geography: I’ve lived all my life in California, home to the assiduously groovy. For years I attended huge St. Paul’s Cathedral, where I would guess half the congregants are gay—and the other half aren’t exactly thumping them with Bibles. Maybe it’s just the places I hang out online: I’m associated, for instance, with The Christian Left (whose membership, for months now, has grown at the rate of about 1,000 members per week). I’m friends with Roger McClellan over at The Progressive Christian Alliance. I’m close to Gwen Ashby of Believe Out Loud. I count among my friends Evan Hurst from Truth Wins Out, and Ross Murray of GLAAD. I’m so fond of Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections that I asked her to write the forward of my latest book. If I liked Dan Savage any more I’d actually be gay.
So … yeah. Those are the sorts of people I know, and with whom I have always associated. I never attended Yahweh Hates Gay United. I never went to a Rainbow No! Bible study. No one I know tries to pray anyone’s gay away. I’ve known people who tried to pray their own gray away, but that’s about it.
All that said, I’m hardly unaware of the volume or character of vitriol leveled at gay people by those with the nerve to call themselves Christian. And anyone who follows this blog at all knows that I don’t stop chewing on Christians like that until someone’s leg falls off. (See—as random examples—This animal. This Cretin. This Travesty. This demon; Bully for You, Jerry Buell; Republican Politician Caught with His Gay Pants Down: Whose Shame Is It?; Christians and the Blood of Jamey Rodemeyer, and … I dunno: Christians and Gay Teen Suicides: How Could Anyone Be So Stupid?)
I know there’s a world of Christians out there like Maggie “Can Anyone Hear Me Screaming From Inside This Closet?” Gallagher, Michael “Does This Mustache Make My Crotch Look Big?” Brown, and Tony “Psycho Was No Scarier Than I” Perkins.
But I think there are a lot less people following these hate-mongering, money-grubbing, spotlight-craving, Christ-shaming opportunists than the media needs us to believe there are. And I think the number of people who do follow such cowardly, craven cretins is shrinking by the day. Always present now in the tone of the communications from organizations like Family Research Council is shrill panic. They feel their audience and influence waning. They’re drowning, and they know it.
I think the vast majority of Christians today are searching for a way to reconcile their compassion with their faith. The concluding essay of Wings on a Pig: Why the “Christian” View of Gays Doesn’t Work, is titled, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.” I wrote it for people who mistakenly believe that they must choose between their hearts and their Bible. In it I prove that using the Bible to justify the condemnation of homosexuality is unarguably unbiblical. And every day now, already, I get emails from people telling me how that essay changed their whole attitude toward what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.
The good news is that (as awesome as my essay is) those people must have been ready to change. They were already there. They just needed the watertight intellectual basis for finally stepping through the door that had otherwise already opened for them.
The bottom line is that we’re winning this war, as surely as one day follows the next.
That doesn’t mean we should stop fighting—and it certainly doesn’t mean that a lot more Christians don’t have to become a lot more vocal in their opposition to the version of Christianity sprayed by the likes of Gallagher, Brown, and Perkins.
But the Christian left is right. And in that is all. Because the ultimate victory of right over wrong—of good over evil—is inevitable. You can count on that.