On this blog I (a straight Christian) have written and published about 250 pieces in favor of Christians fully accepting LGBTQ people. I did that because the idea of Christianity being synonymous with the condemnation of gay people is repulsive to me. So I wanted to do what I could to change that.
I thought I might take a moment to share with you some of the posts I’ve written on this matter. Most of them did well: they were championed by Dan Savage, picked up by the Advocate or LGBTQNation, went large off Huffington Post, or whatever. It was all good. They helped effect the change they were meant to. Yay!
This was the first such piece I published on Huffington Post. I figured I couldn’t go wrong just asking a simple, innocent, Bible-informed question. (*snerkf*)
In some of his parables, Jesus wasn’t exactly fortune-cookie clear, but he didn’t even almost waffle about his “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He very explicitly declared that the “first and greatest commandment.”
If there’s any wiggle room there, I just don’t see it.
When it became clear that simply condemning it wasn’t going to work anymore, conservative Christians developed a new response to the question of homosexuality. In response to that I wrote this:
Nowadays the Christian refrain isn’t, “Stop being gay.” Now it’s “Stop acting gay.” They’ve given up trying to argue that gays can change their sexual orientation: the complete failure of Christian Fix-a-Gay and Homo No’ Mo! programs — not to mention a universe of anecdotal and empirical evidence — have left them little choice in that.
So they’ve changed their approach. Now their argument is that a homosexual struggling against the temptation to act homosexual is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a “sinful” temptation. ….
The “sinful temptation” that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.
Being, of course, the one thing Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others.
I next really sunk my teeth into the role played in the suicide of any gay person by any Christian who holds homosexuality a moral affront to God. So the next four are pretty self-explanatory. The one about Jeremy Rodemeyer went massive: again, Dan Savage featured it on his blog, for which of course I was and remain grateful.
We Christians can say that we’re only trying to follow God. We can say that we personally would never do anything to hurt a gay person. We can say that we love the sinner, but hate their sin. We can say anything.
But let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays. We deserve better than that.
God knows LGBT folk do.
If you’re a Christian who believes that being gay is a morally reprehensible offense against God, then you share a mindset, worldview, and moral structure with the kids who hounded Jamey Rodemeyer, literally, to death. It is your ethos, your convictions, and your theology that informed, supported, and encouraged their cruelty.
If Christians would actually read the Bible, instead of daring to insist that three or four isolated phrases within it justifies a theology that has no more to do with Christ than the KKK has to do with equality, we would arrive at a popular Christianity that is not, as so much of our Christianity is today, a pure affront to anyone with half a conscience.
Tell me that your belief system didn’t help put the hot tears on this kid’s cheeks. Tell me that the bullies who torment this kid aren’t in any way encouraged or empowered by your tacit approval of their actions. Tell me that the shame this kid feels about himself has nothing to do with the shame that you believe all gay people should feel for themselves.
Those quotes, I know, make these pieces sound primarily angry. But if you read them you’ll see they’re grounded in sorrow—which is necessarily grounded in love. Simply hating is too easy, and of course accomplishes nothing.
This next one and its follow-up were also championed by Dan Savage. They quickly became central to the wide-spread controversy that resulted in the general consensus that no Christian leader who waffled on the gay issue could any longer be said to speak for Christian progressives. To my mind this is where the whole national conversation about this issue changed and opened up.
Can you imagine someone working for you declaring that video to be too radical or controversial for Sojourners to be associated with? It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? Hasn’t that person even read the Sojourners Diversity Statement?
Mr. Wallis, I implore you to consider that saying that it is your long standing, deeply rooted conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman is tantamount to saying that gays and lesbians are (pick your word/phrase) unnatural, inferior, morally corrupt, shameful, disgraceful, freakish, an abomination before God. That is necessarily the correlative truth to “the only legitimate, God-pleasing marriage is between a man and a woman.” That’s what those words of yours mean, friend.
You are saying that gays and lesbians are, in every way that really matters in life, inferior. You are saying that the Bible says that. You are saying that is what God believes. You are making that statement as large and true as anyone possibly could.
So. You know. Stop doing that.
This next one had a simple premise, captured in its pull-quote:
How in the world would anyone judge when acceptable brotherly affection between two men living together crosses the line into unacceptable sexual relations between them? The only way to do that would be to set up some kind of actual, clearly defined, behaviorally specific no-no criteria.
Forget it. It’s a fail. There’s just no applicable system of assessment, no way of clearly determining when acceptable, wholesome platonic love becomes unacceptable man-on-man action.
Another self-explanatory one that I thought would be basically impossible to argue was:
The idea of a God who would condemn all non-Christians and/or homosexuals to hell forever is logically, diametrically opposed to the idea of a God who loves mankind. It would mean that God himself is not obeying the very law about which God himself, as Jesus, said there is none greater.
Simplest point ever (you’d think, anyway: but dang do people not like you screwing with their money) is:
I don’t see how it’s possible to avoid the conclusion that there is something very definitely wrong with any Christian who is not himself as poor as the proverbial church mouse pointing to the Bible as grounds for his condemnation of gays and lesbians. How can any self-respecting Christian take literally what Paul said about homosexuality, and at the same time ignore or seriously waffle on what Jesus Christ himself said about money?
This next one was in response to (yet another) resurgence of the fallacy amongst some Christian leaders that when it comes to committing to the idea that it’s okay to be gay, a waffle is as good as a meal:
No matter how strenuously he or she might deny it, the fact is that any Christian who does not forthrightly and unambiguously assert that there is nothing whatsoever inherently immoral about same-sex relationships has chosen a side in this conflict. To a starving man, the person who can’t decide if they want to share their food is no better than the person who refuses to.
Thought I’d write this one by way of cutting to the heart of the matter:
Gay men threaten the traditional power base of straight men. Men are going to kiss men. And that will always seem intensely weird to straight people—just like men and women kissing will always seem intensely weird to gay people.
It’s a new world. And it’s time to be brave about it.
And mostly, of course, it’s time to realize that when it comes to men loving men and women loving women, straight people have nothing—nothing—to fear but fear itself.
I think this is one of the strongest points about this issue that can be made:
“Gosh,” said Arthur. He thought for a moment. “Nothing. The Bible doesn’t say anything about any contexts or situations in which it is or might be okay for gay people to actually be gay. Same as it doesn’t with lying, stealing, killing, and all the other sins it mentions. It doesn’t talk about contexts at all.”
I’ll let the rest of these speak for themselves.
Christians today who take seriously the search for truth must admit that the old axiom that homosexuality is a sin has been forever reduced in status from objective truth to subjective opinion. From fact to belief. From beyond question to unquestionably dubious.
Believing that homosexual love is a condemnable sin, in other words, is now a choice one must make.
And what Christian—what person at all?—would choose ignorant condemnation over enlightened love?
I don’t write about gay people because I love them so much. I don’t love gay people any more than I do anyone else. They’re just people. But they’re an entire class of people who are every day being cruelly maligned, denigrated, bullied to death, and in every way dehumanized—by Christians. People representing the faith to which I ascribe are, in the name of that faith, purposefully, consciously, and even gleefully tending to the destruction of people whose only “crime” is that they love in a way that’s barely different from the way the majority of people love.
How can I live with that? It’s so wrong. It’s so hideous. It’s so inexcusable. It’s the crudest, most damaging kind of transgression.
The world is rapidly changing. And as surely as one day follows the next, Christian theology, as it always has (slavery, anyone?) will change right along with it. As our world grows smaller, our Christianity will grow larger, broader, more inclusive.
It’s as obvious as a stunning rainbow in the sky that within, say, ten years, any church or denomination still fighting against the marriage of gay couples and the ordination of gay clergy will be like those recalcitrant Japanese soldiers living amongst the mangrove trees of Lubang Island long after everyone else has accepted peace as a fact and adjusted to the new world order.
And that’s ten years tops. At the rate things are changing now, I wouldn’t be surprised if by Thursday the Pope was a drag queen. … The bottom line on the whole gay/Christianity issue is that, in an astonishingly short period of time (yay Internet!), we have reached Ye Oldyee Tipping Poiynte. And that seesaw will only continue to further tip in the direction it is now. Which (let’s face it) is to the left.
For a grievously long time we have treated gay people in a way that we now understand brings nothing but shame upon the God we purport to emulate. With bilious fury have we systematically maligned, denigrated, condemned, cursed, shamed, and bullied you literally to death.
For no reason beyond animal ignorance we have tried to obliterate you: to rob you of your identity, crush your self-worth, destroy your hopes, turn you against yourself. We have harnessed our almost unimaginable power to bring to you the singular, unceasing message that God finds you reprehensible.
Shamefully, we have turned the way you love into the way we hate.
And finally, ultimately, I wrapped it all up with this next biggie, which my genius of a wife Catherine helped me write:
So that’s a bit of what over the last five years I/we contributed to the Gay War. That war hasn’t yet been won, by a long, long shot. But it’s now clear that on that issue history has decided.
So. Onward Christian soldiers and all that—or at least, you know: onward Christians with keyboards and mousepads.
P.S. I’ve no plans to stop writing on the gay issue. I mostly write about it in the context of answering letters written to me about it, and of course I’ll continue responding to such letters for as long as I receive them.