Writing About Homosexuality

Yesterday there was an article posted on Huffington Post by two young evangelical authors about LGBT activists wrongly using the word ‘hate’ to describe those with a conservative theological framework. I have a few thoughts:

The article was written well with good thoughts. Thoughts that I do tend to agree with. But at the end of the day, coming from who wrote the article, they are just, well, written words. That’s all.

It’s a million times easier to write about something that you don’t have daily interaction with. It keeps you separated. It gives you a buffer. You aren’t fully invested in what you’re writing about. It takes no guts.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that others are starting to go public with their thoughts on a new medium of engagement. I’m all about it – from both the LGBT and conservative worlds. I’m sure those guys who wrote the article are great guys – as I believe one, if not both of them, are represented by the literary agent that represents me.

But it would be like me writing about the environment (one of the article’s author’s area of expertise). Just because I, Andrew, recycle and take public transportation more than I drive, doesn’t make me someone with any amount of credibility to speak to the subject of creation care. What it does make me is someone who does care, is trying hard, and has a platform to toss my thoughts in the arena. Those are all good things. Things that I appreciate.

I just pray the author’s of that article are backing up their easily written, well crafted and articulate article with personal relationships with those in the LGBT community – especially those that don’t agree with them – that challenge their “thinking” and “writing” past thinking and writing and onto real life in real time. Only then will I be willing to listen.

Much love.


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  • Just got done reading their article and had a few thoughts:

    1. Focus on the Family might have a “softer, less partisan” voice against gay people and our families, but they are still stridently against us and our families. A quick peek at their website just confirmed that for me. Ultimately, it seems to me that they weren’t hurt by that whole TOMS Shoes apology. Mycoksie has the right to look at Focus’ statements and actions and be offended by them and to issue a statement saying that he regrets attending their event.

    2. The Ernie and Bert petition is stupid (then again, so is Sesame Workshop’s response that Muppets don’t have sexual orientations when they are promoting a new Muppet movie that features a romance between Kermit and Miss Piggy, but I digress…). But what does it have to do with their argument that social conservatives are called “haters” by random GLBT people?

    3. Lastly, this is just another in a line of evangelicals who complain about being called “haters”. Doesn’t the mantra go something live, “love the sinner, *hate* the sin”? If that’s the case — and I do indeed hear that mantra repeated often enough — , then I think it’s reasonable to make the jump that gay marriages are hated. It’s a manifestation of our sinful nature, isn’t it? If not, what exactly is being hated?

    Frankly, I’m tired of evangelicals claiming victimhood when people like me object to them hating my marriage and my familiy (as well as DADT repeal and hate crime legislation, etc., etc., etc…). Evangelicals rose up during the past decade and constitutionally banner gay and lesbian families in 31 states and justified that process over many years using vile and lie-filled assertions. And now they are upset that there is residual anger and disgust towards organizations like Focus and Family Research Council by those that they have demonized for so long? That’s B.S. There are consequences to statements and actions. Focus on the Family doesn’t want to be called an “anti-gay hate group” by some online organization? Then it needs to look at what it has said about and done to GLBT people over the past couple decades and seek some sort of amends. Otherwise, they really need to suck it up. IMHO.

    • Wow. I love that analysis Jon. Seriously… Thank you.

    • If the likes of Focus on the Family came out and said something like, “We’ve said some horrible judgemental things about the LGBT communities in the past and we’re sorry for them – they were wrong”, would they then no longer be “haters” if they still opposed marriage equality on the religious basis that “marriage can only be between a man and a woman”? At that point would it itself be “hateful” to launch huge PR campaigns to demonise people and institutions just because individuals hold to traditional religious views and wished to see them enshrined in the laws of the land (in the same way that some wish to see non-religious perspectives become part of the State’s formal framework).

      Just wondering where the balance in all this lies.

      • Claire

        It has occurred to me that a lot of people’s resistance to gay marriage and gay rights comes down to a matter of ego and selfishness.

      • Peter: It would be a start. But it would also take time. Trust isn’t built in one day. But I’ve never seen any humility towards GLBT by Focus on the Family. Even Willowcreek Church’s statement of support for GLBT people (when he told his audience why the Starbucks guy wasn’t going to be there) described us as broken people whose families fit outside the bounds of their church.

        That said, I’m not aware of any “huge PR campaigns” to demonize Focus on the Family or that Willowcreek Church, for example. I mean, roughly 800 people sign an online petition and Starbucks listened to it. Is that a huge PR campaign? Hardly.

        I’m also not aware that people are being demonized when someone calls their group an “anti-gay hate group”. Those groups have attributed my family to bestiality and pedophilia, so I guess it comes down to perspective.

        • Jon I think you’re absolutely right that it will take more than an apology to build up trust. I suspect though that as marriage equality continues to become an issue in consecutive states, all that will serve to do is polarise positions.

          • I suspect though that as marriage equality continues to become an issue in consecutive states, all that will serve to do is polarise positions.

            But why? Why does the existence of my marriage need to polarize Willowcreek Church or Focus on the Family or any other group? I don’t darken their doors. Why do they need to raise money to bulldoze down mine through politcal action?

            • Because they genuinely believe that a man and a man cannot be married? Because they genuinely believe that having two people of the same sex marry alters the nature of the marriage since now marriage is not per se about the procreation of children (amongst other things)?

              Which is not to say that those things are correct, but rather that they hold to them utterly sincerely and with integrity.

              • I don’t doubt that they are sincere in their beliefs.

                But don’t be mistaken that it’s my family and others like it that are under attack, not to mention our parental rights. How do you think I will respond if my family gets legally wiped out because others decide that it’s not valid. Hint: I won’t just say, “Aw shucks! I guess they taught me. Now what’s on the TV?…”

                I will never forgive the church if it and its people contribute to the destruction of my familiy. That is how the gay families of California feel right now and it still amazes me that social and religious conservatives are still shocked post-Prop 8 that gay and lesbian people are upset that our families were voided by a narrow majority vote.

                I don’t care how sweet Focus on the Family or Willowcreek Church are if my family is legally neutralized. There’s no forgiving that type of advocacy.

      • I agree with Jon, that it would be a great start!

        The problem I still see though, is would anyone be happy with that start? I know there has to be actions to back up such an apology (which is what we try to do everyday day in our neighborhood), but does that mean Focus on the Family (who I do believe is wrong in their fear driven politicizing approach to LGBTs) has to change their theological belief system? Activists would still say yes. I disagree with that based on our country’s 1st Amendment to religious freedom. Either way its put, organizations with a long history of fear driven politicizing don’t have any shot of reconciliation unless they 100% clean house and bring in all new people who live out their beliefs in real ways for a loooong time before anyone would be willing to listen.

        • I don’t care if people disagree with my family. So what?

          I care that there are churches and politicians who actively work to undermine and neutralize the existance of my familiy.

          There are tons of people in my life that I think are messed up. I don’t fund-raise against them and pump out f**ked up research against them or seek to politically injure them. There’s a huge difference between the two approaches.

  • I tried reading that HuffPo article. First yesterday, then today. I gave up after about the second paragraph.

    Too much evangelical rhetoric surrounding homosexuality is about making excuses for vile behavior, instead of acknowledging personal failure.

    The truth is that many Christians who oppose homosexuality are bigots, their behavior IS hateful, and they need to be called on it.

    Earlier this year on Twitter, a famous pastor wrote:

    “If someone dislikes what u believe THEN calls you a “bigot” – it reveals what they are, not what you are.”

    That attitude seems to be at the crux of many Christians’ ideas concerning how to treat gay people. Never acknowledge their own ugliness. Just keep pointing those fingers.

    As far as I’m concerned, people can believe what they want. I’m old enough to be used to folks being hard-hearted. However that shouldn’t stop them from treating their fellow human beings with respect.

    Knowing Jesus–or, rather, THINKING that one knows Jesus–does not make one person better than anyone else.

    • Exactly… So, so defensive. What I don’t understand is why so many Christians do not get the difference between humility in seeking reconciliation (which means you have to take on all the accusations as a part of your history, even if you directly didn’t do them), and overt defensiveness in responding bigotry with bigotry or hate with hate.

      Great point!

  • Jody

    Why is the church so focused on what two consenting adults are doing – when there are so many innocent men, women and children who are being raped, molested and sexually violated in our nation? Why don’t our pastors talk about the very real generational harm that impacts our families when one relative molests another? Where are the sermons about how devastated families are when one spouse commits adultery and abandons their wife/husband and kids? What about the date rapes that happen within the evangelical community? I’m SO tired of the faith community focusing on what two (CONSENTING) adults want to do behind closed doors…when our families are being destroyed by abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence. While some Christians get all stirred up about gay marriage…the pain and abuse caused by heterosexual “sin” within their own congregations is ignored. Why aren’t our churches focusing on helping the innocent victims of heterosexual “sinners”? Where are the Christian writers and speakers who should be challenging our pastors and leaders to focus on molestation, sexual abuse and other forms of violence that aren’t being discussed? Why is the church trying to legislate morality for consenting adults…while turning it’s back on the innocent victims of heterosexuals within it’s own four walls.

    • I totally agree in that there is a difference between legal rights and sacramental uniting. If there is a separation between the two, everyone can get the same rights in being married, and then churches can have the freedom to choose who to marry and who not. Because this way, rights aren’t intertwined with churches or clergy acting as an agent of the State – which in the Bible, Jesus commands the exact opposite! Churches and clergy should never act as agents of the State.

      • What verses are you referring to, Andrew?

        And Jody, please know there is at least one pastor preaching against the sins you referred to. I totally agree with this statement: “While some Christians get all stirred up about gay marriage…the pain and abuse caused by heterosexual “sin” within their own congregations is ignored.”

        • Jody

          Shawn – Thank you! Our churches should focus on “love” and really work to meet the needs of those who are hurting. It frightens me that so many Christians are more passionate about “politics” than they are about “people”. Take care!

      • Jody

        Andrew – Currently, pastors only marry those couples they are comfortable conducting the ceremony for. Nobody’s forcing them to marry anyone and/or everyone.They can (and do) decline to participate in heterosexual weddings – so, why would they be forced to marry a homosexual couple?

  • jonathan

    Thanks Andrew, for all of your kind, thoughtfully expressed and truly wise words. As always, I really appreciate your support and look forward to the next “tension” gathering.


  • I wanna say this in love, as best as I can.

    Your response to this article, Andrew, really bothers me. You promote that each side (gay and conservative) needs to meet in the middle and discuss these things. You say that each side has a right to be heard and that we need to seek common ground on issues – beyond labels. But, is this really true for each side? Or, does the conservative side need to give more than the gay side? Haven’t both sides done/said unfair things that needs repairing?

    And, no, this is NOT me playing the victim card. I know the church has done mistakes. They need to repent, period. But so does the gay side.

    I think the article brings up great points. Christians, who are striving to love their GLBT neighbors, and yet who hold a traditional view about homosexuality, are considered anti-gay because of their views. How is this acceptable birdge-building? Why can one group write-off the other and nothing is said about it – at least nothing has been said on your blog – but when a Christian writes-off the gay community, you’re all over that? I think many Christians give up trying to build bridges with the gay community, because no matter what the Christian says or does, they get pelted with “anti-gay” labels from the get-go. Again, how is this bridge-building?

    I’m sorry man, but this is inconsistent with what you’re promoting. Or am I totally off base here?

    I respect who you are and what you do, Andrew. I applaud you for it. But as an evangelical Christian, I’m tired of being hammered for not doing anything right, no matter what moves I take – in love – towards my GLBT friends and neighbors.

    Also, just because these men don’t live in a gay community like you, doesn’t mean they don’t have something insightful to offer this conversation. Sometimes, an outsiders perspective helps us to see what we don’t.

    • Shawn: I get what you are saying. Here are some additional problems I have with the originating article:

      1. It treats all Christian groups and churches the same. Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Willowcreek Church all have separate relationships with the GLBT communities, with the more strident voices leading down to something much, much less so.

      2. But this also comes down to semantics. Are those groups, especially the first ones “pro-gay”? Why is it wrong to say that something or someone is “anti” gay when they are “anti” gay families and “anti” gay marriages and “anti” gay relationships, etc, etc? What descriptive term do you want us to use for groups and churches who actively oppose every aspect of our day to day romantic and familial lives?

    • I hear you Shawn, and in no way do I think you are playing any victim card! I always appreciate what you have to say, and am sorry if I said anything that makes you feel hammered! That was, and is, never my intention.

      In my response I said that I do agree with much of what they said. I believe the sentiment is dead on, as I do think the terms ‘hate’ and ‘bigot’ and ‘homophobic’ are wrongly applied. It’s just that, as you can see from the comments, many LGBT people reading that article see it as just another pair of young white evangelicals in the dominant majority blaming LGBTs for feeling backed into a corner or wrongly labeled.

      At some point, and I say this repeatedly throughout my book, it doesn’t matter if you’re blamed or accused or hated upon – at what point do we, as hetero Christians, start to take that responsibility of reconciliation upon ourselves and back up our good intentions with tangible actions of love. Even if we do that, it doesn’t mean things will change or get easier… but it does mean that we are faithfully living our belief as best as we can in relation to, and relationship with those we love as Jesus does.

      The biggest problem I see with the article is that they are writing from an outcome driven point of view – which is why they feel wronged. That’s the wrong approach. They should be writing (let’s be honest – they should be LIVING) from a Kingdom Establishment approach. The outcome is secondary in that situation. My thought – Hate away on me…I’m going to keep loving anyway whether we agree or not. Sometimes reconciliation and relationship happens, sometimes not. But faithfulness won out either way.

    • Kevin Harris

      “Or, does the conservative side need to give more than the gay side? Haven’t both sides done/said unfair things that needs repairing?

      And, no, this is NOT me playing the victim card. I know the church has done mistakes. They need to repent, period. But so does the gay side.”

      Shawn, when we’re talking about who needs to repent and if one side should give more than the other, I think it is good to keep in mind that while Christians do have a moral imperative to repent and seek reconciliation, that does not mean that others outside of Christianity do also (and I’m not trying to imply that many individuals in the LGBT community are not Christians as that is obviously false as they also have an obligation to seek reconciliation with those that are an ‘other’ to them). Repentance is simply a matter of obedience that is not contingent upon and should not be influenced by the repentance or lack there-of from another person or group. It may very well not be fair if Christians end up giving more at times, but I think that the cross calls us more to sacrifice, compassion, solidarity with those marginalized, etc. than it does to fairness.

      Another important thing to note are the power dynamics at play in these conversations and the different ways in which the parties involved are affected. Heterosexual evangelicals are a part of the broader heterosexual majority and thus not only have more influence when it comes to defining what is normative related to sexuality, but also have the power to withhold rights from those that they disagree with (thou I think the latter is starting to shift in the US). Both sides are talking about their views related to scripture and sexuality, but as the marriages and legal rights of heterosexual individuals are not being called into question the LGBT community has a lot more at stake in the conversation. Considering that conservative heterosexual evangelicals still have more power and the fact that their faith has historically been used to marginalize and oppose the rights of those in the LGBT community, their response is going to need to look differently when it comes to reconciliation.

      Btw, I absolutely agree with you that those that hold a more conservative interpretation of scripture when it comes to homosexuality should not automatically be viewed as anti-gay. The beliefs can be used in ways that are anti-gay though (which is why individuals get up in arms about Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council as they go well beyond simply holding a conservative perspective).

    • Thanks for your responses Jon, Andrew, and Kevin. I respect your responses and it gave me more understanding. Here are some of my thoughts:

      You’re right in saying that Christians should be the ones to repent first, no matter if the other sides reciprocates or not. Christ calls us to seek forgiveness, no matter what. I get that, and I totally am for that.

      You’re also right in saying that the article needed to be clearer on which Christian groups they were referring too. Willow Creek is further along in their approach towards the gay community than the likes of FRC.

      However, I still contend that it seems unless Christians totally accept the gay community, nothing they say or do will be good enough. All repentance will be null and void unless Christians back down from holding any type of traditional views on homosexuality.

      As a gay man, I hated Christians because they hated on my friends and me. All of us were going to hell – no matter what. God’s love and grace were beyond our reach – nor were we deserving of such unconditional gifts from God.

      Now sitting on the other side, I get blasted from gay friends who think I’m a bigot and a hypocrite because I hold a conservative view on sexuality. Now, I love these people (my heart is moved deeply for the gay community). I’ve watched some die due to AIDS, I’ve prayed with some when they’ve had hard times in their relationships. I’ve had them sleep in my house, over for dinner, and gone on vacation with them. I truly love these people. Yet, I’m a bigot and anti-gay cause I don’t agree with how their living.

      Again, I’ll ask, how is this bridge-building? What is so wrong about asking the GLBT community to re-think their words and assumptions about people – Christians mainly – they don’t really even know? Them pre-judging Christians is no better than Christians pre-judging them. If living in the tension means that we “agree to disagree” on things, and that we are able to form friendships in spite of our disagreements, then I think BOTH sides need to give in order to move closer.

      • Shawn: Before I respond, I just want to clarify for you and others that I am not employed by the Marin Foundation. I’ve met everyone on staff and I have enjoyed my interactions with the lot of them. They’re a lot of fun to hang out with! But ultimately, I’m a married gay Christian dad who lives in Iowa and who blogs about stuff like my family, marriage equality, comic books, Bob Vander Plaats, and poodles. Just wanted to throw that out there.

        1. There are always going to be people on both sides of this issue that defame and name-call and lack trust. That’s frustrating, but it’s true. You and your church might have wonderful community relationships with some of the GLBT people in your area, but there will still remain GLBT people in your area who never like you just as there will remain people in your own flock who will never like GLBT people.

        2. I have no clue where you are from geographically. But have no doubt that there are many more GLBT people who are extremely pissed off at the broader Church than you can imagine. We have been used by politicians and evangelicals for decades (and especially the past two decades) as the big rallying boogey man. We have witnessed the Church come together in more states than not to constitutionally ban our families. We saw the Church rise up and raise millions of dollars to wipe out our families in California back in 2008. We have heard the intimate details of our lives and our very motivations as married people and parents slandered over and over and over. And now some evangelicals are upset that GLBT people don’t like them. Or that GLBT people should reach out to the people who have demonized us all this time.

        Do you know how many bus tours have traveled through my state in the last month with the sole purpose of rallying people against my family and others like it? Have you listened to what your Brethren have said about gay parents and why we want to be parents?

        Here’s one way to build bridges despite this issue: Preach to your flock about the morals of your church within your church community and stop trying to wipe out the gay and lesbian families who have nothing to do with your church. The Catholic church manages to oppose divorce and enforce it with its members without spending millions on efforts to amend state constitutions to ban divorce. If evangelicals continue fighting to wipe out marriage for those of us who have it, don’t expect that we’ll smile back and watch impassively. You wouldn’t do it if your family was being actively destabilized. Neither will we.

        • jon,
          thank you for those words — especially the last paragraph!

  • Thanks for responding Jon.

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. I do. I understand what the church has done – all in the name of Jesus (who by the way wouldn’t have done those things Himself). And I am VERY sorry for what has happened. I’m not asking the gay community to “forgive and forget” so easily, cause there does need to be true repentance given by the church.

    Not sure if you picked it up in my last post, but I do understand the plight between the gay community and the church. I’ve received much hate from church as a gay man. And just because “I’m one of them” now doesn’t mean life is a cake walk. Do you know how hard it is to get a ministry job within the church with a past like mine? Do you know what it’s like to confess to people that I deal with/struggle with same-sex attractions? I have been turned away from ministry positions many (many) times by the church because of fear and ignorance. I’ve lost friendships because guys don’t know how to deal with another guy who has same-sex attractions.

    I am not saying that my pain is anything compared to yours – I know there’s some difference. However, I am saying that I do understand, because it’s no different for those who are “ex-gay” in the church.

    Christianity needs a lot of work … A LOT. But you know, I do believe some of us are trying to change things. We’re really trying to bring reconciliation and renewal within the body of Christ. Some of us really do want bridges built between the GLBT community and the Church.

    Just as no one should put gays into the same category (sex crazed), nor should Christians be put into the same category (homophobes and bigots). Both sides need to see each person for who they are and not by the label they seem to carry.

    • “Just as no one should put gays into the same category (sex crazed), nor should Christians be put into the same category (homophobes and bigots). Both sides need to see each person for who they are and not by the label they seem to carry.”

      Shawn: Agreed. We all need to learn to get along better despite differences.

      But not every group and person is equal. Touching on my earlier statement that the original article incorrecty lumped the situations of Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Willow Creek (not to mention Ernie & Bert, which last I checked weren’t religious figures), FRC and FotF in particular have long histories of unrepentant attacks and mischaracterizations of GLBT people. Just in the past days, FotF said that GLBT people will *kill* Prop 8 supporters if vidoe footage of the trial is released and last week FRC issued a fund-raising appeal against an anti-bullying program because it’s “disgusting” that gay teens might learn that things will get better for them eventually. Those are just two very recent examples of hyperbole by those groups. They are “anti-gay” groups. There is no getting around that, no matter how much good they might do for other groups of people.

  • Nick D

    I love the conersation here and on your blog. I don’t recall Jesus wasting His ime protesting Pilate/Ceasar about social or Governt issues. I’m not saying I’m compromising – well at least I hope – but taht we as Christians need to own our own sin and call one another out on it before we point fingers. On the other hand how can anyone, including the gay community judge anyone who in their own mind thinks they are born a certain way?
    EX: ( Two psychologists testified before a parliamentary session on a bill related to sexual assault on children that pedophilia is a “sexual orientation” just like homosexuality or heterosexuality.
    Lifesitenews reported on the testimony at a parliamentary session in Canada regarding a bill intended to increase mandatory minimum sentences on child sex offenders for particular crimes. Dr. Vernon Quinsey and Dr. Hubert Van Gijseghem were testifying on how offenders responded to treatment. )
    Why is there so much grey area? I just have a hard time thinking how can “anyone” be wrong than? Who makes the rules?

    • What does that opinion piece, which complained that gay activitists shouldn’t accuse Christians and Christian groups of being “hateful” and “hate groups” have to do with sentencing guidelines for child sex offenders? I’m not getting your point. Care to connect the dots?

  • Nick D.

    Dang i just typed it out and lost it =( S o i will try to retype the best I can remember what I typed before. Ok what I meant by article excerpt is How can any group, including Christians, “hate” pedephiles if they are born this way? Who draws the line? who says what age is too young? Who is to judge them if they are born that way? Any group can hate another group because they do not like their stance. trust me it even happens in the Church. i am a believer but do not consider myself a person who “hates” gay people. I have 2 gay cousins. I do not hate them. I work with many gay men and I treat them the same as I treat straights. As a Christian I believe I should not avoid them or treat them any different. I still talk to men/ women who have sex outside of marriage ( which I am guilty of myself before I became a believer in Jesus), I still talk to people who struggle with alcoholism/drugs ( my oldself as well) , I still talk to people who struggle with porn ( Many men do ) or were prostitutes ( one of my good friends was one before Jesus ), etc… so if I were to avoid interation with gays than I need to avoid all people than. I couldn’t talk to pretty much anyone. Hope I kinda cleared it up and not make it worse. =)

    • Nick: Pedophilia isn’t a sexual orientation. It’s a paraphilia. Sexual orientation addresses the gender that one is attracted to. Paraphilia is sexual attraction or obsession towards specific objects, preferences, or images. Pedophiles can be gay, straight, or bi, but it’s not a specific orientation.

      Who draws the line? Apparently in the situation you brought up Canada’s parliment. The law generally decides what age is too young. Generally that’s 18, though it varies from government to government and there are usually variations in the law based off the ages of those who are sexually active with each other. Generally speaking, those under 18 don’t have the legal right to consent and they don’t have the experience to protect themselves. Minors can’t enter into contracts without parental permission. They can’t get married in most situations without parental permission. They can’t join the military without parental permission. They can’t open a bank account or get a library card or legally drop out of school without parental permission.

      Assuming that pedophiles truly are born pedophiles, are you to assume that they’re minor sex partners are also sexually attracted to the adults in their lives? That they have the experience and the power to resist the advances of someone who has 2-3 times the life experiences that they have and likely 2-3 times the strength and size to push themselves on their sexual partners?