When conscience and ‘obedience’ pull in opposite directions

A couple weeks ago we looked at a helpful short post from Danny Coleman in which he discussed the anxious conflict gnawing at many Christians who are reluctantly convinced that obedience to God’s Law requires them to be unkind, unjust and unloving to LGBT people. Coleman pithily describes those Christians’ dilemma:

They do not hate or fear LBGT people. They fear God. They carry a perception of the wrathful Old Testament God who will destroy cities or nations if “sin” is found in the camp. … Attempts to reconcile this ancient God of wrath with the God of love and inclusion that Jesus represented tend to create a sort of cognitive and spiritual dissonance. And so, most Christians don’t hate and fear gays — they really want to love them. What they fear is God’s wrath and what they hate is the idea of the destruction God will bring down if LGBT people are accepted — if “sin” is allowed.

The problem is that even for Christians bound by such a stunted view of sin, conscience says something else. Conscience tells them that even if they don’t feel fear or hatred, behaving as if they fear or hate others is still wrong. So they feel trapped — torn between the conflicting demands of conscience and “obedience.” If they avoid the guilt of sinful disobedience by allowing “sinful” others in the camp, they incur the guilt of mistreating those others. Conscience pulls them toward love of the other; “obedience” pulls them in the other direction.

You can see the enormous strain of this being-pulled-apart in a recent guest-post by Peter Wehner at Tim Dalrymple’s blog on Patheos’ evangelical channel. The post, titled “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality,”* reveals Wehner’s struggle to reconcile the tug of conscience with what he perceives as the demands of obedience. He begins by stating that “I’d associate myself with the views of Timothy J. Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City,” linking to a recent discussion in which Keller inadvertently restated, endorsed and underlined the point Danny Coleman made above. Keller said:

If you say to everybody, “Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin is a bigot,” [Jonathan Rauch] says, “You are going to have to ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible.” Completely disassemble their whole approach to authority. You are basically going to have to ask them to completely kick their entire faith out the door.

That, in a nutshell, is the fear Coleman describes. And it is the fear that pervades Wehner’s argument.

But Wehner is also more honest than Keller. Keller pretends as though the accusation of bigotry arises solely from the belief that “homosexuality is a sin.” Wehner recognizes that, in reality, the accusation of bigotry arises from Christian support for legally enforced bigotry. He seems to recognize that the problem is not so much that Christians like himself believe “homosexuality is a sin,” but rather that this belief has led many such Christians to deny full legal equality to LGBT people. I am an enthusiastic, almost obsessive, coffee-drinker. I don’t think Mormons are bigots because they regard drinking coffee as a kind of sin. But if the Saints suddenly lost their minds and began lobbying for laws denying coffee-drinkers like myself the right to marry, or insisting that it should be legal for employers to fire coffee-drinkers, then, yes, that would be bigotry.

Wehner doesn’t explicitly call out Keller for the self-serving disingenuousness of his “Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin” straw-man nonsense, but I give Wehner credit for acknowledging the legitimate substance of the complaints about anti-gay bigotry. The main thrust of his argument is to challenge that substance without challenging the belief he shares with Keller, that homosexuality is a sin.

Wehner’s conclusion isn’t wholly conclusive. He seems extremely cautious not to be perceived as advocating “disobedience” lest he incur the wrath of God or of the tribal gatekeepers of evangelicalism. But he’s clearly pointing toward a solution that I think can work for conservative evangelicals like Wehner or Keller or Dalrymple. They don’t need to change their theology or their hermeneutics in order to stop denying other people full legal equality and civil rights:

I think it’s reasonable to say that even for orthodox Christians,** how the Scriptural injunctions against homosexual behavior should manifest themselves in modern American law and society are not self-evident. For example, you might believe homosexual conduct is not what God intended but (like idolatry) that view should not be written in law.

I’d be quite pleased if more anti-gay Christians would settle on that view. (Keller calls this a “Neo-Anabaptist” position, but really it’s just plain Baptist — more Roger Williams than John Howard Yoder.)

My main point here, though, is not the conclusion of Wehner’s argument or the logic he uses in getting there. What strikes me more is the impulse compelling him to make this anguished argument — which, again, is the strain of being pulled in opposite directions by the demands of conscience and the demands of “obedience.” For Wehner, as for many white  evangelicals, “their whole approach to authority” compels them to believe that God demands a “firm stance” opposing homosexuality. Yet Wehner’s conscience is pulling him the other way — he seems to genuinely regret the harm that is being done to LGBT people by Christians who advocate laws denying their civil rights.

The pangs of conscience are clearest toward the end of Wehner’s post, when he recalls a conversation with former InterVarsity president Steve Hayner:

“I doubt whether God will have much to say about our political convictions in the end,” Steve said to me, “but I’m quite sure that he will have something to say about how we loved the least, the marginalized, the outcasts, the lonely, the abused — even when some think that they have it all. Political convictions that lead toward redemption and reconciliation are most likely headed in the right direction.”

Hayner describes a trajectory leading “toward redemption and reconciliation” and emphasizing the powerless, “the outcasts, the lonely, the abused.” And Wehner says, “It seems to me there is great wisdom in his words.”

It seems that way to me, too. But I should warn Wehner that the gatekeepers of the white evangelical tribe don’t look kindly on anyone who allows this wisdom to shape their hermeneutic. That, they say, would be disobedient. It would “ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible. Completely disassemble their whole approach to authority.” You’d be asking them to kick their faith out the door and they’d prefer, instead, to kick you out of the tribe.

Just ask Steve Chalke. Chalke’s evangelical credentials were beyond question — even more than Keller’s or Wehner’s or Dalrymple’s. But he was judged to have headed too far “in the right direction” of reconciliation and love for the outcast, and he was banished from the evangelical tribe — cast into the outer darkness with the mainliners, the “progressives” and the Episcopalians.

But here’s the joyous thing that Steve Chalke discovered. He’s not anguished. He’s not torn between conscience and obedience. For Chalke, obedience to God and conscience are pulling in the same direction. That unity of direction is at the root of the meaning of the word “integrity,” which is why Chalke’s farewell letter to the tribal gatekeepers — his manifesto in support of marriage equality — was titled, “A Matter of Integrity: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation.”

When conscience and obedience are integrated — when they are pulling in the same direction — then faith becomes something that perpetually challenges us to become better people. It calls us to constantly expand our love and our capacity for love and to move ever onward, ever outward and ever Christward.

Peter Wehner is clearly aware of the discomfort and anxiety that comes from the kind of faith Danny Coleman described and Tim Keller endorsed — a form of faith in which conscience and obedience are at odds, pulling in opposite directions. It’s like being stretched on a rack. And, one way or the other, such faith will always entail being racked with guilt.

Maybe Steve Chalke is right. Maybe God is a better person than you think. Maybe obedience to what God wants doesn’t have to produce a queasy, uneasy conscience and the nagging sense that treating others unkindly and unfairly is still wrong, even when it’s done out of a sincere attempt to be obedient.

I’ve experience both forms of faith — the fearful kind Coleman describes and the fearless sort Steve Chalke advocates. The latter is a lot more joyful.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* I had a hard time getting past that title, which seems like the archetypal headline for any in-group discussion of out-group people. You could fill a bookshelf with the unspoken assumptions packed into and conveyed by those six words: An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality.

Here are some potential alternate versions of that title:

• “A Member of the Tribe Observes Outsiders.”

• “I am a legitimate person. You are an issue and an abstraction.”

• “The Myopia of Privilege.”

• “Jonah looks at the Ninevites.”

• “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has not made me a homosexual.”

• “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. And you’re welcome.”

That actual title — “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality” — includes something of all of those, and more. And that’s before we even consider the false assumption that “an evangelical Christian” must, by definition, be looking at homosexuality from the outside — that no evangelicals are LGBT and no LGBT persons are evangelicals. (Here are links to more than a dozen blogs written by people who are both.)

While there’s something of that attitude pervading the whole post, the general spirit of Wehner’s piece is better than that title.

In general, though, I’m way beyond tired of articles and blog posts titled “An Evangelical Christian Looks at …” It’s long past time for a new wave of articles titled, instead, “An Evangelical Christian Listens to …”

** The colloquial use of “begs the question” to mean “raises the question” leaves us without a term for what Wehner is doing here. “Orthodox Christians,” he says, are those who believe the Bible declares homosexuality to be a sin. And we know that the Bible says so because this is what “orthodox Christians” say the Bible says. He’s assuming the initial point. Or presuming it, actually.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, given that 76% of americans are christians, and more than 50% of americans support same-sex marriage, I think the numbers require the answer to that question be “Sometimes”

  • Allen

    not really!!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Almost nothing. Given that the people who wrote the bible had a radically different conception of sexuality from us, it’s like you’re asking what the bible has to say about the internet. There’s a couple of passages that say “don’t fuck the way the pagans do” or “don’t treat Real People (ie men) like Sub-People (ie women)”, but the only thing I think describes anything comparable our modern conception of homosexuality is the story of David and Johnathan. Which it seems okay with.

  • Allen

    Well the thing is no one has described why the Bible has to be constantly hashed out every time society has a problem. Why not look at modern solution for modern problems? i care nothing about the Bible because their are smarter and better ideas in the modern era. I’m still trying figure out why people have to interpret something to fit current society. When you use things from an ancient book and make it where these things are “truth” things like hatred for gays happens. gays wont be the last there will be another group in which the bible has a problem against and humans will go after

  • Allen

    but you didn’t answer the question tho. What does the Bible say about gays and homosexuality. You can beat around the bush and live in pretend world but their is a reason gays have been hated for centuries by Christians and the Abraham religions. People have died and lives destroyed because of a book of hate that people believe is mandated by a supernatural force.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I did answer the question: there is a canon gay relationship in the Bible, involving one of Judaism’s great heroes. Also, nobody actually knows what the fuck ‘arsenokoites’ means, but since the concept of a consensual sexual relationship between same-sex equals didn’t exist when Paul was writing, Paul’s objection to ‘arsenokoites’ can’t possibly be an objection to a consensual etc.

  • Allen

    ? but many have interpreted that way for years. lives have been destroyed in the process. Here is the problem… No one has given a reason of why the bible or holy book need to used in the first place. You are ultimately arguing that a book inspired by a loving God may or may not hate gays. may or may not hate non Christians. You don’t know. That’s an admission that Christianity is worthless. Whats the point of this then. If you know its wrong for gays to be treated wrongly and non Christians wrong why do u defend something that is unsure? its like your fighting against keep this messed up religion and doing the right thing.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    What are you objecting to in that? Those statistics are accurate at last notice. It would seem at least one in every three Christians supports marriage equality. The actual number is probably higher since that presumes that each and every one of the non-Christians in the country supports it, which is too much of a stretch.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Shockingly, I am not a Christian.

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
    That is why I am defending the Bible. Not because it is wholly and completely worthy of defense. Because parts of it are wise, and parts of it are beautiful, and if more of us made an effort to live by the wise parts and appreciate the beautiful parts and reject the abhorrent parts, the world would be a better place.

  • Allen

    No! I’m not objecting to the numbers who support same sex marriage in a legal sense. I’m very happy that Christians finally decided despite their religion that gays should be treated equal in some sense. That they deserve to not be hated on forever. I’m objecting to the fact that agreeing that same sex marriage should be allowed in a legal sense doesn’t mean they have abandoned the idea that gays are sick perverts who should burn in hell unless they apologize to an unchanged god who also happens to be Jesus who said gays should be put to death but now just wants to throw them in hell. If you ask most Christians if being gay is a sin they would agree and when doing so they are saying what i just wrote above. Christians still maintain their hate they are just more quiet about it. Still hate tho but as long as they hate in their churches and stay out of our laws and away from me then they are free to do whatever they want.

  • Allen

    Well don’t be angry when others are discriminated and destroyed decade after decade. its like saying you want to defended the KKK. Not because they hate blacks jews and gays but because they loved the Bible and God. You get exactly what you bargain for…..

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So when the Episcopalian church declared that homosexuals are children of God who deserve acceptance and equal protection under the law, appoint gay pastors and perform same-sex weddings and marriages in their own church… they’re just hiding how much they loathe homosexuality?

  • Allen

    That depends on if they still hold the notion that homosexuality is a sin or is inadequate. I could careless about the marrying and the rest. it would all be a sick lie if they still hold that gays are inadequate or sinful in some way. If not that then that’s great but if so then its really pathetic. i hope they have decided against totally hating gays. Actually it would be great if Christians stopped believing in their hateful Bible.Like i said if they have changed their views on gays that’s totally great. I mean it doesn’t change all the lives they destroyed in the past but its a start at becoming better people. The next thing would be if Christians give up on hating everyone who isn’t of their religion but i guess baby steps at morality is the only pace at which religious people can go..

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you fucking kidding me.

    Saying “‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is a wise way to live life” and “The Song of Songs is gorgeous poetry” IS NOT equivalent to defending the KKK.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There are many Christians who “don’t hate everyone who isn’t of their religion.” I think this blog would have far fewer atheists, pagans and whatnot if the host hated anyone who wasn’t Christian.

    Since you seem to be having trouble with the concept, let me try to hammer it home.

    Not all Christians believe the same things. You keep saying they do, and in the worst way. Stop that. You’re insulting literally hundreds of millions of people by proxy.

  • Allen

    “‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a wise thing to say just as love thy neighbor” Christianity says this while at the same time saying that if your aren’t a Christian and repent to the Christian God you should burn in a hell forever. The point im trying to make is there are other knowledge system that say to be kind to one another without the baggage of condemning a person at the same time. You seem to want to hold on to these religions that do. In the process you bringing the hatred along with it. You are part of the problem. So don’t whine when another group is hated because of the bible or a another holy book says down the line. You get exactly what you bargain for…

  • Allen

    i think we established that all Christians don’t believe the same things but they do agree on several things as well. Like the gays and the non Christians and many other. Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that. The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others. Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept Christianity. it’s an us vs them thing. Its also a superiority thing because Christian put themselves as better than those who aren’t of their religion because they are asking for forgiveness. The Christian religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are. Christians can’t escape there hatred. You tried to pretend that they dont hate gays with the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down to it the bible rejects gays and Christians believe the Bible for the the most part. Some are being more tolerant but to say that Christians have absolutely no problem with gays is ignoring the past and the present. Christians are some low down people for the most part. They know its right to treat gays and non Christians with respect and decency . They know that damning someone to hell for non belief or sexual ornamentation doesn’t fit the crime and they know an eternal hell for a humanly crime isn’t right either but they sit there and repeat like zombies that their God is totally right all the time and is never wrong. When given a right action in life and a wrong action that the bible mandates they go with the Bible. If morality came from the Bible i and others would be dead . Once Christians understand that the Bible is not about morality but serving a hateful supernatural force then and only then can Christians truly actually become better people. Sorry if im insulting Millions of Christians but those millions of Christians have to answer to all the bull that they believe and all the harm that they continue to inflict on others. its Christians who are doing all the damage. its Christians who have made everyone out to something that they are not. So I’m not apologizing if i hurt Christian feelings. They can take comfort in the fact that they believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

  • Allen

    i think we established that all Christians don’t believe the same
    things but they do agree on several things as well. Like the gays and
    the non Christians and many other. Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that.
    The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others.
    Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their
    repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept
    Christianity. it’s an us vs them thing. Its also a superiority thing
    because Christian put themselves as better than those who aren’t of
    their religion because they are asking for forgiveness. The Christian
    religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall
    burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are. Christians
    can’t escape there hatred. You tried to pretend they dont hate gays with
    the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down
    to it the bible rejects gays and Christians believing the Bile do as
    well for the the most part. Some are being more tolerant but to say
    that Christians have absolutely no problem with gays is ignoring the
    past and the present. Christians are some low down people for the most
    part. They know its right to treat gays and non Christians with respect
    and decency . They know that damning someone to hell for non belief
    doesn’t fit the crime and they know an eternal hell for a humanly crime
    isn’t right either but they sit there and repeat like zombies that their
    God is totally right all the time and is never wrong. When given a right action in life and a wrong action that the bible mandates they go with the Bible. If morality
    came from the Bible i and other would be dead. Once Christians
    understand that the Bible is not about morality but serving a hateful
    supernatural force then and only then can Christians truly actually
    become better people. Sorry if im insulting Millions of Christians but
    those millions of Christians have to answer to all the bull that they
    believe and all the harm that they continue to inflict on others. its
    Christians who are doing all the damage. its Christians who have made
    everyone out to something that they are not. So I’m not apologizing if i
    hurt Christian feelings. They can take comfort in the fact that they
    believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You just do not fucking get it, do you.

  • Allen

    No i actually get it very well. You want to salvage the good stuff in the religion but u ignore that religions come with a lot of negative baggage that you can’t separate.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes. I. Fucking. Can. I call it “Unitarian Universalism”.

  • Allen

    okay! better?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You very obviously have a model for how a Christian should be in your head and cannot see past that model. I’m going to try one more time. After this point, no one will be able to say I didn’t try.

    Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that.

    No. I addressed that in one of my very first posts to you. Different denominations read different messages in the Bible, accept different messages, and even reject certain messages. As Ellie pointed out, the conventional message regarding homosexuality is not one that every denomination upholds as the correct one. The words used to describe it do not appear to describe the same concepts as modern homosexuality.

    The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others. Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept Christianity.

    By some interpretations. This assertion is not shared by all Christians. Others would say that all people, Christians and non, are already saved.

    it’s an us vs them thing.

    You seem determined to make it that way, yes.

    The Christian religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are.

    And yet the Pope recently said otherwise. Actually, the Bible spends very little time on the subject of Hell. Modern translations fold several different concepts into Hell, but the majority of reference to Hell as we know it (a lake of fire, the place where the devil goes, etc.) is described in the Last Judgment — which doesn’t condemn “all non-believers” by a long shot.

    You tried to pretend that they dont hate gays with the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down to it

    Don’t tell me what I do and don’t believe.

    Christians believe the Bible for the the most part.

    Not blindly. Not unthinkingly. And the messages they get out of it aren’t always the same.

    they believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

    Not all of them believe that.

    You repeatedly insist that the majority of Christians all believe the exact same things, but that’s just not true. No one here thinks you’re going to Hell for not being Christian. If people believed that here, then there wouldn’t be dozens of non-Christians who gather here to enjoy each other’s company.

    There are gay Christians.
    There are Christians who love homosexuals as family and life partners.
    There are gay Christians getting married in Christian ceremonies with the blessings of gay Christian pastors with their Christian families.

    Are there bad Christians who think everybody not exactly like themselves is going to Hell, especially the nasty homosexuals? Absolutely. They’re not even few in number. But they’re not all Christians and they don’t represent all Christians.

    If you don’t believe me, just lurk around this community awhile and meet a few of the better ones.

  • Allen

    I was actually gonna give you the benefit of the doubt but even in defending yourself you say some questionable things as well as do some dodging…………

    And yet the Pope recently said otherwise. Actually, the Bible spends very little time on the subject of Hell. Modern translations fold several different concepts into Hell, but the majority of reference to Hell as we know it (a lake of fire, the place where the devil goes, etc.) is described in the Last Judgment — which doesn’t condemn “all
    non-believers” by a long shot.

    {That’s dodging the question and ignoring what the Pope and Vatican ultimately said}

    There are gay Christians.There are Christians who love homosexuals as family and life partners.There are gay Christians getting married in Christian ceremonies with the blessings of gay Christian pastors with their Christian families.

    {Question still previously gone unanswered just skipped over. If the Christians still holds to the sin part then regardless of having same sex marriage in their churches they still think of them as something bad.}

    You repeatedly insist that the majority of Christians all believe the exact same things, but that’s just not true. No one here thinks you’re going to Hell for not being Christian. If people believed that here, then
    there wouldn’t be dozens of non-Christians who gather here to enjoy each others company.

    {Not true! I know many Christians who think i should go to hell because im not like them even in my family. I can enjoy their company but that doesn’t change their hateful views. I’m just big enough not to damn people . I actually want to get along. This blog is no different. Christians can still hold to their hateful views and others who want peace can still come an talk}

    As Ellie pointed out, the conventional message regarding homosexuality is not one that every denomination upholds as the correct one. The words used to describe it do not appear to describe the same concepts as modern homosexuality.

    { My problem isn’t with what you said here but about the bigger picture. If you got to sit down and try to sort out if the Bible allows for gays to be treated equally over just treating them right as human. if you have to get confirmation from a holy book on if you can treat people right then you have more problems then you think.}

  • Tapetum

    Oooohhh! I hadn’t run into that term before, and it fits very well. Actually it seems to fit my husband and I both very well. Sex is sort of pleasant, but so way down the priority list that it barely has an impact on our lives even though we’re married. If tomorrow we could never have sex again, we’d carry on being married with scarcely a blink.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I haven’t dodged questions. You just don’t like the answers you’re getting because they don’t suit your prejudices. As one atheist to another: You are an idiot. Good day.

  • Allen

    have great day :D ..hopefully you will answer the questions on day honestly. You responses were a little muddy!!!

  • Tapetum

    I suspect it would fry their brains. I’ve been very startled by the degree to which the more conservative Christians I know view family entirely through obligation, rather than love and choice. You respect your parents and take care of them in their old age because they are your parents. It doesn’t matter if they were abusive, or raging assholes, or any other damn thing – they’re your parents (brother, uncle, whatever) = you must have that relationship with them.

    Somehow this doesn’t hold when disowning your kids for being gay, though.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Except that nothing you said here is true. some people including yourself interpret the bible that way, but that does not make them right.

    Also, you know that the majority of christians aren’t american evangelicals, right? So maybe you should stop pretending that the american evangelical interpretation speaks for christiantiy in general.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    ? i care nothing about the Bible

    Then why do you so intently misrepresent its content? YOu seem awfully sure about what it means and what it says for someone who “cares nothing” about it.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So… 100% of americans are 125% of americans?

    Or are you saying that every single non-christian supports gay marriage (I suspect there are a few followers of other religions, and even a number of atheists who would balk at that) and that 25% of the people who claim to support same-sex marriage really don’t?

    Or are you saying that the christians who support same-sex marriage aren’t real true scottsmen christians?

    Because you sound more and more like an evangelical christian all the time.

  • Alix

    Not just conservative Christians, either, but conservatives, full stop. My dad’s an atheist, but other than that is about as rabid a right-winger as you can find, and you’ve just nailed precisely how he thinks, down to the hypocrisy.

    Once, I had to read a book for English class (can’t remember the title) in which the main character had murdered someone and his family helped cover it up. I was talking about my homework, which involved writing a short essay on whether that was moral. My dad blew a gasket and started yelling about how it was not only moral, it was a requirement to support your family no matter what, and that turning on family was tantamount to treason, and he couldn’t believe the school even entertained the notion that the family turning in the murderer might be right.

    And yet when my brother got caught once with marijuana, Dad not only refused to go pick him up but tried to convince the cops to send him straight to jail. Why? Because my brother made him look bad, and he wouldn’t tolerate a son who wasn’t the perfect upper-middle-class kid. (Despite us not even being upper-middle-class anymore, thanks to Dad pissing away all our money and his job.) But when we called the cops on Dad after he tried to strangle said brother? That was a horrible betrayal of family and his rightful standing at the head of it.

    *sigh*

    Dad is still baffled as to why I cut him off. As in, he doesn’t even comprehend how that could happen, not that he thinks I’m wrong for doing so.

  • Tapetum

    That sounds unfortunately familiar, and I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it.

    Yeah – those bonds of absolute obligation only run one way – up the ladder, not down it. You must support those above you in the heirarchy, but they have no concominant obligation to those below them. Which is how my parents ended up telling me that I would not be inheriting anything AND that I would be their executor in the same conversation.

  • Alix

    my parents ended up telling me that I would not be inheriting anything AND that I would be their executor in the same conversation.

    Ouch. :(

  • EllieMurasaki

    OW.

  • Allen

    I’m saying many Christians hold the view that being gay is a sin and that it is wrong but still support allowing gay marriage in a legal sense. Which is a good thing but because Christians stand strong with their beliefs that gays are sick and perverts it’s really ridiculous they claim they have love for gays. To me it comes off as a master who likes their house slaves considers apart of the family but doesn’t think they are equal to them. They think of them as on the level of a family pet. Christians are saying “yea gays can have marriage and even come in to our churches but we are still going to hold the view that ultimately they are sick perverted abominations that should burn in hell unless they apologize to an unchanged god who also happens to be Jesus who said that gays should put to death but just wants to throw them in hell.” If Christians still believe that being gay is a sin their love for gays isn’t genuine. Its a scam whether they allow for gay marriages or not. That’s what i’m saying. I want a genuine honest fellowship between people not make believe.

  • gpike

    I know I’m late to the party with this, but I just wanted to comment on this subthread:

    The “choice vs. not a choice” dichotomy creates an awkward catch-22 for those of us who don’t fall easily into any given “category” – when you’re genderqueer you basically have to “decide” what to call yourself and there are times when you have to choose to present as SOMETHING; when you’re gray-A or demisexual you may have to choose to be sexual or not in a given situation, and so forth (or at least *I* do – I’m sure I can’t be the only one though).

    I mean, in all honesty, there was a point where I had to decide whether to go on calling myself “a girl” or to call myself “something else” – and I’m not out of the “omg so confused about my identity” stage – but that decision was based on the evidence that I am maybe not, in fact, a woman. >_>

    But this is so hard to explain to people who want everything in life to be an either/or. Life is all big fat gray areas but most people are in denial about that fact.

  • Allen

    but I’ve yet to hear a mainstream Christianity respond and say no they don’t think being gay is a sin. No they don’t find anything wrong with homosexuality or homosexuals… once again not all Christians believe the same but at the end of the day many and i mean many of them are influenced to hate on this issue. I could careless if a hand group of Christians don’t hate gays. I’m focused on the hundreds of millions who together have/has destroyed lives and continue to marginalize and vilify gays. What you tend to be forgetting is gays have been hated by Christians for years and you want me to forgive and forget when a few hand full of Christians change their minds. Doesn’t work like that. Christians don’t deserve to be forgiven for their cruelty. What have they lost in this process? They mess up peoples lives for centuries and then say they are sorry and that’s it? Who will be the next on their path of destruction?

  • Allen

    I care nothing about it in the sense i don’t need that shit to decide on how to treat people or who to live my life. I have to know what it means in order to defend myself against Christians who sole agenda is to hate and pretend they are so loving. If you aren’t an atheist lgbt you wouldn’t understand. All Christians do is put me down because of their beliefs and the conservative Christians and the moderate or liberal Christians are no different. They all believe for the most part that gays are bad but they might says it differently. Conservative Christians are more evil about it while liberal to moderates try to be loving with their hate. In both causes it is still hate. Just because you speak in a loving soft tone doesn’t change that. A lot of gays will give liberal Christians a pass on their hate i will not…

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Define “mainstream Christianity,” since you apparently don’t think those 78 million+ people calling themselves Christians who say they don’t hate homosexuality and think homosexual people deserve the same rights as everyone else count as Christians.

    And no one’s telling you to forgive and forget. Forgiveness cannot be earned and there is nothing a person can do to obligate someone else to forgive them. Forgiveness is not a business transaction, much less something an oppressor is allowed to hold over their victims.

    What you need to understand, however, is that being a member of a group does not mean you are personally responsible for everything that group has ever done. The people today were not responsible for the Crusades, for the Boston Witch massacre, or even necessarily for depriving homosexual citizens of their rights. “Christianity” is the overall descriptor of the religion in question, but it has no central organization; most of the denominations are relatively isolated from each other and should be treated like separate entities.

    Dehumanizing the other is the first step toward becoming the very thing you revile. By denying them independent regard, you’re effectively saying that there’s no significant difference between child molesters hiding in the Vatican and the ELCA surgeon who works 72 hours straight to save a life and then collapses in bed after a brief prayer that his patient will live to recover. If you start seeing only the overlap between one person and another, it doesn’t take long before all you see is what people have in common and not what makes them different. If you then associate a negative trait to that commonality…

    Well, let’s put it this way- that’s not a great many steps away from the logic that goes into racism. “Some black people are criminals and some aren’t, but we know that they have being black in common, and I’ve seen an awful lot of black criminals, so obviously being black makes you more likely to be a criminal. Therefore blacks = criminals.”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So when Fred (the board host) writes something like this or this, he’s just engaging in introspective self-parody? The fact that Fred has over a hundred posts about LGBT rights just means he hates them in a less obvious fashion?

  • Allen

    not the same thing!!!!i don’t think all Christians are child molesters because of what priest have done. Do i blame the RCC for covering it up yes but i don’t blame all Christians . i don’t say that all blacks are criminals because of what one black person does. The difference tho is blacks don’t have a book of things that the whole black race abides by. There is not a black ideology that all blacks or any race are under. That goes for gays or straights. there is also no where in the bible that says that priest should rape alter boys . So im not blaming all Christians for that. But when Christians have an ideology that says gays are disordered people who have issues and its apart of a book that they’ve have accepted as the truth then my only option is to group all Christians together on this subject until they say other wise…… Its like the KKK. They believe that blacks and Jews and gays are bad people. That’s their ideology. Sure there might be someone in their group that just hate blacks and Jews and not gays or just hate Jews etc but because of their ideology i have to assume that they hate all three until they say other wise. Do you see my point?

  • Allen

    once again that would depend on if he thinks gay is a sin or thinks gays are sick perverted abominations who should go to hell if they don’t repent. Hate isn’t just physical. That’s what you dont get. i could eat with you and treat you nicely to your face and wish you death behind your back. Wish that your all your children would die off. Would you call that loving? That’s what Christians are ultimately doing. they say they love me to my face while wishing bad things would happen to me unless i do exactly what they want.. Its fake love not realistic ….

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    If you haven’t heard the mainstream, it’s because you haven’t been listening.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But SO MANY of them have said otherwise, you just refuse to listen or refuse to acknowledge them as Real True Proper Christians.

    Eta: Do you also feel that you “have no choice” but to assume all muslims are America-hating terrorists? Because you’re making exactly the same argument as the racist, xenophobic arguments conservatives keep making about muslims.

  • Allen

    The Koran does say that the infidels who aren’t apart of the religion should be killed. So any Muslims who says they believe strongly in the teaching of Islam have accepted this as truth. So i would have to assume that that person would hate people outside their faith. There are American Islamist so in that case they wouldn’t hate a person for being “American” but anyone outside their religion i would say yes they would until they say they are totally against that part of the Koran… Just as Christians would have to acknowledge that they don’t believe that gays are perverted or that homosexuality is wrong. If the say they love gays but thinks being gay is a sin then they are lying when they say they love gays… It comes down to beliefs. Beliefs have consequences. If a person has a hateful belief don’t expect me to give them a pass even if they say it nicely…

  • arcseconds

    OK, so now I don’t know whether or not you want to continue having a conversation about sex and advertising and to what extent it controls everyone’s minds.

    I thought we were having this conversation earlier, but I got told off for a whole lot of things like lecturing you and ignoring you, and how that’s not really what you wanted to talk about.

    You also told me that you understood everything and that suggesting you didn’t was treating you as though you were stupid.

    But now you’re saying there’s something you don’t understand about it, which looks like you actually want to continue the conversation.

    I’m happy to continue, or I’m happy to drop it. I’m fine with misunderstandings, and don’t consider them to be anyone’s fault.

    But if we do continue, you’re definitely opting in for a discussion abut sex and advertising (which is what I understoood the topic to be when I entered the conversation), so you don’t get to accuse me of ‘going on some weird tangent’ any longer, deal?

    (well, actually, you can if you like, I’m just not going to pay much attention to it)

  • Alix

    As long as I know what we’re talking about, I’m usually okay. And I’m curious as to what you want to say, so please continue if you’d like to.

    Clarification: I said I understood from the producer’s side. It’s the consumer side that baffles me somewhat. If you can shed some light on that, please do.

  • MaryKaye

    I sympathize. I went to the swimsuit store and asked for a swimsuit to swim in, and the woman behind the counter frowned and thought for a moment, and finally said, “Oh! I have some swimsuits for racing” and brought one out. It was nice, too–I wore that one for ten years until it wore out. But there were about ten of them in a whole store full of swimsuits-not-for-swimming, and I found that very odd and frustrating.


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