“If you become a homosexual, I’ll kill you. If I become a homosexual, you’ll kill me.”
I had forgotten about those terrible words until a friend reminded me of it. We made that pact together in high school, when we were young evangelicals with a “zeal for Christ.” We were bible-toting, Jesus-shirt wearing, tract-giving, church-obsessed dumbasses. Like all dumbasses, we believed what we were told without skepticism. And, as extremists, we would go great lengths to win the approval of God and men.
Our friendly Baptist mega-church taught that homosexuality was an abominable sin. People were not born gay — it was a lifestyle choice that was a result of their rebellion and hatred of God. It was “disgusting” and “unnatural.”
We were told that “the homos” were trying to turn Christian children gay by brainwashing them at public school functions. They were child molesters and should never be left alone with children —and to let them adopt would be the worst thing imaginable.
“God doesn’t hate the sinner,” we would say, “He only hates the sin.” But the distinction didn’t really matter, and God would send them to hell unless they repented of their evil homosexual ways.
We swallowed this whole. We never even thought to question it. The Bible said it, our leaders taught it, our parents believed it, and the congregation followed it.
My hatred of homosexuality finally subsided when I began questioning the Bible — the ultimate source of my hatred. Without the Bible, there was no reason to hate homosexuality. It was a natural desire, and though I didn’t have that desire myself, I wouldn’t want to be persecuted if I did. It didn’t hurt anyone and in fact made people happy. It was not rational to oppose it.
Now both my friend and I are both vocal supporters of gay rights — and that means other people just as crazy as us can turn around too.
Not so long ago, fundamentalists opposed equal rights for blacks and fought hard for segregation. Jerry Falwell once said, “The true Negro does not want integration. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”
But in the end, they came around. The moral progress of secular values prevailed and they were forced to change. Unfortunately their bigotry remained and they targeted gays instead — but that will change too. Our moral progress continues and soon it will be as natural for some people to be gay as it is to be black or white.
And maybe this time the fundamentalists will turn their attention to persecuting real evils, instead of their fellow human beings.