Why "Gay Gossip" is Poison

Why "Gay Gossip" is Poison June 6, 2012

There’s no particular reason for me to be publishing this post today. But it’s been sitting in my “drafts” for a while, and I finally decided to let it loose. It’s a bit of doozy. Moderation may be a little tight on this one, but rest assured that your comments will be published as long as they are constructive. (Though they may not be approved right away since I’ll be at work all morning and half the afternoon.)
Today I’m going to be talking about a kind of person I can’t stand: “know-it-alls” who can’t keep their mouth shut. You know the type. They parade around, sounding smug, dropping hints and spreading rumors. In Southern Gospel, that usually takes the form of people implying that the genre is infested with immorality—specifically, homosexual immorality.

Now, I won’t deny the possibility that some rumors might be true, nor that we should be rightly angered/sorrowful if they were. But that’s not the point I want to make today. The point I want to make today is that these know-it-alls are doing far more harm than good. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. When vagueness abounds, innocent people get hurt. I can’t tell you how many readers have come to my site searching for info on whether or not this or that gospel singer is gay. Sadly, these sorts of views only increased after a certain anonymous artist started a blog (which is thankfully off-line now) and allowed the know-it-alls to drop their hints in the comments. I won’t tell you any of the names readers have typed in, but so far I haven’t seen any for which there’s a shred of public evidence that this particular rumor is true, and for some of them it’s perfectly obvious that it’s false. This is because the know-it-alls are always dancing around specificity in their comments, always saying this is a “huge problem” and there are “more than you know” while stopping just short of naming names. I’m not saying it would be a good thing for them to name names (to the contrary), I’m just saying this alternative isn’t any better, because it arouses curiosity and suspicion in readers who will then go off and engage in the sort of “I wonder if X is…” speculations which are generally reserved for celebrities/tabloid fodder. Do we want this? Do we need this? Answer: No.
2. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people jump to conclusions based on subjective criteria. “So-and-so is soooo gay.” How do you know? “I can just tell. Can’t you?” Actually no, not really. There are plenty of heterosexual men with effeminate features out there, and on the flip side there are plenty of “manly” homosexual/bisexual men (just look at Hollywood—Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando… who’da thought, but there it is). Now this past year I had a classmate who I could tell was obviously gay, but Sherlock Holmesian powers of deduction weren’t exactly required to draw that conclusion:  He constantly wore effeminate clothing, used effeminate nail polish, had an ear piercing and wore a rainbow bracelet. But when you don’t have clues like that to go on, you’re guessing, plain and simple. You might guess right. But you might guess wrong too. Either way, it’s not a solid basis for spreading a rumor.
3. You will never see anyone even attempting to make a distinction between “gay” and “actively gay,” even though this is absolutely crucial in determining whether somebody is actually engaging in sin. Instead, the word “gay” is spread like a foggy blanket over everything.
4. This may be the worst effect of all. Imagine for a moment that there’s someone in southern gospel who does struggle with this temptation. But he’s genuinely trying to live biblically and abstain from sin (though the wisdom of traveling in a male group as so many SG singers do could be questioned in that situation, but we’re not going there at the moment). Now, suppose he reads people from the right speculating about him and making false accusations. Suppose further that at the same time, he has people from the left who are telling him things like, “We accept you for who you are,” and essentially encouraging him not to feel any inhibitions about giving in to his temptations. What do you think is going to happen? On the one hand, there are people who aren’t willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and are only making him more discouraged. On the other hand, there’s the allure of being accepted and welcomed by people who, in the name of not being “judgmental,” won’t give him the tough love he needs to continue battling his sin. This is a push-pull phenomenon, and it all points in the same direction. Suppose one day he just decides to give up? I can see it happening. And those know-it-alls would have contributed their share to his fall.
This is why “gay gossip” is poison, and why I’ve never allowed it on my site. I am not calling it out because I’m assuming that every rumor I hear is false. I am not calling it out because I’m in any way “soft” on the homosexual issue. I am calling it out because it’s wrong, and it hurts people. And “know-it-alls” who fancy themselves on the side of the conservatives had better wake up to the fact that even from a political perspective, this is not helping our cause. See point four.
If you are in the business, and you have first-hand, undeniable proof of some specific individual’s orientation, act according to your conscience. If you have only rumors, take them with a grain of salt and pray they are untrue. But whatever you do, don’t go announcing what you know, or think you know, on a public forum. You will harm the Southern Gospel community, you will harm the Church, you will harm the cause of Christ, and you will harm the cause of conservatism.

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  • Andrew

    Just a quick note: it is not unwise for a man with same-sex-attraction to be around solid Christian men. Neither is “gay” or “actively gay” the best terms to be used in order to discuss those tempted by sin and those engaged in it.

  • On point one: I agree. That’s not what I said. I said it may be unwise for a man with same-sex-attraction to TRAVEL with other men, like on tour. That’s completely different from “being around” other men, which may indeed be important for him to receive proper counseling. But sharing close quarters day in and day out is another matter entirely.
    On point two: Well, the perversion of the English language disgusts me in general, so there are a lot of reasons why I despise the co-opting of the word “gay” for the homosexual agenda, but you seemed to be getting at something different. I understand “actively gay” as most people would, meaning someone who acts on his sinful impulses. What term do you think would be better?

  • Andrew

    I do not have same-sex attraction but have ministered to those that do. The idea that being with (ok, traveling with if you wish) responsible Christian men is a bad thing is just inaccurate.
    If you’re using “gay” to describe someone who has same-sex attraction, I can’t see “actively gay” as being the best way to describe someone engaging in same-sex sexual behavior. Largely because “gay” itself doesn’t imply “not-actively-gay” (nor should it if you’re defining those terms in that manner).
    I prefer to use “same-sex attraction” vs. “same-sex behavior.” There are other options of course but I’m not sure that gay vs. “actively-gay” is clear.

  • Okay, then do you think there wouldn’t be a problem with a man who struggles with SSA having a male roommate? What I’m trying to get at is that’s essentially what traveling on a bus is like. You’re all crammed together for sustained periods of time. That’s not like attending a men’s Bible study every Sunday.
    SSA is more precise than “gay” anyway, without the added problem of cooperating in the co-opting of a normal English word, so I’ll definitely accept that as an improvement in terms.

  • Lydia

    Andrew, there is another point here: It is legitimate for people to want sexual privacy. Just as a woman should not want to have a male roommate (other than her husband, of course) or to be showering or in other ways being physically immodest around a man, similarly it is entirely legitimate for men not to want to be in those situations with other men who may sexually desire them. This is a matter of privacy. I really don’t think you should say, “Ok, traveling with if you wish,” as though that were some kind of odd thing to emphasize. It’s a very relevant thing to emphasize. When some singing groups travel together, for example, the guys go and play basketball together and then go into gym showers. They’re presumably running into each other in various states of undress as they live together on the bus. This is intimate living together without much privacy. That’s fine if they all have only heterosexual desires. It’s not fine if one of them suffers from SSA, either as a matter of temptation to lust for the person with SSA or as a matter of privacy for the other men.

  • Andrew

    I’m heterosexual. Traveled full-time for a year. Never showered “with the guys” – even after playing basketball. I don’t know that having SSA should automatically exclude someone from traveling with a group of Christian men – which was posited in the initial post.

  • Lydia

    Well, that’s been answered repeatedly, from multiple different angles. Look: Our culture doesn’t get privacy, but there is a reason why we have men room together and women room together but not men and women room together. And those reasons also apply to those with SSA. If you’re on a bus with a bunch of members of the same sex, you assume that there are *not sexual issues* among you and therefore that modesty standards can be somewhat relaxed and that you don’t have to maintain your physical privacy in a tight-quarters living situation the way you would with members of the opposite sex. If someone in the situation has SSA, that assumption is wrong. This, by the way, is why the Boy Scouts excludes people with SSA from being troop leaders. They’re going on camping trips together with the boys and want it to be a totally asexual, male-bonding kind of situation. It’s really pretty simple.

  • I do not know any gay men in SGM…or maybe I do and– will never admit it to anyone because I think its a deeply personal aspect that a person deserves to keep personal. What I do know is that as a society we have taken on to doing something that even God Himself has not done: we judge sin.
    Don’t believe me? If a music minister in a Southern Baptist church is an alcoholic, people rally around him, and encourage him. We accept him as a minister in the church and pray for him. But if we find out a music minister is gay – he has to go because we have decided that all sin is not equal. We have determined which sins are worse than others. He could be embezzling from the Scouts or the church and we’d forgive him but if hes gay hes got to go.
    Here is the best example I know of: ADULTERY.
    A Preacher and his wife get divorced. That’s fine. The preacher remarries but his first wife is still alive…..HE’S LIVING IN SIN — but it’s ok!! He can still be our preacher!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As long as he’s not, you guessed it, gay.
    I used to have this gay friend and he and I were very close. Most people thought we were dating and we did consider living together. I would pinch his rear sometimes, and make sexist remarks about how cute he looked in ‘those pants’ and tell him how we was getting hitched…we had a great time together until I came back to the church. Hes an atheist and hates the church because the church hates him. So, he didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. Too bad; I had loads of fun with him. We talked about everything, we loved all the same things and we are 100% brutally honest with eachother about everything…God how I miss that. Noone else knew for sure that he was gay because he was very quiet about it and he always went out of town. I miss having a best friend that was a guy that I never had to worry about hitting on me…I know that sounds odd; sorry I don’t mean for it too!
    Anyways; I get bent out of shape by the people who think sin has a ranking system.

  • Whether or not any given sin is “better” or “worse” in the eyes of God is an interesting theological question. But it is a separate question from whether or not any given sin has smaller or larger damaging consequences in the world we live in. Regardless of your opinion on the first, I’m sure you would agree it is obvious that some sins have worse consequences than others. Let’s take a really drastic example—you wouldn’t want a teenage pedophile fresh out of jail to babysit your daughter, but if you found out that the girl you ended up picking stole candy when she was six years old… that wouldn’t bother you at all.
    The church has grown unfortunately lax on “ordinary” adultery, but taking a firmer line on that issue doesn’t necessitate yielding ground on the homosexual issue, which is particular pressing at the moment since there is such a vicious push for its normalization in the public square. As for issues like alcoholism, embezzling, those could be legitimate grounds for firing a church minister. But once again, whatever your theological views on “better” or “worse” sins, one must recognize that sin varies wildly in terms of its real-world ramifications, and therefore so do the proper methods of dealing with the different forms it takes.
    Too bad your friend never came to church with you. But I don’t think the church needs to feel guilty about much when it comes to homosexuals. If a homosexual comes honestly seeking truth and holding his desires with an open palm, that is one thing. Unapologetic gays/lesbians who are only there to stir things up, wield their political clout and/or seek the church’s blessing on their sin should rightly be made unwelcome. This friend of yours clearly didn’t want to let go of his sin, and that meant more to him than the truth.

  • Andrew

    Agreed. My frustration is when (and I’m not saying you are doing this but certainly others do) people equate temptation to sin with acting out on that temptation.
    To come full circle, I’m just as guilty as the next guy of trying to guess those others bloggers are/were talking about. And I should stop. Er, we should stop.

  • quartet-man

    To me, a homosexual traveling with men in a bus or what have you is as unwise as one man (married or not) traveling with all women on a bus. (Not the driver mind you). Even if the women are Godly and wouldn’t be tempted (which one could partially compare with heterosexual men not tempted at all by a homosexual), it is still not healthy for the man. Even if the man knows the others wouldn’t act on it, it puts temptation in his mind day in and out. This can get lust going which is a sin. That is possible even if the other members dress modestly, take caution when showering etc. Is it possible for them to travel without feeling lust? I am sure, but it would depend on how appealing they found the other members. I wouldn’t have trouble traveling with certain SG women I suspect, but others could be an issue for me. 🙂
    Besides that, and although maybe this should be this way, there is the problem of appearances too. The appearance of evil can be harmful. Sure, if the singer is closeted it might not be an issue, but usually there are those in the industry I suspect who knows, and secondly what if they eventually come out or are discovered?

  • Absolutely. In fact, you’ll notice that in Southern Gospel groups, men and women usually only travel together if it’s a family group like the Perrys, the Bowlings, or the Collingsworths. In fact I can’t think of a mixed group that’s not a family group at the moment. The only thing I could think of is Jason Crabb has a female band member, and I’m not sure if he tours with his band or not.

  • marywrightt

    Wonder how many great musicians out there just hangout at hometown because they are gay and great and fear the gay will comeout when the great talent gets a little time in the lime light.

  • marywrightt


  • quartet-man

    I think there are at least three things that make homosexual sin one that is treated somewhat differently. First of all, it is one that many don’t deal with, so it is easier to point one’s finger at it. That is sad, but true. Now, I have my own list of temptations and I will tell you or anyone else they are wrong.
    That leads to the second one. Many homosexuals are pushing for acceptance IN their sin. They don’t want to be told it is wrong. They don’t want help in overcoming the temptation or depriving themselves of acting on the sin. They want to keep doing the sin and not only for people not to call them on it and just let them be, but they don’t even want people saying it is wrong. They want more than it being ignored, they want to be told or made to feel that it is normal, ok and that it is everyone elses’ problem, You don’t see a luster’s pride parade, an adulterer’s pride parade, a thief’s pride parade etc. So, with the immense amount of force by homosexuals and heterosexuals alike in trying to make it acceptable, you can be there will be a push back to stop it.
    Thirdly, many other sins are either harder to see and know about (so therefore harder to confront) or are one-time or occasional sins. Homosexuality (when active) is a continual sin just like fornication (also wrong) or adultery (as long as it continues). True that divorce and remarriage gets tricky. I guess that people think it is over and done with and maybe use the verses about it being wrong to go back to the first wife.
    At the very least, homosexual sin would be the same as fornication because it is sex outside of marriage. I understand that they aren’t allowed to marry so people can use that. Now, it is worse than that (at least from what I read), but any sin is a sin too many. My point isn’t to rank sins. I don’t have the right or desire. I am just going by what God says, Causing young ones to sin seems to be another one. Of course blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is too. But that is not the point.
    As far as judging, many forget the rest of the verses. We are called to judge as far as saying sin is sin. We aren’t called to decide if they are going to Heaven or Hell, but we can and should speak what the word says. It should be in love, not arrogance. Sometimes though, if confronted with one who refuses to listen or wants to silence us, we must be forceful about it, but still with the right spirit and motivation. We should keep in mind the beams in our own eyes and certainly not sweep them under the carpet or somehow feel we are better, but we are still called to speak out against sin. It isn’t even a pleasant place to be at times, but we are supposed to do it.

  • quartet-man

    P.S. I have said for years that we all have temptations. Homosexuality doesn’t happen to be one of mine, but if the person isn’t active or when they do fail ask God for forgiveness, then I don’t treat them any differently than anyone else. The temptation isn’t the sin, the acting on it is.

  • Here’s one concern I have as far as that goes—certainly we should pity homosexuals who understand their brokenness and wish they could be healed, and if they aren’t actually sinning we obviously shouldn’t accuse them of sin. BUT… there could still be grounds for “treating them differently,” in the sense that this particular area of brokenness still leaves them vulnerable to certain temptations. Just like you would treat a known alcoholic “differently” because you knew he was susceptible to drink even if he was trying to stay clean. Again, this needn’t come from a lack of love or sympathy for the person, it’s just a recognition that they still have this problem, and it has concrete ramifications.

  • This is the irony I’m seeing… some people believe that other sins are getting let off the hook while homosexuality is treated especially harshly, but actually I think it’s the other way around. I see people who are willing to speak out about ordinary adultery but still believe homosexuality should be treated with kid gloves.
    Another problem I see is that we are no longer allowed to be naturally repulsed by homosexuality. I’m just talking about the ordinary, gut “Ewwwww” reaction you get when you see a man wearing pink nail polish, or kissing another man. I think that’s healthy, and it shouldn’t be discouraged. Instead, people are trying to stifle that instinct by saying it’s un-Christ-like. But the fact remains that it is a particularly vile sin, a two-fold crime against God and nature. The fact that we are repulsed by it shows that our minds haven’t been corrupted by the world’s standards. God is also repulsed by open sin, and we are called to be holy. Now if I were a doctor, I wouldn’t deny life-giving treatment to an active homosexual, but I wouldn’t hire him if I ran a Christian business, and I wouldn’t allow him to become a member at my church.
    As for the marriage issue, homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to “get married,” or even have civil unions, and it’s unfortunate that they’re gaining ground in that area. That’s where the comparison to heterosexual fornication breaks down. If a young heterosexual couple comes to your church, and it’s revealed that they’re living in sin, they might be able to join if they pulled their act together and got married. But there is absolutely no way to sanctify a homosexual relationship, because it is inherently unsanctifiable. The ONLY option is to break off the relationship and live a life of chastity.

  • quartet-man

    Oh, I agree with you there. I am saying treating them differently in the fact of shunning them whereas I wouldn’t other sins. Certainly, much the same way you wouldn’t have a molester babysit a kid there are certain things they would need to be treated differently by just the same as you wouldn’t have me share the same showers as women.

  • Jason does travel with his band. The female bass player’s husband is Jason’s sound guy.

  • Then that’s a little different since they’re traveling together as a couple.

  • marywrightt

    Yes but it all falls back on God having said that when we sin in our hearts, we have still sinned. I agree with you, but a good post would also be, ‘why gossip is poison’, because the aim maybe innocent but the outcome seldom is anything less than destructive. We are supposed to cast out sin and hold each other accountable BUT we aren’t supposed to witch hunt, and often people get a taste for blood. Looking at the issue from the other side of the coin (as writers often try to do) it would be miserable to have to carry your cross alone in silence because of fear. There is no good solution, except for people who are gay to lay down the sin and come to the cross—problem is when they are in SG, they don’t seem to be able to do that.

  • S. Tanner

    All I can say is God made me, I am a gay man, my genes are aligned that way. God made my genes and God doesn’t make junk!!!!!! Some of you have to stop thinking and quoting SOME parts of the Holy Bible to suit your beliefs. God is love and the nonsense about gay love being a sin, is just that, nonsense. I can find all quotes in the Bible that support killing, slavery, mistress taking and violence, that doesn’t mean it is right. I know this will not be published because some people only think “their” interpretation of the Holy Word is the right one. God Bless everyone. A gay Christian Jesus Loving man.

  • Surprise! I’ll refrain from second-guessing your assumption that you really were “born that way” and not simply introduced to the idea by the culture. But even assuming you were, God frequently allows tragedy into our genetic codes. Ever since the fall, the world has been corrupted by sin, and through that sin sorrow, tragedy and death have entered the world. It’s the reason why some people are born with genetic deformities. We mourn for that because we know it’s part of what the Bible means by “creation groaning.” Similarly, people who have a natural inclination towards the same sex are suffering from that tragedy. You need compassion, but not the kind you think you need.