What happened in Orlando recently is certainly worthy of outrage and action. 49 people killed in cold blood, and many more lying in hospital beds wounded. Between the lives cut short, and the lives that will never be the same, Orlando should be a moment the nation does not soon forget.
Certainly tragedies, natural disasters, and acts of terror have a way of bringing the nation together—and this is good. Finding solidarity and common ground wherever it exists should always be celebrated. However, and I have to be honest—the conservative Christian response to the Orlando massacre has left me scratching my head at times.
In the wake of the massacre, folks like Franklin Graham have expressed both sympathy and outrage. In that sympathy and outrage however, it’s as if they have forgotten their own belief system and are using this as an “ahhahhh!” moment to point out the dangers of the Islamic religion.
For example, Franklin Graham correctly noted on Facebook that this was an attack specifically on the LGBTQ community. He went onto say that “Islam’s Koran spells out very clearly their hatred for gays, Christians, and Jews,” as if being anti-LGBTQ is something he finds repulsive as a conservative Christian.
And here’s where I honestly get confused as to where folks like Franklin feel they have the moral high ground or superior worldview when it comes to attitudes toward LGBTQ individuals. In the end, are the conservative Christian views held by these folks all that better? Does their flavor of Christianity offer a more beautiful alternative to the type of ideology the Orlando shooter may have held?
Sadly, no. And that’s what’s so odd about the conservative Christian response. Yes, they are correct to denounce the evil that led to such a horrific massacre. But no, they don’t have a moral or ideological alternative that gives them a moral high ground that’s perched high enough to pretend their religious views are all that better.
Let’s break it down:
(A) By affirming the traditional conservative evangelical view of inerrancy, one would also have to affirm that God himself instituted the death penalty for homosexuality in the Mosaic Law (or at least, male-male homosexuality).
(B) By affirming the traditional conservative evangelical view of salvation, one would also affirm that LGBTQ people are not saved and thus cannot go to heaven unless they repent of being LGBTQ (as if that were even possible).
(C) If one affirms the traditional conservative evangelical view of hell, one would also have to affirm that all of the Orlando shooting victims are being burned alive at this very moment, and that their torture in the flames of hell will continue unabated for all of eternity.
So here’s my question: how in the world does holding these three positions provide one the moral high ground to pretend such an ideology is significantly better than the one held by the Orlando shooter? How can one claim that God commanded execution for LGBTQ people, but then say, “Hey look! Muslims hate gay people. Just read their Koran and see for yourself!” while still keeping a straight face?
I’ll save you the trouble and just answer it for you: It doesn’t. And one can’t.
Sure, if one held these three beliefs (as Franklin Graham and crew do) there’s still plenty of room to decry the murder of innocent people. However, there is not room for pretending that their religious worldview is morally superior in respect to LGBTQ people.
And this makes the conservative Christian response curious at best, and a gross example of using a tragedy to play into their war against Muslims at worst.
I have seen some conservative Christians argue that the Orlando shooting presents a major problem for progressive Christians because we have been known for loving and accepting LGBTQ people as well as denouncing Islamophobia. They incorrectly believe that we must now choose between the LGBTQ community and speaking against the oppression of Muslims in our country.
But progressive Christians aren’t the one with the moral conundrum. The ethical problem is actually for our conservative brothers and sisters, who must now figure out how to hold a belief that God views LGBTQ people as worthy of death, while denouncing a particular Muslim who happened to agree with them.
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