James Dobson doesn’t really “Focus on the Family”… he just focuses on SOME families. Marriage equality is only a matter of time—and Dobson’s newsletter attack, which includes a speech by Robert George, is basically a call-to-arms to resist “the homosexual activist movement” and its “master plan” of “destruction and redesign of the family.”
As I have written before, God does NOT define marriage as a man and a woman. My mentor pointed out years ago that Dobson would have been much more helpful all these years if he’d had a “Focus on Jesus” – instead of idolizing the nuclear family as he sees it. (Anyone who knows Jesus knows he is all about breaking down our boxes!)
Sarah Herndon is the niece of a friend of mine. She is straight, a Christian and she and her husband have a one-year-old son. Sarah’s uncle, a conservative pastor, forwarded Dobson’s letter for his whole family to see, and he may have assumed that everyone was on board with his opinion. Instead of just deleting his email, Sarah spoke up with the response below to say that no, they’re not.
If you’ve been in this battle for any length of time, you’ve heard all the misleading, anti-gay rhetoric before. Sarah’s answer represents a broader Christian—and Christlike—perspective, the relevant perspective.
Normally, I would not respond to forwards of articles on religion, spirituality, faith, etc. However, I am compelled, for several reasons, to respond to you. Please know that I do so out of a desire not to attack you, but for you to hear something that needs to be heard by a great many more people in the Christian and Catholic community, especially those in positions of spiritual leadership.
Since you made the decision to share this, I made the decision to tell you what I think, and to let our family members know as well. And yes, I did read everything both men wrote before I wrote this.
You are a pastor. Your message is supposed to be that of love. What is sobering and disturbing to me is that you’re so wholeheartedly standing with these men who say that so many people out there, who just want to be loved and cared for equally, without fear of persecution, like everyone else, are less than you, less than me, less than anyone else who is straight.
What makes you think that condemning an entire group of people and claiming they will lead to the destruction of society has anything whatsoever to do with Christ’s teaching to love one another as we love ourselves?
Do you truly think that if a person is blessed to find a partner in life who will support them, love them as they are, without conditions, and they are able to affirm to each other, their families, friends, and community that they are committed to sharing both joys and sorrows for the rest of their lives, this will lead to the destruction of society? That love that expresses itself differently than yours is going to lead to the end times?
That way of thinking is dangerous. That way of thinking is destructive. That way of thinking has brought thousands of people to commit suicide every year, because they were rejected from the families who were supposed to love them the most. I have to wonder how that figures into your evaluation of the sanctity of life.
If you want to talk about the destruction of modern society being brought about by one group of people, I would point you in the direction of the people who have spent billions of dollars to control everything about our government and economy. Guess what? Those conservative politicians they prop up aren’t actually interested in who is gay, in who uses birth control, in who is a “good Christian” and who is “ungodly.” They are interested in making money.
Ungodly amounts of money, I would say. While they spend millions of our tax dollars trying to push through smokescreen “morality legislation,” they are hurting the very people they claim to represent, by failing to protect them from the powerful corporations that seek to subjugate us into an oligarchy where those who have money have 100% of the power.
I promise you, the people who shout the loudest about so-called family values do not care about them in the slightest. They’ve figured out that fear-mongering by claiming that your rights as a Christian will be infringed upon by giving someone else who is different than you the same rights has worked well for them. I can tell you something about these wild claims about businesses being forced to serve gay people: If some baker says they don’t want to make a gay couple a wedding cake, they aren’t going to demand that baker make it. They are going to find a baker who will. If a pastor doesn’t want to officiate at their wedding, they’ll find a different pastor. They’ll vote with their wallet. But I could go on about that all day, and that’s not the main thing I wanted to say to you.It is not that long ago that, in this country, a mixed race couple’s marriage was considered to be an aberration and unlawful and not pleasing to God. It was thought to be a union that was less than a marriage between a white man and a white woman, and therefore, not deserving of equal protection.
It was not that long ago that, in this country, it was acceptable for people (including all of our founding fathers by the way, who keep getting trotted out as the ultimate Christians) to own people… slaves. Slaves were considered less than fully human and not worthy of equality. Our society, by and large, has realized this was terribly wrong.
For thousands of years, wars have been fought over who knows better how to worship God. On which people are the chosen ones, and which ones should be eradicated from the face of the earth. The concept of one group of people deciding who gets full privileges and membership to enjoying the love of God is a deadly one.
Christianity was never meant to be an exclusive club only straight people can join. Fortunately, millions of Christians, and thousands of churches in America, know that.
These human-imposed limits—of who is valuable and who is not, on who is worthy of God’s love and who is not, on who is going to heaven and who is going to hell—were not dictated by God or Christ. Our churches, Catholic and Protestant, are meant to be a welcoming body of Christ, a family where every member, though different, is equally valued, equally useful, equally loved, equally welcomed.
Robert George asks, “Do you believe, as I believe, that every member of the human family, irrespective of age or size or stage of development or condition of dependency, is the bearer of inherent dignity and an equal right to life?”
Absolutely I do. That’s why you’re wrong about gay people. That’s why James Dobson is wrong about gay people. That’s why Robert George is wrong about gay people. So so so so so so wrong.
Gay people just want to be treated with inherent dignity, and an equal right to life, a life without persecution. A life where people aren’t shouting from the pulpit that they don’t deserve the love that makes them happy. Gay people have much more to fear from you than you have to fear from them.
Lip service about “love the sinner, hate the sin” and all of that other hypocritical hogwash that tries to dress up condescending homophobia as a pious wish for people to get closer to God by rejecting a part of themselves will not fly with me.
Now, if saying these things makes me a “tame Christian” according to one man’s personal definition, frankly, I don’t give a damn. It doesn’t bother me what James Dobson or Robert George thinks, because I am 100% sure that after I die, no one is going to ask me why I didn’t hate more people. No one is going to ask me why I didn’t try harder to keep more people from being happy and loved and accepted by their community.
You’re wasting a lot of time and energy, a lot of opportunities to do good, by focusing on condemning some people. It is not courageous to hate people. It is courageous to love them. Love is always the answer. That is what Jesus wanted us to remember. How easily we can forget.
Sarah emailed us and asked us to share this with all of you:
“Thank you all for taking the time to read and reflect upon my letter to my uncle. I was touched when Rob and Susan asked to share it with their community, and am very pleased to see how it went viral on Facebook thanks to so many of you. I’ve read a lot of the comments and discussions on the message board. I love that there is so much fierce love out there for the LGBTQ community. Everyone can make a difference. I think the popularity of this blog post goes to show that there are a lot of people out there who haven’t come out to some members of their family (as LGBTQ or as supporters of the LGBTQ community) because they know those people are intolerant. If you have the urge, I think it is worthwhile to have that conversation now. “Protecting” friends and family who would potentially cut their ties with you or think less of you, in my opinion, is doing a disservice to them. The more open we are, and the more discussion there is about equal rights, the better chance we have for wider acceptance. I think that what happened in Ireland with the popular vote goes to show that regardless of our roots/previous definitions of what marriage is, the majority of people these days do support equal rights, and know that it is the right thing to do. Let’s keep that going.” — Sarah
Let’s agree with Sarah and keep this message going. If you would, please take a moment to SHARE this post. (just click on “share” below).
For more information on Susan’s book for parents — “Mom I’m Gay” – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith — please just CLICK HERE.