When did homosexuality become the number one enemy of the church? Sure, the Bible says it is a sin: an abomination even. But the amount of hatred and bigotry that foments to the surface of the Christian church in regards to gay rights is astonishing. I can speak to this first hand. I preached against homosexuality with the same amount of fire-and-brimstone energy as any other preacher. Then one day, I grew up.
No other issue brings the church together more than our opposition to homosexuality. We are divided on abortion rights. We are divided on social justice. We are divided on race issues. But homosexuality, we all agree to hate with biblical zealotry. Why? Is it because the Bible says it is an abomination? If that’s the case, why don’t we have the same vitriolic reaction to the other sins God labels as abominations?
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.—Proverbs 6:16-19
No. This couldn’t be it.
Do we hate homosexuality because it is “destroying our families” like so many would have us believe? It couldn’t be that either. Divorce rates are just as high in the church as they are in the rest of the world. So, unless all these families broke up because one spouse suddenly realized they were gay, homosexuality couldn’t be the reason our families are breaking apart.
So what is it? The answer is simple. We have warped Christianity into a religion that needs a physical enemy onto whom we can project our latent anger, hatred, and frustration. Much like urban preachers who preach against your “haters,” or evangelical pastors who preach against “liberals,” we have transformed Christianity into a bludgeoning tool. And what good is this tool without someone to hit across the head? Too many of us get-off on condemning our so-called enemies to hell. We think Christianity is about telling others what they are doing wrong instead of correcting our own missteps. We constantly look outward while rarely looking inward.
Regardless of what you think of homosexuality, Gay Rights is not a spiritual issue; it is an American issue. Gays and lesbians have just as much right to America and her corresponding rights as any Christians. The rights associated with marriage in the United States are not the same as the religious Rite of marriage. Rights do not equal Rites. Granting rights to LGBT couples does not threaten our religious definition and expression of marriage. If it did, would not that mean that the government has the authority to define our religious definition of marriage?
What we do in our religious ceremonies is uniquely different than what the government does when it grants a license and rights. Many of the preachers that feign outrage understand this simple principle. Nevertheless, it is expedient for them to have tangible enemies to stroke the self-righteous demon that potentially lies beneath every one of us.
America is for every person of every faith. It is even for those who have no faith at all. It is for every orientation and gender. Most of all, America is for those with whom we vehemently disagree. If we think our role as Christians in America is to force our religious beliefs on those who don’t wish to abide by them, then we are no better than the Islamic extremists who wish to impose Shari ‘a law. We are no better than the Pharisees and Sadducees who reveled in their “form of godliness” for political gain. And in that way, when we use faith to restrict secular freedoms, we have not become more like Christ. We have become the oppressor from which God must liberate his people.