I’m a Christian, Not a Bigot, Thanks.

I’m a Christian, Not a Bigot, Thanks. August 1, 2012

I think humans like extreme situations, or at least creating extreme situations in their minds, because this allows us to behave in a way that is otherwise socially unacceptable, sometimes violent in speech and action, and usually not truthful or charitable.

Extreme situations warrant taking the gloves off, and I think we humans secretly like that.

TV shows and movies create these extreme situations all the time because they allow the hero to run around doing dubious things while the audience says to themselves, “Well, the world is ending” or “Well, if he doesn’t do that (insert morally questionable, but entertaining thing) then major city X will be destroyed!” Anyone who was a fan of the show 24 knows what I am talking about.
A perfect example of creating extreme situations is found in the rhetoric in the debate over gay marriage. Gloves are definitely off. Supporters of gay marriage have, perhaps unwittingly, created a scenario in which debate and dialogue is virtually impossible. Opposition to gay marriage has been painted as the equivalent of being a racist. Hence, the situation is serious enough in the minds of many that polite discourse is not necessary. Perhaps this was purposeful, or this is really what people in good faith (and bad logic) think. But, whatever the intention, things are getting nasty. It is turning out to be pretty dangerous for Christians or anyone who comes out and dares to say they are a bit hesitant to redefine marriage, a basic building block of society.
Any unlucky fellow who dares to say he has a contrary opinion to gay marriage as a civil right, based on reason and faith, is immediately sent to the gallows of public opinion. Even in the case of the Chick-fil-A President, Dan Cathy, it has become apparent that any statement in support of the traditional view of marriage without so much as a word about gay rights is automatically labeled hate speech. Gay rights advocates are basically sending the message that to hold widely held Christian beliefs is to be hateful.

Note – There are many reasons to oppose gay unions being defined as marriage. I am not going to outline them in this post. Others have done this and have done a very good job. What I want to refute is simply the faulty logic of those who say that opposition to gay marriage is equivalent to bigotry.

Let’s Talk Logic

So, how do we get from Christians vocalizing their beliefs about marriage to calling them bigots? We don’t. The logic simply is not there. Just because a Christian believes that marriage means one thing, does not mean that they hate anyone who wants it redefined. It’s pretty obvious. And yet, very educated, intelligent people espouse this downright erroneous and hateful point of view every day.
Don’t get me wrong, gay rights is an issue of civil rights. Gay people have the right to live a life free of discrimination and hate. As Christians, we believe in the dignity and value of every single human person. This is at the foundation of our faith. But Christian opposition to gay marriage has nothing to do with gay people per se. In other words, our opposition to gay marriage is not inherently bigoted – sound like word play? It’s really not.

It may happen to be true that a Christian is also a bigot and therefore he believes marriage is between a man and a woman because he is bigoted. But this is like a person who hates golfers and therefore thinks they should be barred from the World Series. All people who believe golfers should be barred from the World Series do not, therefore, believe this because they hate golfers. This is a pretty clear logical distinction but it is unfortunately lost on the majority of people who support gay marriage.

Many Christians believe that acting on homosexual inclinations is a sin, which is not an automatically bigoted perspective. But even if you believe it is bigoted to think this, it is not logically related to the Christian view of marriage, (even though Christians and others conflate the two all the time). The only way it is related is to say that the Christian definition of marriage simply doesn’t include other arrangements, not because we hate people who want them, but because our view of marriage, which has been virtually universally accepted since the beginning of time, simply excludes other forms of human relationship. We believe this view of marriage is best for society as a whole, as well as individuals – it is not hateful or shocking to express this point of view, at least it shouldn’t be!
If polygamy were all the rage, we would, and do, speak the truth that polygamous arrangements are not in fact marriage. If people wanted to say that after holding your girlfriend or boyfriend’s hand, you were de facto married, we would oppose that as well. We take issue not with the people who are engaging in what we do not believe to be marriage; we take issue with redefining marriage. All we are saying is, “There are going to be implications to redefining the traditional understanding of marriage, the very nucleus of society, and we oppose it.” Period.
Christians in a State of Fear & Trembling?

Sadly, Christians are shaking in their boots, especially the ones who are just not sure what to make of this whole subject. Many are not even looking into the issue and are simply parroting their support for gay marriage because they don’t want to be accused of being bigots. Pretty understandable. I hesitated in writing this article. I may lose friends. I have never spoken openly about this subject except to those closest to me. But it is time for Christians to speak out.
Even if you are a Christian who supports gay marriage, how can you stand by while other people of faith are smeared based on logic that is faulty? Perhaps you are doing it yourself. Maybe it’s time to stop. Please?
We need the loving voices of Christians who do not hate their gay brothers and sisters to speak the truth of our faith in love and without fear. Because if we allow this erroneous logic to stand, that adhering to our religious beliefs is hate speech, it will become the law of the land, as it has in Canada and other countries. Any Christian preaching about what we believe to be the beauty of marriage will be considered hate language, and people will be sued and jailed. Think that’s extreme conspiracy theory paranoia? It’s already happening in Europe.
To conclude, as I consider this issue, I think about all the strides that we, as a society, have made so that gays will not be discriminated against, made to feel inferior, or worthless. I am glad that the gay rights movement is happening. I am glad that bullying, violence and hate are being combated. I feel shame that people who call themselves Christians have been a part of this discrimination, and still are. Expressions of the Christian point of view on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage should only be filled with love and concern for those who experience same sex attraction.

I just don’t believe the pendulum of this social movement should move in such a way that it advances right for Christians’ heads. In order to gain respect for one group, it is not necessary to disrespect another. This debate can be held in a way that does not demonize either side. Open and compassionate dialogue is possible. Really.

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