Spiritual Gaslighting: Why “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” Is Toxic

Spiritual Gaslighting: Why “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” Is Toxic July 7, 2021

I recently saw a t-shirt that had this on the front:

Love

the sinner,

hate the sin

A wonderfully designed t-shirt

That’s right, folks! Love. If only it was that simple.

Oh wait, it is! At least, it would be, if so many Christians would do away with this meaningless phrase. After all, you never hear a Christian say “love the sinner, hate the sin” in response to murderers, do ya? Nope, only those “sinful homosexuals”.

As this story on Medium points out, this attitude pits the “virtues” of one person against the perceived “sins” of the other. This is a perspective of superiority against supposed inferiority. And it’s exhausting having to be on the receiving end of it.

When we LGBTQ+ folk can’t escape this toxic mantra, which encompasses all of the religious-based discrimination we face, we may doubt our worth in God’s eyes. Because of the relentlessness of this message, some of us end up believing we won’t make it to Heaven. Thankfully, we have wholesome voices to counteract this.

 

This woman rocks. And she nailed it. This saying is a front for hate, judging others, and playing God in the worst cases.

Oh, and there is only emptiness behind the constant retort that “true love” means calling homosexuality a “sin”. I’ve had enough of other people equating gay love with sinful lust.

I wanted to see both sides to this (mistakes were made) and found this video:

 

Peace be with the author of this video, and let me be clear that I’m not out to personally attack him for his beliefs. But ugh, there are three things he mentioned here that I take major issue with:

  1. Becoming a Born-again Christian means you give up your “homosexual nature”.
  2. Effectively saying that to be a “homosexual Christian” and saved, you must be celibate while perpetually denying yourself.
  3. Placing gay folk who “act on their desires” in the same category as abusers, cheaters, and adulterers (heard at the 7:10 mark).

I need to watch myself because I deliberately went looking for this viewpoint for objectivity, and I knew I could find something offensive. Well, that was easy! I can’t wrap my head around him comparing “active homosexuals” to those other “lifestyles”. That’s a false equivalency, a logical fallacy. And why is it always called a “lifestyle”?

And I cringe whenever I hear or read about anybody questioning the validity of somebody’s status as saved. I hold former president Donald Trump in contempt for his refusal to be held accountable, but under no circumstances would I ever assert that I think he isn’t saved. That’s God’s authority, and nobody else’s! And I’m pretty darn sure that questioning the validity/asserting otherwise about this is the true intent behind the classic “thou shalt not judge” verse.

 

Now, to speak from personal experience. I truly became a Christian by inviting Jesus into my heart at the end of December 2013, a few days before New Year’s Eve. I was invited to do this after stumbling upon what I now call the “Jesus Test” from the site Gay Christian 101, which has continued to help me handle these issues.

Almost immediately after asking Jesus to enter my heart, all of the confusion I’d been dealing with in regards to my sexuality dissipated. I was hyper-aware that I’m gay, and it freaked me out. One of my first thoughts was that I was already condemned and that I could end up in Hell. Well done, “traditional Christians”!

That was spiteful, I’m sorry. But I also know that it wasn’t God’s will for me to effectively think I was unworthy of His mercy, just because of the lies some Christians choose to perpetuate. Namely, that gay people can’t go to Heaven.

God used my conversion to show me that I was, not to be funny, but made to be gay. I begged Him multiple times in the following months to take it away if He didn’t want it, and I remained the same. I would never ask or choose to be gay, it is truly how I was created. God doesn’t see me as sick, and He’s made that clear multiple times to me.

I’m also painfully aware of how lucky my situation has always been, compared to so many other kids like me who are stuck in toxic familial environments. My family accepted me without hesitation, and I’m forever grateful for their unconditional love. But we’ve all heard heartbreaking true stories about kids who are rejected, disowned, and even made homeless by their families when they thought they could trust them. There are so reasons why LGBTQ+ kids are at a disproportionate rate of suicide and homelessness.

I’m sorry to offer you guys some triggering content, but because we’re on this topic, I’m going to segue into one of the most heart-wrenching moments in Gay Cinema. Behold the famously tear-jerking film Prayers for Bobby.

Bobby’s Story

Trigger/Content Warning: Suicide

“I won’t have a gay son.”

Mary Griffith, Prayers for Bobby

It was ultimately this memory that pushed Bobby to kill himself. Mary’s remorse and anguish lead her to read her late son’s diary, discovering the depths of his inner torment that she helped perpetuate.

 

After taking to heart how torn up Bobby was after her lack of empathy towards his inner plight, Mary seeks out the gay-friendly church mentioned on a nearby bookmark she finds. It was no doubt a sign from God telling her where to go next.

 

“I know now, why God didn’t heal Bobby. He didn’t heal him because there was nothing wrong with him.”

Mary Griffith, Prayers for Bobby

Mary’s heartfelt conversation with the reverend at the end of this clip shows that she’s finally acknowledged the truth: she always knew that her son was different, even from his conception. Her tears of remorse enable a true, permanent change of heart, and lead to her becoming a brave voice for change in her community. Mary becomes a PFLAG member and is willing to stand before her town committee, hoping to bring awareness to the plight of gay children everywhere.

 

“So, before you echo ‘amen’ in your home and place of worship, think, think and remember: a child is listening.”

Mary Griffith, Prayers for Bobby

Mary’s plea is a powerful one. It’s so easy as Christians to repeat what leaders tell us, instead of deepening our faith by asking questions. Mary had to ask some painful ones to get to the truth, and I hope that all parents of LGBTQ+ kids come to accept it. God never intended for any child to be persecuted and demonized. God’s will is love, not love with conditions as some Christians unwittingly suggest, like Mary Griffith did to her detriment.

And then, behold this beautiful final scene:

 

“To all the Bobbies and Janes out there, I say these words to you as I would my own precious children: please don’t give up hope on life, or yourselves.”

Mary Griffith, Prayers for Bobby

Watching this scene again after several years brought back all the tears. Especially when Mary sees a look-alike of Bobby in the crowd, and her first instinct is to give the boy a compassionate hug.

It’s what all of us LGBTQ+ kids need, and what I’m grateful to have. I pray that their parents’ hearts are moved to remember what God’s will is.

Judging Selectively

One last thing: I have a really hard time looking at Evangelical Christians as sources of integrity, especially when they single us out for condemnation while refusing to condemn others. And I am ABSOLUTELY talking about their ongoing denial of former president Donald Trump’s sins.

This crowd of Christians continually uses us as the scapegoat for sexual sins (and for ludicrous stuff such as causing 9/11) while turning a blind eye to Trump’s love of lying. And the evidence for his sexual sins (namely adultery). And how much he slanders those who oppose him. And joking about getting away with murder. And…you get the point.

 

He’s been documented lying over 30,000 during his presidency. That’s breaking one of the 10 Commandments. Over and over again, without apparent remorse or any accountability. And where the heck was the Evangelical response?!

 

They condoned it, and several other ill behaviors seemingly unworthy of accountability. I’m not saying this to be spiteful (just this once), but Trump saying he’s “pro-life” has been used as the grand excuser for his constant free passes.

In response to people demanding justice be done for his wrongdoings, Evangelicals responded:

  • “He’s not perfect!”
  • “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
  • “Judge not, lest ye be judged in turn.”

Where is this same grace for us? I despise the hypocrisy and double standard here. It makes my blood boil. He’s made it abundantly clear that he’s not a man of mercy, and his response to the Jan. 6 insurrection proves it. Lives were lost, and he didn’t care. But somehow, in the eyes of certain Christians, people like me are more morally corrupt.

Here, enjoy some vicious but accurate satire from “Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s BEST Christian”.

 

They refused to hold this man accountable, who used a Bible as nothing more than a prop in the middle of the calls for justice last Summer. I have no intention, again, of questioning whether or not he has a bond with God. But I absolutely do question whether or not he had “good intentions”, to put it very lightly.

 

But what would I, an abstinent gay virgin, know about morality?

What is Love?

God loves His queer children just as much as He loves everybody else. There are tragic consequences to people using His name to claim otherwise.

Whether somebody else likes it or not, we are holy too. Some of us are given the gift of celibacy and thus have the capability to be single without loneliness. But it’s unfair for non-LGBTQ+ Christians to demand that all of us be celibate, with or without the God-given capacity for it. We shouldn’t force ourselves to be lonely for a lifetime just to please the intolerance of others.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, God has given me numerous dreams (and, on occasion, visions) of my future husband. The most poignant one gave me a glimpse of him by my side at my funeral church service. In this same vivid dream, the entire Trinity descended through a ray of light to take me away to Heaven. The dream came to me during a time of severe loneliness and doubt of worth. And it’s been one of the most significant signs I needed that God absolutely has a plan for my love life.

Like Brenda Davies, author of the “God is Grey” channel pointed out, humans have mistranslated the original intentions of the Bible from over 2,000 years ago. There is evidence that some translators inserted their own biases into their work, which has obviously had disastrous effects. If what I’ve read and watched is correct, we LGBTQ+ folk have been equivalated with temple prostitutes and child abusers.

It’s so frustrating constantly having to justify our lives to those who don’t want to listen in the first place. Instead of empathy and compassion, we receive scorn and dismissiveness. And I’ve known for a while that none of that is God’s will. I’m sick of it.

When we say “May God’s will be done”, may we remember that His will is love and not some disdain-riddled facsimile.

 

Further Reading:

Featured Image by Connor Brennan

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