“If a boy tells his parents he is attracted to another boy, he should be grounded immediately. Corporal punishment should be administered. If he is in public school, he should be pulled out immediately and homeschooled. The parents should receive counseling and seek out conversion therapy for the child. If he is in the youth group at church, he should be removed from the group. All of this until the child repents and turns from his rebellious ways. If he does not, he should be kicked out of the home.”
-A church youth group leader commenting on a social media post
There is much fear and hate in that quote, which was recently shared in a progressive Christian Facebook group that I follow. I’ve heard and read so many like it that they fail to shock me anymore. I’ve thought an awful lot about the subject of same sex attraction as it relates to Christianity. I have come to the conclusion that the topic matters way too much to way too many Christians. If you ask me what I think about homosexuality, I’m going to tell you that it is complicated and that it’s not really any of my business–that it just doesn’t matter. I will say this much; I have come to believe that homosexuality is not a choice–I firmly believe that people are born with a predisposition to be sexually attracted to one sex or the other–or both.
For a Christian to believe that homosexuality is a sin, they must also believe that homosexuality is a choice–if not, then they are saying that God makes mistakes. The whole question of whether or not sexual acts with members of the same sex are sinful is based upon this premise. Complicated?
What if it didn’t matter?
Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument that homosexual acts are sinful–if the bible is clear about anything, it’s that one sin is the same as another. There aren’t degrees of sin. With that in mind, let’s take that youth minister’s quote that began this article and tweak it just a bit by swapping out the “sin.”
If a boy fails to eat in a healthy manner and becomes overweight due to his gluttonous dietary habits, he should be grounded immediately. Corporal punishment should be administered. If he is in public school, he should be pulled out immediately and homeschooled. The parents should receive counseling and seek out dietary therapy for the child. If he is in the youth group at church, he should be removed from the group. All of this until the child repents and turns from his rebellious ways. If he does not, he should be kicked out of the home.
Why this endless campaign from fundamentalist Christians against homosexuality?Go back and read that youth leader’s quote again and try to imagine those words coming from the mouth of Jesus. I’ll wait right here until you return…
Could you picture it? Neither could I.
Why does it matter so much? What if it didn’t matter?
What if Christians, even those Christians who firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin, took the position that it doesn’t matter?
Everybody associated with a church in any and all capacities, from the pastor or priest right down to the guy who shows up twice a year for Easter and Christmas, sins on a daily basis. Look a little too long at that attractive man or woman on tv–you just sinned. Wished you could have as nice a house or car as those people over there–you just sinned. Sworn under your breath at the guy who cut you off in traffic–you just sinned. Drove faster than the posted speed limit–you just sinned. Put anything at all–your career, your family, your favorite sports team–before God–you sinned. The list goes on and on, and those are just sins of commission–what of all those things you failed to do that you should have?
Why does homosexuality bother you so much, conservative Christian? What if it didn’t matter?
If you are really concerned about a young man who is attracted to other young men, what do you think will be accomplished by removing him from the church youth group or even kicking him out of the house? You are so convinced that he chose his attraction–that God didn’t make him that way–that you want him shunned? If that’s what you really believe, then what you are suggesting is exactly the same thing as if a sick person went to the hospital and was turned away and told to come back only when they were well. How preposterous! What if it didn’t matter? What if you loved him and welcomed him anyway, just as you loved and welcomed that man in church this morning who went out and got drunk last night? Yep–that’s sin.
I don’t know if homosexuality is a sin or not. Clearly there are scriptures that suggest it might be, but I have serious questions about them given the multi-layered cultural context issues one must excavate in order to understand how different the concept of “gayness” was thousands of years ago. I know that in most of the biblical instances where it comes up, the homosexuality was deeply intertwined with all manner of debauchery–certainly not loving, committed, monogamous relationships.
Sin or not, the whole thing is complicated. I may be right or I may be wrong–but I don’t really care. In the end, it doesn’t matter to me. What does matter to me is that fundamentalists leaders like the one whose quote began this piece are failing to do the work with which they are charged–failing to reflect the love of Jesus. They are building barriers rather than extending welcoming and loving arms. What if they could let that go?
What if it didn’t matter?