A Friendly Atheist Critique of Evangelical Acceptance of Gays

A Friendly Atheist Critique of Evangelical Acceptance of Gays May 8, 2013

Fellow Patheos mega-blogger, Hemant Mehta, watched my video on evangelicals like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis coming around on marriage equality, and he has some thoughts of his own:

They can never say that they were on the right side of the argument when it mattered.

They can never say they helped steer our country in the right direction.

They have to admit they were part of the problem, and that they either fought hard to take away civil rights from LGBT people or (in the case of silent Christians) prevent them from getting those rights in the first place, and that they gave money to churches that were openly and proudly intolerant of homosexuality, and that they stayed silent when we needed their voices the most, and that they held on to their homophobia because their religion taught them to do so.

If they’ll admit to those things, I don’t care when they come around on this issue.

Yes, there are evangelical Christians who have always been openly supportive of LGBT rights, and I can’t express my gratitude enough. But their support came in spite of their churches, not because of them. While a few Christians denominations supported equal rights long ago, there’s no reason to think they shifted the paradigm on their own.

History will — and must — remember Christianity, certainly evangelical Christianity, for being an obstacle to LGBT equality. We cannot allow for any historical revisionism on that even after the tides turn.

Read the rest: Is It Okay for Christians to Support Marriage Equality Long After the Rest of Us?.

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  • mhelbert

    I read through Friendly Atheist’s blog. The comments were especially telling. Now, I know that Jesus never said that folks who chose to follow him would be the most well-loved and popular. But, maybe we as Christ-followers have really screwed the pooch on this and so many other issues. I agree with Mehta and those who commented that Christ followers can never take the high ground on this, or any other issue where the marginalized have had our foot on their neck. However, we must, must turn and move in a direction toward affirming all of these people. Thanx for this post and link.

  • Lausten

    This is how actual healing begins. Thanks Tony.

  • Michael Jordan

    Tony, this is why Christian dialogue and disagreement across this issue is so very difficult–and probably the reason why this one issue was the defining one that kept you from being invited to speak at the Missio Alliance conference (though I don’t know a thing about the planning–I could be wrong). You have this triumphant metanarrative–we are right! sexual orientation is like race! I sacrificed in a civil rights movement! History will judge us to be right!–and you understandably relish your role in this narrative. Yet I don’t believe that metanarrative is true, and many–most–other Christians (including the vast majority of the non-white ones) don’t either. Posts like this make me think that to you, one’s perspective on same-sex attraction really is the sine qua non of Christlikeness. The more I see that, the less likely I am to believe that you what you REALLY think is important are things like the physical resurrection of Christ, etc. I also am much less likely to believe that when push comes to shove, you will own Christians who disagree with you about this as sisters and brothers. Thus–dialogue becomes pretty tough.

  • CurtisMSP

    Talk about holding a grudge. Of the many qualities, formerly associated with religious folks, that atheists often claim claim they have — love, belonging, respect, tolerance — apparently one quality atheists need to work on is forgiveness.

    • Sven2547

      Forgiveness will come with the admission of wrongdoing. But first thing’s first.

      • CurtisMSP

        That is the difference between being Christian, and being atheist or fundamentalist. A Christian understands that everything starts with forgiveness.

        • Sven2547

          That would be more believable if Christianity expressed that “forgiveness” toward homosexuals from the start.

          • CurtisMSP

            You are absolutely right about that.

  • Chris

    One major indicator that a person can’t see beyond their own personal ideology is that they attempt to place you in a position where you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

  • CurtisMSP

    I tend to look at the other side, and observe that the places in human history, where gay rights have been acknowledged and are flourishing, are the same cultures and communities where Christianity was founded and flourished. There may be a closer link between Christian culture and values and the acknowledgement of the equality of all humans, than is apparent in the circumstances of recent history. Both movements, liberty through Christ and liberty to be fully human, have grown out of the same culture. Atheists and Christians may, after all, have more things in common than not.