by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Your reader wrote, "What I do know is that isn't what I think of as a sincere apology. When one is sorry, they realize the error in their way." Right there is an encapsulation of everything that infuriates me about this debate. I'm what most would consider a fairly conservative Evangelical Christian pastor. And I firmly believe in the right of homosexuals to have every civic right that any other citizen of this nation enjoys. I believe that gays and lesbians should be able to marry, to pass on benefits to their partners, and so on. If they are Americans, then they should enjoy the same rights as every American, regardless of what I think of their lifestyle.
But I do believe that homosexual behavior is sinful, and I do believe the Bible when Paul reaffirms the sinful nature of homosexual activity. I believe that some activities are not God-pleasing and yet can still be a "right" in our civic understanding. A good number of Christians in my generation (Gen X) believe similarly.
For the past several years, we've been hearing more and more from the gay community that they don't care what we think of their sexual practices, as long as we agree that they should have the same rights as everyone else. That sounds great, and like a goal I can work towards. But then, we catch glimpses like this commenter. And Andrew slips into this kind of talk sometimes as well. And it begins to cast real doubt on how much I can trust the rhetoric coming from the gay community. Here is an evangelical saying basically what I have encapsulated, that while he disagrees with the lifestyle he realizes he has been unloving in his attitude. That while he can disagree with the sin that someone commits, perhaps the best tactic is to try and accept them on the basis of their humanity and express kindness, despite the differences.
And what do we get for it? "Sorry, that's not good enough. Not only must you allow us to live as every other citizen, but you must also believe in your heart that homosexuality isn't a sin." Really? What happened to all the talk of tolerance?
After all, isn't tolerance a two-way street? Doesn't tolerance have to also mean that the homosexual community must accept the fact that I might disagree with their lifestyle? They will have to tolerate the fact that I disagree with them, even as I argue for equal civic rights. Apparently not. Instead, I read something like this poster's (and many others who have responded on this site) opinion and apparently I'm not allowed to have a belief that s/he finds unfashionable.
So I must bend my personal held beliefs to the will of others who find my thoughts judgmental or condemning. This attitude is repulsive and does nothing to benefit the cause of gay rights or to build bridges between communities. It is a selfishness that only causes many of my Christian friends to shake their heads. And it places little seeds of doubt in our minds about how wise it is to continually put ourselves out in front of our Christian peers as apologists for the gay community.
Seriously? We're going to police other people's beliefs now? We're going to tell people what they should and shouldn't think of as wrong, even when they're actively attempting not to hurt others with those beliefs? There's a term for that. It's called "religious intolerance". Oh, no doubt somebody will think it offensive or whatever that I would invoke that for one of the world's most dominant and frequently-dogmatic religions, but it's true. Tolerance goes in every direction.
It may well be that Marin is being deceptive, in that he's trying to get queerfolk to lower their guard so his allies can better attack us. If he is, well, tough beans - life sucks. But I don't know that for certain, and somehow I don't think most of your readers do, either. What I think is that people are taking a traditional Christian message - dealing with the log in one's own eye before worrying about the speck in your brother's - and reading treachery into it. If he's willing to leave me alone about my sins, and focus instead on dealing with his own, I don't care what he thinks of me. That's not him lying, that's him being ... Christian.
FWIW, I'm queer with Catholic parents. Traditional Catholic parents, whom I'm not out to and may never be able to come out to. I have my problems with Christians. Still, I find this whole thing ridiculous and, worse, hypocritical.
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