This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
June 24th, 2009
Wendy Gritter of New Directions is seeking to increase communication and decrease hostility between the Christian community and the gay community. While I do not see these as necessarily exclusive communities, it is unquestionable that conservative Christians and gay people are to some extent at war with each other.
Towards the goal of healing, Wendy came up with the concept of a synchroblog, a time in which everyone would focus on their perspectives about such communication. She chose today, the Wednesday of Pride Week, for this effort. So today, a couple dozen bloggers with various Christian or gay perspectives will be participating in this joint conversation and Wendy invited me to join them.
I was born into a very religious, very conservative Christian family. Where other familes argued sports or politics, my family debated points of faith. And as a consequence, I am not unfamiliar with the mindset of conservative Christians, both the positives and the pitfalls. And consider myself a Christian, though many of the positions I was taught have yielded to different perspectives.
In college, I became involved in Republican partisan politics. Some of the individuals I met at that time have later become players in the battle over equality, on both sides of the issue. I know the dialect spoken by those on the right.
Based on my history, unlike some in the gay community, I do not necessarily look at conservatives and/or Christians and automatically assume that they have nefarious intentions or are motivated by hatred and superstition. Nor do I assume that because we disagree that therefore they are deluded and stubborn and blinded by strict adherence to an archaic text.
I was first invited to join the blogosphere as a participant at Ex-Gay Watch. And for a while this was a good match. My interest in politics and religion and how both interacted with the gay community fit with the goals of that site.
But a restructuring at XGW brought their focus a little narrower and deeper. So at the invitation of Jim Burroway I began to blog here at Box Turtle Bulletin. However, as most readers know, I still have a strong interest in the current struggle within Christendom to resolve issues surrounding homosexuality and the place, if any, of gay people within the body of believers.
In this process I’ve come to believe that much of the battle between conservative Christianity and the gay community is due to ignorance. We don’t know each other, we don’t trust each other, and we assume the worst about each other.
Recently I traded stinging denunciations with a writer at an organization included in the SPLA’s list of hate groups. I accused the writer of callousness and deceit and she returned the favor. But, oddly enough, this opened a dialogue between us, one which led to a later retraction of a particularly odious claim at the website of that organization.
I should not have been surprised. It was hardly the first time that I found that if I tried a personal approach, many anti-gay activists are receptive to at least listening to what you have to say.
I think that most of those who generate or disseminate anti-gay beliefs and accusations do so out of ignorance. Most do not wish to be telling deliberate lies and genuinely care whether their words are truthful.
And most conservative Christians do not hate gay people, or at least do not think that they do. The culture of Christianity is strongly influenced by Christ’s commandments to love; and most Christians believe that they do love, even if such love is sometimes experienced in ways that others find horrifying or hateful.
One of the biggest pitfall of conservative Christianity is an arrogant and patronizing superiority. Being a religion based on faith – and at times rock-solid certainty – conservative Christians are inclined to believe that they know God’s Will for their life. And far too often, that extends to knowing God’s Will for your life as well – a Will that can be forced upon you for your own good if you aren’t humble enough to submit to it on your own.
One of the biggest problem for the gay community is victimhood. Being a persecuted people, too often we see any disagreement as an attack on our dignity and our personhood. And if others are not inclined to treat us decently, we are quick to use whatever measure is available to force them to do so.
As we go forward,
Christians need to stand up and say that the Traditional Values Coalition and Peter LaBarbera and Scott Lively are instruments of hatred and have no voice in Christianity. While I wish to credit Dr. Throckmorton for having the integrity to speak against Lively and some others, far too often Christians are forgiving of the excesses of their own. It is time for Christian denominations to publicly disassociate themselves from hatemongers and to commit to expressions of love – real love, not the kind that is loaded with contempt, self-righteousness, and demonization.
And when deceivers like Maggie Gallagher run campaigns of lies, it is the moral obligation of people of faith to denounce those lies and those who are making them. This has not happened in any significant way. Too often Christians have chosen to put the intent of an anti-gay political campaign ahead of an obligation to honesty and objective truth. If Christians really want to build a bridge to the gay community, they need to not only avoid lies themselves but refute the lies of others within their camp.
And while I believe that the gay community has done a better job of rejecting the liars and haters, we too have a ways to go. While mean spirited bloggers such as Perez Hilton do receive public condemnation from parts of the community, they still have far too many who are willing to listen to their self-centered viciousness.
And one of the things that our community needs to do – one of the hardest, actually – is to stop mocking Christians. It doesn’t matter if the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have contributed to charities or if we understand how and why they came to be; they are offensive to Christians in the same way that prancing lisping mockery is offensive to us. And while there is a place for those within a faith to protest the teachings of their mother church, it is wrong for gays outside of a faith to desecrate a church or interrupt a service. These are things which needlessly hurt and offend others and which make it difficult for them to accept us as anything other than a threat.
Let’s hope that this attempt at communication, this synchroblog, will shed light and open doors and lead to a reconciliation between communities. And I thank Wendy for the hard work in bringing it about.
Please go to the New Directions site to link to others who are participating in this event.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.