49 responses

  1. Steve
    April 15, 2013

    The Westboro comparison goes too far, but Marin has said some very homophobic things in the past, when doing his favorite thing of tailoring his message to his audience. With friends like him you don’t need enemies.

    I don’t even think some kind of reconciliation is truly his goal. His goal is to get everyone to believe in Jesus together. He is a true evangelical seeking to recruit people for the faith (or in this case prevent them from leaving). The “bridge-building” is just a tool for that.

    The worst thing with him is that he enables the oppressors. He treats both sides as equally having equally valid, viewpoints and wants everyone to just agree to disagree. It’s really disgusting.

  2. Karen
    April 15, 2013

    If he says homosexuality is not sin, the conservative or evangelical church would no longer have anything to do with him. And if he says homosexuality is sin, the LGBT community won’t have anything to do with him. I used to be really annoyed that he didn’t give an answer, but the reality is he cannot do what he does by giving an answer.

    His objective is to foster humane engagement between people who disagree. That is a different purpose than fighting for a cause. Its good to fight for a cause. But his point is that we all live on this planet and have to share it despite coming from very different viewpoints. We will never all agree. And what happens when people don’t agree? They get ugly with each other. They build walls that foster even more animosity. That is what has happened between conservative Christians and the LGBT community.

    Each side can keep hoping for the utopian unanimity, each side can keep hating the other. Or, if Marin’s work is effective people can learn to treat each other with kindness despite disagreement.

    I think what both sides don’t like about Marin’s lack of response is because both sides want him to fight for a cause and that is not the purpose of Marin’s work. The purpose is to help opposing groups–amid their opposing causes–to treat each other like human beings. This is also the goal of Sustained Dialogue, a method use in war torn regions between opposing factions. The goal is not agreement, but respectful engagement with the Other.

    Some people might not be able to tolerate that notion of engagement with people one so fundamentally disagrees with and that is why people eventually kill each other–quite literally. We may feel too much is at stake with fighting for our cause. But one does not have to give up a cause in order to engage in sustained dialogue. One does not have to give up a cause to treat the Other as worthy of our kindness–not because we agree or because they deserve it, but because they are human beings and when when we treat the Other as human, we become more human ourselves.

  3. TampaZeke
    April 15, 2013

    Jim, I believe that this is your best work ever.

    Karen, did you even read Jim’s essay?

  4. Karen
    April 15, 2013

    PS–I will say that perhaps the most ideal way of doing sustained dialogue between opposing groups is having representatives of both sides come together. If the Marin Foundation had two directors–one from each side, it would probably be more effective. There would be acknowledgement of beliefs (and thus not the frustrating lack of transparency). I think the problem is that Marin started this as an individual and he was trying to represent both sides. Perhaps the Foundation can move away from him as a single point person to more of a two person team with greater transparency of views. This would actually be closer to true sustained dialogue because you cannot intentionally love across borders if there is no acknowledgement that the other person has a different position. True sustained dialogue is when you know the other person has a view that is greatly objectionable and yet you still choose to engage, you still choose to treat the Other as a human being despite knowing what you know. That is even harder work. Its the kind of hard work that people are working toward in other parts of the world–like between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, etc.

  5. Karen
    April 15, 2013

    TampaZeke–I did and I don’t know what your question means.

  6. Steve
    April 15, 2013

    And Karen is showing *exactly* what I said above. She just wants everyone to agree to disagree and get along. Never mind that both sides aren’t equally right. One of them is wrong. Never mind that one side has all the power and oppresses the other. So she just keeps up the status quo by keeping the oppressors in power and the oppressed in their place.

    Karen, you need to stop treating this as a “disagreement”. This isn’t some academic ivory tower debate where one can have a friendly chat over coffee or tea. We are talking about the civil rights of millions of people here.

  7. F Young
    April 15, 2013

    Very eloquently stated, Jim.

  8. Michael Bussee
    April 15, 2013

    I don’t think Marin is being truthful. He does believe that homosexual behavior is “sin” — or at least he seems to say so in this youtube video, at about 1:30 into his remarks.

    He says that “SSA” or having a homosexual orientation is not sin, but that the “behavior is the sin portion” and that this is his “baseline”.

    When I challenged him about this, he became rather defensive and said he was only expressing the “conservative position” and not his own opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di8LT6W3Xc0

  9. Karen
    April 15, 2013

    Hi Steve, no I didn’t say that both sides are right. In fact, I specifically said that fighting for a cause is good and that one need not give up fighting for a cause to treat someone in a humane fashion. The goal is not agreeing to disagree. The issue is how human beings treat each other.

    You might better be able to understand the context of what I am saying if you are familiar with peacemaking initiatives in war torn regions. For example, see this website on Sustained Dialogue: http://www.sustaineddialogue.org/

  10. Graham
    April 15, 2013

    For my part I think Marin’s tactics, and for that matter Chu’s experiences, are rather emblematic of the modern predicament that monotheists now find themselves in in regards to the issue of homosexuality: their personal intuition that gay people and their relationships are not evil conflicts with the demand of their god to accept that they are. I think it’s important to point out that these feelings of sympathy or justice towards gays are themselves the results of the steady erosion of the monotheistic dogma in western society; these appeals to personal feelings are made ‘around’ the religion as it were, not through it. In the olden days entertaining those sentiments would be seen as opening the door to satan; you’re supposed to accept the revelation of the Bible, not try to figure things out with your own reason and intuition. But I think what’s happened really is that people don’t want to live in a world where they have to hate, or in many of the manifestations of monotheism kill, people they love, they just can’t accept that. And so we have the tension, which in my opinion will only be resolved when we just admit that the monotheistic revelation was no revelation at all.

  11. Marcus
    April 15, 2013

    Steve, I’m not sure I understand you. If civil rights shouldn’t be talked about at academic ivory tower debates and friendly chats over coffee or tea, when and where should they be talked about?

  12. Peter
    April 15, 2013

    Everyone in the south should send Senator Landrieu the MLK quote. I doubt she would be brave enough to change her stance, but it may confront her cowardly choice.

  13. TomTallis
    April 16, 2013

    Once again I am made so thankful that my parents raised me without religion. I have no superstitious belief system brainwashed into me that I somehow have to reconcile to one of the basic parts of who I am and then write books parading my, completely unneccessary, conflict to the entire world.

    Thanks, Mom and Dad…

  14. David Malcolm
    April 16, 2013

    Karen the problem with the dialogue that Marin is trying to put forward is that when you keep telling conservatives they’re not wrong, they just get more comfortable having gay friends while treating those gay friends like crap and looking down on them. So instead of just having a bigoted “Christian” who sucks at loving their neighbour from afar, you have a bigoted “Christian” who sucks at loving their neighbour up close.

    To be honest one of the only people who’s opinion I ever changed who I didn’t previously know didn’t have her opinion changed because I explained my position rationally and went over every biblical passage explaining why you don’t have to read the Bible in an anti-gay fashion. Rather I told her that she was a monster who contributes to a world that makes children want to kill themselves. I told her she was probably a very nice monster most of the time, but still a monster.

    In the end she listened to the Matthew Vines video and we go back and forth every now and again. She still objects to the way I told her off. But sometimes especially with socially conservative people, you have to flat out tell them that they’re sinning before they’re ever going to admit that you might not be.

  15. sue
    April 16, 2013

    it seems that mr. marin has either never read king’s writings, or did not understand the key concepts of non-violent action as a tool for social change that King speaks of. more the texas text book version of the man, rather than the real human being

  16. Steve
    April 16, 2013

    @Marcus
    It’s a metaphor. The point is that people need to act like this isn’t a theoretical debate, but that this is a real issue affecting real people. They need to realize that many people are harmed, right now.

    What Karen said and what Marin does is the opposite of that. For him the goal is some nebulous state of just getting along with each other and being nice. As Jim said, for him the bridge is the destination, not the other shore. The end result is that the status quo hasn’t changed, that the legal situation hasn’t improved and that people are still being harmed.

  17. Steve
    April 16, 2013

    Btw, it’s the same as with the Republicans recently saying that they just need to be nicer about their message (which hasn’t changed), or that members should be welcome despite not agreeing about everything. Again, that’s completely trivializing the harm they cause. And letting churches get away with their actions (and hide behind “I have gay friends”) is doing the same.

  18. Boo
    April 16, 2013

    Marin also doesn’t seem to have the first clue what Malcolm X actually stood for.

  19. Karen
    April 16, 2013

    David,
    You write: “To be honest one of the only people who’s opinion I ever changed who I didn’t previously know didn’t have her opinion changed because I explained my position rationally and went over every biblical passage explaining why you don’t have to read the Bible in an anti-gay fashion.”

    Again, the goal is not agreement. Agreement is wonderful when it can be reached but its not a realistic goal in this world for everyone to have the same opinion. And we have to share the planet. If its not about same-sex relationships it will be some other issue people strongly disagree about.

    How should human beings treat each other when they cannot come to an agreement? Some people resort to violence with bullets and bombs. Some people resort to violence with their words.

    I believe in fighting for causes while treating the Other humanely. That is a very difficult thing to do which is why the whole idea of doing so is dismissed.

    I think there is much ground to be had even when agreement cannot be reached. For example I know many conservatives who do not believe homosexuality is God blessed who *do* believe that gay people should have equal civil rights. And you can bet they didn’t get to that place by someone treating them in a disrespectful way.

    The reality is not everyone will agree. So what do we do? How will we treat the Other when they fail to see our side of things? Hate them? Build walls? Yell at them? Will it help to be hostile? Will it help us be better human beings?

    Seriously, I would be interested to hear from you and Steve how you think the LGBT community should treat those who do not believe same-sex relationships are blessed by God. Specifically, how should gay people treat these conservatives in daily life?

  20. Boo
    April 16, 2013

    Karen- what do we do? We do exactly what is being done. We engage with people who are not desparate hate mongers to marginalize the desparate hate mongers. We change the politics so that gay people are treated equally under the law and the social environment to the point where the hatemongers stop spewing their hate so much, not because they fear punishment of the law, but because they anticipate social condemnation. And we keep an eye on the violent fringe. In other words we do exactly the same thing that was done with racism.

  21. MattNYC
    April 16, 2013

    Jim, your phrase, “millions have suffered because people spent centuries weaponizing those two chapters” is brilliant. I think that’s a very insightful and immediately recognizable way of putting Bible/Torah “abuse”.

  22. Jay
    April 16, 2013

    Dan Savage is a national treasure. Marin is not worth spending so much soul-searching over. He’s just another charlatan. As for Chu, what a sad sack.

  23. JB
    April 16, 2013

    Karen,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Anti-gay rhetoric is dead wrong, but what interests me is not in being right, it’s in being happy—indeed in lessening human suffering across the board.

    We cannot transform what we do not engage. There are over 2 billion self-described Christians in the world today. By refusing to engage with them, or by calling them crazy, we lessen our power to transform their beliefs.

    Do we need staunch pro-gay (read: “Being gay is A BLESSING, not a sin.”) people leading change? Yes.

    Does Marin have to be one of those people to help us affect real change? No.

    About David Malcolm’s comment above: your conservative friend changed her view, it seems, because of Matthew Vines’ video, not because you called her a monster. Matthew is working like a dog to foster a deeply respectful (and fiercely pro-gay) conversation. Read the letters he posts on his Facebook that he has received from the families of gay children saying he has changed their minds.

    I was raised in an intellectual liberal household by two avowed atheists. I’ve lived in New York City for almost ten years now. I have been conditioned to think that all religious people are fuzzy thinkers. This is such a fundamentally fuzzy and unintellectual position to take. Emerson, Thoreau, Gandhi, MLK. Without the thinking of these men, driven by profound insight arising from the religious sphere of life, our world would not be the same today.

    It is impossible to have a universal theology, but a universal experience of peace is not only possible, it is necessary.

    Let’s start creating the world we want instead of going insane destroying the one we don’t.

  24. MattNYC
    April 16, 2013

    Dante Alighieri – “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.”

    I think this is what MLK had in mind and what Marin fails to understand.

  25. MattNYC
    April 16, 2013

    BTW, I fully understand and agree with Karen about the need for this approach. I just don’t necessarily see Dr. Marin’s philosophy matching the Sustained Dialogue ideals.

    I don’t care what anyone chooses to believe–as long as they don’t block equality/civil rights based on those beliefs.

    If you are not part of the solution–and that doesn’t include JUST providing space for discussion that leads to nothing–then you are part of the problem. He enables and gives cover to the haters.

    I don’t think I could agree more with Jim’s analysis (although I will probably always give Dan Savage a bit more leeway, even when he goes over the top).

  26. Timothy Kincaid
    April 16, 2013

    I have not yet written my review of Chu’s book. I will. It will surprise no one that it will not mirror Savage’s.

  27. Ninja
    April 16, 2013

    “Evangelicals, and conservative Christians in general, need to let go of the same-sex marriage fight and invest in figuring out how to love like Jesus regardless of what system is in place.” That’s Marin on the record from his Patheos blog article, “Would Jesus Fight a Legal Battle against Same-Sex Marriage?”
    If Savage considers himself an activist for the civil rights & marriage equality of LGBT people, he doesn’t need to worry that Marin will fight against his causes. If Marin secretly believes gay sex & relationships are sinful,as long as he doesn’t fight against marriage equality, so what? Gays and lesbians want LEGAL equality of their marriage, but sin is a religious concept.Perhaps church denominations will split over whether they should bless same-sex marriage or not. But that’s none of the state’s business. Church and state are separated.
    If some Christians, e.g., Santorum, wants to legislate his Christian understanding into the marriage laws and Savage fights back, that’s one thing. If Marin believes it’s sinful, but he doesn’t want to legislate anything EITHER way, then who cares?

  28. Priya Lynn
    April 16, 2013

    Particularly insightful comments by Steve, Graham, and David Malcom.

    As for Marin, anyone who hides his positions and pretends to be neutral is irrelevant to me, and irrelevant to the cause of achieving equality. As Steve said, Marin’s priority is to get everyone to Jesus, ultimately he doesn’t care whether justice is achieved. People like him feel this life doesn’t really matter that much, all injustices will be righted in the afterlife.

    As Steve said, Marin’s goal is to just get everyone to be nice to each other and leave the injustice in place.

    Karen says this is the right approach because the Sustained Dialogue model works in war torn regions but the situation with gay rights is not analogous to a war torn region. In such regions you have situations where each side has killed loved ones of the other side, where each side makes claims to ownership of land and resources which can’t be easily verified. In such a situation there isn’t one side that’s clearly right and one that’s clearly wrong and so sustained dialogue may be the most one can hope for. In the gay rights movement one side is clearly right and one side is clearly wrong and that can be established rationally and logically. In the gay rights fight, one side has inflicted great harm on the other and that side hasn’t been harmed in any way. Unlike in war torn regions, the war over gay equality has a clear moral actor and a clear and logical path to justice so the Sustained Dialogue model is inappropriate and just leads to the unnecessary perpetuation of injustice.

  29. Randy
    April 16, 2013

    Fantastic post. I wrote something about the bridge building metaphor in a private communication that I will post to my blog a little later but I agree with you, the only way to honor someone, even if you disagree, is by being honest. Especially when directly asked.

  30. MattNYC
    April 16, 2013

    Just to echo something that Priya said and that I had in my head but lost earlier, Sustained Dialogue seems to work in places with a real or “pseudo” Zero Sum Game (where people can’t or feel they can’t physically live side-by-side the “other” or are literally fighting over the same piece of sod).

    ME is NOT a Zero Sum Game. Our increase in equality does not reduce anyone else’s equality (other than the freedom to treat people unequally, which cannot be a valid POV in a “free” society).

  31. Robert
    April 16, 2013

    MattNYC-

    Good observation except for the fact that your own definition:

    “where people can’t or feel they can’t physically live side-by-side the “other” or are literally fighting over the same piece of sod”

    is exactly what some of the most extreme religious people believe.

    Over at WND there is a new article by Pat Buchanan calling for civil disobedience of Gay Rights Laws by the Christian Right. To them this IS exactly a situation that the extreme amongst them can’t abide. Not to mention the New Manhattan Decleration that also calls for civil disobedience and ignoring the LGBT rights laws, that has over half a million signatures of support.

    For the sane Christians, there are some-despite protestations to the contrary-this isn’t an issue and they can accept and even support LGBT Rights.

    I agree with your view that ME is not a Zero Sum game, at least not for US.

    Now,in regards to the review, I have not yet read the book being reviewed, so I can’t comment on the review itself, but I can say that I don’t have much animus towards this Marin character as I do not know much about him, but I have found that his approach to us a community, is better than what we recieve from other parts of the Evangelical Community. Better to call for dialouge than to cut it off completely like Buchanan and the signators of The Manhattan Decleration. It begs the question: If you do something “good” does it really matter what your motivation is? Something “good” was accomplished.

    Also, I always wonder, what difference does it make if someone believes that there is nothing moral about our lives, as long as they are able to support our right to live them?

    Equality has to do with the legal rights we deserve, as citizens, as HUMANS. It doesn’t require Moral Approval.

    We do not require or need moral approval, we require and need Equality under the law.

    People of a religous nature believe in sin, some here do not, but that doesn’t mean we get to take away the right to see anything they wish as sin, as long as it isn’t codified in law or abridges our freedoms. As long as they hold their moral codes to mean only them and allow others to live their own lives by their own moral codes (and I am talking about this issue specificlly, not that everyone run around ignoring the common good and laws that benefit society, like murder and rape and things of that nature…I’m not advocating anarchy as some will try to suggest, again…)

  32. Robert
    April 16, 2013

    I didn’t post the Pat Buchanan link, sorry about that. Also, the article he wrote also talks about this book, this issue, and Dan Savage, thus it’s relevancy to be mentioned.

    http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/is-civil-disobedience-on-marriage-imminent/

  33. Priya Lynn
    April 16, 2013

    Robert said “Good observation except for the fact that your own definition:

    “where people can’t or feel they can’t physically live side-by-side the “other” or are literally fighting over the same piece of sod” is exactly what some of the most extreme religious people believe.”.

    Oh, bullsh*t. There’s no comparing having to live next to neighbours who’ve killed members of your family or burned down your house with living in the same state with married gays and lesbians. A few such christians may rant about how they can’t live next to married gays but none of them sincerely believe it. Many of the people making such a claim the loudest are living figuratively side-by-side, if not literally.

    The culture war is a metaphor, there is no comparing the metaphorical war over equality with a literal war. There’s no comparing christians saying “I can’t live side-by-side with married gays” and Hutus saying “I can’t live side-by-side with the Tutsis that killed my family members.”.

  34. Priya Lynn
    April 16, 2013

    Robert said “People of a religous nature believe in sin, some here do not, but that doesn’t mean we get to take away the right to see anything they wish as sin,”.

    Stop it. Just stop it. I can’t and have never tried to take away your right to see whatever you want as sin and no LGBT person can or has ever tried to take away any religious person’s right to see anything they wish as sin. You have a right to freedom of speech, you don’t have a right to freedom from criticism. Somone criticizing your backwards ideas doesn’t force you to stop believing them. And, yes, you have told that lie about me.

  35. Priya Lynn
    April 16, 2013

    Priya out.

  36. Robert
    April 16, 2013

    Priya Lynn-

    Once again on the attack, and can’t have a rational discussion or allow anyone an opinion that contradicts with her high holy knowledge. I’m tired of your constant attack.

    You can believe what you wish, but there IS a battle brewing with some of the far right religious organizations, and you seem blissfully ignorant of that fact. You live in Canada where things are pretty different, but here in the USA you can hear the drumbeat of desperation, and people like Buchanan and Brow and Barber and Perkins and Maggie are all in a pretty desperate place, and are willing to foment hatred that might just lead to action. You ignore that the same violence is happening in France as we speak, and somehow think my point isn’t valid.
    You might have your own valid rationale, but you INSIST on ignoring what the actual opposition believes, and you seem to think that for some reason these people live by YOUR logic.

    Wait and see, Pat Buchanan, and THe Manahattan Decleration are steps in a conrontation that may be inevitable without mediation by some group. Your problem is all you want to do is tell, tell, tell people what to do, you don’t want to look at what the realities are.

    And I’m pretty tired of your constant attacks on every single thing I say on this site. YOU have some pretty big issues, leave me out of them.

  37. Robert
    April 16, 2013

    I made no allusions to you, Priya Lynn in my first post. There are many atheists on this site and they don’t believe in sin, YOU take everything I say as if I’m talking to you, even in a post in respose to another poster.

    Stop jumping on me for things you THINK I’m saying. Evidently what I actually DO say you have issue with, so no need to fabricate a confrontation out of whole cloth.

  38. Ben in Oakland
    April 16, 2013

    There is a lot to respond to in this. Jim, Beautiful column in just about every way. I have a somewhat different take on all of this, so I’ll write about that.

    As I have often said, we’re probably never going to reach those people irretrievably poisoned by hate, fear, prejudice, stupidity, religious faith, the lure of power and money and dominion, or– I am increasingly convinced this is quite possibly THE major problem– their own very dark, and darkly obscured pain and desires. Haggard desires, you might call them. That is the nature of the word “irretrievably.”

    The only thing that ever reaches them is a rhetorical 2×4, swung hard, upside the head. I always think of Mary Griffiths, whose intransigence led to the suicide of her son, Bobby. Nothing else reached her, or even got close. That particular conflagration was the only thing that burned a hole through the self righteousness and her over-identification with that monster of the Old Testament, the desert storm god formerly known as El.

    Also, as I have often said– and this because I came to maturity in the days just post stonewall, and had Holy St. Harvey as my spiritual guide in the the early, heady days of gay liberation in San Francisco– I don’t really think that the enemy is the church, the religious reich, the power-and-money obsessed NOMnuts, the extreme right, the homo-hatin’-homos, or even the batshit crazy Third Eagle of the Apocalypse and his ilk, though there is plenty of ilk to be had.

    Oh, we have to fight them, of course. They are a threat, and mean to harm us if they can, or at least accrue as much power, money, superiority, righteousness, dominion, and self-serving deflection as may be available. But I don’t think of them so much as the enemy as a distraction, a necessary (but completely unnecessary) evil distraction.

    The real enemy, in my opinion, is the enforcement mechanism of the Right–the closet. The closet door hides us from our loved ones and our neighbors and our churches– and frequently from ourselves as well. The closet teaches our loved ones to hate and oppress us, and worse, teaches us to hate and oppress ourselves. It’s the closet that we ultimately have to fight. St. Harvey taught us that. Coming out is the single most important thing we can do, for ourselves, for our movement, for the multitudes of our spiritual children– the kids who are going to grow up gay, and will do it either easily or difficultly, depending upon what WE DO TODAY.

    And what we MUST do is come out, everywhere, to everyone, in every way, as soon as possible.

    I haven’t read Chu’s book, and don’t intend to. But it sounds like he has internalized the self hatred that oppresses us as a community. With his desire to be fair to those who have no intention of being fair to us, he is also being unfair to those who are on his side. Dan savage was 100% right on calling him out for that. I can appreciate Chu’s inner struggle, while at the same time having no patience for it. Grow up. Grow a pair. Stand for something, or at least, stand for yourself.

    How do I see Andrew Marin in all of this? Pretty much as I see John Chu– unable to be one thing or the other, and thereby not really being much of anything at all. But also with this crucial difference: he’s not without power or influence. He CAN make a difference. But is he? We often say “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Apparently, there is a fourth alternative. “I think I’ll be a bridge.” And this is where I think Jim has it exactly right. Steve put it very clearly: “The worst thing with him is that he enables the oppressors. He treats both sides as equally having equally valid viewpoints and wants everyone to just agree to disagree.” Why can’t Marin say this: “you’re free to believe homosexuality is a sin. You’re not free to make up shit to justify that belief.” After all, the same passage that allegedly condemns homosexuality is just as clear about reviling, and who gets to go to heaven. Why isn’t that as big a scriptural concern for him? It’s not just us that are going to hell, after all.

    Someone said, “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” If someone else won’t proclaim the truth, exactly who is going to be free?

    The antigays– they are NOT pro-marriage, seeing as divorce, support for hetero marriages, and illegitimacy among heterosexuals are not a part of their agenda– have no respect in them, and we have their many statements to prove it. Gay people who just want to live their lives are morally, socially, and humanly inferior in every way to even the worst heterosexual.

    Civility? We have been called perverts, sick, child molesters, a threat to marriage, family, children, faith, freedom, and western civilization. Is is a part and parcel of their arguments. Bryan Fischer, tony Perkins, Frank Schubert, all use these kinds of terms when describing gay people. That’s not civility, it’s hate said with a smile on the face and a knife in the back.

    And frankly, I don’t see the “love the sinner, hate the sin” shtick as all that much better. It’s also an assertion of the right to dominion. Same smile, same knife. Don’t tell me you love me. Let me guess” is what I often say. When someone loves me, I assume they want the best for me. Not what they might think is the best for me, absent my input, my knowledge, and my reality. But what I know to be best for me, with their support.

    A certain class of so-called Christian is happy to tell me they love me, but nevertheless, wish dominion over my life. “Love the sinner, hate the sin, blah blah UND blah ad nauseam.” That isn’t love, it’s narcissism. And coming from someone who says it with a smile on their face, and a knife for my back, it’s betrayal, spiritual arrogance of the worst sort. It’s a way of infantilizing me and my life– an assertion that the alleged grown up knows what’s best, not me. White people have done it to black people, men to women, for centuries.

    Telling me they love me, while asserting their need for dominion over my life, is a way they have of making themselves feel good about the damage they’re doing. Its a get out of hell free card, paid for in religious Monopoly money–the easy coin of other people’s lives. They harm my life, and the lives of millions of people like me, and excuse themselves with “it’s because I love you.”

    You love me? Excuse my temerity, but what the hell kind of an excuse is that?For your behavior, for your smarmy assertion of self-assigned but completely imaginary superiority? Is Marin loving me when he gives them a toll-free bridge?

    A civil conversation between two sides of any issue is only possible where there is respect, civility, and a commitment to the truth. On that basis, there is no civil conversation possible with a good portion of the religious reich. As Steve said, the failure to say anything about it means nothing of any value is being said at all. Let’s make nice was the spectacular FAIL of the No on 8 campaign. By failing to talk about the real issues– faith, children, and bigotry– they talked about nothing. And we lost where we should have won.

    This is Marin’s failure, why he is a bridge to nowhere. He may be accomplishing some good with what he is doing. But ultimately, I think he’s just making himself feel better.

  39. Reed
    April 17, 2013

    OH, this is good, Jim. I think you’ve knocked this one out of the park.

  40. JCF
    April 17, 2013

    “[Marin's] many gay friends — of which he really does have many who are willing to make themselves known”

    Does he go to their weddings?* That would demonstrate actual friendship to me.

    * And I don’t mean in order to object when the “If anyone can show just cause…” question is called!

    @Karen: “If he says homosexuality is not sin, the conservative or evangelical church would no longer have anything to do with him. And if he says homosexuality is sin, the LGBT community won’t have anything to do with him.”

    “Homosexuality”, per se, isn’t any more at issue than “heterosexuality” is. [Certainly your ConEvs are going to stipulate many kinds of heterosexual sin!] I always speak in terms of same-sex couples, or (better yet) same-sex spouses. Put in those terms, treating all couples/spouses w/ EQUALITY becomes a far more natural response (and intimacy is properly seen as belonging TO those spouses, and no one else’s business but theirs!).

  41. Mark
    April 17, 2013

    I’m gay, married, and Buddhist, so I don’t have an ideological stake to defend Andrew Marin’s case. I have met the man, though, and been to a few of his Living in the Tension meetings, most notably one where he invited John Corvino to speak about the book he co-authored with Maggie Gallagher.

    While I don’t necessarily agree with Andrew’s no answer tactic, I think he’s actually accomplishing his goal of engagement between the Christian community and the gay community and I think that engagement leads to lasting good for both. As we’ve been told by many an out celebrity, coming out to people is probably the most profound thing you can do to change their minds, not debating them, not evangelizing the, just coming out. I think Andrew helps this process happen and I think he’s changing minds in a very tangible way, even if it’s not in take no prisoners rhetorical combat.

  42. Mark
    April 17, 2013

    To put it shortly, I think Andrew Marin walks the walk and does good work, even if he doesn’t talk the talk we might want him to.

  43. Ben In Oakland
    April 17, 2013

    Mark, everything we do is good becuase everything we do is a repudiation of the closet.So, although I have little faith in Marin’s process and place, it’s stil something.

  44. Soren456
    April 17, 2013

    Hey, Ben in Oakland:

    Nice essay. It’s that point of view, and that stance that have got everything done. Everything. People like Marin, and his philosophy, are obstacles.

  45. Ben In Oakland
    April 17, 2013

    Thanks.

  46. Robert
    April 17, 2013

    Ben In Oakland-

    “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

    One of the greates clarion calls the world has ever heard. Thanks for the reminder.

  47. Daneen Akers
    April 19, 2013

    I really appreciate your nuance and thoughtfulness in this piece, Jim, which I found totally lacking in Dan Savage’s remarks (which seemed hyperbolic to me).

    I recently returned from a screening tour of our film in Australia where Andrew Marin was also speaking–our schedules overlapped a lot, and not only did I spend some personal time with him, but I saw him speak several times.

    The one thing I have to say in Marin’s defense is that the ONLY reason he is allowed to speak in most conservative circles is because he is not on the record about whether or not he personally believes that same-sex relationships are sinful.

    And, because he is allowed in those spaces, I have seen truly amazing paradigm shifts happen with very conservative religious groups.

    When you say above, “If Marin can challenge conservative Christians to rethink their approach to gay people, whatever their motives may be, then that is, as they say, a step in the right direction,” I can assure you that I’ve seen that happen. I get how hard it can be to just see the small step when there is a huge journey ahead. But it is an important step.

    I was told by a long-time activist in the work for full inclusion and affirmation for LGBT people in faith communities to remember that people move from open opposition to silence to tolerance to acceptance/affirmation to advocacy. And they don’t usually skip steps, and they each take a great deal of time. I see Andrew working on moving people from the extreme end to middle–and that’s a very, very important work in this whole movement. It’s an audience that I can’t reach. But he helps deeply religious people feel Biblically justified in simply engaging in an orientation of love–without caveats or performance clauses.

    That’s why I’m ultimately comfortable with his work. It is effective. I’ve seen first-hand how it works–on people in my own life. And, usually once people open themselves to just loving the gay people in their life, they get to know them better, and that’s when they are motivated to change their theology. It doesn’t usually happen the other way around.

    Thanks!

    Daneen Akers
    Producer
    “Seventh-Gay Adventists”

  48. Donny D.
    April 19, 2013

    Karen, you’ve talked a lot about fostering dialogue with the other side and bringing both sides together. But can you tell us how Andrew Marin is doing this?

    As far as I can tell, he isn’t even doing shuttle diplomacy. He isn’t carrying messages or sentiment from one side to the other, just telling each side what they want to hear. i see NO effort on the part of Andrew Marin to get both sides talking.

  49. Blair Martin
    April 20, 2013

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