If you’ve ever wondered why some gay people don’t like Christians…

News flash: It’s because they think we hate them. The perception is that Christians want to oppress homosexuals, deny them equal rights, and force them to live according to a specific interpretation of Christian values. Sadly, sometimes they are right.

I was following a public Facebook thread yesterday about which Presidential candidate Christians were going to vote for in the 2012 election. Even though it was a public conversation, I have only included first names here, but what started the conversation was what a particularly intelligent woman expressed concerning the difficulty in making up her mind about whom to vote for. Of course this instantly prompted some other  voices in the conversation to attack President Obama and paint him in the worst possible light as a “clear” indication that good Christians ought to vote for the Conservative Mormon (Mitt Romney).

While this alone represents a serious disconnect for Christians who say they follow the Bible, profess only one God and claim to eschew false prophets, polygamy and deceit in general, I don’t want to focus on Mormon theology here. What I want to point out, however, are the inconsistencies that some people offered in response to the thoughtful conversation starter. Take a look:

Chase:How [is this a difficult decision]? One candidate is obviously not of God so if you are of God the decision is pretty easy.

Teri:Anyone who would vote for abortion… is obviously not of God.

When another respondent offered that Christians should probably consider that a Mormon might not be “of God” either, Teri responded with:

Teri: I do not believe a political candidate’s theological position should be a determinate on who we should vote for. As Christians, we are compelled to vote for a candidate that MOST exemplifies our beliefs [theological positions]

WHICH candidate MOST exemplifies Christians’ beliefs [theological position]The Value of Traditional Family: Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:24-27

OBAMA: Approves of same-sex marriage. Refuses to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” signed by former President Bill Clinton.

ROMNEY: Opposes same-sex marriage. Supports the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

 Nobody has taken away the “right” for homosexuals to get married. They continue to enjoy the same rights as everyone does. They simply do not exercise their rights because they don’t want to marry someone of the opposite sex. Because they choose NOT to exercise their rights, does NOT mean they have been taken away. Jesus himself quoted Genesis in regard to marriage. God did not change His mind on what he considers “detestable” or an “abomination”, or what He considers sinful. Thank God He has judged all of our sins in Christ, and as believers in Him, we are forgiven of all of our sins. (Heb 8:12, 10:17) Christ died on the cross to give all of us freedom from sin, and to live our lives as we choose. We can choose to live according to His precepts, or we can choose to live opposite.

Are you hearing the contradiction that the author seems to have missed? She says that a candidate’s theological commitments should not influence whom we vote for, but that we should vote for Mitt Romney because his theological commitments are like those of Christians.

Huh? First of all, no they are not (at least not the most important ones), and secondly, her entire statement is internally inconsistent. She seems to advocate the non-Christian candidate when it suits her purposes, but refuses to acknowledge the more weighty aspects of that same candidate’s anti-Christian purposes. This is just the start of her inconsistencies.

For purposes here, I want to discuss her assessment that, “Nobody has taken away the “right” for homosexuals to get married. They continue to enjoy the same rights as everyone does. They simply do not exercise their rights because they don’t want to marry someone of the opposite sex. Because they choose NOT to exercise their rights, does NOT mean they have been taken away.”  

Once again, I have to scratch my head and say “Wha-?” Apparently Teri actually believes what she is saying, and it blows my mind. So let’s get it straight. She argues that nobody has denied homosexuals’ rights to get married to whomever they choose (of age and mutual consent). It’s just that we don’t allow them to do this solely on the basis of same-gender selection.

Pardon me, but that sounds remarkably similar to denying someone equal rights on a prejudicial condition that Teri doesn’t seem to like. She has worked it around in her head to define marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman and that THIS is a universal right that monogamous, consenting adults possess. Everyone who meets those qualifications has this right, and if you don’t, then you cannot get married under this definition. I have problems with this, but not because there are general limits to who can get married. After all, most of us affirm that non-consensual marriage or marriage-type arrangements with minors and those incapable of making decisions for themselves are inappropriate. We should have no problem with this in general, but it doesn’t mean that we can place just any restriction on who can and cannot be married. It is clear that we should consider the “why” regarding Teri’s judgment that only opposite gender representatives should be allowed to marry.

Why does Teri feel this way? She cites her religion. To be fair, I share Teri’s faith in Christ, but I certainly don’t carry it in the same way she does. That is a secondary issue, but it is important for me to mention because I AM a Christian and I’d like to think a very committed one at that. I hope this wins me some credibility with my gay friends and non-Christians in general, but it often (and unfortunately) puts me at odds with many of my Christian acquaintances.

Here is more of what Teri posted: “Jesus himself quoted Genesis in regard to marriage. God did not change His mind on what he considers “detestable” or an “abomination”, or what He considers sinful. Thank God He has judged all of our sins in Christ, and as believers in Him, we are forgiven of all of our sins. (Heb 8:12, 10:17) Christ died on the cross to give all of us freedom from sin, and to live our lives as we choose. We can choose to live according to His precepts, or we can choose to live opposite. However, because He extends this grace to us, does NOT mean we SHOULD live any way we want. Because I love Christ, I choose to live my life according to His precepts, and His principles and agreeing with what God calls sinful, and trying to do what pleases Him. Sometimes that does not coincide with what the world believes.

So Teri cites some Bible passages and puts words in Jesus’ mouth about calling something (it is not clear what she has in mind) “‘detestable’ or an ‘abomination.’” She conveniently leaves out a Scripture citation to support this, and instead references some later verses (not spoken by Jesus) in the Book of Hebrews regarding what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

However, she rightly concludes that Christians are called to live differently and that this is their choice, and it is an invitation that she has accepted despite what the world believes. This part is actually not weird, and in fact, she gets this exactly right: Following Jesus means something significant for how his followers ought to live. Hooray. Perfect. Beautiful. But wait, there’s more.

Teri clearly believes that homosexuality and thus, homosexual marriage, is an affront to her religiously held beliefs, but she is not content to let this remain a personal choice. She wants to force everyone else to adhere to her religious convictions regardless of their own (or even their complete lack of religiously held beliefs). Similarly, she wants to force her definition of what a marriage is on people who have not come to similar conclusions, and she does this for no other reason than her religion. Thus, she thinks it is her duty to vote for the candidate who is most likely to perpetuate oppression against the people she wants to oppress.

This is called “religious persecution,” and Teri is more than eager to support it and justify it. Not only is this type of oppression offensive to non-Christians and particularly gay people, it should also be offensive to Christians themselves. The strongest point I wish to make is that Jesus never –EVER– forced anyone to do anything. Even Teri says that we have a “choice” to follow him, but then she turns right around and argues that Christians ought to force homosexuals to either marry someone of the opposite gender or not all, and THEN she has the audacity to call this “equality.” The expansive gulf between what she says she believes and how she thinks it dictates that Christians behave towards others is literally unbelievable. Is it any wonder that people who identify with the homosexual label don’t like Christians or our churches?

But it gets worse. I have noticed that many Evangelical Conservative Christians also love to pile-on about President Obama and his alleged “attack on the U.S. Constitution.” But there are a couple things I would like us to consider, the first of which is that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that Teri cites above has been ruled unconstitutional not by the executive branch, but by the United States Supreme Court (and that is why President Obama does not uphold it).

As a related matter, the First Amendment reads that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free-exercise thereof.” If people like Teri can only cite their religion in defense of their prejudicial trouncing of equal rights regarding marriage, then it is clear that THEY are the ones who are “attacking the U.S. Constitution,” not President Obama. Once again I think it appropriate to point out that Jesus never sought to impose his will on others. In fact, Jesus himself was persecuted by those who would impose THEIR will on HIM and was ultimately executed for it. How is it that so many Christians have completely missed the example of Jesus and instead of radically loving people on his behalf (and being persecuted for it), they have decided to hate people and convince themselves that it is now their job to do the persecuting? Vomit.

So let’s review: According to some Christians, good Jesus followers should ignore the U.S. Constitution when it serves their religious purposes and (ab)use the Bible to justify persecuting others and force them to live according to a religion that they do not subscribe to. Is it any wonder at all that my gay and lesbian friends want nothing to do with Conservative Christians and churches who confuse their political biases with what it means to “follow” Jesus? Unfortunately the people who need to hear this the most are the ones most impervious to the message and content to label and ignore the ones who take it up (like me). This is frustrating to a guy who wants people to love Jesus, not run from him.

thanks for reading me,

-CL

See also: Pastor’s Well-Intentioned but Misguided Words on Homosexuality

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About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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4 Responses to If you’ve ever wondered why some gay people don’t like Christians…

  1. C_Lambeth says:

    To be fair, I have no idea which presidential candidate “Chase” was referring to above. It could have been either one, but I used his quote because the respondent “Teri” seemed very willing to use and interpret it in reference to President Obama.

  2. sarah mcconnel says:

    Thanks, Corbin!! I miss these conversations with you!

    My sibling-in-law and I just had a GREAT conversation about this all, and I wanted to share some things that stuck out for me. Marriage, as defined legally, is more an issue about equality and equity; or the difference between having shoes (equality) and shoes that fit (equity). Right now, sure…..we have marriage equality. Everyone can get married. We do not, however, have marriage equity. Not everyone can get married to whom they love. We do not have marriage equity in this nation because “marriage” has both legal and religious definitions and implications.

    I see two options…..take religion out of marriage entirely, OR make marriage legal for no one. I personally support the second option. As a person who is queer and spiritual (rather than religious), I don’t want my partnership to be rooted in the church. I want my partnership to be as valid and legally recognized as any hetero couple’s. I want to be able to see my partner if she is in the hospital and be able to speak to her medical team. In the instance that something happens to my partner I want our children to stay with me, not be in the middle of a custody battle with her family because my validity as a parent is question even though we have cared for, loved, nurtured, and lived as a family (more consistently and with more stability than her hetero siblings). I want my partner to be on my insurance and have access to spousal benefits at my work. I want society to view our partnership just like any other committed couple. I want all couples in this nation to have a domestic partnership to be legally recognized and, should they chose, elect to get married according to their religion’s traditions.

    Thanks for furthering the conversation, Corbin!

    • C_Lambeth says:

      Thanks for the comments, Sarah. I appreciate your perspective. Of course the idea that marriage should be made illegal for everyone is not attractive to me, but I think you make a great point. There is no question that a universal prohibition on marriage would encompass both equality and equity, and certainly be more fair than our society’s current arrangement.

      What is particularly interesting about your suggestion is that making marriage a function of government and all the related special rights, privileges and taxation details is a relatively recent phenomenon. As a Christian, I take my spirituality and my marriage very seriously because they are both rooted in my religion/ relationship to Jesus, but at the church’s inception under the Roman Empire, government had nothing to do with religious marriage ceremonies (or divorces). There were legal codes and property rights, but not marriage laws. I am fine with religions offering their adherents spiritualized marriage ceremonies (so long as no one’s rights are violated), but I don’t see why it should be any of the government’s business beyond the protecting of those rights. If we are truly against big government, then we should show the government the door when it comes to deciding who consenting, legal adults can choose to marry.

      Thanks again, Sarah!
      -CL

  3. C_L says:

    My pastor just posted this link on his Facebook page, and I thought it offered a little insight into the issue of homosexuality and the church. It features one of my contemporary church heroes, Rob Bell, as he questions how the church has responded to homosexuality over the millennia. It’s about 15 minutes long, but I’ll cut right to the chase. As his heckler continues to press and press on the issue, Rob Bell stops him, clarifies what this conversation partner is saying, and calls it “bullshit.”

    Rob Bell is my people.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2013/06/04/rob-bell-calls-bullshit-on-christian-radio/

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