Doctor John Dickson wrote today for The Drum, an article titled “Time for some nuance between the gay and the god-fearing“, which is an attempt to justify continued Christian Homophobia with the old, “hate the sin but love the sinner” approach (the comment section of the article – with the exception of a couple of bigots is really good).
Contemporary minds are fixed to think of only two possible camps on the gay issue. Either you are pro-homosexual and therefore open-minded, kind and respectful, or else you are a mean-spirited, homophobic bigot. You are either for me or against me. No space is given to a third group, much larger than the current discourse allows, made up of people who sincerely want an end to discrimination and who show nothing but care and respect toward gay friends but whose deeply held convictions prevent them from endorsing same-sex practice.
Perhaps in the tradition of ‘an eye for an eye’ the church deserves some purgatorial derision. No one could deny that professed Christians have used very condescending and spiteful language toward gay people (and, shamefully, sometimes even resorted to violence). But tit-for-tat won’t help us in the long run. The biblical perspective on sex – that all sexual intimacy outside heterosexual monogamy is contrary to the Creator’s good intentions – is not going anywhere; and nor are our gay neighbours. This realization alone demands that we work out together how to have a respectful, nuanced public conversation.
In particular, we have to ask whether holding a moral view is in itself hateful. Obviously, strong moral codes, whether religious or secular, can promote hateful speech and behaviour, but are the codes inherently hateful? Specifically, I want to ask David Marr: Do you not believe it is possible to profoundly disagree with someone’s lifestyle and sincerely care for them all the same? I am not offering a defence of Christian teaching on homosexuality (which may, of course, be wrong); I am simply affirming that believers ought to be able to hold their view thoughtfully and respectfully without being considered ‘bigots’ and ‘homophobes’.
But there is a third way, based on a different logic. We ought to be able to love even those with whom we profoundly disagree. It must be possible for Christians to question the moral status of sexual intimacy outside heterosexual monogamy while demonstrating respect and care for neighbours who are neither heterosexual nor monogamous. True open-mindedness is not merely accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint; it is the more difficult and noble commitment to honouring people whose viewpoints you reject.
I dispute that the “third group” as mentioned by Dr Dickson is “much larger” as he suggests. I also dispute that the “hate the sin but love the sinner” is anything other than homophobic bigotry. If you show “care and respect” towards your LBTIQG family and friends, but not unconditional love, then you’re not following the commandments of Jesus, that man you claim to be a follower of.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 (NIV)
If you want to have a “respectful, nuanced and public conversation” with the LBGTIQ community, then there are some things you need to do first. I’d first suggest a public apology, much like the ones the 100 Revs who march in Mardi Gras have given time and time again to the GLBTIQ community. I’d also suggest you LISTEN to the grievances the GLBTIQ community has with Christianity and actively ensure that the BLQTIG community feels heard. Then, before any public conversation takes place, you should go away to a quiet place and learn about Jewish and Christian theology (no, I don’t know what your doctorate is in, and nor do I care), and how that has changed as needs arose over the centuries – things like the outlawing of slavery, increase of status (to human no less) of non-white people, the equality of women, the lack of death penalty for disobeying parents, the creation of rape as a crime against the rapist (and not the victim), tattoos becoming socially acceptable, blaming Jews for the death of Jesus, the abolition of limbo, etc.
If Christianity can change all these things, that are in the bible, then it can change its views on BTQGLI too. Christianity is well known for picking and choosing which bits of the New and Old Testaments remain valid (women are allowed to speak in places of worship now – something that Paul suggested was a really bad idea), so why not shed the homophobia and accept that difference makes the world a far more interesting place to be in, and that what two (or more) people do in their bedroom is actually NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
Is holding a moral view hateful? That depends on the moral view. If that moral view suggests that a group should be marginalised, stigmatised, and treated negatively for an attribute they possess, then yes, that moral view is hateful. And what you are suggesting Dr Dickson is the continuation (with sanction) of a hateful moral view because you find the LBGTIQ community threatening to your world view.
Calling being gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or queer (not so much intersex in this statement) a “lifestyle” is INCREDIBLY INSULTING. A “lifestyle” is something you choose. You choose to eat X food, you choose to undertake Y activities, these are “lifestyle” choices. Being BGLTIQ are not “lifestyle” choices they are innate qualities. To reduce them to a choice is to deny lived experience of these people and science (something which some Christians are quite happy to deny anyway).
Let me state again if it isn’t already abundantly clear – to consider that someone who is GLBQIT is sinful in anyway is bigoted and homophobic. To judge someone else goes against what is taught by Jesus, the man you claim to follow:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5)
So stop it. Stop right now and never ever let me catch you doing it again. I agree that you can love someone you disagree with, even when you disagree with them strongly. I disagree with my parents about various things, but still love them, I disagree with friends, partners and others and can still love them. Disagreeing is completely different to TELLING SOMEONE THAT THEY ARE WRONG. Let me put that another way:
DISAGREEING WITH SOMEONE IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TO TELLING SOMEONE THAT THEY ARE ALL WRONG – THAT EVERY LAST BIT OF THEM IS INHERENTLY WRONG.
It is not possible for Christians to be involved in anyone’s sexual practices – that is rude, invasive, immoral and seriously how could you write that sentence and let it be published?
The final statement I copied and pasted into this post is so full of problems that I’m going to unpack it separately. On the surface it sounds reasonable, but when you begin to think about it, it’s all really wrong.
True open-mindedness is not merely accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint; it is the more difficult and noble commitment to honouring people whose viewpoints you reject.
First Dr Dickson attempts to define “open-mindedness” as “accepting as true and valid someone else’s viewpoint” (which is all good – but something he’s not subscribing to), but then also as “honouring people whose viewpoints you reject”. He also claims that this is a more difficult and noble commitment… something which I completely reject. It’s impossible and potentially dangerous. I reject the views of racist/homophobic/transphobic/biphobic/sexist/etc bigots and there is NO WAY that I am going to honour them for their views, in fact I’m going to condemn them for their views, for those views are harmful to people.
A true Christian, a Christian that follows the teaching of Jesus would love unconditionally, not judge others for any perceived or imagined transgressions, turn the other cheek if someone insults them, and lives in accordance with the commandments stated by Jesus. I can’t imagine that Jesus would, if he came back today, condemn any LGBQIT person – afterall, if you believe that we are all god’s creatures, then why would god create gay people except for them to be loved, to love, and seek happiness and fulfillment on earth?
And let’s consider another thing, as a Christian Dr Dickson, and everyone who is Christian and agrees with him, are an incredibly privileged group whining about how a less privileged group is pointing out that the privileged group has treated them badly. He deeply wants to hold onto the power imbalance that currently exists and is attempting to use his religious privilege to do so. “But my faith told me so” is not a defence. It’s time to let go and move with the times.
As I read today on Fat Heffalump: