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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The church, gay marriage, whether or not people are bigoted, etc etc

Found this really interesting blog post: If you're selling scorn for conservative Christians, the market is hot

Summary: There's this trend lately where "progressive Christians" are stereotyping "conservative Christians" (this is referring specifically to gay marriage, by the way).  Basically, the message is "we're not like those bigoted, narrow-minded Christians- no, we stand with you."  (The author gives 2 examples: A billboard apologizing for "narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative actions", and a blog post "How to win a culture war and lose a generation".)  If some Christians want to send a message of support/acceptance to the LGBT community, they can just say "we support/accept you" without throwing half the body of Christ under the bus.  People who take a political stand against gay marriage have actual reasons for it- it's not because they're terrible bigoted people.  When Christians perpetuate that stereotype by caricaturing other Christians, that just makes things worse.

This article really made me think, and I don't know to what extent I agree with the author.  But here are my discussion questions:

So, there's this stereotype that Christians are anti-LGBT.  Or that Christians hate gay people.  Etc.  I want feedback especially from nonChristians and gay people here- how much does that actually affect how you view Christians/ how you act/ what you say around Christians?

And does it matter to you when Christians apologize for that and acknowledge that people often view the church that way?  Does it come across as a nice thing to do?  (Is there a way to say it without "perpetuating the stereotype" that other Christians are judgmental?)

And could you give advice about how Christians ideally should act- what should I do in order to truly be loving toward gay people?  (Or maybe this is a weird question- just be generally nice to everyone and don't be concerned with whether they're gay.)

Also, that stereotype has a basis in truth.  The church has generally not had a good response towards gay people.  So, Christians should acknowledge this, right?  Is it possible to say "yeah, the church has done wrong to the LGBT community" without saying "those actions which hurt you were narrow-minded and judgmental"?

Is it okay for some subset of Christians to apologize on behalf of other Christians?  Maybe we should only apologize for our own sins.  Eh, but at the same time, nonChristians may feel hurt by the church, and we need to acknowledge that it's legitimate to feel that way, and that we are sorry that it happened.  But is it weird to apologize on behalf of people who deny they did anything wrong?

Also, I think it's possible to believe that gay relationships are wrong, but still be loving and accepting of gay people.  (Agree or disagree with me on this?)  How does one do that?  How do you live such that people know you love them and you're a real friend, but they also know you think their choices are bad for them?

Okay I am interested to hear what my readers have to say.  Or if you have other discussion questions.  And I'm especially hoping to get feedback from gay people.  Okay thanks!

13 comments:

  1. I'm neither Christian nor gay. I'm something like a practicing agnostic. However, I have found that trying to prevent something from happening often leads to that very thing happening in spite of or because of the intervention. Instead you can just offer judgement free support. In the end God will be the judge not us. Right?

    About the whole apology thing, I think it makes little to no sense to apologize for an entire community and little to no meaning. You can only apologize for you own actions. But you can sympathize which is different.

    This topic has been in the media a lot and I spend some time thinking about it which is why I decided to drop in my two cents. I think at the end of the day hate of any kind is wrong and I believe the bible says some stuff about "judge not lest ye be judged". One does not have to agree with all lifestyle choices but support is always better than judgement and a shoulder to lean will always work better than an intervention. I think.

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  2. Stephanie:

    This is one of your best blog posts as you know that I took great offense in the last two weeks to being sterotyped as a bigot because I live in NC. First of all, let me say this: I do not agree with gay marriage because of my Christian beliefs. HOWEVER, I love anyone that I know that is LGBT as Jesus would love them. If a friend is in a same sex relationship, I do not judge them or try to change them. I accept them as they are. I do agree that some churches have not done a very good job in accepting the LGBT faithful, but that does not mean that other Christians have to apologize for those churches. Change takes time, and it will come. Now, to throw a curve into the discussion...while I do not believe in same sex marriages, I do not believe that the state or federal government should be in the business of defining what marriage is. While we marry for love and a host of other reasons, when you marry it is a legal contract, and any couple, hetrosexual or same sex, should be able to enter into a legal contract. I have not fully evolved this thought, so more to come on that. Lastly, proponents of same sex marriage need to stop their narrow attack on Christians and their beliefs. There are other religions that do not condone homosexuality and will kill gay people if they are found to be gay. When was the last time, anyone heard of a Christian killing someone because they are gay?

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    1. I think that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for commenting! ^_^

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  3. um... i'm not trying to start a debate but as to your last question there are multiple examples of chritians indirectly or directly killing people because they are gay. Just google it.

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    1. Are you talking about cases where high school/college kids are bullied because they're gay, and they end up committing suicide? Because yeah, that's terrible and that should never happen. And I guess one could make the case that some of the bullies are Christian (this freaks me out) or that an environment where these kinds of things happen can exist in our culture because of the influence of traditional Christian morals about sex... Wow, that's scary.

      Is that what you mean or did you have other examples in mind of "Christians indirectly or directly killing people because they are gay"?

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  4. @joethepirate..are American Christians killing gay people in the United States? I would hardly call the church in Kansas a Christian church since they advocate killing gay people in the US and other countries.

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  5. "there's this stereotype that Christians are anti-LGBT. Or that Christians hate gay people. Etc. I want feedback especially from nonChristians and gay people here- how much does that actually affect how you view Christians/ how you act/ what you say around Christians?"

    As someone who is non-Christian, but knows many Christians who are tolerant or supportive of gay people, I think the stereotype is, like all stereotypes, a generalization. That said, I think that the groups who oppose LGBT rights in America often do so under a Christian banner.

    "And does it matter to you when Christians apologize for that and acknowledge that people often view the church that way? Does it come across as a nice thing to do?"

    I think that it's good that there are groups of Christians who support and defend the rights of LGBT individuals. I don't think that Christians have the responsibility to apologize for the behaviour of other Christians, but they shouldn't condone it. I think that a gay person would have more of an insight here.
    "So, Christians should acknowledge this, right? Is it possible to say "yeah, the church has done wrong to the LGBT community" without saying "those actions which hurt you were narrow-minded and judgmental"?"

    I think that the actions that hurt the LGBT community are narrow-minded and judgemental. If you admit that the Church has done wrong, then I think you're also admitting the Church was narrow-minded and judgemental. If not that, then what is it that they have done wrong?

    "Is it okay for some subset of Christians to apologize on behalf of other Christians? Maybe we should only apologize for our own sins."

    I sort of addressed this above, but I'll take another shot at it. You are not responsible for every Christian. Some of them are judgemental, some of them are not. You share some of their beliefs, but obviously not all of them. If you don't share all of their beliefs, then do you really have the level of spiritual kinship to them that requires you apologize for their words and actions? Even if you do, does it mean anything? I don't know.

    "Also, I think it's possible to believe that gay relationships are wrong, but still be loving and accepting of gay people. (Agree or disagree with me on this?) How does one do that? How do you live such that people know you love them and you're a real friend, but they also know you think their choices are bad for them?"

    I think you can believe that gay relationships are wrong but still be loving and accepting of gay people. I also believe that gay relationships are not wrong, and I think that most gay people would find it hard to accept your love if you view their lifestyle as a vice. Imagine yourself in that situation. If someone views your personality and feelings as something wrong, could you really accept that they love you, knowing that they want you to stop being who you are?

    In response to the anonymous comment above:

    You make an interesting point on marriage as a government contract. I have thought for some time that people need to remember that marriage is (and has been) much more than a religious institution. If a religious body wants to define marriage differently than the government, that's their business, but the reality of the situation is that marriage is a legal institution.
    I think that the "narrow attack on Christians and their beliefs" is a response to the fact that Christians are the majority in this country. Christians control the government. Yes, there are other religions that oppose gay people doing horrible things in other parts of the world, but those religions aren't powerful in this country the way Christianity is.

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    1. Thanks, Ed, I think you answered all my "discussion questions." And your comment seems pretty well-thought-out and makes sense. ^_^

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  6. not to judge. do not suppose, do not oppose, let them do their things. just be nice love your neighbors

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  7. This is a very thought-provoking post, Stephanie! A lot of the things you bring up here are things I've thought about and/or talked with others about. Since I'm Christian, I'll mainly respond to the last question, since it seems like the others were mostly directed toward non-Christians.

    I absolutely believe it is possible to believe gay relationships are wrong but still love gay people--I've seen people do this. To love someone is really to desire the good of the beloved. If you believe that gay relationships are harmful, then it would actually be unloving to support that lifestyle. I'm not trying to say here that we should not support the people themselves; as Christians, we have an obligation to reach out to all people with compassion.

    I don't have any close friends who are gay (though I do know to some extent or another a lot of people who are), but one of my best friends does. She told me that once she becomes good friends with them, she simply tells them that she does not think their behavior is right, and that because she loves them dearly she can't support their choices, but that will not stop her from being friends with them.

    I hope this helps!

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    1. Yes, I agree- it is possible to love gay people and also believe gay relationships are wrong. I think it requires a lot of thought and understanding and listening (and openness to the idea that your preconceptions may be wrong)- because it's easy to judge people instead of treating them like people.

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  8. Once again, I am commenting on one of your posts MONTHS after you posted, but sometimes I just have to throw my two cents in!


    When I was in high school I was friends with a guy my own age. We met in grade nine (the first year of high school- not sure what you would call that...), and were friends for the duration. At the time, I was actively involved in many church activities and groups, and most of the school knew it (I'm from a small town).


    This poor guy, for years, was terrified to tell me he was gay. In fact, he tried to keep it from the whole school because he was afraid that I would find out, and would react hatefully. He finally told me in our final year of high school.


    The kicker here is that I KNEW. I figured HE didn't. I was his friend because I liked him. He was MY friend. I didn't agree with his choices, but I loved him. I loved him because he was my friend.


    We have fallen out of touch, but I now have many more friends who are gay. I have become disenchanted with the church (for many unrelated reasons), but I continue to believe much of what I was taught. This includes the views on gay marriage. Does this mean that I cannot have these people as my friends? Certainly not!


    Now I work on cruise ships, which have an enormous population of LGBT. Many of them are my friends, and all of them know how I feel. But it doesn't matter. They don't feel that I "preach at" them, and I am not uncomfortable in their presence.


    I saw a poster on a ship once. It was advertising a meeting of Christians. The poster itself was full of hateful slurs directed at the LGBTs onboard. It went on and on about how wrong it is, and how they're all going to hell. I was with a gay friend and he was heartbroken. I can't say I blame him.


    May God teach us to love people as he does.

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