Christian Non-Profit Leader Confesses to Being Homophobic February 4, 2011

Christian Non-Profit Leader Confesses to Being Homophobic

A few weeks ago, I posted an interview with Brad White, the founder of the Texas-based non-profit group “Changing the Face of Christianity.” Brad said a lot of cringe-inducing things about gay marriage and you all let him have it. I did, too.

He was pretty upset with the response because he really did believe he was doing something positive and different in the name of Christianity — and in some ways, he is — but we were all focused on how his thinking on GLBT issues was really no different from so many of the other Christians we know.

Anyway, one of his group’s new projects urges Christians to confess their own faults. In the process, Brad admits to one of his own:

My Confession is I’ve allowed my religious convictions to make me numb to the human rights of gays and lesbians. I haven’t consciously fought AGAINST gay marriage, but I’ve allowed outspoken Christian political activists to limit the human rights of LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) and let them speak FOR me through my silence. The Gay community deserves love, not discrimination. And for my part in that, I’m incredibly sorry.” So Brad’s note said “My confession is I’ve been a homophobic Christian. The gay community deserves love, not discrimination.”

I don’t think he’s at the point where he supports gay marriage (regardless of whether the Christian church approves of it), but I think he deserves a lot of credit for acknowledging this. Most Christians don’t even know what they’re doing is wrong; certainly, they wouldn’t admit to being homophobic. Maybe Brad will be on the right side of the issue in time.

His confession is already drawing criticism from some Christians — so he must be doing something right, yes?:

The group’s leader, R. Brad White, shares that his confession is homophobia, which by his definition includes the orthodox Christian understanding of marriage and homosexuality. In other words, his confession is a sideswipe at Christian dogma itself…

What’s more, it’s not even a confession, at least not as I understand it. Having held, presumably, to the dogma of the Church, White at some point in the past publicly repudiated it, and threw in with a group dedicated to representing the Christian understanding of marriage and homosexuality as wicked.

In other words, White’s confession is really about someone else’s “sin.” And this “sin” is in fact an historically grounded understanding of Christian dogma that remained undisputed until Bishop Spong and the dilettantes of the Jesus Seminar emerged to make 2 + 2 = 5 in the eyes of a reconstructed God.

Brad’s not backing down, and good for him for not doing that. When you have Christian fundamentalists and atheist realists at your throat, it’s hard to take it from both sides. During my email conversations with him, he’s been nothing but open about his intentions and his desire to learn from us. He’s slowly taking steps in the right direction.

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  • gribblethemunchkin

    Its good to see Brad learning from his experiences rather than just sticking to dogma. s you say, not fully there yet, but clearly well on the way.

    To be honest i can’t help but think that once he has been ostracised by other christian leaders, the groupthink and peer pressure will be gone and Brad will be free to really evaluate his beliefs on LGBT issues based on something other than his faith. Since he clearly isn’t a bigot, this can only be a good thing.

    Nice going Brad.

  • Tony

    I think it’s OK to be against gay marriage as long as you include the post-script “…but ultimately it’s none of my business” essentially rendering the position neutral.

    Personally I’m all for it. I am however against people dressing up as animals and having orgies.

    But ultimately it’s none of my business….

  • ash

    @Tony; it’s a far cry from saying ‘Gay marriage is not for me’, or ‘I don’t biblically approve of gay marriage’ to being ‘against’ it. Against suggests that you would do something to prevent it if you could.

    Semantics maybe, but I would like to hope Brad and others who disapprove at least get to the stage of abstaining from political votes and public defamation even if they can’t be ‘loving’ enough to offer people who will not hurt them in any way their full support.

  • Claudia

    I haven’t consciously fought AGAINST gay marriage, but I’ve allowed outspoken Christian political activists to limit the human rights of LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) and let them speak FOR me through my silence. The Gay community deserves love, not discrimination. And for my part in that, I’m incredibly sorry.”

    That’s a great statement, and I commend him for it. I believe he feels sincerely bad about it.

    But.

    A confession is only worthy if it is followed by a change in behavior. “I confess to being homophobic” is praise-worthy, if it is followed by an effort to not be homophobic. He says he has sat in silence while others worked to restrict the rights of GLBT people. He now has to change that behavior. He can no longer let others speak for him because of his silence. He has to speak up and say that Christians ought not to be expending energy persecuting GLBT people. That doesn’t mean he has to support marriage equality, but it does mean he has to say out loud to those who do “No, this is not the loving thing to do. Leave them alone. Let’s expend energy helping the poor and healing the sick”.

    Otherwise he hasn’t confessed, he’s just testified to what he’s doing.

  • thebigj_a

    That’s a great first step and I commend him for it. I wonder, though, if he has thought it through all the way.

    The Bible is excruciatingly clear. Homosexuals are evil sinners. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

    You can’t really be a Christian and support the human rights of GLBT community. It’s part of the reason I began to question my Catholicism, and grew into the atheist I am today. Sure, there are people who think they are Christians who fall on the right side of the debate, but they aren’t really worshiping Yahweh. They are (like many people) worshiping a different god. One they made up in their heads that they feel comfortable with.

    I hope he will follow the trail all the way to its inevitable conclusion. The bible is false, and full of hate. The god of that bible is not worth praying to, even if he does exist. (He doesn’t.)

  • ACN

    The god of that bible is not worth praying to, even if he does exist. (He doesn’t.)

    SPOILER!

    Snape kills dumbledore with rosebud and bruce willis is dead. 🙂

  • mkb

    thebigj_a,

    I know many committed Christians who support the rights of the LGBTQ community, some Catholic, many Episcopalian (go Spong) and some in other denominations. The difference between them and you or me is that they believe a god exists, not that they have different views on gay rights.

  • Mr Z

    @Tony, you’re right. What people do behind their bedroom doors is none of anyone’s business. The problem is that this is not about bedroom antics. It’s about basic human rights and upholding the constitution’s intent to treat everyone equally under the law. Re-read that last sentence. EQUAL, not equal as long as I don’t have to look at or think about it. It’s not a matter of what you want or have to look at generally, it IS a point of law that we ALL be treated equally. If you wish to make sexual acts illegal you must give people the right to burst into your bedroom to ‘investigate’ whether you have or are breaking the law. Think about it. Being against GLBT marriage is like being against mixed race marriage or like being against marriage for illegals. You cannot discriminate. period. Yes, that necessarily means we have many laws on the books which are wrong and need to be repealed. If I was common law married to my spouse I would have more rights regarding my spouse than we currently allow GLBT citizens. The laws are not giving all citizens the same rights and are not treating them equal. This is wrong. I don’t give a damn how many gods say they are sinners, no god wrote the laws of my country. No god will. Only men write laws and if they treat others with inequality then they are wrong. It should not be difficult to see the disgusting way in which those who claim a high moral ground are two-faced bigoted idiots. They believe that their god only blesses ‘some’ of his creations. The rest are fucked and left for dead.

    It would be easy to turn a blind eye with the attitude that ‘it’s none of my business’ but the problem is that equality under the law IS YOUR BUSINESS, and the business of every conscious, breathing citizen. We all owe it to our own dignity to stop inequality when we see it. Anyone reading this blog or other such sources now has no excuse: There is inequality and it must be put right. To vote against any measure that restores equality is a crime against your fellow citizens. To remain a member of a group which fights against measures that restore equality is a crime against your fellow citizens.

    It would not be fair if the Nazis were not mentioned but really, how different is the ill treatment of some citizens in the USA different from how the Jews were initially treated by the Nazis? Yeah, we might not go as far as they did, but the dehumanizing effects of this inequality remain the same.

  • Arachobia

    This is refreshing. It may be a first step, but it is a difficult admission to make and it is certainly good to see that Brad has seriously considered that his position may not be correct, as opposed to viler people like Brother Jed who view any contradiction, even by other Christians, as wrong, wrong, wrong, much the same as the critics Brad has drawn from his statements who show, unsurprisingly, a complete inability to respect a differing interpretation of dogma from their own.

  • Tony

    @Tony; it’s a far cry from saying ‘Gay marriage is not for me’, or ‘I don’t biblically approve of gay marriage’ to being ‘against’ it. Against suggests that you would do something to prevent it if you could.

    As you said it is semantics… I am using the term “against” to denote more of a personal moral opposition to an issue rather than an active campaign against something. I am qualifying this by my post-script of “but it’s none of my business”.

    @Tony, you’re right. What people do behind their bedroom doors is none of anyone’s business. The problem is that this is not about bedroom antics.

    I never said this was about bedroom antics. I dislike (to use a frivolous example) the Twilight series, “Chicken Soup for the… soul” and the Catcher in the Rye… but if people like those things it’s none of my business.

    I may be flippant but it’s the same thing – you may find the idea of gay marriage to be appalling. Don’t have one then! But don’t then try and spoil it for anyone that does want it.

    I think that most people on the friendly atheist side of things don’t necessarily have a problem with religious hoodoo and carrying on… as long as those hoodoo practitioners don’t try and impose it on everyone else. In other words it’s none of our business, live and let live.

  • ash

    @Tony, I was fairly sure I got you the first time round, just wanted to clarify both your position and (in case he’s reading) make a point to Brad. Job done (with your help, thanks) hopefully.

  • M.

    Brad,

    This is very cool. It takes a great deal of honesty to admit your flaws and a great deal of courage to stand up to your peers.

    I don’t know if this means much, but I respect you for taking our criticisms to heart and introspecting instead of dismissing them out of hand. Far too often I see people like Woodlief who rationalize their behavior instead of taking stock in themselves.

    This is kind of an aside, but I laugh at the people who try and dissect the word, “homophobia,” instead of accepting what it really means.

  • Drew M.

    Oops. The comment by “M.” above is me. I didn’t realize that I accidentally deleted the “Drew.”

    ETA: Now I don’t see it anymore. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. I’ll give it several minutes and repost if I don’t see it.

  • IMO, internally for Christianity, there is a battle between those that “conveniently” view the bible as the word of God to give cover to their own bigoted views and those Christians that view the bible as merely being written by believers who were themselves somewhat bigoted. Unfortunately, the minority groups of which discriminatory things were written fall victim here. I view it as a positive step that Brad may be aligning more with the 2nd group of Christians. Hopefully the influence of the 1st group of Christians will start to diminish once it becomes better accepted that it is OK to view the bible as merely being written by religious people who were somewhat bigoted themselves.

    If there is a God who believes these things (gay bad, atheist fool, both damned), He could easily communicate it in more direct ways like rearranging the stars in the night sky to literally spell it out for us. He could even rearrange the stars differently each night to spell it out in all the various languages that humans use. Something like that would get my attention and would be hard to explain away.

    Of course if something like that did happen, one could conclude that power does not make right and while acknowledging that there is a more powerful being, not acknowledging that the more powerful being is morally right.

    In absence of the stars rearranging (or something like that), there is a very easy explanation for the homophobic writings in the bible. The people who wrote those passages where homophobic and those thoughts came from those people alone. It is possible to believe in that and still believe in God if you want. The important thing is to treat everybody fairly and not to discriminate.

  • Yay for “Bishop Spong and the dilettantes of the Jesus Seminar”! After reading the words of both parties, I realized that Christianity didn’t have to be the steaming pile of hatred and oppressive bile that so many members of the religious right insist upon.

    Spong and the Jesus Seminar actually draw forth a form of Christianity that is caring and humane… a far cry from the barbarity that hails from fundamentalist and conservative quarters.

  • Villa

    His confession feels like a cynical ploy. The church has lost the gay marriage fight. It’s only a matter of time until demographics shift, and the church’s position becomes a harmful embarrassment.

    So, we see, “I’m sorry I was on the wrong side of that credibility-destroying political fight.”

    If his confession were something like, “I’m sorry that my homophobia perverted my teaching of Christianity,” then it might mean something.

    But, it’s not. He still sounds as anti-gay as he was before. He’s just dressing it up a bit, and hiding it behind some double speak.

  • This is akin to saying, “I’m sorry I’ve caused you so much trouble… but I’m gonna continue to do so!” Insincere and complete bullshit.

  • thebigj_a said:

    You can’t really be a Christian and support the human rights of GLBT community.

    *sigh* OK, I’m not a Christian and I don’t believe in a god, BUT, these folks might disagree with you. On that website you will find a directory of thousands of churches that don’t take issue with homosexuality. I’ve known more than a few Christians who think the more barbaric passages of the bible are complete hooey.

    Yes, the bible is a pretty messed up assortment of stories, but nevertheless, plenty of folks choose to stay in the religion, warts and all. I’d rather not give LGBT supportive religious people the ultimatum of “believe in all the hateful aspects of this text, or become a non-believer.” I’d rather encourage people to learn to accept that their religious text contains the limitations of a 2000+ year old culture and move on from there. Quite a few believers are on board with that realization already.

  • I do feel kind of cynical about whether he’ll actually change, but I’ll continue to hope that he does. Every little bit helps.

    And to be honest, I can’t help but think “divide and conquer” when religious groups turn on their own…

  • Fact of the matter is that a christian’s beliefs don’t matter until they try to apply them to other people. And that’s like 95% of the problem with christians right there, they continually try to force other people into behaving in the way that they think people should behave.

    You don’t have to like gay marriage. You don’t have to agree with it. You just have to not actively attempt to stop it. The way I see it is that I’m not gay and I’m not getting married. So what business is it of mine what other people do?

    Christians would be well served to figure out that we don’t like them not because of their beliefs, but because of their actions. Stop butting into other people’s affairs and we’d all get along just fine.

    I agree with him in that fundamentalists who are actively fighting against things give all christians a bad name. They do need to police themselves and to stand up and say that they don’t agree with these sorts of bigots.

  • bernerbits

    The Bible is excruciatingly clear… Marriage is between a man and a woman.

    Or a man and several women. Some of the “godliest” men of the old testament were prolific polygamists.

    You can’t really be a Christian and support the human rights of GLBT community. It’s part of the reason I began to question my Catholicism, and grew into the atheist I am today.

    Eh, I hear this argument all the time and I don’t buy it. Christians themselves do enough internal bickering over who is and isn’t a Christian. It’s not our place to say who is or isn’t.

    I’m happy to hear Brad took our reactions to heart and is really trying. Most people would just dig their heels in.

  • Drew M.

    Yep, dingos took my comment…

    Brad,

    I think you are sincere in your confession and I commend you for it. It takes a lot of honesty to introspect when confronted with criticism and it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your peers.

    I’m amazed at how other Christians reacted to your confession. I wish you luck in persevering against their attacks.

  • Grimalkin

    Well, I’m impressed. When I read Brad’s Q&A in the last post, I rolled my eyes. It was just the empty rhetoric of every Christian who also wants friends.

    But this is actually a meaningful statement. Follow it up with action and you’ve won me over, Brad.

  • BrettH

    People who responded to thebigj_a: I’m a former Baptist, and I’m familiar with the parts of the Bible thebigj_a was talking about. While their are plenty of Christians who don’t believe homosexuality, it does require believing that the Bible is actually wrong on the issue. For a lot of things (like 6-day creationism) believers will say that the whole bible is inspired by God, but isn’t all literal. Some of it could be considered God-spoken (therefor true) metaphor. For the gay thing, that isn’t possible. You would have to believe that either the Bible isn’t the inerrant word of God, or that God made a mistake. In evangelical fundamentalist circles, that’s something they’d refer to as “not being Christian”. That is probably what thebigj_a was talking about.

  • Kevin S.

    Actually, the Bible isn’t clear at all on homosexuality. The only people who read it as such are the fundies looking for a justification for their bigotry and non-theists looking to make the Judeo-Christian tradition look as bad as possible. The rest of us see them as incredibly vague passages that can be read in different ways and require cultural context to understand the authors’ intent.

  • bernerbits

    In evangelical fundamentalist circles, that’s something they’d refer to as “not being Christian”.

    I understand what he was saying, but I just think it’s a little silly to say that one fragment of the whole has license to decide who’s in and out, or arbitrarily choose a fragment of the whole to be the “real” one.

  • Drew M.

    timberwraith said:

    *sigh* OK, I’m not a Christian and I don’t believe in a god, BUT, these folks might disagree with you. On that website you will find a directory of thousands of churches that don’t take issue with homosexuality. I’ve known more than a few Christians who think the more barbaric passages of the bible are complete hooey.

    As would these folks: http://www.dignityusa.org/

    Personally, I don’t see a problem with cherrypicking from the bible. I understand Christians condemning the practice, however, I am a bit confused why some atheists do the same thing.

  • Drew M.

    @BrettH

    For the gay thing, that isn’t possible. You would have to believe that either the Bible isn’t the inerrant word of God, or that God made a mistake.

    Or you can believe that it really isn’t that big of a deal. I like Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s take on it:

    Why the obsession? People of faith insist that homosexuality is the sin because the bible calls it an abomination. Little do these ignoramuses realize that the word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating non-kosher food is an abomination (Deut.14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an abomination (Deut. 24:4). And bringing a blemished sacrifice on G-d’s altar is an abomination (Deut. 17:1.). Proverbs goes so far as to label things like envy, lying, and gossip as that which ‘the Lord hates and are an abomination to Him’ (3:32, 16:22).

  • BrettH

    Drew M: I happen to agree with you (and the Rabbi) on that one, I don’t think evangelical Christians come anywhere near living up to their own standards of what it means to be “christian”. To stay true to the standard they seemed to set at my old church they would need to follow kosher food rules (or adopt a position that only Jews are firmly told by God not to be gay). I just think moderate or liberal Christians fall even more short of their particular view of Christianity. Not that I particularly care who follows the rules better since I don’t think following the rules is anything to be admired, but I don’t blame people who take the Bible seriously saying the Bible tells them homosexuality is wrong as long as they listen to the parts that say “love your neighbor as yourself” and “judge not lest ye be judged” too.

  • bernerbits

    BrettH,

    I just think moderate or liberal Christians fall even more short of their particular view of Christianity.

    OK, you’ve made me curious. How do you figure liberals and moderates fall short of liberal/moderate Christianity?

  • Remus

    Very insightful of Brad, to few realize what it is they’re doing.

  • Vas

    And on the comments of the site linked to above Brad White says…

    I’ll also re-affirm a position I’ve had to repeat often…homosexuality IS a sin. I agree with the Bible 100%.

    Homosexuals live in sin

    I agree with the Bible that homosexuality is immoral. I also affirm God’s truth that God ordained marriage is for one man and one women. Some “progressive” churches attempt to twist the Bible to sanction homosexuality or to say it’s not talking about what WE call homosexuality. That progressive argument is not defensible in my opinion. It’s a load of BS.

    Looking pretty bad for Brad… but then at the last moment he says…

    Although I agree with the Biblical definition of marriage as one man and one women, and I agree with this definition being consistent with God’s character and essence, and I agree that “God ordained” marriage is one man and one women…I look at the USA government (e.g. Political, state, legal system) sanctioned discrimination against homosexual marriage as a different issue. Although the Bible and I agree that homosexuality is immoral, I see no biblical basis for using our political majority and power to unnecessarily discriminate against or oppress homosexuals in the area of government/state sanctioned marriages

    Things are looking up for Brad!
    But then the responses start rolling in. Off with his head! Really this thread is a good read, you should click over if you have the time, (after reading everything on this site first naturally).

  • Steve

    @Kevin S.

    The rest of us see them as incredibly vague passages that can be read in different ways and require cultural context to understand the authors’ intent.

    The same cultural context that allows them all the atrocities, evil and outdated stuff in the bible. Somehow it all means something different than what it looks like.

    But of course homosexuality is different and those passages don’t require any interpretation.

  • Tony

    For the biblical definition of marriage check out this video by Betty Bowers, America’s BEST christian:

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

  • Drew M.

    @Vas

    I skimmed through those comments, reading only the full thing when a specific one piqued my interest. I remember reading a post by CHRISTIAN_FACE and thought, “This guy is completely reasonable.”

    It’s Brad.

  • cat

    “I think gay people are immoral but won’t pass laws against them” is a better position than “I think gay people are immoral and will pass laws against them”, just like “I think interracial marriages are immoral but won’t pass laws against them” is a better position than “I think interracial marriages are immoral and will pass laws against them”. However, all are still bigoted positions. All are still positions that hold certain people to be wicked, immoral, and inferior. Bible based bigotry may be ameliorated by seperating it from the state, but that in no way makes it loving or accepting.

  • I never thought I’d feel sympathy for Brad White, but World magazine somehow did it! World magazine thinks Brad is just taking a swipe at Christian dogma. Like I care about that.

    @cat
    Yes! Exactly. Supporting gay marriage legally may be a step up, but there is still a long ways to go. It’s like women’s suffrage. It was an important step, but feminism did not end there because there was/is still a lot of de facto discrimination.

  • Silent Service

    A good first step. Thank you Brad for keeping an open mind.

  • This is excellent news, but it doesn’t surprise me. Back when Brad was first interviewed by Hemant, I emailed Brad and began a conversation with him. My initial thoughts about Brad were quickly changed when I realized he was GENUINELY trying to take a look at himself. I have been where Brad is in his theology. I have been homophobic because “i was supposed to be.” But I realized I was wrong too. Ultimately, I realized a lot of other things that were wrong, and I lost my religion, which is the best thing that happened to me. I’m not suggesting that Brad will eventually walk away from his faith, and I won’t be a bit disappointed if he remains faithful. The important thing is, no matter what his faith, that he doesn’t allow dogma to interfere with his individuality or with him being a good person. That’s all that really matters. That’s all we really want people to recognize in us too. Personally, I love that there are some Christians out there who are really good people. It’s an excellent example for the majority of our country that is religious.

    What Brad is doing is very important, I believe. I think he believes it is too, but for different reasons. Either way, we need to support him. On his site, regarding homophobia:

    “One of the things we would ask in this subject area is your patience with our ministry.”

    He wasn’t just posturing.

  • Cheers to brad for taking a real objective look at his own behavior and thinking, thats skepticism incarnate right there.

    Here’s to all of our continued self scrutiny and the scrutiny of others and their ideas.

  • Oli

    I think he was incredibly brave to come out and admit this. I am even more proud to see the tone in which he did it. I have spoken to so many Christians (and other religious folk) that are proud of their homophobia, in the same way so many people are proud of their racism.

    The problem is that according to the bible, homosexuality is wrong. Plain and simple, the book says that it is a sin. According to the Old Testament, it should lead to death. While this is no longer the conviction of most non-fundies, the position is still the same. Gays = sinning.

    Because of this, I don’t think someone who is a “true” Christian can support homosexuality, nor be a homosexual themselves. They are sinning, continually and without changing the behavior. Or so, that is what seems to be the case, and what I was told before I gave up on the concept of “god” when I was a teen.

    That doesn’t mean that you can’t believe in God and still support homosexual rights. But you can’t follow the bible, which is what makes the issue of a “changed” form of Christianity a stick situation. Being more tolerant is about as far as they can get.

  • Oli says:

    The problem is that according to the bible, homosexuality is wrong. Plain and simple, the book says that it is a sin…

    Because of this, I don’t think someone who is a “true” Christian can support homosexuality, nor be a homosexual themselves.

    The bible is also clear that women should live in submission to men and yet, plenty of Christians live outside of those biblical expectations, all across the spectrum of conservative, moderate, and liberal. Are they being truly Christian?

    What people choose to ignore or pay attention to in the bible is guided by the common cultural assumptions of the period of history they live in. This isn’t a new development. If this process were not part of the social dynamics surrounding religion and cultural mores, we’d still be enslaving others, treating women as men’s property, killing or physically abusing disobedient children, and killing anyone who identifies as a witch (Wiccans, for instance). That’s just the short list of biblical atrocities that many modern day Christians choose to ignore.

    Thank goodness that the de facto practices of religion follow a path that differs from the religious interpretations of biblical literalists and some atheists. In a majority Christian society, life would be terrible for much of the populace if this process of social change did not exist.

    Look, I live in a country where 76% of the populace identifies as Christian (the US). I think it’s an incredibly bad strategy to insist that true Christians should be homophobes. Asking three out of four people to embrace prejudice in order to be faithful to their spiritual practices is not a well thought out plan. As a person who is bisexual, I kindly ask you to back off this line of reasoning. You are not being helpful.

  • Oli

    @timberwraith

    As a person who is bisexual, I kindly ask you to back off this line of reasoning. You are not being helpful.

    I am an identifying Bisexual who has been in a number of both straight and gay relationships. If you read my comment again, I reference the fact that I lived under this reasoning myself for a long time.

    I am not agreeing with it, I am pointing out the problem with organized religions, especially Christianity, with the concept of accepting homosexuality. They tend to pick and choose what they follow while one third of the country (US) believes the bible is literal. See the issue?

    Getting defensive with other GLBT atheists who agree with you isn’t helping. My comment was pretty much just a matter of fact.

  • BrettH

    bernerbits: I meant that I think that fundamentalist Christians fall short of their own professed beliefs, and moderate/liberal Christians fall even more short of the fundamentalist’s professed beliefs. This can be why some christians question whether other christians are “real christians”.

  • Sean Santos

    I’m glad that Brad has considered his position more deeply. I do appreciate the push for Christians to be more understanding towards gay people.

    But. (Sorry, I couldn’t quite let it go without a “but”.)

    I hope that the people involved in this effort don’t think that once they advocate being nice to us in general, or support gay marriage, that’s all that there is to consider on the subject, that it’s somehow completely “done”. I’m not actually talking about reconsidering the Bible or becoming an atheist or even about the “sin” thing that I like to harp on.

    People tend to frame this in terms of politics a lot. The idea is that we have these democratic liberal values (in the broad sense of “liberal”), such as equality and justice and freedom and human rights, as opposed to prejudice and discrimination and hate and crime and all that icky stuff. And that’s fine for talking about public policy. In fact, that’s exactly where the conversation should be, since a truly free society does not involve using the government to beat your neighbor over the head with one’s personal beliefs, and no one should have to wait for an equal place in society, on the whims or biases or convenience of the majority.

    But I don’t think that’s enough for personal understanding, nor to fix the rifts between and within people in this society. Because really, it’s not quite just about “religious disapproval of gay sex” vs. “people’s right to have gay sex”. Or “religious monopoly on the definition of marriage” vs. “separation of church and state”. For one, the right to have sex is obviously not the right to marry. If that’s all gay people wanted, they wouldn’t bother trying to get married, and that part of the conflict wouldn’t be an issue. Nor is it about gay people trying to “re-invent” marriage just because they feel left out and want to crash the party.

    What I would really like to see is for straight people to realize that gay people want to get married for basically the same reasons that they do (yes, even some of the spiritual ones that I personally don’t buy into, as well as to provide a better environment for one’s children). You can’t force people to be empathetic, or to recognize you as just a normal human being. But it would be nice to see people looking at their spouses, and realizing “this is how gay couples feel”. To think about their marriages and weddings, and think, “this is what gay people want, and what they have together when it’s legal to do so”. To think about their relationships with their parents, and think, “this is how the children of gay couples feel about their own parents”. I appreciate people who lend their support, but I don’t think that they really understand where gay people are coming from until they take this step, or until they are confronted with gay couples (in person, or sometimes even through biography or fiction) that give them that insight. To try to persuade someone who doesn’t want to do that, not even a little, feels like trying to get a promotion from a boss who just doesn’t like you very much. It’s tiresome, stressful, and harsh on one’s personal sense of dignity.

    It’s infinitely easier to talk to Christians who they understand these points. That being gay is not just about sex or legal rights, but also about that special romantic relationship which is so inextricably bound up with an element of eros. That it also has to do with raising one’s children in a stable household (not just adopted or surrogates, but often ones that a person is already responsible for, due to a previous failed attempt at living a heterosexual life). It’s important to recognize that, when someone rails against “practicing” homosexuality, their message is not just going to the promiscuous single men that are so often the stereotype. It also implicitly includes two people who are in love, who have been together for decades, who are raising children, and who are as happy as anyone else. People who are closer to the traditional nuclear family than a large proportion of straight folks.

    That’s why I was amazed by the recent testimony of Zack Wahls. That’s the real meaning of same-sex marriage.

  • Oli said:

    Getting defensive with other GLBT atheists who agree with you isn’t helping. My comment was pretty much just a matter of fact.

    Oh, I’m more than happy to get defensive with other LGBT atheists if I don’t agree with what they’ve said. I’ve no problem with that at all.

    If you can’t see the pitfalls surrounding the act of telling 76% of the populace to consider homophobia as the true path of legitimacy in following their religion, I’m really not sure what to say to you. The third of the country who embrace a literal interpretation of the bible are already advocating for this path. They currently dismiss LGBT accepting Christians as false Christians who advocate blasphemy and moral corruption. Do you want to add to their voice? I’m sure that contingent would love to see atheists tell Christians that they aren’t true believers unless they embrace prejudice against one of fundamentalism’s current favorite targets.

  • Secular Stu

    Vas pointed out:

    Looking pretty bad for Brad… but then at the last moment he says…

    Although I agree with the Biblical definition of marriage as one man and one women, and I agree with this definition being consistent with God’s character and essence, and I agree that “God ordained” marriage is one man and one women…I look at the USA government (e.g. Political, state, legal system) sanctioned discrimination against homosexual marriage as a different issue. Although the Bible and I agree that homosexuality is immoral, I see no biblical basis for using our political majority and power to unnecessarily discriminate against or oppress homosexuals in the area of government/state sanctioned marriages

    His position seems untenable. When the government doesn’t allow gay marriage it “unnecessarily discriminate(s) against or oppress(es) homosexuals”, but when God does it? That’s ok?

  • Sean Santos

    His position seems untenable. When the government doesn’t allow gay marriage it “unnecessarily discriminate(s) against or oppress(es) homosexuals”, but when God does it? That’s ok?

    I think his position is related to the idea that God gets to judge, but human beings don’t. It’s like “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” In practical terms, it’s a non-judgmental and tolerant stance. However, the theological underpinning still says that all sinners (i.e. everyone but Jebus) deserves to go to hell forever. So it’s not about not being discriminatory, intolerant, oppressive, or judgmental, so much as reserving that privilege for the Prosecutor in the Sky.