On Sunday afternoon, Hemant posted a challenge to progressive Christians to retweet a comment saying that they don’t think that homosexuality is a sin and that they support gay marriage.
I have been open about my beliefs about whether or not I think homosexuality is sinful (I don’t) and whether or not I support marriage equality (I do). So posting a tweet stating something that I’ve written about in far more than 140 characters is not that big of a stretch.
I am by no means alone in my views. While we do not make up the majority of the Christian population, there are plenty of us who share these beliefs. We have talked to our LGBT friends, we have examined the relevant Bible verses, and we have reached the conclusion that love is indeed the highest law. For many of us, our faith has informed our decision to be affirming.
When I came out as affirming, I was prepared for those in my faith to disagree, sometimes vehemently. I knew that my standing as a Christian would be called out for being willing to question orthodoxy. Most of us who stand with any who have been disenfranchised by those who share our faith are ready for this to some degree. No doubt those accusations have caused many to avoid making bold declarations of their affirmation of gays and lesbians, but they are not unexpected.
However, there increasingly seems to be another area where the faith of progressive Christians is called into question and that is within the atheist community. I understand the questions that are a result of progressives saying one thing (I support LGBT people) and doing another (I oppose marriage equality). I think this kind of calling out is entirely reasonable and I add my voice to yours.
But this is not exclusively what I’m seeing. Instead, I regularly see atheists telling affirming Christians that they’re not really Christians. That in order to be Christian, one must adhere to the same beliefs that our more conservative evangelical friends hold. If we don’t believe that homosexuality is a grave sin and that marriage = one man + one woman, we’re not real Christians. The quality of my faith is judged not only by those within it, but also by those outside of it.
While I’m prepared for that from my fellow Christians, having that same judgment come from the outside can be disconcerting. And more than anything, it can keep allies in the closet. When you’re facing rejection from your own camp, that can be enough to keep people from choosing to support others, but when you see another group denigrate you for seeking to make right a past wrong, it can inadvertently create a scenario where people choose the path of least resistance and continue to support bigoted ideas because they see no other option. They are not willing to abandon Christianity, and if they are told that supporting equality goes “against the faith” from all sides, they may simply stay where they are.
I am not saying that this is an acceptable response. No amount of rejection should stop someone from doing what is right, and standing up for equality is right. However, I believe that in order to bring about change, we need to make it easier for people to be open about the evolution that their faith encounters.
If we want the question to “when will progressive Christians say it’s not a sin to be in a gay relationship” to be “soon,” then we need to make it easier for them to come out. I’ll do my part on the Christian side by continuing to be a voice for equality. I ask you to join me by not calling into question the veracity of the faith of those who are just trying to do the right thing.
Let’s not make this harder than it already is.