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A Response to Gay Rights and the Charge of IntoleranceMay, 10th, 2008
(edited June 1, 2012) and (edited August 11, 2012)
This page has become something of a "catch-all" page. While I apologize for this, to some degree it is called for: the "gay rights" issue has become a front page item that is not going to go away. The latest uproar was with the Chick-Fil-A incident and "The New Normal" TV show coming this Fall. The TV show only illustrates my point.
I have been asked to write a scholarly paper on how early Christianity viewed homosexuality. More precisely, what did the early church fathers have to say on this subject. I have not completed the research, but have been interacting with the ideas already, thus I would like to comment on something posted (I think) by Mark Poole.
While it is certainly true that sectors of Christianity tend to place far too much focus on secondary issues, there is a reason that the right wing focuses on the three issues Mr. Poole mentions.
1. Abortion - the focused attention on this issue started AFTER the 1972 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision. From that point our government began to use tax dollars to pay for abortions, which continues to this day. If this were not the case, OR if there were only 1,000 abortions per year in the US (instead of around 1,000,000) I do not think Christians would be making this a "hot-button."
2. Homosexuality - although homosexuality has always been something the Church has condemned, it did not become a "hot-button" until proponents started shoving the issue in the face of the public. I do not remember the subject ever coming up in public when I was a teenage Christian until it became clear that the piano player at our church was a professed homosexual. Once the gay community started trying to get grade schools to use "Heather Has Two Mommies" it became a problem. Now we are confronted with a steady drumbeat that we are homophobic, hateful and denying civil rights if we do not allow homosexuals to have the same marriage rights as heterosexuals.
3. Evolution - I was taught evolution in junior high and high school. At that time I had not become a Christian, thus did not know this was a "hot-button." But we now have some good scientists who have developed good materials to present Creation Science as an optional theory. Do they get the same opportunity as the evolution establishment to present their views? No. If you have not seen Ben Stein’s movie "Expelled" you should watch it. For those who refuse to watch it because they think it represents propaganda - please tell me you did NOT watch Al Gore on global warming or Michael Moore on the Iraq War. Ben Stein does a good of exposing the closed mindedness of our academic institutions. The academy is supposed to be a place where debate and discussion are welcomed - the US academy has become a protected liberal haven. The crazy evidence in the global warming debate has also exposed this bias.
What is a "Hot-Button" Issue?
It is true that Christianity has not always reacted well to social issues. Christians do not always react well on an individual basis. I certainly fail consistently. But I have not heard of a single incident of Christians breaking into a Metropolitan (Gay) Church service to disrupt their proceedings like the gay activists have done (see, http://www.veritasrex.com/veritas_rex/2008/11/idea-4-2.html). If gays were to be openly attacked I have no doubt that pastors around the country would condemn that action - just like they did when abortion clinics were bombed in the 70’s and 80’s.
In the 70’s the homosexual community protested against homophobic violence. In the 80’s they protested against discrimination in the work place. In the 90’s they pushed to get a prominent presence in movies and on TV sitcoms. Then they pushed for equal rights to adopt children, bear children through artificial insemination, and to have visitation rights in the hospital (I agree with this one 100%). Now they want equal rights with respect to marriage. The homosexual community has moved from wanting to be free of violence (certainly a right), to being accepted as a viable alternative lifestyle, and now they want to be seen as "normal." In fact the title of this book is what they are looking for, "Beyond Acceptance" By Carolyn W. Griffin, Marian J. Wirth, Arthur G.Wirth. The sympathizer out there would ask, "Why is that so bad, to be seen as normal?"
The more scholarly studies I have seen in the past have maintained that between 4-7% of the general population see themselves as "exclusively" homosexual. The gay community wants to place the figure closer to 10%. Even 10% reveals that this lifestyle is NOT "normal." I have heard gay advocates respond to this by saying, "but the number of openly gay, and even bisexual people is growing." This is exactly what concerns the Christian community. IF a person is born with this sexual outlook, then why would the numbers be growing? It seems that the numbers should stay fairly consistent.
My educated guess is that the percentage of people who describe themselves as "exclusively" homosexual remains around the same. The number of people who would describe themselves as "bisexual," or have had a positive same-sex encounter has undoubtedly increased in the last 10-12 years, especially among women. Why?
Over the past 20 years we have had images of homo/bi sexuality shoved in our faces - The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Queer as Folk, Will and Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Brokeback Mountain, Madonna and Britney kissing...I see women passionately kissing each other almost every week in various advertisements for other shows.
NBC's Cast from "The New Normal"
Again, the new NBC TV show scheduled for the Fall of 2012 illustrates my main point. Just the title of the show, "The New Normal." What does "normal" mean anymore? The alternative lifestyle community calls anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle "bigots," yet they have the audacity to refer to a married gay couple as "normal." This community will not be content until they are seen as "normal:"
We donít want crumbs from the masterís table, we want the whole cake....Sometimes we gays are so happy we got this far, we donít want to rock the boat. People are telling us that we should be happy sitting halfway up the bus....I want to sit at the front of the bus and if I feel like it I want to drive the bus. ~ From www.pinknews.co.ukBut others wonder why more conservative people are not ready to open wide the doors for gay marriage? Ryan Murphy, the creator of the TV show makes it clear that he writes his material to change the views of society. He is gay and he wants everybody to know he is gay, to applaud his gayness, and to let him have the "whole cake," and to "drive the bus" if he feels like it. [reference]
I remember when the Gay and Lesbian Alliance started promoting their agenda at the University of Alabama. I was serving as a university pastor at the time and the GLA wrote an article for the school paper promoting itself. The next edition of the paper came out with an angry letter to the Editor by a bisexual male complaining that the GLA was discriminating against him - the GLA had not shown proper acceptance to him. The next edition of the paper showcased a HUGE "Ad" (most likely run for free) stating that the GLA was now the GLBA. Yes, they opened their doors for the bisexual community.
Now this community is the LGBTQIA community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Allies)
Why not? The more people that can be brought under their banner, the more "normal" it will be. I think some "item" should probably be around 80% or more before it is called "normal." For example,
- Is it normal to use Twitter?
- Is it normal for a U.S. Congress person to be female?
- Is it normal to be left-handed?
- Is inter-racial marriage normal in the USA?
These are all 15% occurrences and cannot be called "normal." Truly if something is not "normal" it is "abnormal," but I would never suggest that we should use that descriptive for any of these items. But what about beastiality? I know that is sick, but really? In another 10 years will I be called a "bigot" because I am "denying a civil right" to someone who wants to practice this "new normal?"
My Point? Simple. The "Right" responds more aggressively when an issue like homosexual marriage is presented as "normal." No, it is not normal, not in any sense of the word.
Why do you make such a big deal about this?
Don't you realize that you are not acting like Jesus? You sound like you hate gays!
What is motivating me is that our society has lost the ability to think critically. To call a gay married couple finding a young woman to "host" a child for them is not "normal." So the fact that this kind of word can be used without more people saying, "hold on" is concerning to me. Words mean something...or at least they used to. Secondly, to even suggest that my comments sound like I hate gays is absurd. I have never said I hate gays. I have never said that we should outlaw homosexuality or ban gays from being able to meet and do whatever they want. Again, our society has lost the ability to think and to argue logically and critically. It reminds me of those who want to call me a "racist" because I will not vote for Obama to be reelected. To those people it would not matter that I would vote for any number of black politicians (Condoleezza Rice, Alan West, JC Watts, Colin Powell, Herman Cain, etc.). My apologies to Ms. Rice - I realize that she is truly NOT a politician, but I can dream of it anyway.
Here were my first comments on the Chick-Fil-A issue:
I find Rahm Emanuel's comments regarding Chick-Fil-A to be ridiculous. He has now climbed down from his lofty perch, but his comment that Chick-Fil-A values are not consistent with Chicago's values was ridiculous. I am curious...would he like to push all conservative Christian churches, synagogues and mosques out of his city as well? What were Dan Cathy's comments? He supports same-sex marriage? He did not make negative comments about gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals or any other sexual preference.Of course, I was accused of being intolerant which led to this response:
Perhaps he prefers the rash of inner-city shootings in his city to the values of a good fast-food chain that teaches young people a good work ethic. Perhaps Chick-Fil-A turning a profit bothers Rahm; after all, Chicago is drowning in debt. Perhaps he should stop pandering to a political base when a private business owner exercises his first ammendment rights and speaks his mind. Rahm, you have your hands full right now. You need to concern yourself with the violence in your streets. Chick-Fil-A has not killed anyone.
Why is it that when Mitt Romney or Pat Robertson, or any other conservative makes a stupid comment he is held up to ridicule, but Rahm Emanuel makes this stupid comment and anyone who agrees with his viewpoint shouts "amen." It's really amusing...and sad.
There was another sad time in our history when the church took the lead in treating various subgroups of society in poor ways, or at least looked the other way. Now the progressives want to shut businesses down that do not follow the latest PC rules, force churches to accept what their sacred texts denounce, and applaud knee-jerk accusations of "bigot," "racist," and other charges intended to paint a red "A" on a person who disagrees with them. My, how the tables have turned. In the second century the Romans called the Christians "atheists." Now Christians are quickly called bigots and racists. Why is it that I have never heard a progressive attack Islam like this? I am fairly sure that devoted Muslims, as a whole, reject homosexuality as well. I guess Chick-Fil-A is an easy target.
I hear that the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual community plans to demonstrate at Chic-Fil-A restaurants on August 3. I'll see you there. I will be happy to discuss my views in a civil manner with any on the other side of the argument while I enjoy a chicken sandwich...or maybe I will have a salad. I wonder if PETA will join in on the fun!
I am not sure I understand the comment due to the subtle nature, but I think Mr. Johnson proves my point. I THINK he is calling me intolerant. If so, I would suggest that he and others refrain from ad hominem attacks and try using good argumentation.
Part of my commentary is that to call someone "bigot," or "racist," and now "intolerant" is very poor debate/discussion. This, of course, is what has happened in Washington DC - rather than using good argument both sides resort to name-calling. Ad hominem ("to" or "against the man") is the easy, lazy way to argue. When teaching Ethics I would instruct my students that using ad hominem reveals that you do not have a good argument.
Turn the Chick-Fil-A situation around to see if your position is consistent. If the mayor of Montgomery, Alabama were to publicly say that a gay business owner was not welcome in his/her city because that person's values are not the same as the residents of the city, would Mr. Johnson (or Rahm Emanuel) be consistent? You see, I would say that IF that happened the Montgomery Mayor would be dead wrong. This, of course, was one of my MAIN points. This Chick-Fil-A situation encompasses more than the issue of marriage and gay rights to marriage. NO public official should ever make stupid comments trying impose his/her personal values on a business owner. That gay business owner has every right to run his business anywhere he wants within the existing laws (obviously we all must abide by zoning laws, etc.). My position is the same as with Chick-Fil-A.
The marketplace will decide whether a business owner is welcome or not. The alternative lifestyle community might not like Chick-Fil-A, but if enough of the public agrees with, and eats at their restaurants, then obviously their values must not be a minority opinion. Should the alternative community boycott the restaurant? It is certainly their right, but I would ask them if they want Christians to visit and boycott their social hangouts and businesses? Can you imagine how a gay business owner would feel if Christians stood outside their plant nursery (for example) to boycott them? I would not do it and I would not encourage it. You do not have to patronize Chick-Fil-A.
I will try my best to show up on the protest day, but not to debate gay marriage. I do not see much point in this since if you are in the alternative community you have already made up your mind...and so have I. I will discuss this tendency to use ad hominem and call people "bigots" and "intolerant." It is hate speech as much as calling a gay person by any well-known invective.
And NOW DC Comics has announced that the Green Lantern is Gay!
The Green Lantern is Gay - Really?
Do you get it yet? This is why the religious right has a problem with this issue. Yes, more young people are experimenting with same-sex encounters. The gay movement has been on the offensive (not defensive) and they are winning.
"But why does this bother you so much?"
I know men who have had "positive" same-sex encounters and would tell you in a heartbeat that they are NOT homosexual. Then why did they engage in a homosexual act? Because they were sexually aroused and wanted to have a sexual release. None of the men I know in this category were "looking for love." I would guess that this is the case with most young women as well.
I have had two military chaplains inform me that the military will begin to demand that chaplains perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. One of these men resigned; the other is finishing out his last year to retire, but admits that if he were closer to his end date he would have to resign. Just like the attack against the Catholic Church regarding contraceptives, we are being forced to accept (not just to show tolerance) things that go against our Christian morals/ethics.
The biggest problem I have with the gay community is that they want the rest of us to accept them as "normal." They will not stop shoving their agenda in our face until they get everything they want. They demand that we accept them as members in good standing in our churches, even as pastors in our pulpits. We must allow them to teach our children in kindergarten and grade school AND we must grant them the freedom to teach our children that our religious views are bigotry. We must not complain or be hesitant to be served in a family restuarant by an openly gay waiter/waitress. We must not say anything against them or their movement, else we are guilty of hate speech (my writing here, my freedom of speech must be curbed because it is hateful). We must grant the same "tolerance" not only to your basic homo/bi sexual, but also towards the transgenders, the transexual, Thomas Beatie (the former woman, now pregnant man - how in the heck do you explain that to your 5 year old?), and who knows what else in another 5-10 years.
Read the bizarre story of the pregnant man (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=4581943).
I have been following some of the blogs regarding this issue, especially the debates surrounding the Chick-Fil-A incident. I noticed that many called into question the method of defiantly going to the restaurant to buy their product. One blogger said, "it seemed like many were doing it to 'stick it to the gays'." I disagree. First, one the appreciation day what I noticed was happy people, willing to wait in line for an hour to place an order. Then most people waited another 35-45 minutes to get their order. I never heard one single caustic comment about gays. I did hear people saying that they wanted to stand up for the First Ammendment and Free Speech. It should also remembered that the Chick-Fil-A incident followed somewhat closely on the heels of the Obama-Contraceptive-Catholic Church incident. Conservatives had already had a thumb in the eye and "religious freedom" challenged in that whole incident. We saw Protestants standing with the Catholics even though most do not agree with the view of the Catholic Church - the issue, like with Chick-Fil-A, was freedom.
If we sit by and do nothing on a political/social level we can lose our freedoms. Is that what God wants? Maybe. But maybe we need to take a stand.
What would Jesus Do?
Which Jesus do you want? The one who told the Gentile woman that it was not right to give bread to the dogs (like her)? Or the Jesus that cursed the fig tree? Or how about the one who did not welcome his mother and siblings to one of his meetings?
My daughters challenged me during this discussion period, asking me why I was posting to Facebook about it. I wanted to send a private message to a woman who had posted a few challenging comments to ask her if she would like to "discuss" the issue privately. One daughter said, "Dad, why do you want to bother her; that woman is not going to change her mind."
This issue is important for the next generation. Most gays already have a negative impression of evangelical Christians. Do I care about them? Absolutely. But have Christians been saying terrible things about gays for the past 10-15 years? Not that I have heard. Sure, from time to time you will have someone say something ridiculous like the Florida church that protests military funerals with gay-hating signs, but is that "normal?" No.
Yet as this page has illustrated, our culture has been fed a steady diet of pro-gay propaganda and "normal" is becoming more blurred. How are we to respond? I posed this question to my daughters. "We should show gay people kindness when we meet them!" I agreed, but we should treat EVERYONE with kindness.
Should we respond like Apollos, like Peter, or like Stephen?
Apollos was good at debate and he did not mind a good intellectual joist.
Peter interacted with his audience and admitted that he was uncomfortable and was going against his training. Stephen, well, he was not so gentle and ended up getting stoned for his efforts. I know, I know. Jesus and the apostles were far tougher with the religious than they were with the lost. I agree.
In the second century some Christians threw themselves at the Romans begging to be martyred. Clement of Alexandria used Greek philosophy to reach out to the culture. Tertullian argued with precision and also railed against the Emperors. Who was more correct? I cannot say.
Love people. Argue positions. That is my point.
I am most concerned for children being born right now. What will their "normal" be in 20 years? My parents can hardly believe what they are witnessing right now. Heck, I am stunned when I think about it.
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