While I continue to collect stories of accomplished, amazing women who are proud of what they have done, I’m going to write about other things.  (And if you haven’t read yesterday’s post or the comments, please do.  Good stuff is happening there.)

Today, I finally had the chance to catch up with some blogs that I’ve been neglecting.  Over at Registered Runaway’s blog, I read this post (and the ones preceding it; be sure to read all 4 parts).  It made me sad.  Then it made me angry.  I still don’t understand why the way Aibird, the writer, was treated is allowed to continue.

I’ve had Christian friends try to tell me that no one still acts that way–or at least, Christians don’t.  I’ve heard the arguments that anyone threatening “curative rape” isn’t a real Christian anyway.  And yet, here is a woman telling her story, including receiving death threats from people professing to be Christians.

We can’t ignore the parts of the Church (worldwide) that hold hateful attitudes.  They are as much a part of us as any other Christian.  But that’s not actually the thing that bothers me most.  It’s the fact that we’ve chosen–as the rest of the Body–not to fight them.  I can’t help thinking that it’s because deep down, many Christians agree with the underlying beliefs, even if they don’t agree that picketing and threatening and even attempts at curing are the right answer.

It’s not enough anymore.  I have never been of the mind that it’s okay to live somewhere halfway between being an ally and being an enemy.  I’m not entirely a black-and-white thinker.  I’m open to having lots of grey and wrestling with that tension.  I’m willing to talk about what it means to have a healthy sexual ethic or whether it’s okay for Christians to watch violent movies or if tattoos and swearing are acceptable.  We may never agree on any of those things, and that’s okay.

What I’m not okay with is fence-sitting when it comes to personhood and equality.

Too many people have come to the conclusion that they can rest comfortably with the belief that they may not “agree with the homosexual lifestyle” though they would never insist on anyone trying to be “cured.”  There are far too many places where we’ve done what we seem to think is a kinder, gentler version of non-acceptance.  The thing is, though, it’s still exactly that: non-acceptance.  No more “But I have gay friends, and they know where I stand, and they are okay with that!”  Are you sure?  Because when I read stories like the one above, I get the impression that an awful lot of people aren’t actually okay with you disapproving of them, they just hide it well or have learned that it’s an off-limits topic if they don’t want to hear again about their sin.  You personally may not be holding up a “God hates fags” sign, and you may not have threatened anyone with rape or death.  You may not even have given anyone the phone number to a place where they can be “changed.”  But if underneath it you still think they’re in sin, you hold the same beliefs as the people of ex-gay organizations and Westboro Baptist.

If you do call yourself both a Christian and an ally, then why not directly speak up against people who are doing active harm?  I honestly can’t remember where I read it (or I’d link to it; maybe someone else can help me out here), but I recall reading about someone meeting with some people from Westboro Baptist and talking about how “nice” they were.  Not that I want to paint anyone as evil and remove that person’s humanity, but I fail to see how “But they’re so nice!” is in any way helpful.  I also don’t believe for a millisecond that there’s any use in simply leaving people to their own devices because everyone knows how hateful they are.  If you really think these things are wrong, why not speak up about it?  Not merely to your LGBTQ friends–who probably already know–but to the rest of the Christian community.

Things aren’t going to change.  LGBTQ people are not going away, and they’re not going back into their closets.  People who are Christians–whole denominations, in fact–have already become not just accepting but affirming.  Laws are changing.  Meanwhile, people are still being pressured and harmed.  There’s no way to be somewhere in the middle anymore.  That might have worked at one time, but that time has long since passed.

I already cast my vote.  I know that to some people, I’m irredeemable.  I’ve already been told–more than once–that I can’t call myself a Christian.  I’ve been informed that I’m leading people in the wrong direction.  Well, so what?  I don’t consider that a big deal, and I think it’s worth it.  (And let’s be honest, there are people I’m happy are out of my life because they can’t handle the fact that I’m an ally.  Think of all the wonderful LGBTQ friends I’m sparing from having any interaction with them.)

I think I understand being genuinely unsure.  I know there’s a transition between what we might have learned growing up or in some churches and a place of being an ally.  I get that.  But don’t sit there forever, and certainly don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth.  Don’t fake being in agreement with either side (or both).  It isn’t fair to anyone, even yourselves.  Take time, but make a choice–then do something about it.

If you want to know why I feel this sense of urgency (besides the immediate concern for individuals such as the woman whose story I linked above), then read this post.  It’s not just about us, about our nation, anymore.  And, like Registered Runaway says at the end of the post (though I disagree that no one is fighting here anymore),

And I’m beginning to think that instead of having a conversation, a culture war truce, with Fundamentalists and right wing Evangelicals, our work would be better focused on protecting the world from the wrath of these people. Despite the lament from many progressive evangelicals, the right wing is hardly fighting here anymore. They’ve moved on. They’re going after the rest of the world. 

How do we stop this?

How, indeed?

 

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19 thoughts on “

  1. What about those of us who have close people we love who would be BADLY hurt if we publicly said we no longer thought homosexuality was sinful? There are good loving people who can’t give up a certain way of reading the Bible without it costing them their entire faith and my admitting I don’t see the bible that way would crush some of them.

    • Being silent when there is an injustice to keep others happy doesn’t make much sense. And if someone’s faith is totally dependent on you believing the same thing, then I’m not sure they really have a faith of their own in the first place.

      This attitude is pretty much how “separate but equal” came along and then made it’s way out when people realized that wasn’t working either. If this was the attitude during the civil rights era, we would still have segregation.

      Or maybe we would even have slaves.

    • What I’m primarily reading from your comment is that you’re afraid people won’t think as much of you if you admitted you don’t see the Bible the way they do. Your faking it so someone else can maintain their faith? Do you want to hang out with people that fake it for you? Your relationships may be stressed by your coming out of the faith closet, but I’ll bet you’re not the only person you know who feels this way.

    • You’re worried about “badly” hurting people who think homosexuality is sinful? Did you even read the post I linked? The cost for lgbtq people is so much higher than the cost to a few people with such weak faith that it would be crushed if friends or family came out as allies. I just don’t even understand that. I consider the cost of doing the right thing to be entirely worth it. I’ve lost friends over this, and I would still do it all again. The pain for me–or for anyone else in my life because they have a sad over it–is nothing compared to what Aibird (the writer of the post I linked) or RR (on whose blog she posted) have experienced.

    • crushing faith has happened many times. sometimes it’s needed. rather, we should ask ‘how many have been and are being hurt because you won’t stand up and say ‘no’ to hatred?’

      I ise a figurative you because I was one of those who was left outside the church on mere rumor. and when it came to right or wrong, they were more concerned to know if I was gay than if they’d been wrong to be hateful.

      whose faith was crushed that day? and whose really needed it?

    • What about those in the LGBT community that you are secretly support but reject in public? What about their hurt or some of them being crushed by your half-assed loyalty?

      The more people of faith become allies, the more those holding onto their bigotry have less sway.

  2. I know homosexuals who were badly hurt because of the way Christians treated them and it DID cause them to give up their own faith. So, I think your comment, “What about those of us who have close people we love who would be BADLY hurt if we publicly said we no longer thought homosexuality was sinful” is cowardice.

  3. Not speaking up about an injustice because someone you care for would be deeply hurt by your disagreement with their ingrained prejudice (yes, that’s what it is – doctrinally justified prejudice) seems to me to be a type of cowardice – or not quite the whole story. Is their misperception of you that valuable? Valuable enough to allow them to feel secure in an untruth concerning a matter of your conscience and integrity? This assumes that you do, indeed, disagree with their sincerely held doctrinal exclusion. If you think of it in terms of the wellbeing of unknown “others” who have long been marginalized, versus the wellbeing of a known loved one, it’s fairly easy to justify not making waves. But if you instead think of it as silently but willfully misrepresenting your opinion on a matter of justice and compromising your integrity in the process, the decision to gently rock the boat when the opportunity arises may be an easier decision to make. And you may find – if approached with compassion and integrity – that Mom, Dad, or Grandma may respect your conviction and integrity even if they cannot agree with your conclusion – and you will find and maintain your integrity in the process.

  4. Thank you for the replies.
    In case you can’t tell I sometimes use Amy’s blog as a place to process my journey and decisions since from what I have read here we come from a similar background but she has different views than me on some subjects.

  5. For me this is a complicated and deeply personal issue because of family history. My uncle is gay and when my mom couldn’t affirm his “choice” (this happened 40 or so years ago) her mom cut her off from the family and tried to make her sister cut off her relationship with my mom as well. (My grandmother had mental health issues and didn’t deal well with life sometimes.) Anyway there is still some deep hurt in my mom over this, so there is no way to “gently” tell her I don’t think homosexual behavior is inherently sinful without causing deep pain.

    I don’t have any “out” gay people I personally interact with on a regular basis, (that’s KS for you) so I question if the theoretical “good” I might do by admitting I don’t hold the same position my family and church friends consider integral to their faith would be worth the cost in terms of real human relational damage to people I actually know.

  6. The simple truth is this is a subject that does not come up much at all in conversation with people I actually talk to in real life, so I haven’t actually had to hide my beliefs they just haven’t come up.

    I also know that this particular issue is one that a lot of Christians use as a filter and if you oppose the traditional view on this topic they will no longer listen to you about anything else. I am slowly pushing the people in my circle of influence toward a more progressive faith where I can, or at least providing a different viewpoint than the uber conservative one they get from a lot of their other friends. So I would like to think I am doing the good I can where I am.

    The problem is of course that I just don’t know for sure. Would my speaking out on this issue really do any good? Or would it just loose me the small bit of influence I have and maybe undo the good I have already done pushing people toward a more inclusive faith. Change is a hard slow process sometimes for me as well as for them.

    And maybe there is some cowardice involved but I am an introvert who has never made friends easily and I don’t want to loose the few I have. (I am trying to be honest with myself here.)

    And now that I have totally hijacked Amy’s blog to process my own issues (sorry about that Amy) I need some sleep.

    • Keith,

      I appreciate your openness about what you hope for and what is hard or scary.
      I’m an introvert. I am easily frightened. it is hard to make friends for me as well.

      this doesn’t excuse us from being more open about what is good and true. I thought if I spome hat I would lose my friends. instead it has sparked conversation. I have learned more about them and their hopes. I have been invited closer.

      so I respect your fears and worries. it feels more open, vulnerable than the worry about crushing someone’s faith.

    • Re-reading what I wrote in the post, maybe there’s some misunderstanding here about what I meant. I don’t necessarily mean you have to tell your family in some bold, direct way. I meant–and even said–speaking up against those doing active harm. I spent a lot of years under the radar because I was in a homophobic church and felt that I could do more to help families if I wasn’t open. This was true for a time, and there were several people with whom I communicated privately. It stopped being true, so I stopped blogging anonymously. That came at some risk, but I considered it worth it. We eventually left that church, but there are still people from the church contacting me about what I write (in a good way).

      I guess the issue here is that there are people actively being harmed. A lot. When I bought into the “gay = sin” belief, I did quite a bit of harm. I’m lucky some of my friends still speak to me. Don’t be so sure you don’t know anyone in your offline life; they may just be incapable of being out at this time. I consider it far more damaging to have to choose between the isolation of the closet and the isolation of being ostracized because it doesn’t feel like there’s anyone safe to talk to.

      • Amy,
        Thank you. I think you have captured where I currently am very well. I “think” I can do more good right now by not being open about my beliefs about this one topic. However, I try to pereodically reasses this decision to see if I might be wrong or the situation might have changed.

        To be clear, I don’t assume none of the people I interact with are GLBT, I just don’t know any who are out to me, so I haven’t had to make a public statement of support for them. I will think about the possibility that my silence could be hurting people by making them continue to feel isolated and factor that into my continuing considerations about keeping silent or speaking out about this.

        • It’s a good skill to develop, if you’re not totally public about your views, to learn how to “read” opportunities to talk a little with people. I used a church meeting once. Someone brought up that they wanted to “reach out” to “the gay and lesbian community” (like it’s a monolith). I made a quick comment about wanting to know more about what they meant, as my sister is gay. Afterward, another person approached me to talk about it and it solidified a friendship. We don’t (yet?) agree, but I was able to sense some degree of being open. When we left that church, that friend was entirely supportive (one of the few) of us finding an affirming church. People like that are often still caught in the conflict between their real-life observations and what they’ve been taught. My hope is to bring people in conflict towards affirmation and away from mere tolerance.

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