Tuesday, December 14, 2010

COGENT INDEED

I did not write the following. I also was unable to ask permission of the man who wrote this Facebook as his account has been set so that it is impossible to make contact. I therefore will not add his name, just his words which I find profound and is just how I feel about all those who have protested to me how they don’t ‘hate’.

 

To start my reply, let me say a little about myself as background. First, I am a man who is a progressive evangelical Christian. Second, I happen to be gay. Third, before I accepted myself as gay and finally came out, I spent more than eigh...t years as a leader and as a participant in the ex-gay movement where I tried to change my sexual orientation and assist others in changing theirs. I left the movement in much pain after I realized it did not work for me or for others, and, indeed, caused all of us more harm than good. Fourth, I am a person who for years has studied Christian theology, ethics, comparative religion, fundamentalisms in various religions, fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity, as well as Christianity in a variety of other contexts. Fifth, I am a student of global human and civil rights and a human and civil rights advocate and activist. Given all of these things, might I suggest the following to those other Christians who have chosen to take offense (it is always a choice we make to let ourselves be offended) at an all-inclusive statement about Christians being at war with gays?
First, why are you so offended? We as humans tend to be most angry and offended at those things that point a finger back at us in some way. Perhaps there is more truth to Anne's statement than most Christians care to admit about Christians being at war with gays. If not, what really irks you about this statement?
Second, if anyone who is a Christian is offended, I ask that same person of faith the following question: What are you and other Christians in your sphere of influence doing to educate and advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people around the world who suffer at the hands of religious people today? No one can deny the centuries of persecution of people presumed to be homosexuals in Christian culture by people who were Christians. But what are Christians doing in America today to help the more than two million homeless youth on our streets, of whom at least 25 to 40 percent are estimated by experts to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? What are you doing to help prevent bullying of kids in your church youth group or at your local schools over issues of PERCEIVED sexual orientation? What has your church done in response to the rash of recent publicized suicides by gay teens and young adults, many of whom were bullied? What are Christian churches doing to help prevent teen suicide by gay and lesbian teenagers who feel hopeless because of the constant harassment and belittling they suffer at the hands of others, who often profess to be people of faith (and in America that usually means that they are Christians)?
How easily we Christians want to forget the sad history of the Christian church toward Jews, homosexuals, women, children, and anyone else who did not fit into the norm. More people than we can count have been tortured and killed in the name of Jesus Christ, and many because they were presumed to be homosexual. How easily we forget that the very word "faggot" comes from the practice of tying homosexual men together like a faggot of sticks and burning them before God to purify the community of the evil of homosexuality in Christian England.
Sadly, what Anne proclaims about Christians being at war with gays has more truth to it than most Christians care to admit. As one who has studied theology, church history, current politics and church polity of various denominations, I have to say that even today there are, indeed, significant parts of the Christian church that are, in fact, at war with gay people in spiritual, psychological and, in some cases, far more literal ways. That is not to say that all Christians hate gay people, or that even most Christians do. But most Christians in the United States are complicit in causing the suffering of gay people around the world because they remain silent and do nothing to stop other Christians from doing evil in the name of Christ. They do not ally themselves with gay people, as Jesus would. They do not stand up for those whom many would consider the least in society (Matthew 25). In many countries of the world today, gay people are worse than lepers. While this is not usually the case in the United States or most other industrialized countries, it certainly is true in lesser-developed areas of the world where the Christian church plays a more central role, such as Africa. In Uganda a law is almost certain to pass in coming weeks, thanks to hateful Christians, who were inspired by American Christian ex-gay ministry leaders who visited Uganda in 2009. Most of the Christian churches in Uganda seem to support the so-called “kill the gays” bill, which requires long, if not life-long, prison sentences for homosexuals and, in some cases, mandates the death penalty for homosexuals and people living with HIV.
In conclusion, I wish that, before other Christians got upset over and proclaimed how offensive it is to be told that Christians are at war with gays, they instead got concerned over what really is happening to gay people in their own communities and around the world and did something to help stop the suffering. Instead of getting irked when they are lumped together with others because of the legacy of the Christian church to date with respect to gay people, Christians in America need to remember that it is largely Christians who are advocating to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and it was largely Christians and other people of faith who fought to get Proposition 8 passed and who are fighting to support it now. I wish that, for once, my evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters would walk in the shoes of their gay brothers and sisters for even a day. If you do not think that Christians are at war with gays, I dare you to walk into a Christian church and tell the pastor that you are gay and see what happens. I challenge you to consider what it must be like to be a gay person in Uganda, a very Christian nation that is intent on "killing the gays," by the admission of many of its many Christian leaders. Then try educating others in your church about what Christians are doing to gay people in Uganda and see how quickly you are silenced in the name of Christ.

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