heard hearts, oppression, violence, love…

I linked to an old post of mine on Facebook a few days ago (this one) and ended up getting into a fight so bad I deleted my own link.  I had, until then, never done such a thing.  I’ve also never found myself so incapable of expressing and communicating my own point of view.

What is it about the past few week’s issues that have made honest conversation so impossible?  I’ve been contemplating this, and praying about it, and meditating on it, and generally beating my head against it, and I think I’ve finally realized what is going on here.

Everyone is backed into their own corner licking their wounds, and they don’t care two figs about what the other side is thinking or feeling.  We’re on 24/7 attack and defend mode.  The Christians don’t care why the gay community is upset.  It feels safe, right, and supported to assume that any reason the gay community would be upset is an invalid one since it’s gays doing the complaining.  And does the gay community care about the church’s defensiveness?  Why should they?  Why would the oppressed care why the oppressor oppresses?  It has to be wrong, so why bother listening?  Why have a conversation?

We’re nearing a full on war, where buglers on both sides are signalling out an attack and the language and rhetoric has grown so expansive even the innocent are caught in the crossfire, with the end goal being battering the other side into submission with no regard for righteousness.  I find this far easier to forgive in my gay friends than I do in my fellow Christians.

But, for the sake of both sides, let me explain some things:

Christians, I don’t care what Tony Perkins said last week.  The Family Research Council has a track record going back almost thirty years in which they have routinely blocked moves to overturn legislation that bans sodomy and homosexual acts.  Tony Perkins can grandstand and say, “we don’t try to make new laws”, but actions speak louder than words.  If two hundred years ago a man spent millions lobbying to keep wife beating legal, could he really turn around and say “I’m not trying to make new laws to beat my wife” and have anyone defend him as someone who doesn’t want to impugn women’s rights?  The Family Research Council does think that homosexual “behaviors” should be illegal.  Period.  This is not something that can be argued, it is true, and their own website makes that very clear.  They believe being gay is dangerous, and threatening to society, and they say so.  Routinely.  They fought against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  They lobbied to change a resolution that would challenge a Ugandan law that made the death penalty for homosexuality legal.  They state that it was a matter of semantics and they don’t support killing gays, but guess what?  They held up a resolution that condemned killing gays.  What matters is how that looks to gay people, and it certainly doesn’t look good.

Now, my dear gay friends, I love you.  But you need to understand some things.  All of the hateful, painful, offensive things that Tony Perkins and the FRC say?  They believe them.  I know that this is not comfortable for you to hear, but you need to hear it.  They do believe that being gay is dangerous.  They believe that it weakens society.  They sincerely believe that gay people are more likely to be diseased, mentally ill, and harm children.  They believe that homosexuals have a dangerous agenda.  It may seem completely incredible to you to accept that people may think those things.  It may seem even more incredible to believe, for even a second, that someone could think those things and be a genuinely good person.  Here is the thing:  They don’t hate you.  They are worried about you, and they are worried for your sake.  They don’t want you to be gay because they think it’s bad for you, and they think that if they curb your rights you might give up and go straight, and they think that the loving thing to do is protect you from your fleshly desires.  They are, to put it simply, trying to save your soul.  They just aren’t going about it the way that Christ would.

I know, because I’ve been there.  This is the mindset I grew up with.  I know that when I believed those horrid things, I was becoming the person that I am now.  I believe that other people could make the same journey.

So for the love of God and all that is holy, try to understand the other side.  Try to listen to what they are saying and argue rationally.  Stop pointing fingers and throwing stones and trying to gag each other, it helps no one.  Hatred begets violence.  Oppression begets violence.  Hard hearts unwilling to listen to the other side breed violence faster than bunnies on speed.  It needs to stop, and the only solution is to love the other side to little itty bitty bits and try to rebuild this whole mess in a better image.

I think we can do it.  I think we have to.

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Some thoughts on Chick-Fil-A and it’s role in Christian Dialogue

So this whole Chick-Fil-A family values gay kerfuffle is bringing out some really interesting qualities in Christianity. I’ve been party to a lot of debates, and sitting on the sidelines watching many more. I’ve neglected writing a blog post about it because I wanted to watch the dust settle and decide what really needs addressing.

1) “This isn’t about politics, it’s about Christian Values!”

Actually, it’s about both. Chick-Fil-A has directed money towards a number of religiously based Charities. Some, like Focus on the Family, can be seen as more or less neutral as they do a lot of work in several arenas. Others, like Exodus International, clearly demonstrate a sort of bigotry against homosexuality. The language they use to describe homosexuality shows that they view it as a kind of illness humanity is better off without, there can be no question why gay people would be upset to find their money going to a non-profit whose stated goal is to counter-act the bad affects of gayness on society. If this is added to the fact that Chick-Fil-A also funnels money into several “Family Councils” who work to keep gay people from being able to adopt or get married, and these “Family Councils” operate not in the religious but political arenas, there can be no rational argument that this isn’t at least partly about politics. This is about far more than one man defending his Biblical views, this is about several million dollars of money that Chick-Fil-A makes selling sandwiches going to actively prevent the acceptance of gay people in our society. It is personal, and political, as well as religious.

2) “If you believe in a Christian’s right to free speech you need to support Chick-Fil-A”/”If you like your gay friends you need to stop eating there”.

For the first sentence, don’t be ridiculous. It isn’t about free speech, it’s about money. If all that had ever happened was Chick-Fil-A’s CEO saying “I don’t like gay people” I would roll my eyes and say that no one should be surprised that there are Christians who don’t like gays. I mean, Westboro Baptist has taught us that one already. But this isn’t about a Christian’s right to free speech, it’s about where a Christian puts their money and their corporation’s money. At the end of the day, he absolutely has the right. But all Christians have the right to decide where they want the money God entrusted to them to be spent. We aren’t obligated to part with God’s monetary gift to us anywhere, except in the churches we choose to be in communion. I don’t *have* to support Chick-Fil-A. And as for the opposing statement, that somehow I owe it to my gay friends *not* to eat there- come on, people. There are far more effective ways to enact political change than where we choose to buy deep fried animal parts shoved in a bun. Whether or not to eat Chick-Fil-A is a personal choice, and I support my friends whether or not they eat there.

3) “All of the people making a big deal out of this are such bigots against Christians.”

I must admit, one of the reasons this post is so behind-the-times is the fact that I can’t write about this without starting to feel all veiny-green-in-the-face-pulse-pounding-hulk-roaring angry.

Christians, who has the burden here? The world to which we’ve been sent to minister like a doctor treating the ill, or US? Are we owed tolerance? Do we deserve it?

Take a moment and think about the motivation behind the opposition. Think about the gay people who have been spat on at every turn, sometimes literally. Think about the people who have felt strange, different, rejected, belittled, hated, opposed, cut out of society, cursed, and reviled. Think about the fact that they find out that here is one more way in which they are isolated. Think about the fact that someone has been asked if that person truly funnels millions of dollars with the express purpose of counteracting the effect that gay people can have on our society and has answered “YEP! GUILTY AS CHARGED!” and that he did so clearly with pride.

Imagine that the shoe is on the other foot, and that a gay person owned a multi-million dollar corporation and just gleefully admitted that he funnels millions of dollars into teaching atheism and counter-acting the negative impact of Christians on society. Feel that blood boil? That anger? That deep and overwhelming sadness? Now think that hundreds of thousands of atheists and gays line up to support that corporation and start posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter where they are swaggin’ their bags of fried goodness around saying “SEE, I THINK THE BIGOTRY AGAINST YOU IS AWESOME AND JUSTIFIED!”

Can you picture it? Can you imagine your response?

Of COURSE people are offended, of COURSE they are calling you close-minded, because you have completely closed your mind to the pain, humiliation, and suffering that your choice is inflicting on the world. Instead of seeing the world as a sick patient to whom you are called as a caregiver, you have chosen to see the world as a criminal for whom you are called as judge and jury, and your greasy bags of fried food that you so gleefully post look more like a death sentence than a show of moral support.

The Bible has this thing where it says that if we judge, we will be judged in kind. The battle lines in this ridiculous debate about Chick-Fil-A are a demonstration of that in action- Christians judged the world.

So the world judges back.

If you don’t like the bigotry you are feeling, don’t dish it out.