Redeeming Our Sad Gay Situation: Understanding 2
by Christopher Blake
5. "Gay bashing" is never acceptable, especially for Christians. From Newsweek (Sept.14. 1992):
In mid-article a half-page photo spotlights a large placard bearing the message GOD HATES FAGS--LEV. 18:22.
Does He? Not too long ago a Seventh-day Adventist college newspaper published an article in which 12 students were asked. "How should we as Adventists deal with homosexuality?" The responses astonished me. From four of the students emerged: "They should not be a part of our church"; "Send them to Canada"; "Castrate them"; and "Shoot them."
What do such responses say about us? What do they say about our God?
When we speak of gay bashing, we must define what it is and what it is not. Gay bashing is more than simply disagreeing with "gay rights," for the not-so-simple reason that gay rights can mean granting equal access to job opportunities, and it can mean making homosexual marriages legal. We may be both for and against gay rights. And merely disagreeing with an issue does not constitute bashing. Bashing is attacking in a hostile, virulent way.
As Newsweek reports, most people are "torn between a basic impulse to be tolerant and a visceral discomfort with gay culture."28 The Christian community especially is torn, because we want to do what's right, to be loving and compassionate, and we want to do what's right in the eyes of our loving, compassionate God. This same God communicated, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22), and "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (John 8:11).
It's the classic challenge of "reject the sin, not the sinner." We reject promiscuity. We reject immorality in any form. We do not reject homosexuals. Separating the sinner from the sin is difficult, but we must do it. And we must continue battling against sin, because ultimately it hurts people.
Christians should be at the forefront in protecting the rights of minorities, whether they are orphans and widows (see James 1:27), or the homeless, aged, educated, unborn, unattractive. The issue is really human rights, not gay rights. We are here to protect basic human rights for everyone.
What rights should we as Christians guarantee for homosexuals? "The right to have a job without losing it and the right to walk down the street without getting beaten up would be a good start, says Gregory King of the Human Rights Campaign Fund."29
The right to be treated as a fellow child of God is another.
6. Many fears about homosexuality are irrational.
Sometimes through accurate information homophobia (an irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals) can be cured and fears allayed, particularly through two understandings.
a. If you aren't sure if you are a homosexual or not, the far greater odds are that you're not. Don't let the prospect petrify you. True homosexuals know they are different, as shown in the earlier portion of this article (they have secret crushes on persons of their own sex, etc.).
Sometimes a person can have a homosexual experience and agonize about his or her sexuality as a result. Dr. G. Keith Olson, a Christian marriage and family counselor and the author of Counseling Teenagers, writes, "Many young people experiment with sex in a variety of ways, often homosexual.... One experimental event during puberty certainly doesn't mean you're gay.... Guys often suffer from what's called homosexual panic.... Panic about being gay, however, has nothing to do with whether a person really homosexual."30
Moreover, an absence of sexual attraction for the opposite sex doesn't make you a homosexual. You may simply not have strong sexual desires. Perhaps, as does happen, only one person -- literally -- can "light your fire." Consider yourself blessed if that person becomes your partner in marriage.
b. Homosexuals are not by nature necessarily promiscuous or child molesters.
Homosexuals can be trusted around children with the same caution one takes with all heterosexuals, especially males. And like heterosexuals, homosexuals are not attracted indiscriminately to every person of their sex.
Some statistics show that high percentages of homosexual males have had multiple sexual partners but this may not say anything about the nature of homosexuality. By comparison, lots of professional athletes are promiscuous, but they are that way based on lifestyle choices -- they are not that way by nature. No responsible homosexual (yes, they do exist) advocates promiscuity or attempting to change anyone's orientation -- child, adolescent, or adult -- to homosexuality.
7. Few homosexuals are parading militants.
The gay nineties aren't what they used to be, to be sure, yet what is portrayed via mass media isn't typical of homosexuals either. Consider one complaint as it appeared in an Ann Landers' advice column, October 12, 1992:
Ann Landers responded:
Homosexuals are found in all walks of life. Many are respected teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, plumbers. secretaries, and city planners. Many are or have been married. To equate all homosexuals with a few militant and obnoxious ACT UP people is as wrong as portraying all Americans as arrogant, or equating all Christians with those the media refers to disparagingly as the "religious right."
8. Changing one's homosexual orientation is difficult and rare.
The realm of homosexual "change ministries" is riddled with claims and counter-claims. Exodus International and other ex-gay ministries believe that homosexuality can be altered. They quote psychiatrists and researchers to support their assertions:
On the other hand, critics charge that these claims are largely unsupported, and that change ministries set up homosexuals for failure and despair. Michael Bussee helped organize the first Exodus conference, but four years later he left his wife and daughter to live with another ex-gay. Bussee says the term ex-gay is deceptive. "It conjures up in people's minds the idea that a person has actually gone from gay to straigh,. and they have stopped having gay feelings." He suggests this creates "false hope."35
Critics of the ex-gay movement contend that far more ex-ex-gays exist than ex-gays; that it's only a matter of time before homosexuals abandon their efforts to change their homosexuality. If so many people have been cured, they ask, where are they? Why aren't they queuing up by the thousands to trumpet their testimonies?
In a superb article in Christianity Today, Tim Stafford asked leaders of Exodus why they didn't talk more about "cure rate" statistics. He said he could feel the discomfort level rise. "But then someone asked what the general 'cure rate' for the church was. How many Christians really overcome the patterns they have grown up with -- patterns of pride, or fear, or arrogance?"36 Like other Christians, perhaps ex-gays are blending into churches and are reticent to disclose their pasts.
Few in the homosexual change ministries claim that curing homosexual orientation is the norm. Even using the term cured -- as though finding relief from a cold -- is not encouraged. Instead the words often mentioned are "process," "growth," "becoming," "healing," "discipling," and "gradual." Colin Cook remarked in l997, "It may surprise many people to know that change of orientation was never a major issue at Quest, but rather a releasing from life dominance. It was the Pro-gays that introduced the controversy of orientation change "37
Perhaps there is a difference between curing and healing. Healing is often a fresh pathway, an altered trajectory, not instant deliverance. For people with a homosexual orientation, it isn't a matter of "just control yourself"' until you're "heterosexualized." Think of it this way: How long would it take for you to "just control yourself" before you became "homosexualized"? Going the other way probably isn't much easier.