Wednesday, September 20, 2006

How Christians and gays talk past each other, part 2

Christians and gays are so good at talking past each other, it would be impossible for me to talk to both groups in the same room. I’ve written some articles trying to explain homosexual issues to conservative Christians, but I can’t post them on this blog or on my website because gay readers will probably take offense at the way I put things. Likewise, when my former denomination discovered my Musings On site in February 2002, they took offense at the way I chose to address my mainly gay audience.

When I talk to conservative Christians, the first thing in order is to try to convince them that being homosexual doesn’t automatically make someone a morally bankrupt person. That’s why it is important for me to share with them about the gay and lesbian people I’ve met who have tried very hard to change their orientation, who would agree that their homosexuality is a part of their sinful or fallen nature. If I don’t tell fellow Christians about these types of gays and lesbians, they will continue to buy into the idea that most gay people choose to be homosexual for the purpose of indulging in a “homosexual lifestyle.”

But this is exactly where many gays take issue with me. Why do you present us as if we are all ashamed of who we are? We’re proud to be gay. We’re not self-haters! Then I have to explain. Sure, not everyone feels ashamed of their homosexuality in the way a religious person might. And sure, many people who have started out that way often reach a place where they learn to overcome depression and destructive behaviors and become positive contributors to society. I get that. But what I’m trying to do is “Homosexuality 101.” Getting into why gay people put such a premium on self-acceptance and “pride” is graduate level stuff, and the fact is a lot of people will never fully understand all that. You have to start where people are at, and even though it may be scary to realize that it is at such a basic level, that is often the reality of the situation.

The same happens when I address a gay audience. Christians have taken issue with me because they hear me using words like “admirable” and “courageous” when I’m giving encouragement to people who are trying to deal with their homosexuality in a morally responsible way. How can you say such things? Do you approve of sin? Whose side are you on anyhow? Then I have to explain. No, I don’t approve of sin. But as long as people can’t help being homosexually oriented and they are stuck having to deal with this reality about themselves, they can do it in either a responsible or an irresponsible way. Shouldn’t the person who chooses to live celibate, for instance, be commended over the person who chooses to live in wanton promiscuity? As long as we are going to criticize the gay community for their promiscuity, we are obligated to commend those individuals who are siding with us in that criticism and trying to seek out more moral options. Aren’t we?