Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Half-Invented: Christianity and LGBT: An addendum

Last week I wrote a column titled “Let this be the end. Let all be forgiven.” Toward the end, it briefly touched on the intersection of Christianity and the LGBT community. From what I could tell, it received a good amount of support and a small but impassioned amount of criticism.

Judging by the amount of emails and questions I’ve received in the past week, I felt it appropriate to write an addendum to last week’s article. Especially at a place like Stanford, it can be difficult to vocally express disagreement, especially around the issue of LGBT, for fear of being labeled a bigot. I know there are those who disagreed with what I wrote, often for religious reasons, and those are the people I would like to address.

I first want to apologize to the community that may have felt offended by my broad-strokes language. The goal of the article was to make clear the very real pain and frustration of living in the secrecy of sexual identity and to encourage all people, regardless of how they personally view LGBT issues, to act and respond out of love and compassion. And it’s true that there are many people who disagree with homosexuality who still engage with the community in an unconditionally loving and considerate way. But there are also people who act out of anger and resentment to dishonor others and disguise it as a warped sense of religious or moral love, and those people were the targets of my criticisms.

With that said, I also did not state whether I think, from a Christian perspective, that homosexuality is “right” or “wrong,” primarily because I feel that that is a horrible way to frame the discussion. “Homosexuality is wrong.” What does that even mean? That heterosexuality is right? I can point to a lot of counter-examples in my life alone that would dispute that claim. Maybe the Christian God is less concerned with etching the line between right and wrong in order to distribute points, and more concerned with rescuing people of all sexual orientations and identities through grace and for goodness.

I’ve been accused of distorting Christianity, an accusation to which I would reply, “Ya, you’re probably right.” Every Christian is. I’m not under any false assumption that my word is infallible and that my views may not be incorrect. To be otherwise would distort and reject the fundamental premise and principle of Christianity.

I am confident, however, that Christianity is not defined by the views one may hold in regards to the question of homosexuality. Just because an issue might be influenced by religious views doesn’t mean that it is an issue that constitutes the religion itself.

The Old Testament is riddled with examples of people trying to love and serve God but missing the point because they focus on the secondary rather than the primary. To which I would ask, have we not done the same? Sure, Jesus speaks of sexual immorality, but he also speaks of hypocrisy. Even if it is your personal belief that Jesus was including homosexuality as we understand it today when he spoke against sexual immorality, shouldn’t the first step be to confront the sexual immorality in your own life rather than announcing and condemning it in the lives of others?

Further, “sexual immorality” would also include things like prostitution and human trafficking, and I would assume Jesus would be more outraged with the global systematic rape and enslavement of women and children for economic gain than what the United States legally constitutes as marriage. So maybe we are missing the point.

I’m not trying to dismiss the tension between Christianity and LGBT lifestyles. I’m just trying to put it into perspective. Your opinions are your opinions. But the consequences of your words and actions are not yours alone. Regardless of your personal views, there exists real pain around the issue of sexual identity and orientation, inflicted by society or by one’s self. All people, and Christians especially, need to address this pain, not with their heads, but with their hearts.

 

Tell Chase what’s in your heart at ninjaish “at” stanford “dot” edu.

  • A missed opportunity. Christianity is not an individual faith based on one’s selectively chosen biblical passages or beliefs. Historically, the heretics that have taken that approach have ended up with a nihilistic faith http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarianism . Because Unitarianism stands for nothing, it doesn’t satisfy anyone. Here is a cogent explanation of why many mainstream Christians focus today on homosexuality instead of other issues (BTW, one of the most intellectually dishonest arguments is to say that  homosexuality cannot be criticized unless other sexual depravities are also criticized),

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/my-take-the-bible-condemns-a-lot-but-heres-why-we-focus-on-homosexuality/

     
     

  •  Hey, that’s my religion! (I know, I KNOW. You probably just exploded in waves upon waves of smug laughter, unable to get over the fact that OF COURSE I would be a Unitarian-Universalist. I mean, it’s just too perfect, am I RIGHT?) I would like to say that my experience in the church has been very fulfilling. I don’t need a strict set of beliefs or morality to find spiritual fulfillment, though I definitely find that the seven principles inform a lot of my actions on a day to day basis. The inherent worth and dignity of every person, for example. Respect for the interconnected web of existence of which we are all a part.

    I think religion without a strict theology or creed or scaryscary hellplace works just fine. In fact, I think it’s the only way for religion to actually work in the 21st century. I think Unitarian-Universalism is great because I can be religious and even be proud of that fact without having to worry about forcing my beliefs on others, because people can believe whatever they want. You get the social function of religion without all the icky dogmatic parts. If you’re looking for easy answers or don’t want to engage in critical thinking about your spiritual path, then it might not be the religion for you, but it’s been satisfying enough for my family and for hundreds of thousands of others.

  • Whatever, as a former atheist (and a very outspoken one), I see Unitarian Universalism as a way of making my former materialistic beliefs look cool or something. If I am given a choice, I prefer atheism; at least atheists are honest, they don’t delude themselves in meaningless mumbo jumbo.