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How To Win A Culture War And Lose A Generation

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When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “anti-homosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? “Judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)

In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes:

The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays…has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.

Later research, documented in Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends. Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this is one reason why.

In my experience, all the anecdotal evidence backs up the research.

When I speak at Christian colleges, I often take time to chat with students in the cafeteria. When I ask them what issues are most important to them, they consistently report that they are frustrated by how the Church has treated their gay and lesbian friends. Some of these students would say they most identify with what groups like the Gay Christian Network term “Side A” (they believe homosexual relationships have the same value as heterosexual relations in the sight of God). Others better identify with “Side B” (they believe only male/female relationship in marriage is God’s intent for sexuality). But every single student I have spoken with believes that the Church has mishandled its response to homosexuality.

Most have close gay and lesbian friends.

Most feel that the Church’s response to homosexuality is partly responsible for high rates of depression and suicide among their gay and lesbian friends, particularly those who are gay and Christian.

Most are highly suspicious of “ex-gay” ministries that encourage men and women with same-sex attractions to marry members of the opposite sex in spite of their feelings.

Most feel that the church is complicit, at least at some level, in anti-gay bullying.

And most… I daresay all… have expressed to me passionate opposition to legislative action against gays and lesbians.

“When evangelicals turn their anti-gay sentiments into a political campaign,” one college senior on her way to graduate school told me, “all it does is confirm to my gay friends that they will never be welcome in the church. It makes them bitter, and it makes me mad too.  This is why I never refer to myself as an evangelical. Ugh. I’m embarrassed to be part of that group.”

I can relate.

When Tennessee added an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage (even though it was already illegal in the state), members of my church at the time put signs in the yard declaring support for the initiative. From my perspective, the message this sent to the entire community was simple: EVERYONE BUT GAYS WELCOME.

Dan and I left the church soon afterwards.

Which brings me to North Carolina and Amendment One.

Despite the fact that the North Carolina law already holds that marriage in the eyes of state is only between a man and a woman, an amendment was put on the ballot to permanently ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution. The initiative doesn’t appear to change anything on a practical level, (though some are saying it may have unintended negative consequences on heterosexual relationships), but seems to serve primarily as an ideological statement

…an expensive, destructive, and impractical ideological statement.

Conservatives in the state — who you would think would be more opposed to tampering with constitutions — supported the amendment, and last night it passed. Religious leaders led the charge in support of the amendment, with 93-year-old Billy Graham taking out multiple ads in publications across the state supporting the measure.

As I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds last night, the reaction among my friends fell into an imperfect but highly predictable pattern. Christians over 40 were celebrating. Christians under 40 were mourning. Reading through the comments, the same thought kept returning to my mind as occurred to me when I first saw that Billy Graham ad: You’re losing us.

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again… (though I’m starting to think that no one is listening):

My generation is tired of the culture wars. 

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.

And when it comes to homosexuality, we no longer think in the black-and-white categories of the generations before ours. We know too many wonderful people from the LGBT community to consider homosexuality a mere “issue.” These are people, and they are our friends. When they tell us that something hurts them, we listen. And Amendment One hurts like hell.

Regardless of whether you identify most with Side A or Side B, (or with one of the many variations within those two broad categories), it should be clear that amendments like these needlessly offend gays and lesbians, damage the reputation of Christians, and further alienate young adults—both Christians and non-Christian—from the Church.

So my question for those evangelicals leading the charge in the culture wars is this: Is it worth it? 

Is a political “victory” really worth losing millions more young people to cynicism regarding the Church?

Is a political “victory” worth further alienating people who identify as LGBT?

Is a political “victory” worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with gays and lesbians?

And is a political “victory” worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks — what if we get this wrong?

Too many Christian leaders seem to think the answer to that question is “yes,” and it’s costing them.

Because young Christians are ready for peace.

We are ready to lay down our arms.

We are ready to start washing feet instead of waging war. 

And if we cannot find that sort of peace within the Church, I fear we will look for it elsewhere. TC mark

image – Phil Whitehouse

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    • http://www.tiffanyjane.tumblr.com Tiffany Taylor

      Thank you thank you thank you. 

    • http://twitter.com/JayGabler Jay Gabler

      Having attended a conservative Catholic high school, my impression is that the hard-liners who want to make Christianity unambiguous in its opposition to homosexuality feel they’ve already lost those who would accept it. The Catholics who taught me would just as soon not have me in church at all if I was going to corrupt the faith with acceptance of what they regard as unacceptable practices. If the Church were to die for its failure to evolve…well, they can look smugly down from heaven, they think, while the rest of us burn in hell. God, they believe, hates gays, and He holds all the cards.

      • Lolol

        the Church does not think “God hates gays”

        • Aj

          Actions speak louder than words….

        • Kelly

          Some churches and Christians (or rather, people who call themselves Christians) might think and act like God hates gays. But not all. We must stop lumping all churches and all Christians into one category. And we must stop equating “church” with “Christianity/Christ.”

        • Aj

          Well Christians represent the Church and Christ. I grew up in an evangelical setting and I’m hard pressed to believe otherwise regarding the Chruch’s feelings towards the LGBT community. Of course individuals may not share those sentiments, but the votes in North Carolina don’t help matters.

        • Wdeanis

          This is something I’m quick to point out to my dad (a Methodist pastor) when we get in arguments about who hates whom. We all see the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates Fags” signs and recognize they are a small population, but I’m their minds they are absolutely correct. It’s an extreme case, but every nuance to the sentiment on LGBT folks is believed to be right above all others to the people that subscribe to it. “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, “The bible is from a different time and culture”, “Jesus never said a thing about homosexuality”, all are the same story. The culture of absolutism closes minds towns benefits nobody. So to you, the church does not believe God hates gays, but I’ll find another person that says He certainly does quite easily.

        • Mamajamerson

          The protest signs reading “God hates fags” say differently. And, the passing of anti-gay legislation backs up that impression. Regardless what you say the Church thinks or feels, this is the message reaching young people. This is an absolute fact with my kids, and I seriously doubt that they are in the minority on this.

    • Nishant

      Wow that was so good. I really admire the fact that you’re thinking so deeply w.r.t both the world we live in now as well as your religious background. This was very illuminating. Thank you!

    • Nishant

      I must add, this kind of thinking is very helpful even in other countries with their own reasoning and mindsets. Your questions at the end, about the price of “political victory” apply to every nation that has these debates.

    • Tara J Leek

      Can completely identify.  

    • http://twitter.com/CassieYoung22 Cassie Young

      YES. Thank you. Exactly how I feel.

    • Nissa Morin

      Thank you, I’ve always hoped that this was the actual view of many Christians especially those in my generation. I don’t know how to argue with the people you are talking about, we are too different. I’m glad someone (possibly a lot of someones) from “their” camp is still open-minded and kind enough to step back and realize what effect these battles of public opinion are having.

    • Anonymous

      Well said. It is so sad that so many religions once based in love and acceptance have become poisoned by hate.

    • Anne

      Thank you so much for expressing exactly how I feel.

    • N Looman

      wow.  well said. you give a voice to what has been on my heart for a long time. Thank you

    • Dash

      If you take this issue to be a red flag with the Christian faith and use it to prompt digging through the past to look at all the agendas it has been twisted to support, I feel like the next logical step would be denying its validity as a whole, particularly in terms of its truthfulness as well as its moral reasoning. Just sayin’.

    • Chris

      I’ve felt this way for a long time – to the point where sometimes I am embarrassed to  say I am a Christian because of all the negative-connotations that come along with it. Thank you so much for revealing a different Christian perspective on church politics and homosexuality.

    • Sarah Fusaro

      I really appreciate you writing this. 

      Even though I and my husband (both followers of Christ) believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and sex should be saved for marriage, I too am so sick of this culture war, of the vitriolic hatred that I see. And you’re right – it’s mostly Christians over 40. I see my friend’s parents rejoicing over it and it makes me sad. These are people I respect, but I just can’t really get behind the state mandating *any* marriage. It’s ridiculous for Christians to think that they can legislate morality, that by some law they can stop sin from happening, that they can pass laws and change hearts. 

      It doesn’t work that way. As a Christian libertarian, I’d love it if the state just got out of the marriage business altogether. My views on marriage are entirely religious, and the state’s involvement in that cheapens that rich heritage and belief. If anything, the state should recognize all civil unions and count them equal, for tax and legal purposes. I don’t care. Because, if ever there was a day where the state recognized gay marriage and not heterosexual marriage, it wouldn’t take away the fact that I believe that before God my husband and I would be married. For Christians, it should be between us and God. Let non-Christians live with and be with who they will.

      Jesus loved those who were not Christians. He forgave and dined with and associate with the lowest of the low in His day, in order to win them over. Yes, I believe sin is real. But that is to be dealt with once you accept His forgiveness. Jesus dealt more severely with the religious leaders of His day than He did the sinners. It is possible for Christians to hold to a Biblical view on homosexuality and yet still hang out with, respect, and love homosexuals. Believe me.

      • Aj

        You seem like a nice person, but you are equating being gay with morality and you reference sin multiple times, the implication being that being gay is a sin. You talk about Jesus dining with the lowest of the low and quite frankly that is patronizing and a little messed up. The fact that you respect the people rejoicing about this also makes it seem like you are more in the camp that the author has a problem with. The last paragraph of your post talks about Christians and homosexuals as if they are two different groups. Do you believe that Gay people cant be christians? And what is a “biblical view on homosexuality”?

        • Sarah Fusaro

          First of all, just because I respect someone doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything. I can respect people for their kindness, generosity, selflessness, etc. and yet not agree with them on politics and gay marriage as recognized by the state. It’s called differing opinions, and if I only respected/hung out with people I agree with 100%, I’d be quite a lonely girl. :) 

          And about Jesus dining with the lowest of the low… historically, that is what society classified tax collectors, the diseased, slaves, prostitutes, etc. as. *I’m* not calling them that – it was a societal fact in that day. He risked His reputation by being with people that, even some of His disciples looked down upon. The point was that Jesus didn’t care what others thought – He saw the people for who they were, not what society classified them as. I’m not messed up or patronizing for pointing out that Christ’s love transcends all bounds. 

          Homosexuality is a complicated topic for Christians, even for me. But regardless of what a Christian believes about the Bible and what it says about homosexuality, it should never mean that Christians don’t love them. And I make the distinction between Christians and homosexuals in order to more succinctly address the issue of non-homosexual Christians who condemn gay marriage being recognized by the state, who are rude and cruel to homosexuals, etc. 

          I take from your comment that you’re not a Christian, and this is just a forum, so I’m really not going to get in it with you what I believe about sin and the Bible. Also, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on certain things, I think. 
          The whole point of my comment was that Christians should love all people, regardless of what they believe, and treat them with kindness and respect because that is what Jesus did – loved all people regardless of the differing opinions they held, how and even if they attempted to follow Judaic law (Jesus was a Jew, so His religion dictated that He shouldn’t have had contact with the “unclean”). The majority of my post was about how I don’t even want the state involved in marriage period. Because marriage means different things to different people. 

        • Aj

          Thank you very much for responding so thoughtfully. Even if we disagree I appreciate you taking the time to respond and Im glad you are a caring person!

      • dst

        I appreciate your heart and thoughts and you have some wonderful points.  I do have one question though.  You mention how it is ridiculous for Christians to think that they can legislate morality.  I do agree in many ways with that.  However, if homosexual marriage was legal, then the state would actually be legally allowing and granting these marriages.  Essentially it seems like it would be the same thing as the state legislating immorality (if one does believe in fact, that same-sex marriage is wrong).  So if it is not the governments role to legislate morality, certainly it would not be the governments role to legally allow and grant immorality?  For the record, I completely believe that the Church needs to hang out with, respect, and love homosexuals more than ever.  Marriage is something that has to be legally allowed by the state.  The government has to legally approve of your marriage.  For example, the government would not legally approve of a 5 year old marrying a 30 year old, for obvious reasons (I am not comparing pedophilia to homosexuality).  In the same vein, wouldn’t it be a bit backwards if the government could legally approve and allow immorality, but could not stand for morality?

        • Sarah Fusaro

          Hey DST. Um, I’m just a tad confused about what you’re saying here. 

          What I’m saying is that I wish the government did not approve any marriages at all – homosexual, heterosexual, etc. Because, really, it is not the government’s role to tell me who I can and cannot spend the rest of my life with. I’m not advocating total anarchy, but it seems to me that the problem comes in when Christians get upset about the government distorting what “marriage” is. But Christians have a totally different concept of marriage than the government. The government sees marriage as, essentially, a legal bond between two people that can dissolved. Most Christians see marriage as a covenant before God that should not be broken except for very few cases. My point as that if the government wants to approve a legal contract between two people of adult age (sharing finances, names, homes, legal responsibility of children) for the purposes of the law, fine! Why not? I don’t see the problem with two men sharing that. Just don’t call it marriage. For anyone. Christians can and should have religious ceremonies, as should Muslims, Hindus, whatever. And that’s fine. I’m arguing that that should be separate from the legal contract between two individuals. Does that make sense? :) 

    • Tnpb7d

      You’ve captured my frustrations with the Church so well. The biggest challenge to my faith hasn’t come from doubts, or a college education, or a lack of faith.  It comes from the hatred I see expressed by Christians. It comes from the Church wrapping its arms around itself and building walls to keep those who are different out. When I read the bible, I see a message of love not hate. God will judge; it is my role to reach out to all people and show them His love.

      • Jhesset Enano

        These words are exactly what I’ve been meaning to say to so many people, but I can’t just make out the right words. I’ve been put down and ganged up by a lot of people in my life because of the beliefs that I want to express. It really depresses me, but I know that God will understand and forgive. I, too, must have that ability, even though it is hard. I do not want to lose my faith in the Lord, but the hatred that I keep seeing and feeling from my fellow Christians do not make me feel better; it just turns makes me really depressed. Thank you for these words. Thank you. 

        • Tnpb7d

           You’re welcome. And don’t let it depress you. It brings me some comfort to know that I’m not the only believer who feels this way. The comments to this article are evidence of that. And with some searching, we can find one another. Those pushing hatred may be the loudest, but God’s love is the strongest.

    • http://sosaysjessi.tumblr.com/ Jessi Smith

      This is the kind of article I want to give a standing ovation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/josephbrillantes Joseph Brillantes

      Bravo. We all need to stop the black-and-white thinking and focus on what’s real: that there are millions of LGBTs out there begging for love, and a sector not acknowledging that.

    • ism

      Except, there isn’t one monolithic Church issuing decrees and ordinances — unless you are talking about the Catholic church.  America is religiously pluralistic, especially with regard to denominations.  It’s very true that people are dogmatic but to align the manifold Christian sects under the ambiguously monolithic “Church-with-a-capital-C” is erroneous. 

      • Tnpb7d

         The “Religious Right” is currently made up of Catholics, Mormons, and Baptists. I think those three groups together make up a sizable portion of the American Church. Regardless of their differences in beliefs, they have the same political agenda.

    • rika

      this is awesome. i hope everyone sees this

    • Guest

      “We are ready to start washing feet instead of waging war.”Amen.

    • Robin

      Can I ask what specific groups are represented in these anecdotes? What branch(es) of Christianity?

    • Anonymous

      As much as I admire Rachel, and enjoyed her book (EIMT), I think that this is just the wrong approach.  

      The problem isn’t a culture war or anything like that. The problem is using barbaric and outdated literature like the bible to guide your life in any way shape or form. The bible is EVERY bit as hateful as the Westboro Baptist church, (and yes I have read it cover to cover many times, some new testament books hundreds of times), it is every bit as extreme and perverse as the Catholic church, and it is every bit as oppressive as it’s victims express.

      Trying to fight this fight within Christianity is like trying to be a moderate Nazi to end the Nazi’s reign of terror. There is simply no way within the Christian framework (while remaining intellectually honest with yourself) to stop the hate and oppression of homosexuals.

      • Candcroberts

         JKX …. I am sorry you see the Bible in the light that you do…. there are millions of people who have found God’s healing love through it and I am one of them…. Jesus washed my shame and guilt and gave me a reason to live ….

        • Anonymous

          Hello,

          Like you, I once thought that I had “experienced God’s healing love”. It is nice that your beliefs have had a positive affect in your life. Cherry picking the nice parts of the bible and applying them to your life may even benefit you and some others around you.

          However, you are still doing a great disservice to everyone whom Christianity oppresses. Your granting credence and respect to the bible provides protection for those who decide to apply and adhere to the more hateful, and malicious parts that generally characterize most of the bible. 

          While it benefits you, it is oppressing women and LGBT across the globe and has been for centuries. Meanwhile there are plenty of human agencies and teachings that could easily provide much greater benefit to you than the supposed “healing power of God” ever has.

        • Candcroberts

           Jesus said all the commandment are summed up in LOVING…. Your God and people …. I spend my time and so many other followers of Jesus by serving the poor, loving the unlovely,  comforting the oppressed…. Jesus was amazing to women….the Bible is about loving not hating… and Christians are oppressed all over the world, not the other way around…. I am sorry for you…. I see Jesus setting women free and loving on LGBT….

        • Anonymous

          To think this way you have to discard, discount or otherwise hand-wave away large portions of the bible. 

          Sure the Jesus we see in the gospels had his moments or beautiful ideals. His treatment of the poor and marginalized is admirable and to be respected. However this is not the only side of Jesus. In Luke 19 in the parable of the ten minas Jesus explicitly states the desire that in the future his enemies be killed in front of him. Not to mention the 2000 years of psychological torture he is responsible for in children by having them believe that if they don’t shape up his father will burn them in hell forever. And where is he now? As 25 thousand children under 5 died today Jesus sat by idle? Not likely. Jesus is just dead.

          Also Christians generally assume they are the only ones helping the poor and “loving the unlovely”. Huge parts of my own life and many other non-Christians I know are not only spent doing so, but thinking and planning how to do it most effectively.

          And please forgive me if I am wrong here, but I assume you are a Christian here in America, and if that is the case, compared to what homosexuals have suffered here in our history, the idea of “Christian Oppression” is a joke.

        • anem0ne

          I do not deny that in some places of the world, Christians may be oppressed. But does this excuse the oppression Christians have enacted, either now or in the past? 
          “Tu quoque” seems to always be an attempt to excuse amoral or immoral actions.

          I find JKX’s displeasure with Christianity unfortunate, but quite understandable. In this country, in these particular circumstances, Christians are not oppressed. So what if Christians in Indonesia are targeted for pogroms? How does it change matters here, in America, in terms of being kind, of being moral?

          By all means, help your brethren in Indonesia, undertake the jihad, the struggle. But it does not give you an excuse, it does not give you the right, it does not give you the privilege of turning around here, where you are safe, and trying to oppress others.

          There is no sense in comparing the chips on our shoulders with each other. All we do then is focus on the misery, instead of trying to improve ourselves. Nobody wins in the oppression olympics.

    • Swg1993

      It’s such a relief to know that it is no just me and my friends who think like this!

    • Candcroberts

      Thank you Rachel for posting this article and telling the truth about the church…. to be known for our anti homosexuals is horrid…. Didn’t Jesus say belong and you will come to believe? …. didn’t He sit with sinners regularly and did not preach to them to turn or burn….. what is with the church? Why aren’t we known for our feeding the poor and caring for the hurting and loving the unlovely????  I for one, in my 60’s, and following Jesus for over 1/2 my life ….love my homosexual neighbors …. have them over for dinner …. reach out to them in love …..isn’t that what my Jesus would do???

      • adrian

        No serious Christians are saying that homosexuals will burn. Jesus actually never said belong and you will come to believe, and he constantly told people to “sin no more.”

        Yes, Jesus would sit and eat with the homosexuals. I don’t think anyone should condemn them as human beings. Judgment is reserved for God. Of course, the Churches should continue to say that such behavior is sinful, but I agree that the reaction has been too harsh. We should welcome them and teach them the love of God.

        • MT

          I guess I (and many others) fail to see how homosexuality can even be considered a sin, other than a few words in print in the Bible (that Jesus didn’t even talk about at all!).

          Thieving, cheating, lying, murdering…all other sins create hate. Healthy homosexuality creates love, devotion, happiness, a safe place to raise children…and yet it’s grouped with these other sins??

        • adrian

          Well, as far as I can tell, it has to do with creating children. Biblical marriages (and marriage services to this day in older Christian denominations) talk a lot about making children and multiplying. That is clearly impossible in a homosexual relationship. I recognize that a homosexual couple can raise an adopted child, or even have a sperm donor (for lesbians) or a surrogate mother (for gays) and that can actually be beneficial to society. However, the fact remains that the couple cannot create children of their own. 

          That being said, I would never want other people’s beliefs forced on me, just as I will not force my beliefs on others, so I support legal gay marriage.

    • Susie

      I think the “culture war” is actually evidence of a spiritual battle for the souls of people. God is fighting to RESCUE people. Obviously hate is not the answer. Prayer is. We should remember that we are not fighting people, but that which destroys those people. They are fighting because they feel guilty, and hate feeling that way. They hate us, because they hate the light of Christ, which exposes what is in the dark, and it shames them, and it hurts.(Of course it would! I feel that when I know what I am doing is wrong and I don’t want to let go of it. I’m a sinner too.)  But we, as sinners saved by Jesus,  must not let other people  die like that! They are people just like us, whom God loves, and they desperately need to know the truth, that God did NOT make them to be that way. Yes, they were born with a sin nature like the rest of us, but God gives us a way out! We do  not have to accept defeat and pretend it’s victory! Jesus gives us freedom from slavery! We can be born anew, and this time, to a new nature the way God intended! We simply admit that we are filthy, and need Him to wash us clean, and He will! We will be renewed completely, and all our sins will never be remembered again! 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/P2KJ2GMYTMP2C6CO5XLPPDJWTI Jeff S

         Your internal life sounds horrid.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1071197895 Susan Russell

        What God is fighting to heal is homophobia and the twisted perversion of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus that those created in love and in the image of God were “born filthy.” Kyrie eleison!

        The Reverend Canon Susan RussellAll Saints Church, Pasadena

        • Adrian

          By the
          Good News of Jesus Christ, I’m assuming you mean the Gospels. That’s
          reasonable. Christ does not specifically condemn homosexual behavior, though he
          does seem to explicitly endorse heterosexual marriage (Matthew 19:4-5).
          However, do you accept the rest of the Bible? I’m not even talking about
          Leviticus. How about Paul’s letter to the Romans? I am assuming you are
          Protestant. The entire Reformation was built on that one letter, particularly
          Calvinism, though Luther used it quite a bit as well to support his belief in
          salvation by Faith alone. Well, in that letter, we read 
          “26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile
          affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is
          against nature:

          27 And
          likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their
          lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and
          receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”” (Rom. 1:26-27)
          I think
          the churches are right to continue to say that the homosexual act is sinful and
          wrong. However, we cannot ever condemn homosexuals themselves. Love the sinner,
          hate the sin and all that. Homosexuality is a cross some must bear like any
          other.

          That
          being said, I’m definitely pro gay marriage. It’s no business of the
          state whom you marry.

           

        • Mctundra

          We are all “born filthy” that is why we need the Savior. No matter how “good” we are, we can not approach God, unless we accept the sacrifice of Christ, and the sacrifice that we also are called to bear, our own cross.

      • anem0ne

        I appreciate your prayers for me, though, to be perfectly honest, I do not feel as if I need them. I hope you receive my wishes that you will soon find no desire to seek the solace of superhuman beings, or the constant fear of a vindictive but ‘loving’ deity to govern your morality, but rather choose with your free will and rationality to be ethical and revel in the amazing glory of existence in the same vein.

        I feel neither guilt nor shame over my nature. I do not necessarily even feel ‘pride’ in it. I am who I am; the very core of my being and kindly and openly I interact with those around me matters more than their judgments of me.

        My orientation was not a choice. It just happened to be what it was. I do not feel enslaved to it, but rather, felt liberated when I accepted it.

        I do not hate you, or Christians as a whole. There is too much to do, too much to learn, too much to see, and too much to try and understand for me to waste my time and energy like that.

        I was born a cisgendered human, not fashioned in likeness of an inhuman, transgendered, unproven being. I can trace my existence back through time, through evolution, to the very atoms that began with the universe, and am amazed at the simple random chance that I came into being. It is like winning the lottery; I feel it is an amazing gift from nothing.

        I do not hate the ‘light of Christ’. I find many of his teachings enlightening, but I do not think he is the final word on how we should live; he is but one magnificent thinker throughout all of history.

        I find the formulation of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” somewhat troubling, because if anything, it is far too easy for the lines to be blurred and the rhetoric to be taken as a direct attack on the ‘sinner’; instead, I choose to excise the second half of it, and try to appreciate everyone, regardless of how irksome they may be. If they do not act to harm me, I have no cause to defend myself against them.

        If we choose to be better humans, and to move beyond our animal instincts, to progress beyond judging people based on immutable characteristics and only on their character, to think and understand with passionate rationality and live as equals, as superegos, to work past our flaws and constantly strive for self-improvement, then we as individuals and as people will no longer be shackled.

        And an unshackled humanity would be an awesome sight to behold indeed.

      • Sandlins1

        Sussie: I’m just curious, since you are born again, do no longer teach men, cover your head, and remain silent in church as is the law of you lord? If not, how do you explain your hypocrisy?

      • Adrian

        I agree with certain aspects of what you are saying. For me, the teachings against homosexuality in Leviticus are useless. The Church did away with so many rules from Leviticus, quoting its anti-homosexual passages is actually hypocritical. What is important is Paul’s writings on the subject (Rom. 1:26-32). There can be no misreading of this text. It is quite clear.
        That being said, I agree with the article that the churches often seem to judge homosexuals instead of homosexuality. To use some Eastern terminology (I’m Orthodox), homosexuality is a cross some people must bear, like alcoholism or sex addiction. God does not “hate fags” as the Westboro crowd is wont to say. God loves them as he loves everyone else. We must call everyone to repentance. We must love the sinner and hate the sin.
        Further, I don’t think the churches should be getting so involved in politics. This is a secular nation, and no matter what people say, it really started that way. The push towards Christianity really began with the second Great Awakening. I have moral issues with it, but if you want to marry someone of your own gender, who am I to say no? My Church must continue to say that such behavior is sinful, and cannot marry homosexuals, but if they want to be married in the eyes of the state, who are we to stop them?

        • Mctundra

          The State can have civil unions, but it should not be called marriage.  Words and terms do make a difference.  And although I think that the the states will allow civil unions, I don’t think homosexual unions should ever be called “marriage”.  Marriage is a Christian term and shouldn’t be used in the secular world when its meaning changes.

        • adrian

          I agree with you on moral principle, but everyone has to be intellectually honest. Marriage is not a Christian term at all. Originally, it was a legal concept adopted by religion. A strict reading of the Old Testament shows that there was no marriage ceremony originally, and the Church didn’t start performing marriage ceremonies till the 4th century. Before that, the Church simply accepted legal marriages.

        • MT

          Awesome answer; thank you.

          I accept the religious right of Christians to exclude gay marriages from their specific denominational practices. However, a lot of the arguments made against non-secular gay marriage (“it’s always been this way” “marriage is between a man and a woman”) come from such a biased and Westernized standpoint. 

          History is not just about white Christians after 0 AD – if you’re going to make broad historical statements about marriage and homosexuality to back up your discriminatory claims, at least do your research.

        • adrian

          Thank you. I think we completely agree. In a free society, a person should be able to marry whomever he chooses. I do not morally believe that homosexuality is right or good, but I have no right to force my beliefs on others, just as I don’t want others to force their beliefs on me. That is how you build a free and successful society. 

          You made a great point. I am a pretty conservative guy, but I get extremely frustrated when my fellow conservatives make points and try to back them up with “facts” which turn out to be completely false. Both sides do it, but if we are going to criticize the opposition for making stuff up, the least we can do is not make stuff up too.

    • Rivekell

       Thank you for writing this article. It’s definitely an issue that has been brought up among our generation. My family is Catholic and very religious as you may say. Fortunately though, my generation has led a skew from the normal path of religious beliefs. We have all grown in a very diverse community and have many LGBT friends.

      Therefore, none of us agree with the church’s views on marriage nor the way they talk about LGBT people. We view them as equals and as friends. An I am proud to say that we fight and support for their rights. This unfortunately causes us to not only have constant arguments with our own parents who do not agree because of the way they’ve grown, it has also caused many of us to brake from the church.

      Personally I must still attend church. But I proudly state that I support LGBT rights and that they have a right to whomever they wished to marry. I am sad to say that when I move out of home, I will stop attending church because I can not stand the hypocrisy. I can not go to a church that not only shuns my dearest friends but oppose their civil rights. Not to mention that the church also opresses the rights of women as well. They say that we are equal in the eyes of God, but they don’t don’t add the “but only if you’re not LGBT or a woman”.

      A woman could never be a priest, simply because she is a woman and nothing more. And LGBT person can not be accepted because they love someone who’s not “biologically” fit to be their partner. In other words, the church has put more importance on the biological and physical aspects of a person than the spiritual and emotional level.

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