On May 1st of this year, I asked “Anti-Gay Activists, Why Do You Persist?” Today I’m asking again. It’s not that I don’t understand the scriptural basis for your condemnation – I understand it very well. My question has to do with why you insist upon waging war against equality. Why the animosity? Since the landmark SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a number of pastors and religious leaders have blatantly declared outright war on the LGBTQ+ community and allies – even more than before. They just can’t let it go, and I’m curious as to why that is.
Bryan Fischer takes to the airwaves every day, and you can regularly count on him to decry the dangers facing America as a result of the acceptance of the “gay lifestyle.” He compares pro-equality activists to Hitler’s Nazi’s, and even claims that “Hitler surrounded himself with homosexuals because he couldn’t get straight soldiers to be savage enough.” What is it that makes a person feel so threatened that they resort to such bizarre and offensive falsehoods?
Politicians, televangelists, and country preachers write books, articles, and Facebook posts in which they claim that gay men are more likely to be child predators. The available research (credible research) on same-sex families suggests a different picture, and even if that information didn’t exist, the claims would still be speculative at best. Now, it would be one thing if they admitted speculation, they would just be wrong in that case, but they prefer instead to claim that they’ve actually researched the issues and know what they’re talking about. Why?
There are thousands of examples that could be used here. As a former evangelical homophobe, I understand the desire to aggressively jump at issues of equality when you believe that equality isn’t deserved, but these people are really taking it beyond the pale. Even when they’re caught lying or proven to be just flat-out ignorant, they don’t stop. Paul Cameron has been disowned by every reputable psychological association in North America, and Tony Perkins has never made a factual statement about the LGBTQ+ community; aside from the admission that they exist. Regardless, they continue to make things up and their followers stay loyal. They just keep lying. Why?
It must be stated again and again that this war is being fought entirely on one side. Our goal is simple – equality. That’s what we fight for, and we’re getting there. To the religious right, though, this fight is about the destruction of society. They are convinced that pro-equality activists are after their children, their churches, and their faith. As I said on July 9 of this year (“The Gay Agenda”), they are fighting a monster that doesn’t exist. They are fighting a war being waged only by them. We’re not even really responding. We just challenge the status quo in favour of a more loving and equal society, while they wage war on an enemy that exists only in their imagination. Why?
A tactic that bothers me most in all of this is when pastors and Christian publications occasionally read and publish transparently fabricated “ex-gay” letters. Christianity Today has done this in the past, and every once in awhile I come across these letters being read in sermons. When I read and listen to these, I almost feel embarrassed for whoever is presenting it. I also feel embarrassed for those who believe it. Obvious fabrications made to enforce homosexuality as a choice, a sickness, a curable disease. The ex-gay man who found solace in the arms of men because his father didn’t love him. The ex-gay woman who grew up with a single mother, and rejected men because her father had left them when she was young. The ex-gay convert to Christianity who found love in the arms of Jesus, and in that love the strength to reject same-sex desires. Sound familiar? Now, I don’t want to downplay the experiences of someone who legitimately went through a tough time and triumphantly came through it, but the “ex-gay” movement is a sham. It’s a coercive religious movement that uses shame and guilt to force people back into the closet. Ex-gay stories are the evangelical equivalent of chance encounters written about in Penthouse Forum – made up scenarios to excite and engage those who believe that these things actually happen. The difference is that the “ex-gay” movement leaves a tragic mess of guilt-ridden and broken hearts in its wake.
I have always been open about my hateful past. I understand how it feels for a person who believes wholeheartedly that the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination. I understand that the perspective from that vantage point is completely closed to the possibility of being wrong, and entirely closed to the possibility that scripture was not written in a vacuum but has linguistic, historical, cultural, and spiritual contexts to it. All I’m asking here is for evangelicals reading this to think about the question. Why insist upon this so vehemently? I’ve asked this question before, but it bears repeating. You say “Jesus said to love everybody,” and you openly condemn in the same breath. Why? If I may be so bold as to suggest an approach similar to 1 Peter 3:15, ask yourself if there is a rational justification for your distaste toward LGBTQ+ people. It’s a legitimate question.