Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Christian's Confusion | Evangelical Rhetoric: Innerancy, Salvation, and Homophobic Hatred

It is amazing, to those of us stationed at the WhatUpWally? headquarters, the various ways in which Christians attempt to justify their homophobia in seemingly nice ways. Excluding the recent Chik-Fil-E Hate-A-Thon a few months ago, Christians are being forced to alter their rhetoric... kinda. No longer is it acceptable to condemn gays straight to hell or to cite AIDS as God's condemnation. 

However, the new rhetoric of Christian homophobia is neatly clothed in the language of "all men are sinners" and that homosexuality is no greater of a sin than heterosexual infidelity or alcoholism. Although this may appear to be an improvement from hellbound theology, beneath the surface is a deeper attack on the personhood of homosexuals. 

Today we came across a Facebook rebuttal to an article on NBC News 'Ex-gay' group says it's shutting down; leader apologizes for 'pain and hurt', that utilizes this new "all sins are equal" rhetoric:

We have heard this line of argument before. Many Christians attempt to demonstrate that they too can "love the gays" by sympathizing with the sin in their own lives. This is extremely problematic and we would like to call it what it is - hatred disguised as love. 

Now, before we go any further, we believe that Fisher and other Christians using the "all sins are equal" rhetoric are doing so with good intentions. This can be read as an attempt to correct the path of explicit hatred that has been endemic to the Christian church when it comes to the topic of homosexuality. The church has been a agent of harm to homosexual individuals and many in the evangelical community are attempting to dial down the judgement and extend an empathetic hand to the homosexual community in order to expand their opportunities for conversion. 

However, this new disposition towards the homosexual community may be more dangerous as it attacks the individual's disposition towards love as a derivative form of "real love." 

Whom one person loves and is attracted to is not at all similar to infidelity or alcoholism. A man that loves another man is not making a choice as much as a man that loves a woman is making a choice. Who one loves is who one loves. 

An important question here is why do Christians care so much? 

We cannot claim to know the answer to this question but we can offer two explanations.

1. If you pull one string the whole thing may unravel: 

From Grace Bible Church's (the church that Brian Fisher pastors) website:

Evangelical Christianity, even though it may not appear to be a fundamentalist movement because of its fancy churches, coffee bars, indie rock praise and worship, lax dress code, and emphasis on forgiveness, is predicated on the absolute truth and innerancy of the Bible. This book is the word of God and therefore it is to be taken literally. Now we all know that Christians do not take the Bible literally or else they would not love football so much and they would be socialists. However, those issues that they deem the most important, i.e. the definition of marriage being between man and woman, they claim to be true for all humanity because the bible says so and the bible is the absolute truth. So... because what the church's interpretation of the bible is and because that interpretation is deemed to be absolute truth and because the foundation of this truth is that it is the word of God and because the bible is the word of god it is innerant... then the whole thing must be true and it must be true for all humanity. 

Christian's are obsessed with converting homosexuals to Christianity and ridding them of their sin because IF their INTERPRETATION of homosexuality as a sin IS WRONG - then the bible is no longer innerant. If the bible is no longer innerant then it may not be the word of god. If the bible is no longer the absolute word of God then it may not be true for all of humanity. If it is not true for all of humanity then it may not be true even for Christians. If it is not true for Christians then the foundation of their security in heaven is shaken. Therefore to pull the string that says homosexuality is not a sin, means the whole bible unravels - leaving Christians with existential anxiety.

2. Saving Lost Souls

From Grace Bible Church's Mission Statement
This is only one church's mission statement but it is a fairly good representation of what evangelical churches across the nation strive towards: "worship God and multiply believers." The "great commission" as they call it, instructs Christians to to "go forth and make disciples of all nations."
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
Sin is something that separates man from God and that sin entered all of humanity with Adam and Eve (also the beginning of patriarchal ideology). All men have sinned and the only way to be reconciled with God is by accepting his "son", Jesus Christ, who died as the atonement for your sin. You are supposed to repent from your sin and turn from your wicked ways and obedience to Jesus is the path to a full life. This is the absolute word of God. 

Conversion of "non-believers" is central to evangelical theology. They believe that if they do not "share Christ" with the "lost" then they are partly responsible for that lost soul spending eternity in hell. So it makes more sense when your classmate, coworker, or the guy next to you on the airplane is relentless to get you to say a prayer asking Jesus into you life. This aggressive command to make disciples of all the nations is drilled into their heads, since childhood, every sunday (and however many bible studies they go to during the week) as they are prepared to serve in the "Lord's Army."

So why are Christians so militantly opposed to homosexuality? 

Because it threatens their whole way of life. If they don't convert the homosexual they are responsible for his/her eternal damnation and if homosexuality is not a sin then the bible (or their interpretation of it) is not the absolute truth. To overcome this existential doubt, evangelical Christians become further entrenched in their ideology, hold the absoluteness of the bible with a firmer grip, and go forth to save the lost souls. 
"We all, every man and woman, have attractions that are unhealthy. The presence of an attraction in our hearts, or its stubborn refusal to leave, does not alone validate it as a positive good....
We are all broken. We are all beset by destructive longings. However, through God's grace, a supportive community, and the development of new, healthy habits, we can overcome our inherent fears, inadequacies and even unhealthy attractions" - Fisher

The rhetoric of "all sins are equal" may appear to be more accepting but in the end it is only rhetorical trickery, a fancy package on homophobia, and a way to reconcile the world as it is with the way they want the world to be. 

In the end, what appears to be love is actually hate (we know that is a strong word). Comparing homosexuality to infidelity and alcoholism is a direct attack on the humanity of a homosexual man or woman. A man loving another man or a woman loving another woman is not a symptom of unhealthy living, inadequacies, brokeness, or destructive longings - it is just love. 

Faith can be a good thing for some people but when it becomes the foundation of an attack on who a person is, it becomes destructive and unproductive. 

Doing Fine Without Jesus,

12-29-13 Update: Because most people comment on our Facebook page, we thought we'd go ahead and add those responses to the blog - considering that they are an important piece to this ongoing dialogue.

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