This is an issue I think needs addressing in the wake of the Chick-Fil-A controversy.

Regardless of one's personal stance on homosexuality, is taking a position that the homosexual lifestyle is immoral necessarily a hateful one? That is, if one, in accordance with say his or her religious view, thoughtfully comes to the conclusion that homosexuality (the act) is wrong, can it be concluded that such a person is hateful?

66 Comments

  1. If the stance in question is hateful, yes. Taking the stand that homosexuality (an innate trait someone is born with) is wrong is discriminatory and hateful.

    Replace “homosexuality” with “being black” in these debates and see if there is still anything left to talk about.

  2. Aaron Weidert

    I would first and foremost challenge your assertion that homosexuality is an act. This is a problem that I feel like is rarely addressed, and is central to some of the disconnect on this issue. It’s frustrating and disheartening to me that anyone can (and so many seem to) accept that heterosexuality is an orientation, while homosexuality is an act. If a heterosexual male abstains from sex outside of marriage for religious reasons, even if that leads to abstaining his entire life, do any of us as Christians accuse him of not being heterosexual? Is there any thought given to his sexual orientation at all? Why, then, are we so obsessed with thinking of homosexuality in terms of the details of the actions we imagine are taking place? It’s because we, as both Christians and simply human beings, are uncomfortable (or at the very least LESS comfortable) judging people for who they are rather than what they do. As Sam mentioned, we of course wouldn’t be okay with judging someone for being black. We wouldn’t say, “I’ve thoughtfully come to the conclusion that being black is wrong.” However, we are much more comfortable judging actions. We all clearly know that murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc. And we therefore feel it’s much safer and more comfortable to judge people for these things (a tangential argument could be started about that). Keeping the emphasis on homosexuality as an act rather than an orientation allows us to stay in this safer space. It’s essentially a subtle cop-out allowing us to judge someone for who they are under the guise of condemning what they do.

  3. Is someone hateful just for taking a stance? If they’re taking a hateful stance, yes. And the Chick-Fil-A president is doing more than “just” taking a stance. The charitable arm of his company has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups. Those groups include Exodus International, an organization seeking to limit “homosexual desires” and cure people of their homosexuality; Focus on the Family, which donated $200,000 to attempt to defeat Referendum 71, and sent a mailer stating that rejecting the domestic partnership benefits law would “protect the innocence of Washington kids”; and the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a hate group.

    Hiding behind religion as a cover for hate doesn’t mean the hate isn’t there.

  4. Sam -

    I don’t agree that one can simply replace “homosexuality” with “being black”. There is no lifestyle or actions associated with being black. There are, however, actions attached to homosexuality. The question is not about whether it is immoral to feel those attractions, but whether it is wrong to act upon them.

  5. Aaron –

    Perhaps homosexuality is not merely an action. But there is a difference between having homosexual desires and carrying out the act of homosexuality. It is the same for heterosexuality. There are the heterosexual desires and there is the act of having heterosexual relations.

    [". If a heterosexual male abstains from sex outside of marriage for religious reasons, even if that leads to abstaining his entire life, do any of us as Christians accuse him of not being heterosexual?"]

    No, and no one need claim that a person with homosexual attractions is not homosexual because they never act on it. The question is not whether THIS form of homosexuality is wrong (though some might even take it that far), but about whether acting on such desires is morally wrong.

    [" It’s essentially a subtle cop-out allowing us to judge someone for who they are under the guise of condemning what they do."]

    This may be true in some cases, but I don’t think so in general. There is a legitimate distinction to be made between the two.

  6. Megan –

    It seems that you may be begging the question. Why is this stance necessarily hateful? Using the statement “anti-gay” as a pejorative terms seems a bit disingenuous to me. Believing that one can limit or cure homosexual desires is no more hateful than believing that we can limit or cure psychopathy, both of which are biologically based. Now, I am not intending to compare homosexuality to psychopathy. I am merely challenging the assumption that just because it is believed that homosexuality is something that is treatable it is hateful. These people may be dead wrong or it may be that it is not something that needs to be treated, but I don’t believe that they are being necessarily hateful.

  7. Ryan,

    Homosexuality is treatable? Like a disease? If by “treatable” you mean that some people, often in the name of religious conscience, have brow-beaten and brainwashed homosexual people into feeling such shame for the way they were born (and you certainly can substitute “being black” in here, for as much choice as the person so born has in being who they are) that they spend however long they can stand it repressing their true selves. I’ve never met anyone who lived happily that way, and certainly nobody who lives a fulfilling spiritual life.

    The stance is necessarily hateful because in essence it says, “I don’t like who you are, and I want to reprogram you to be more acceptable to me.”

  8. “I don’t agree that one can simply replace “homosexuality” with “being black”. There is no lifestyle or actions associated with being black. There are, however, actions attached to homosexuality. The question is not about whether it is immoral to feel those attractions, but whether it is wrong to act upon them.”

    Do you, uh, actually know any gay people? Do you know any black people? I have had, and continue to have, close associations with both communities and I know that you’re wrong on both counts. Gay people are just like anyone else. The only stereotypically “gay” people I know seem to be that way just out of a sense of irony and provocation, not in essence different from anyone else making a statement with clothes and shared memes. Most gay people are just people and have whole and varied human lives.

    On the other side of that coin, there are actions associated with being black, at least in a general sense. They have a distinct culture and all that comes with that. Food, rituals, worship practices, activities — identifiable and distinguishable. Racists attach their bad feelings to activities, real or perceived, and single those behaviors out as the “reason” black people should be, well, inferior. (I’m wondering if you know any racists, because the patterns of racism are very distinct and recognizable.)

    If you’re trying to talk about values, and you’re trying to carve this group and that group into pieces — isolating sexuality, isolating an argument without identifying the context — you’re missing the point entirely and your arguments are dreadfully undermined. (Which is what Megan and Aaron are trying to tell you too.)

  9. Thom –

    Would you also consider it immoral for doctors to perform sex changes, since they are treating gender like something to be removed with a scalpel?

    Also, what is a “true self”? Are you saying that a homosexual is reduced to his/her homosexuality? What if he/she doesn’t like it? Should a sociopath or psychopath, which are biologically based, not care to change, since it would be denying who he/she truly is?

    As of right now, you are begging the question. You’ll need more than this to prove that merely holding that the homosexual act is immoral is hateful.

  10. Sam Fletcher

    I know this question wasn’t directed at me, but…

    “Would you also consider it immoral for doctors to perform sex changes, since they are treating gender like something to be removed with a scalpel?”

    Please please please get your definitions straight. Gender and biological sex can be entirely different. This is well-established. Sex organs can be removed or congenitally deformed, and that so being does not change gender. This is basic grounding for all gender studies.

  11. Sam –

    First, know that I am asking this question independently of my personal views on homosexuality. With that said, let me address your points.

    ["Do you, uh, actually know any gay people? Do you know any black people?"]

    Yes. In fact, I have a close friend who is gay and several friends of varying ethnicities.

    ["Gay people are just like anyone else."]

    Well, technically not JUST like, but okay, I never said they weren’t like other people.

    ["The only stereotypically “gay” people I know seem to be that way just out of a sense of irony and provocation, not in essence different from anyone else making a statement with clothes and shared memes. "]

    Fine. What is the relevance of this?

    ["Most gay people are just people and have whole and varied human lives."]

    Again, granted, but what does this have to do with the issue at hand? The question is whether one can hold to the moral position that the homosexual act is wrong in some sense without being hateful.

    ["On the other side of that coin, there are actions associated with being black, at least in a general sense. They have a distinct culture and all that comes with that. Food, rituals, worship practices, activities — identifiable and distinguishable."]

    These things are not directly related to being black though. They are accidental actions that happen to be associated with how the black culture evolved. They do not define “blackness”. The homosexual act, by contrast is directly associated with being homosexual.

    Note, too, that even cultural actions can be morally questionable. But if “black culture” involves something morally questionable, the act of judging it does not constitute an attack on black people. In this sense it is similar in that, if one considers the homosexual act immoral, I don’t think that means he/she hates people who are homosexual.

    For example, many men struggle with sexual temptations, temptations even to be unfaithful. These sexual attractions and urges are natural and biologically grounded. Yet, I would maintain that being unfaithful or acting on these desires is immoral. Nevertheless, that does not mean I hate those who struggle with this, nor am I being hateful by taking a moral stance on the matter.

    ["If you’re trying to talk about values, and you’re trying to carve this group and that group into pieces — isolating sexuality, isolating an argument without identifying the context — you’re missing the point entirely and your arguments are dreadfully undermined."]

    I’m not following you here. In what way am I not identifying context? What context? I have asked a very specific question and am maintaining that the mere moral stance that acting out homosexual acts is immoral is not necessarily hateful.

  12. Sam –

    ["Please please please get your definitions straight. Gender and biological sex can be entirely different. This is well-established. Sex organs can be removed or congenitally deformed, and that so being does not change gender. This is basic grounding for all gender studies."]

    I haven’t used or conflated any definitions. It was merely an example to highlight a potential inconsistency in a view. The claim seemed to be that if something is natural, then why try to change it? Or that it is wrong to attempt to. When someone tries to get a sex change, they are trying to cover up who or what they really are. A homosexual might try to do the same thing and while he/she may always have the biological underpinnings, he/she may be able to heavily influence the expression of those genetic underpinnings.

  13. Sam Fletcher

    - “Well, technically not JUST like, but okay, I never said they weren’t like other people.”

    I *could* just stop right here, because that is a major problem with this whole debate. Sexuality is a sliding scale. This is well-established. Gay people are simply farther on one end of the scale than the other. Very few people are actually going to end up being strictly on one end of the scale (though, due to cultural pressures, not many will accurately state where they believe they are on the scale). When we say “gay” and “straight” we are really talking about humans who express a variance on one of many, many sliding scale traits — intelligence, pigmentation, emotion, personality, blah blah, on and on. Nothing about this really has any moral character at all, except what we misguidedly invent for it. Everything we’re talking about is grey areas, and you can’t just make up moral arguments about it that involve a black and white view of the world.

    - “Yes. In fact, I have a close friend who is gay and several friends of varying ethnicities.”

    I would very much like to hear what your gay friends might have to say about the anti-gay crowd potentially not being hateful.

    - “Again, granted, but what does this have to do with the issue at hand? The question is whether one can hold to the moral position that the homosexual act is wrong in some sense without being hateful.”

    It has everything to do with the issue at hand. Singling out a single trait (actually, as previously mentioned, a position on a sliding scale) of a whole person, and then condemning the whole person because of it, is incredible hateful and hurtful, I would argue. Marriages and love relationships involve whole persons, not sex acts alone, and that really, really needs to be part of the debate. I think you’ve over-simplifying just to make one side of the argument look better.

    “For example, many men struggle with sexual temptations, temptations even to be unfaithful. These sexual attractions and urges are natural and biologically grounded. Yet, I would maintain that being unfaithful or acting on these desires is immoral. Nevertheless, that does not mean I hate those who struggle with this, nor am I being hateful by taking a moral stance on the matter.”

    You might feel a natural urge to mess about and in some hypothetical circumstances one could imagine scenarios where that might work out well for the person. What’s missing from what you just said is that there are consequences, often severe, for cheating on your S.O., as well as the pain and suffering one would cause to the S.O. and people in that social network. That’s really going to be the most important factor, not whether some other person who is not you or your S.O. has something to say about it. Because moral pondering is mostly a futile exercise that doesn’t really stop anyone from doing what they want to do. Consequences real or imagined, and the subject’s own sense of ethics and values are what control behavior.

    - “I’m not following you here. In what way am I not identifying context? What context? I have asked a very specific question and am maintaining that the mere moral stance that acting out homosexual acts is immoral is not necessarily hateful.”

    The context you’re not identifying is that the anti-gay crowd has said some tremendously hurtful and even insane things. They are working hard, and spending lots of money, to cause a lower life quality for GLBT persons. The Chic-fil-A B.S. is only a tiny, tiny part of a huge, huge whole and you absolutely do not get to isolate that one tiny part as if the rest of it does not exist. Especially not with something that effects the lives of so many in very real, very tangible ways.

  14. Sam Fletcher

    “I haven’t used or conflated any definitions. It was merely an example to highlight a potential inconsistency in a view. The claim seemed to be that if something is natural, then why try to change it? Or that it is wrong to attempt to. When someone tries to get a sex change, they are trying to cover up who or what they really are. A homosexual might try to do the same thing and while he/she may always have the biological underpinnings, he/she may be able to heavily influence the expression of those genetic underpinnings.”

    Huh… I’m really not sure you have a grasp of some of the issues here. Someone who gets a sex change is not “trying to cover up who they really are”. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Again, if you know any transgender people, have you ever talked to them about this?

  15. Sam Fletcher

    “I don’t believe the person in your hypothetical question is “hateful”, just hurtful…
    There is a difference.”

    I think you might be correct depending on the person, but I’ve personally witnessed what I believe is genuine hate coming from many sectors of this crowd. They want to go so far as to put homosexuals to death (“like in the Bible!”) or at least make their lives invisible. I think that could safely be labeled hate as it goes past simple ignorance.

  16. Sam –

    ["I would very much like to hear what your gay friends might have to say about the anti-gay crowd potentially not being hateful."]

    From my friend, commenting on this very issue:

    “As far as taking a stance that someone has an immoral lifestyle, no that is not necessarily hateful. How one responds to something they consider immoral can be hateful, however. I see nothing hateful about Chick-Fil-A stating that they think homosexuality is wrong. If it affect their hiring processes, that is a different issue. Mostly I think that they just made a terrible business decision to take a stance on a social issue. (A stance that most people agree is on the wrong side of history, regardless of the morality issue.)”

    and he continues,

    ” Ryan never ask if it was okay to discriminate though. He simply asked if “taking a position that the homosexual life is immoral is necessarily a hateful one.” To that question I respond no. But as I said above, how one responds to their belief of another’s immorality is another concept… However, I know many Christians that think my lifestyle is immoral, but also respect my right to freedom as an american citizen and vote accordingly on such issues.”

    ["It has everything to do with the issue at hand. Singling out a single trait (actually, as previously mentioned, a position on a sliding scale) of a whole person, and then condemning the whole person because of it, is incredible hateful and hurtful, I would argue."]

    I never mentioned anything about condemning the whole person. You are turning this into more than the question asks.

    [" I think you’ve over-simplifying just to make one side of the argument look better."]

    I’m not attempting to make any side “look better”. You are reading way too much into this. I specifically said that I am asking this independently of my own view on the matter. I simply don’t think it fair or accurate to accuse someone of being hateful simply because they believe acting on homosexual urges is immoral.

    ["You might feel a natural urge to mess about and in some hypothetical circumstances one could imagine scenarios where that might work out well for the person. What’s missing from what you just said is that there are consequences, often severe, for cheating on your S.O., as well as the pain and suffering one would cause to the S.O. and people in that social network. That’s really going to be the most important factor, not whether some other person who is not you or your S.O. has something to say about it. Because moral pondering is mostly a futile exercise that doesn’t really stop anyone from doing what they want to do. Consequences real or imagined, and the subject’s own sense of ethics and values are what control behavior."]

    You are missing the point. You may be correct that there is nothing immoral about homosexuality. But arguing for it on biological grounds or that it is “natural” is not enough to show this. Again, you are trying to change the topic.

    ["The context you’re not identifying is that the anti-gay crowd has said some tremendously hurtful and even insane things. They are working hard, and spending lots of money, to cause a lower life quality for GLBT persons. The Chic-fil-A B.S. is only a tiny, tiny part of a huge, huge whole and you absolutely do not get to isolate that one tiny part as if the rest of it does not exist. Especially not with something that effects the lives of so many in very real, very tangible ways."]

    I have never denied that hurtful or hateful things have, in fact, been said. What I am questioning is the necessary connection between holding this moral stance and being hateful.

  17. Sam –

    ["I think you might be correct depending on the person, but I’ve personally witnessed what I believe is genuine hate coming from many sectors of this crowd. They want to go so far as to put homosexuals to death (“like in the Bible!”) or at least make their lives invisible. I think that could safely be labeled hate as it goes past simple ignorance."]

    Why are you so quick to grant this to another person, but continue to argue with me? You have essentially conceded my point here.

  18. Sam Fletcher

    I guess I’m just not that interested in philosophical questions that aren’t deeply connected to real human lives. Okay, fine, in theory just taking a position isn’t “hateful” any more than thinking about a bank robbery isn’t the same as robbing a bank. Technically, point: you.

    But that’s not how these things ever play out in real life. Someone takes a moral stance, and then there’s always an imperative to make sure everyone else is aware of, and practicing, the moral edict. That’s how morality works — if you think X is wrong, then so must everyone else in the world think X is wrong, and you as the moral agent must do what you can to make sure as many people as possible also think X is wrong. As far as I know, this is a thought process hardwired into the brain. Only abstract thinking and education seems to be able to counteract this process. What can I say? We’re social animals. We’re born with a suite of social software and that’s just how it works.

    So no, Chick-fil-A might not take on anti-discrimination laws in how they hire. There are serious legal consequences for that. And that’s the point — you don’t judge someone’s character by how they didn’t do something that would have serious consequences. “Bob’s a good guy; I’ve never seen him rob a bank.”

    So what Chick-fil-A does, and what the anti-gay crowd does, is work around the consequences. They’ll donate loads of money to make sure gay people can’t get married. They’ll inject their values into a culture that already has a hard time with not committing occasional acts of assault and murder, or at least prejudice, against gay people. They can find other ways of causing harm to gay people that don’t transgress the law.

    So yeah, I’m re-parsing your original question, because I think your original question is misleading. If we can’t attach questions of ethics and values to how this or that idea and its resultant actions play out in the very real lives of people, then we’re just philosophically masturbating. That’s the difference between philosophy, and sophistry.

  19. Sam Fletcher

    “Why are you so quick to grant this to another person, but continue to argue with me? You have essentially conceded my point here.”

    Because, to quote a great man, “Nothing is ever absolutely so.”

  20. Sam –

    There is nothing misleading about my question. It is an important one to ask and consider because often people can make accusations too quickly. Contrary to your suggestion, then, that this is purely philosophical, I know many people who would hold that acting on homosexual urges is immoral, yet they are not hateful. If you ask them, they will be honest, but they aren’t out protesting, or slandering homosexuals or even voting against gay rights. In fact, they don’t often talk about the matter. Nevertheless, they hold this view, while realizing that others have a right to act as they please (within limits of course).

    Yes, some (even many) people get out of control and you focus on them and declare everyone guilty by association. I think that is wrong.

    ["But that’s not how these things ever play out in real life. Someone takes a moral stance, and then there’s always an imperative to make sure everyone else is aware of, and practicing, the moral edict. That’s how morality works — if you think X is wrong, then so must everyone else in the world think X is wrong, and you as the moral agent must do what you can to make sure as many people as possible also think X is wrong. As far as I know, this is a thought process hardwired into the brain. Only abstract thinking and education seems to be able to counteract this process. What can I say? We’re social animals. We’re born with a suite of social software and that’s just how it works."]

    But this does not make it hateful.

  21. I think one needs to define what ‘hate’ really means … is it an hateful act if I don’t believe the way you do? I don’t think so. Is it a ‘religious’ issue? I guess that depends on you viewpoint of religion. I happen to believe in the Bible and what it says.by Anonymous

    The Bible consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin Genesis 19:1-13 ; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God.

    I do not believe that God creates a person with homosexual desires.

    The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice.

    A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to anger, violence and other sins.

    That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not!

    The same is true with homosexuality.

  22. Thanks rhossack for being brave and stepping in with your specific views. I’ve been waiting for a specific individual with this view to chime in. While I currently do not hold to the bible (I’m agnostic with atheistic leanings, but willing to be convinced) I don’t believe that the mere view is hateful.

  23. “Using the statement “anti-gay” as a pejorative terms seems a bit disingenuous to me.”

    Claiming “anti-gay” is a pejorative term is what’s disingenuous. Faggot is a pejorative. Dyke is a pejorative. Homo. Lesbo. Tranny. He-she. These are pejoratives.

    Ever had anyone call you a f***ing dyke while you walked down the street? Ever dropped out of school because you were tired of being called a faggot every day? Ever had someone try and beat the gay out of you? Ever been told you’re immoral, an abomination, a sinner because someone else is uncomfortable with your sexuality? Ever been threatened with physical harm because of who you’re attracted to?

    And here’s the kicker: the moment I stand up for myself, I’m accused of shoving my sexuality in people’s faces. I’m told I brought this on myself, that the real victims are the Christians whose morals are being violated by my very existence.

    Who gets to decide if a statement is hateful? The person who says it or the person who is hurt by it? When I was told by a family member that I am going to hell, they insisted they said it out of love. I beg to differ.

  24. Sam Fletcher

    “Contrary to your suggestion, then, that this is purely philosophical, I know many people who would hold that acting on homosexual urges is immoral, yet they are not hateful. If you ask them, they will be honest, but they aren’t out protesting, or slandering homosexuals or even voting against gay rights. In fact, they don’t often talk about the matter. Nevertheless, they hold this view, while realizing that others have a right to act as they please (within limits of course).”

    If we’re working under these criteria, I’m actually at a loss as to how to even define “taking a stance” because it sounds like these people you have in mind haven’t really taken much of a stance as much as just kind of… getting through life and not making much of a commitment to this particular issue. (This is probably reflective of most people in America, who can’t even bother to vote at all most of the time, much less campaign against gay rights.)

    Yeah, those folks probably don’t have dislike or hate in their hearts. They also haven’t taken much of a stance. They could probably be persuaded either way given exposure to arguments and people involved but at this level this isn’t even much of a position. I’m thinking of certain parents who went along with the idea that homosexuality is immoral until one of their children came out of the closet. There wasn’t much of a position there in the first place for those folks because it can and does go the other way in that scenario for other parents.

    Heck, lots of people change their minds on issues and you’d never even know because they never really act on their present, past, or former beliefs in any big way. You can see that reflected in national polling, where acceptance of gays has been on a steady and actually rapid rise.

    Some however do really take a position, and engage in the discussion, and take action. These people are who we should be focusing on. This is what Chick-fil-A is doing and I think it needs to be correctly identified as hate action so it can be mitigated and made to be outside of the mainstream.

    (Not that it hasn’t already both been correctly identified as hate action, and castigated by the mainstream.)

  25. Megan –

    ["Claiming “anti-gay” is a pejorative term is what’s disingenuous. Faggot is a pejorative. Dyke is a pejorative. Homo. Lesbo. Tranny. He-she. These are pejoratives."]

    You are right, they are pejoratives. But that doesn’t mean “anti-gay” cannot be used pejoratively.

    ["Ever had anyone call you a f***ing dyke while you walked down the street? Ever dropped out of school because you were tired of being called a faggot every day? Ever had someone try and beat the gay out of you? Ever been told you’re immoral, an abomination, a sinner because someone else is uncomfortable with your sexuality? Ever been threatened with physical harm because of who you’re attracted to?"]

    No, I have never had these things happen to me. And if they have happened to you, I am very sorry for that. You should not have had to experience that. No one should. What you have described truly is hateful behavior.

    ["And here’s the kicker: the moment I stand up for myself, I’m accused of shoving my sexuality in people’s faces. I’m told I brought this on myself, that the real victims are the Christians whose morals are being violated by my very existence."]

    I don’t doubt that this happens. I’m not denying this or defending everyone who holds views against homosexuality. I am merely contending that the view need not necessarily be hateful.

  26. Sam –

    I think it is wrong to speculate on whether the people I described have actually taken a stance. It smacks of the No True Scottsman fallacy. So, if they haven’t been aggressive about the matter or actively promoted public disapproval, they haven’t taken a stance? No, they will tell you their view and tell you why they believe it.

    Note that morality and law are not identical, so just because something is a moral issue does not make it a legal issue. Thus, to take a stance on a matter does not require pushing for laws, etc.

    I happen to believe that adultery is very immoral, yet I would not go promoting that we should put laws into place making it illegal. People’s choices are their own business (for the most part). Similarly, one can hold to the immorality of homosexual practices without insisting that laws or other restrictions be put on place.

  27. Being black is not an action or practice one is judging. Judging a *person* to be *inferior* in a qualitative sense for no reason is hateful almost by definition.

    But judging an action need not mean that one considers the whole person worthless or damnable.

  28. Sam Fletcher

    “But judging an action need not mean that one considers the whole person worthless or damnable.”

    Um, yes, it absolutely does if you’re talking about homosexuality because you can’t separate a person’s sexual act from a person’s sexual self with any kind of credibility. I think I and others stated the case for that quite effectively and we have science and life experience between us to back that up. Oh well…

    It’s easy to talk a lot of talk and complace a lot of complacency if it’s not your life, and your right to be with your loved one like everyone else, on the line.

    Or, maybe it is. Let’s ask Larry Craig…

    Peace.

  29. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t believe that a person is reducible to his/her behaviors or biological urges. It was nice debating/discussing this with you.

  30. @megan – wow, thank you for sharing that powerful and heartbreaking story with us. I pray your journey takes you to a place where you can be loved and accepted – two things you very much deserve.

  31. Aaron Weidert

    “Similarly, one can hold to the immorality of homosexual practices,” “Perhaps homosexuality is not merely an action. But there is a difference between having homosexual desires and carrying out the act of homosexuality. It is the same for heterosexuality. There are the heterosexual desires and there is the act of having heterosexual relations.”

    For someone who is making such a big deal over the semantics involved, I’m a little disappointed in your refusal to acknowledge what you’re doing here. Even after I pointed out to you that you were considering homosexuality an act rather than an orientation, you’re only willing to grant that “perhaps” it’s more. And you talk about homosexuality and heterosexuality being the same, and yet again, even though you’re responding to an entire post I made about the importance of the language, you talk about them differently, calling it the “act” of homosexuality, but then referring to “heterosexual relations.” For some reason you still seem to see being heterosexual as something more than simply having sex with a member of the opposite sex, and rightly so. There’s a reason we have words for the actions of sex, and none of them are “heterosexual.” The word heterosexual does not mean the act of heterosexual intercourse. And yet, for some reason, you’re still defining homosexuality by the act itself.

    Being heterosexual is a large part of my identity. It’s tied up with who I am. I don’t know if you’re married and/or if you have kids, but those things are also tied up in my sexual orientation, and how I look at the difference between biological children and adopting, the kinds of bonds I form, etc. These things are equally true for gay people, and you cheapen their identity when you define them because of an action or “lifestyle.” (Which incidentally, is a pretty offensive way to describe being gay for a LOT of gay people. That’s great that your gay friend isn’t bothered by it. I volunteered at a gay youth center for almost 2 years, and that certainly wasn’t the majority opinion I ever encountered.)

    Ultimately what I sincerely hope you come to understand about this is that there are real consequences to language, and real people who come to real harm because of it. I think you recognize this, because for all of your responses to Megan, you failed to address what I think was one of her strongest points: Who gets to define what is hateful? The person saying it or the person harmed by it? It’s a valid question, and it’s one you seem to not only be ducking, but one on which you have different stances depending on what you’re talking about. You say that the impulses or feelings are different from acting on them when homosexuality is the issue. So, the love someone may feel isn’t what’s important, it’s the action, and it’s the action that is seen as immoral. But flipping that back around, when you ask about a stance being hateful, all of a sudden it’s magically what’s in someone’s heart that matters, and not the very real harm that publicly taking a stand can cause. So if your stand harms (and whether your like it or not, it does) it’s no longer the act that’s important, it’s your motivation. That feels to me like an attempt to take a hurtful position and then twist it just enough that when people get upset about it, you get to pretend that somehow YOU’RE the victim in all this. Personally, I find THAT to be the most disingenuous stance taken so far in this entire thread.

  32. Sam Fletcher

    “Ultimately what I sincerely hope you come to understand about this is that there are real consequences to language, and real people who come to real harm because of it.”

    Quoted for truth.

  33. Aaron –

    I’m merely trying to be accurate with regards to certain people’s views. They don’t hate homosexuals (though, yes, some do), but they have come to the conclusion that acting on those desires is wrong. I’m not defining homosexuality by the act itself. In fact, I have taken pains to acknowledge the biological underpinnings of such desires. It’s precisely because they are not defined by their actions or lifestyle that I don’t think one is necessarily hateful of homosexual people by holding that acting upon those desires is immoral.

    ["Ultimately what I sincerely hope you come to understand about this is that there are real consequences to language, and real people who come to real harm because of it. "]

    I do understand this, which is why I think it is bad to simply claim that one is hateful or that his/her views are hateful because they make a judgment on an action. One should attempt to understand why they hold this position rather than hastily declaring it hateful. Of course, many act out on this belief in hateful ways, extending their hatred to the very person, and those people are rightly pointed out as being hateful.

    ["...and it’s the action that is seen as immoral. But flipping that back around, when you ask about a stance being hateful, all of a sudden it’s magically what’s in someone’s heart that matters, and not the very real harm that publicly taking a stand can cause."]

    No, you’ve just answered your own point. The harm that some people *act out* (even if it is based on this view) is what is hateful and immoral, not necessarily the view itself. This is why there can be people who hold to this view and yet never act hatefully toward a homosexual and realize that it is their personal decision. They simply do not agree with it.

    ["So if your stand harms ..."]

    Harms in what way? The stand itself does not harm, it’s what people do with it. You could argue that it harms by making people feel bad about themselves in some way. Okay, but that doesn’t necessarily make it hateful. Sometimes we need to be willing to accept that certain things about ourselves are not good or need changing. Now, before you jump all over that, I’m not necessarily agreeing that homosexuality falls into that category. I’m merely pointing out that that argument alone is not successful.

    ["That feels to me like an attempt to take a hurtful position and then twist it just enough that when people get upset about it, you get to pretend that somehow YOU’RE the victim in all this."]

    I’m sure that happens. I’m simply advocating understanding on both sides. Homosexual individuals should challenge the views of those who disagree with them. But I don’t think it will help to sweepingly brand the view hateful. People who disagree with the homosexual lifestyle should be able to express those view and give their reasons. But I don’t think they should do it in a hateful way. They too should speak out against bullying, ridicule, and unfair treatment.

  34. Neal Schindler

    Wow. I’m new to SpokaneFAVS as a contributor and reader, and this is a barn-burner of a comment thread. I’m also fairly new to Christian texts, including the Bible. So here’s my question: Where does the idea that being gay is immoral come from? Leviticus? I was born to liberal parents and attended a very progressive college, then lived in a very liberal city for 10 years. Here’s what I, an agnostic Jew raised in the Reconstructionist tradition, believe: Being gay — and, yes, having sex with someone of the same gender — is no less moral than being straight. Why on earth would it be? (Leviticus?)

    Also, I looked up “hateful” in the online Merriam-Webster. Two definitions: “full of hate; malicious” and “arousing or deserving of hate.” What’s interesting to me is that many LGBT allies would indeed consider the opinion that being gay is immoral to be “full of hate.” If they also consider it “deserving of hate,” then you have, in theory, hateful views being answered with more hate. I think the matter that concerns me more is whether someone who thinks that having sex with a same-gendered person is immoral also thinks same-sex couples should not be able to legally marry, should not have equal protection under the law, and so on.

    “All men are created equal” really really means that (well, it also means women, of course). If you’re born gay, you’re equal to a straight person. You have an equal right to express your sexuality, alone or in relationship. Equality seems to me — liberal, urbanite, Jewish me — to be a much simpler concept than the alternative.

  35. Neal Schindler

    P.S. It may seem rhetorically innocent to compare having sex with someone of the same gender with psychopathy, adultery, and so on. I don’t think it is. Folks who bring up the slippery slope argument don’t say: “If we let gay and lesbian people marry, they might get carried away and create an incredible new craze for loving, sustainable lifelong partnerships that don’t end in divorce half the time the way straight marriages do!” They say: “If we let gay and lesbian people marry, soon people will be marrying lampposts and pugs and issues of Esquire magazine.” It’s always got to be the apocalyptic scenario. There’s a reason for that: Linking same-sex marriage with bad things (marrying a pug!) makes same-sex marriage seem bad. It’s a subtle technique, I guess, but it’s not THAT subtle.

    Sex with someone of the same gender ain’t psychopathy, it ain’t adultery. It just ain’t. Why? Because one is a mental illness and the other is a betrayal of trust (as opposed to open marriage, which is an agreed-upon setup where “cheating” isn’t cheating). Psychopathy may be innate, like being gay, and adultery may be a behavior that many people object to because the Bible tells us so, like being gay, but to borrow a bit from you, Ryan, I just don’t see the relevance.

    Maybe you think having sex with someone of the same gender is immoral not because the Bible tells you so but because you’ve thought about it long and hard. So then the question for me is: Whom does it harm? Doesn’t morality have to do with harm? Self-harm or other-directed harm? Where’s the harm?

  36. Neal – Thanks for you comments. I’ll have to respond to most of your points tomorrow or something, as it is late. However, I do want to remind you that I am asking this question and defending my particular position independently of my own stance on homosexuality. I am not personally claiming that homosexuality is immoral. I am merely questioning the idea that holding this view is hateful.

    Also, the use of psychopathy and adultery were used in very specific ways. I am not saying that homosexuality is psychopathy or adultery. Those were used to challenge specific arguments in favor of both homosexuality and the view that a dissenting view is hateful. So they were relevant in the ways they were used.

    Also, you may have a hard time defending a moral view based only on harm. I’m not saying you are wrong, but some would argue that there is more to it than that, that there are moral oughts that go beyond the consequentialist perspective.

  37. Yay for Ryan!!! Great post, great responses and superb calmness in your responses. I absolutely love how you navigated some of these prickly push backs. Your brilliance is truly shining here.

    This is a very relevant post and fits great with the post I’m waiting for Tracy to put up that I wrote on the issue.

    As a conservative person, I’ve always held homosexuality as a sin based on the bible and functionally illogical based on evolutionary thinking, and practical physiology and non-procreative sexuality.

    As a human being…I am at odds with my above convictions in matters of psychology, empathy, dignity and equality.

    Therefore I vote constitutionally and practice interpersonal relationships with charity and freedom but hold to traditional values rooted in historical Christian teaching.

    The issues you raise are very real struggles I face as I seek to work out the implications of these values in this culture.

  38. Sam Fletcher

    I wish we could bring our Christian community around to a point where it is not viewed as a sin, but one of many variable traits that humans possess. A sin can’t be so loving and generous as I have seen between many gay couples, many of whom themselves are Christians.

  39. Eric, I especially appreciate your honesty and realness concerning the tension between your belief and your empathy. You are exactly one of the examples I have in mind showing that the stance itself need not be hateful.

  40. Aaron Weidert

    Ryan, I’m going to break this into two posts, because I’ve got a lot to say here that will hopefully clarify what I’m talking about to both you and Eric, as well as a couple of links I think are extremely relevant to this issue. I want to state at the beginning here that I don’t intend any of this in anger or accusation. I think this is a conversation that needs to happen, and it needs to happen with openness to real discussion and not just a back and forth where both sides simply try to prove they’re right. I say this because when I watch as you only thank people for their comments when they agree with you (or are at the very least agreeable to you), and when I see Eric applaud your response, your calmness, and the way you “navigated some of these prickly push backs” (which I’ll address more in the next post), I worry that’s the direction we’re heading, and that’s unfortunate and disheartening. As I’ll explain, I actually agree with what you originally posted, in theory, but I disagree that THAT is the conversation we really need to be having. Finally, before I get into this, I honestly do sympathize and understand the frustration that comes when one thinks he or she is being unfairly labeled. It’s hard to feel like you can really have sincere dialogue with someone when you feel like as soon and you state a position or ask a question, someone is yelling “bigot!” at you, which actually leads to the first link I think is relevant. Rachel does a great job of addressing both sides of this, I think. So, here: http://rachelheldevans.com/chick-fil-a

    First, if you’ll go back and look you’ll see that I have yet to engage with your basic question at all, because theoretically, and in an abstract way, I actually agree with you. It is certainly not impossible, particularly the way you’re defining it, to believe that homosexual sex is sinful and/or immoral, while simultaneously not being hateful at all. But I would like to challenge you to defend your claim that this is an issue that “needs addressing.” I’d like to simply ask you: why? What’s the practical goal in addressing this, and what’s the practical application? Let me explain what I mean.

    You denied earlier that this argument could be made about black people. That’s simply not true, and I know this because I’ve seen it made. Google Christian Identity if you’re not already familiar with them (they’re completely nuts, and thankfully their numbers are dwindling). I don’t think any of us would argue that they’re not a hate group. However, I have spoken with a few of them before, and listened as they passionately explained that they weren’t being hateful at all. They’d never committed any violent acts against black people; they simply believed that black people don’t have souls and therefore can’t be saved and aren’t really people. They sincerely believed this wasn’t hateful, and they didn’t advocate any violence or harm directed at black people.

    Regardless of what your opinion is of this stance, if you take it out of the context of actual civil rights and the history of race relations in this country, it is theoretically possible to hold a position like this without any hate at all. But the real question then becomes: SO WHAT? What is gained, and how could it be used to deal with the real pain and suffering and inequality of race relations? And if it can’t (and I really hope we can all agree that it can’t), then why is it a conversation worth having, let alone a seriously important conversation in the context of real life?

    To bring that back around to the conversation you started, how is whether or not we can consider a stance hateful even in our top 10 issues here? How is THIS the important thing to take out of the Chic-Fil-A controversy? I read Eric’s brutal and extremely well written, thoughtful piece about the gay man stabbed in his neighborhood. If you can read things like that, and still walk away thinking that the idea of whether or not a stance can be deemed hateful is the issue that really needs to be addressed here, I would respectfully suggest you take a closer look at your priorities, because you’re worrying about a stubbed toe while someone is bleeding to death. On to my second post…

  41. Aaron Weidert

    http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2011/12/21/why-i-resigned-from-the-good-men-project/

    I’d like to request you read the blog before the comment, as I am going to be referencing it here. It’s a quick read, and while the issue he’s talking about is feminism instead of homosexuality, many of the same principles apply, particularly when it comes to how we as a culture deal with marginalized groups.

    I continue to stress the importance of language because, though you claim to understand, I think it’s a bigger deal than you realize. It’s not just that words are important, the context of those words is also hugely important. As Hugo states, “Seemingly innocuous words often have a profound charge depending on how and by whom they’re used.” When you claim to me that “the stand itself does not harm,” I would suggest you consider the examples Hugo is using here, and think more on the context. There are reasons gay teens are so much more likely to drop out, end up homeless, try to kill themselves, etc. And of course bullying has a lot to do with that. But so does the unintentionally callous disregard so many others display. Imagine being harassed and bullied for being gay as a teenager, possibly even being legitimately afraid for your life; facing threats that adults don’t address and don’t seem to care about, all while going through what is already a troubled time in everyone’s life. (This is not an exaggeration at all. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I volunteered for nearly 2 years at a gay youth center. This is actually an unfortunate reality for many, many gay teens.) Then imagine that, after making it through that, people come out and publicly take a stance that your “lifestyle” is immoral and sinful. Then they tell you they’re not being hateful, and some even suggest that YOU’RE the one being hateful by hurting their feelings and calling them hateful. Imagine how angry and hurt you’d be by that. This is the way in which your stance causes harm. I respect your right to that position, particularly for those who sincerely do struggle with their ideas of what it means to be a human and what it means to be a Christian (a struggle I share, though not necessarily for the same reasons). But I would ask you to respect and acknowledge the privilege and power you have as part of the majority to cause huge amounts of harm with even the most casual of comments, whether that’s your intent or not.

    Eric, I think the above point is particularly important regarding your comment about “prickly push backs.” I hope you read the post, as there are a couple of paragraphs in it that address the problem with comments like that, and they’re too long to pull quotes from here. In particular I mean the section where he talks about the word “insane” and then goes on to demonstrate the ways it’s used to shut women up or undermine their opinions. I’m not at all suggesting you’re deliberately doing that, but I ask you to consider that perspective and imagine how you’d feel if the situations were reversed, as I mentioned above to Ryan. Particularly in the wake of what happened in your neighborhood, imagine the anger, and hurt, and fear that are very real in the gay community. I understand your frustration at having that directed at you. Do I think you personally deserve to feel the brunt of that? Of course not. Do I think it’s fair? No. But I ask you to hold in one hand the injustice, the unfairness, the pain and the hurt that gay people regularly feel, and in the other hand hold the pain and hurt and injustice because a few of them are angry at you for your stance and call you hateful on the internet or lash out in a comment forum. I ask you to picture that, and pray about that, with real empathy and compassion and love, and tell me which hand is weighing you down more.

    Again, I get the frustration. I really do. As a white, heterosexual male from a middle class American background, it doesn’t get a lot more privileged than me. And as a stubborn person I understand how hard it can be to challenge the worldview you may have had for years or even decades. It’s an ongoing process for me as well, as my wife (Megan from the above comments) and I continue to discuss, debate, and sometimes still even misunderstand each other’s positions. I have said things to her (some of them fairly recently) that would likely spark plenty of outrage in many social circles. I try to be understanding of that, which is why most of those conversations happen in private, with people I know, trust, and respect, where misunderstands can happen with a minimum of pain for anyone involved. That, I think, is the key to real progress on this, not abstract and theoretical debates about whether it’s fair or reasonable to call a stance hateful.

  42. Aaron,
    I think if you’ve been around here very long and read much interaction with Ryan and us fellow writers, you would understand that my praise is warranted. I think Ryan has acted as a gentleman in this very, very explosive subject.

    He proposed a great question worth digging into and yet he didn’t bully or bludgeon anyone with his intelectual super powers, and trust me, he is superman.

    My support was in his ability to engage without rage…which not a lot of these types of convos achieve.

    As for your response to me…quite honestly, I’m not following what you are saying or trying to teach. Maybe a little more clarity for my brain would help. I also feel a bit put off from the “school you” vibe that feels like your coming from in your comments too. Im not saying you are doing that with intent but from my side of the screen it reads that way. I need a bit more human and less professor posture.

    Ryan has tackled a tough hydra that multiplies heads each time a reasonable response seems to be given. I give him props for trying.

    Sam. I understand your desire, but I’m just not there. I deeply value your willingness to help me see how you have come to such conclusions and I continue to learn from your wisdom. But I’ve not been convinced on how the bible is handled. Now trust me, I’ve released my own death grip on the Bible in the way I’ve handled it in some ways through this process of seeking to be faithful to people amd principles. So I’m open to being convinced because quite frankly it would be much easier this day and age…but I’m not there. I hope you can have grace for my honestly andi hope I can humbly be walk this out.

  43. Aaron –

    Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt posts. In my defense, I thanked Neal for his comments even though he seemed to take a position opposite of mine. I also thanked Sam for the good debate. I bring these up to assure you that I am not trying to play favorites.

    With that said, I appreciate your challenge of my position and the specific questions you asked of me. I want to give a thorough and well reasoned response. Following your pattern, I will break my responses up into at least two posts.

  44. Sam Fletcher

    @Eric

    Maaaan… I really like you, I really really do, but you’re just not seeing your position of privilege as a straight, white, non-Catholic, male. It’s not up to you to decide if saying being gay is immoral is hateful because you don’t have any “skin in the game” so to speak.

    Like, maybe this analogy is too far out there, but say that you went through a time warp and suddenly you had to go live in Biblical times, right around the time the first draft of Deuteronomy was being wrapped up. The ancient Israelites would find a million reasons to stone you to death. Suddenly you can go from “modern American Biblically-faithful pastor” to “horrible heathen infidel” and the only thing that’s changed is context. That’s what me and Aaron and Megan have been trying to get at. Change the context, and the arguments reform around you.

    So what’s the context now? We’ve got a relatively small, but still vocal and powerful, group of people saying that another group of people, who due to genetic circumstance happen to express a human behavior in a somewhat different way, are sinners just for that aspect. We have these people being abused verbally and physically, as a direct result of the idea that these folks are sinners. Maybe not by the religious group itself, but their words have power. Huge numbers of people are screaming, “You’re being bigoted!” and yet the religious folks won’t back down, and claim they are being unfairly persecuted for their assertion that gay people are evil. All because of a small handful of verses in a book that says you should also be stoned for disobeying your parents, having an affair, and any other number of transgressions.

    So there we are. One small group picking on another group because they’re different. A large number of groups rallying around the picked on group to support them and desperately try to stop the — yes — hateful talk. Whom do you think is right in this situation?

  45. Aaron –

    I wrote a whole response to a set of questions you asked, but the post was lost in the database issues that occurred last night. This has frustrated me greatly. I hope you’ll be patient in anticipation of my responses. I need a short break before I reattempt the effort.

  46. Sam –

    Real quick. You still seem to be conflating the issue. We aren’t talking about assertions that “gay people are evil”. We are talking about the belief that to act on homosexual impulses is immoral. There is an important difference and you cannot gain moral ground in this conversation by subtly diverting the issue to the other.

  47. Tracy Simmons

    Ryan – sorry about the site issues :/

    You can imagine the heart attack I nearly had this morning when I realized what was happening lol – glad it’s fixed now

  48. Sam Fletcher

    There isn’t a subtle difference and you’re attempting to suppress discussion of the larger context of the problem. You’re trying to make some sort of philosophical abstraction out of a very concrete thing that deals with very real abuses of privilege. In practical terms, “homosexual acts are immoral” is the same thing as “gay people are evil” unless you live in some sort of world where people are robots and only act on limited data sets in an extremely predictable way, agnostic of any events that happened in the past or are currently happening.

    Last time I checked, they don’t.

  49. Aaron Weidert

    Ryan,

    Believe me, I understand. I’ve had that happen to me so many times, or some other glitch that causes a lengthy response to be erased, that I often now pre-write comments in a Word document and don’t delete it until the comment posts. In fact, I was lucky I did that with my comments here, because I hit enter but forgot my name and email, and when I hit the back button the whole comment was gone. Take your time.

  50. Sam –

    I’m not trying to suppress any conversation. I’m merely trying to keep things on track. I think most people would agree that declaring homosexuals evil is hateful. I concede this, however, contra your claim that “homosexual acts are immoral” is practically equivalent to “gay people are evil”. Why should this be true?

    The problem might be in our definition of “homosexual”, which is slightly ambiguous. By this term, one could mean “a person with a disposition to be sexually attracted to members of the same sex”. Or, it could mean, “one who engages in sexual activities with members of the same sex”. These two meanings are related, but not equivalent. It is possible that one be a homosexual in the former sense, but not the latter. Likewise, it is possible for one to be a homosexual in the latter sense, but not the former (some other reason might motivate the act).

    When you use the phrase “homosexual people are evil”, I suspect (but correct me if I am wrong) that you have in mind the first definition of homosexual – i.e. one with a predilection or predisposition for attraction to members of the same sex. If this is the case, then there certainly *is* a practical difference. As I have said before, and Eric is an example, most thoughtful Christians I know recognize the need to love homosexual individuals (of both definitions) despite believing that engaging in the act is morally wrong. These Christians I know would also condemn the way many homosexuals are treated. Maybe your experience is different, but from many of the people I have encountered, it is just not true that they are out espousing the evilness of homosexuals or painting a picture of them as evil people. With that said, I do acknowledge that there are a lot of people who do believe that they are evil and that is a problem. These people are hateful and wrong *because* they cannot distinguish between the person and the behavior.

  51. Sam Fletcher

    You can’t separate the “act” (wow that feels like an awkward way to express something that has so much dynamism and color) from the person. The ENTIRE basis of all life on earth really gets down to reproduction. That’s the whole mission of DNA — to make copies of itself. Sexuality is such an absolutely core component of human life that you don’t get to separate the act of sex from the person’s sexual identity. Condemning the act IS condemning the person and verbal gymnastics don’t change that.

    OF COURSE Christians (or any other group) want to see themselves as loving people despite their segregation and unfair categorization of people. No one gets up in the morning and says, “Oh, hey, I’m gonna be an evil bastard today! But first, breakfast.” We all underestimate the amount of harm we cause. It’s built into our human software. It’s well-established by science. Of course they want to see themselves as loving and kind.

    But the actions, and the prejudices, bely an attitude of hate. I’m sorry if they don’t want to hear that, but it is true. Cordoning off and segregating people on any basis of difference from the norm is a form of hate, whether that’s against Jews, Hispanics, Gays, Blacks, Indians… whomever. I’m naming it for what it is in the hopes that it makes people uncomfortable with their behavior, and in the desperate hope to offer some validation and healing to people who have grown up through a nightmare hell of callous prejudice.

    Because, really, what’s the solution here? You can’t be accepted as a full member of your family and community without blacking out a core part of who you are? That you go to a pray-away-the-gay resort and spend the rest of your life in a relationship that makes you highly uncomfortable? What’s the point of all this? It causes human suffering.

    It causes human suffering.

    So that’s why I’m calling it as I see it.

    And it’s not like this is without precedent. Conservative Christians throughout history keep making the same damn mistake with regards to the rights of native Americans, women, Jews, black people, and on and on. When are they going to learn that it’s wrong to segregate people and call the very nature of them immoral?

    Your encouragement of your own argument here seems incredibly callous to the people who have suffered at the hands of their parents, their teachers, their peers, their churches, and their communities. They are the ones who get to decide what is hateful — not the people who blithely are able to say these things with no risk at all.

    To Christians: Walk a mile in their shoes. Talk to them. Listen to what they have to say. See what kind of people they are. Ten to one, you’ll change your views.

  52. Sam Fletcher

    BTW, I’m not here to coddle those with all the power and privilege (I am myself very much part of that group) but to lift up and do what I can to advocate for those who are being abused by them. It’s important we name a behavior — we can’t get far in making society a better place without being honest with ourselves and each other.

  53. Sam,
    I agree with your context scenario bit of us would have been stoned for sure but you would of been first in line, so I must be more right than you, right? LOL I’m kidding, just kidding folks.

    I get your argument, and I’m working though my own understanding and response of that issue, and I don’t have one that’s totally satisfying. I know that seems to betray or weaken my current position, but I must simply be honest.

    I’m engaged in a faith that is rooted in a text that im growing in relationship and knowledge of all my life. My understanding is progressive and I have room for child to adult growth in thinking and understanding. But, that is a process and for me it’s deeply connected to being truthful and faithful about NT as well as the old. Accuratly handlening the text matters very much to me, it’s not simply a matter of cultural context alone, that’s one part of interpretation.

    If one of my parishioners is gay, or my wife’s grandfather was gay, or my friends are gay…does that change the issue? Am I more aware of my privilege?

    Does my participation in feeding the man stabbed in my neighborhood dinner or reaching out to the mother of a gay teen in the home where the violence took place expand my understanding?

    If I give money to Oddessy Youth Center?

    Does helping write a screenplay for a film that addresses the suicide of a gay teen who was bullied and abandoned by his christian friend, count?

    Does standing on the ground where blood was spilt by homophobic hate and offer prayerful presence and support matter?

    Can I vote for equal rights, and be good enough?

    All these things are true of me.

    Can I be welcomed as friend and advocate for other people whom I may or may not share all the same beliefs, practices and ideas about life, love and faith and still be hate mongering?

  54. Sam –

    ["You can’t separate the “act”... from the person."]

    I think I have quite clearly established a way to distinguish between the two. Are you saying that a person is reducible to his/her behaviors? You go on to support your claim by saying,

    ["The ENTIRE basis of all life on earth really gets down to reproduction. That’s the whole mission of DNA — to make copies of itself. Sexuality is such an absolutely core component of human life that you don’t get to separate the act of sex from the person’s sexual identity. Condemning the act IS condemning the person and verbal gymnastics don’t change that."]

    This seems strange to me. You seem to be inadvertently saying that homosexuality is a distortion of the mission of life and core of human life. On the one hand, you seem to reduce sexuality to the mission of life, which is reproduction, but then use that to support specific acts or expressions of sexuality (which do not lead to reproduction) and so treat sexuality as something more. There is a difference between sexuality being a core component of human life and the expressions that sexuality takes. Are you saying that core components of humanity cannot go wrong or be used inappropriately? By your statement alone, this could be used to advocate for *any* form of sexual expression.

    As a quick aside, note that there are heterosexuals who go their whole lives without having sex. There are even asexual individuals who have no desire for sex. Are these no longer people because they are “missing” some fundamental component or because they aren’t acting on something that is, in general, part of our species? I am definitely still convinced that there is a difference between any act or expression of sexuality and having a sexual component.

    ["OF COURSE Christians (or any other group) want to see themselves as loving people despite their segregation and unfair categorization of people."]

    What do you mean by “segregation” and “unfair categorization”? You seem to be begging the question here. Suppose person P is a Christian. Suppose P has several homosexual friends. Now, suppose you ask P her stance on homosexuality and she says, “I believe that engaging in homosexual acts is wrong, but this is the sort of matter where people have to make up their own minds. It is their business.” If P doesn’t treat any of her gay friends differently, then in what sense has she segregated them or unfairly categorized them?

    ["But the actions, and the prejudices, bely an attitude of hate."]

    In some cases, yes. In others, no.

    ["Cordoning off and segregating people on any basis of difference from the norm is a form of hate..."]

    I’m still not sure what you mean by this. Yes, doing THIS would be hateful. Treating a homosexual as one to be quarantined would be hateful. But this is not what I’m talking about.

    Although, I would ask if you think the actual segregation and cordoning off of psychopaths and sociopaths is hateful? Many of these people have legitimate biological drives that make them this way. I bring this up only to test your statement.

    ["You can’t be accepted as a full member of your family and community without blacking out a core part of who you are?"]

    Again, I think you are conflating the disapproval of a lifestyle or behavior with a disapproval of the person himself or herself. This changes from family to family. Two families A and B may each hold to the belief that engaging in homosexual acts is immoral, but A accepts their family member despite the disagreement and does not shun him or her and does not take pains to point it out (or may legitimately engage the family member on the issue). Family B on the other hand expresses their belief through excommunication and aggressive condemnation. Both types of families DO exist. One is hateful, the other is not.

    ["That you go to a pray-away-the-gay resort and spend the rest of your life in a relationship that makes you highly uncomfortable?"]

    Really, this would be a question for one who is actually arguing for the immorality of homosexual practices. But, I do have another friend who is homosexual in the sense of having a predisposition for sexual attraction to members of the same sex. He is also a Christian and *has* decided that to act on his impulses is not right. He has decided to cultivate attraction to women and has married a woman. They have several children now and seem quite happy. Now, I’m not saying every homosexual needs to do this. I only offer it as a potential counter example to your claim.

  55. continued…

    ["When are they going to learn that it’s wrong to segregate people and call the very nature of them immoral?"]

    Who is demanding segregation? To believe that acting on homosexual impulses is immoral does not entail lobbying for segregation. It is also highly debatable that homosexuality constitutes the *very nature* of someone.

    ["Your encouragement of your own argument here seems incredibly callous to the people who have suffered at the hands of their parents, their teachers, their peers, their churches, and their communities. They are the ones who get to decide what is hateful — not the people who blithely are able to say these things with no risk at all."]

    I understand the sensitivity of the issue, even if you think I don’t. I think hatefulness is more of an objective feature than a subjective one. People can decide that the overall position in question is hurtful to them, but I don’t think it true that it is necessarily inherently or objectively hateful.

  56. By the way Sam, I commend your desire to provide healing and to advocate for those harmed by this whole matter. I’m not very good at being emotional and my analytic approach can often come off as cold and callous. But analysis and logical dissection is primarily how I interact with the world, so I don’t mean to come off as unsympathetic.

  57. @Eric

    “Can I be welcomed as friend and advocate for other people whom I may or may not share all the same beliefs, practices and ideas about life, love and faith and still be hate mongering?”

    I have a huge amount of respect for you and I’m really glad to count you as a friend, and I know where your heart is and I think it’s in a uniquely good place. I just think “gay [people/acts/sex/orientation] is immoral” is a really terrible and untenable and yeah it’s even hateful, and I think very un-Christian thing to say. I just… I can’t be flexible on that one. And I’m not necessarily saying for you, I’m saying to validate and encourage those gay, bi, and trans people out there who are feeling angry, discouraged, and also misled about what Christianity, and Christlikeness, is. Sorry! I just can’t flex on that one. And I’d say the same for any group of people being mitigated by the majority just for being who they are.

    @Ryan

    “By the way Sam, I commend your desire to provide healing and to advocate for those harmed by this whole matter. I’m not very good at being emotional and my analytic approach can often come off as cold and callous. But analysis and logical dissection is primarily how I interact with the world, so I don’t mean to come off as unsympathetic.”

    Thanks, I understand that and I understand a lot better where you’re coming from. I am a feisty, emotions-driven person, especially when it comes to something this sensitive. I’m not good at being dispassionate about this. I also have an ethnic heritage that makes me especially sensitive to people being singled out for genetic traits.

  58. Aaron Weidert

    http://matthewpaulturner.net/blog/5-reasons-why-the-church-failed-yesterday/

    The second point: “People felt hate and we ignored that. At the end of the day, regardless of whether or not your Christian understanding of scripture harbors hate or not, a large group of people felt hated. Again, we can debate this point all day long, but that does not change the fact that people felt hatred because of what happened yesterday. Whether or not hate actually existed is not the point, people felt hated. And rather than acknowledging those feelings or trying to understand or engage them in any way, Christians everywhere marched off to their local CFA like it was a cross to bear, a necessity, a battle cry of some sort, the waffle fry’s last stand.”

    To both Eric and Ryan, this is largely what I was trying to say, though with differerent words and arguments.

    Eric, first of all I apologize if my comments seem condescending in any way. That’s certainly not my intent. Ha, I do have to admit that after briefly teaching college composition while in grad school, I don’t take “professor posture” as an insult. But in all seriousness, that just tends to be the way I organize my thoughts in writing (or at least when writing about issues/arguments).

    My concern was less with your support of Ryan than the way you were characterizing the other side. That’s why I particularly quoted your remark about “prickly push backs.” And you kind of did it again when talking about the “tough hydra” he’s tackling that “multiplies heads each time a reasonable response seems to be given.” On the one hand you’re praising calm and reasonable arguments on the side you agree with, and on the other you are calling disagreement “prickly push backs” and are framing this discussion as if Ryan is a courageous hero fighting valiantly against the many and monstrous opposition. I’m certainly not suggesting your intent was anything like that, but I can tell you that to people on the other side, it can look and feel like that. Also, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last day re-reading the comments here (which is one of the reasons it took me this long to respond). Other than the length of my last two responses, most of the kinds of arguments Ryan and I have made have been at least fairly similar in terms of tone and academic language (for lack of a better way to put it). So when you praise his “intellectual super powers” and talk about how he’s being such a gentleman, then say that my comments have a “school you” vibe, to quote you again, I find that a little off putting.

    Ultimately, like I said, I feel like the real solution here is real dialogue about real concerns on both sides. I would be happy to talk about this, or any other issue, over coffee with either or both of you (in fact, would love to do so). I respect you both, for your intelligence AND your humanity. I just feel like this issue and all the issues around it were reduced to politics and idealogy almost immediately, and real people were harmed because of it, or at the very least the harm they had already suffered was ignored and pushed to the side.

  59. [Ryan Downie | Jul 31, 2012 | 8:04pm

    Thanks rhossack for being brave and stepping in with your specific views. I’ve been waiting for a specific individual with this view to chime in. While I currently do not hold to the bible (I’m agnostic with atheistic leanings, but willing to be convinced) I don’t believe that the mere view is hateful.]

    Ryan, I don’t log in often and read here because I get a headache I’m a pretty simple type of fellow and some of these individuals and their thoughts are way over my head.

    I wasn’t trying to be brave, just simply trying to state my position. While I know it isn’t a popular one it is mine. I used to attend a very straight and narrow church and you could look through the keyhole with both eyes at once.

    Sam said, “I wish we could bring our Christian community around to a point where it is not viewed as a sin, but one of many variable traits that humans possess.”. This is an impossible statement. It’s not the Christian community whose viewpoint has to change, you’d have to change what the Bible says.

    I’ve had a niece for 30-40 years now that is what you’d describe as gay (although I think that word is an oxymoron). Do I understand her, no. Do I hate her, no. Do I accept her, yes, she’s my niece.

    The church we now attend in the valley has a a very simple statement, “Loving God, Loving People”. We let God do the changing.

  60. Wow, this has been a pretty powerful discussion!

    Ryan, I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Taking an unpopular position does not necessarily make a person hateful, but it may be perceived as hateful by others.

    Aaron, the link about five ways the church failed actually brought me to tears. Though I agree with Ryan that a person can think the homosexual act is a sin (and why are we sometimes so focused on this one, but turn a blind eye to all other sins? And also fail to acknowledge that we, too, sin and are in need of forgiveness) but not be hateful, this link really brought home the question of, “So what?”

    It reminds me of the way that sexual harassment laws work: the intent of the perpetrator matters a whole lot less than how the victim perceives the perpetrator’s actions. In other words, it doesn’t matter that the perpetrator thought he or she was doing something inoffensive or nonthreatening.

    If those who follow Christ are supposed to be known by their love, wouldn’t it be better to do something that is perceived as love (even if it isn’t) than to do something that is perceived as hate (even if it might not be)?

    Thanks all for the thoughtful debate.

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