One of my FB friends objected to the title of my last post, “One Anti-Homosexual United Methodist Pastor,” saying that disagreeing with people’s lifestyle doesn’t mean you are against them personally.
Politically charged headline–divisive and untrue. Because someone doesn’t agree with or even goes so far as to condemn someone’s life-style, does not necessarily make them anti-people. I have two family members that are gay. Though I don’t agree with their life style, are deeply loved and always accepted. There could be many things other than homosexuality that one’s child may be involved with, that doesn’t mean a parent would be “anti-” their child.
Why not insert the word “lifestyle” between “Homosexual” and “United”? Is it because you are anti-united methodist pastors?
“Homosexual Lifestyle”–No Such Thing
I want to look first at the common phrase “homosexual lifestyle.” One common reply to that phrase is to ask, “What is a homosexual lifestyle? Is there a single heterosexual lifestyle? Of course not.” Some heterosexuals are virgins, some are faithfully married for life, some are promiscuous, some are in faithful committed relationships without marriage, some engage in serial polygamy. There is no such thing as a single “heterosexual lifestyle,” and there is not single “homosexual lifestyle,” either. Doctors, beach bums, attorneys, and U.S. presidents may have something approaching a “typical lifestyle,” but not gays and lesbians–no more than non-gay women and men.
Some will disagree, but I don’t doubt that commenter loves and accepts his gay family members. I would nevertheless make a few comments. First, while many gays and lesbians are not welcome in their parents’ homes, many are welcome, but their partners are not. I’m sure many of those parents would say, and actually believe, that they love and accept their gay and lesbian children. But that love and acceptance is limited if they can’t stand even the thought of having in their home the person their daughter or son loves.
I Love You, But I Will Never Accept That, I Will Always Hate That
Let me re-post this excerpt from Mary Lou Wallner’s letter to her lesbian daughter.
Undoubtedly, the most difficult part of your letter was the gay thing. I will never accept that in you. I feel it’s a terrible waste, besides being spiritually and morally wrong. For a reason I don’t quite fathom, I have a harder time dealing with that issue than almost anything in the world. I do and will continue to love you, but I will always hate that, and will pray every day that you will change your mind and attitude.
Not long after receiving this letter, her daughter committed suicide, despite Mrs. Wallner’s mistaken belief that she really loved her. “I will never accept that in you…. I will always hate that.” But her letter only reflected her trust in the popular slogan, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Her rejection was justified by the expert advice to not accept a son or daughter’s announcement that they are gay, rejection advice given repeatedly to millions by author, psychologist, and political pundit James Dobson.
So, while many Christian parents handle their gay and lesbian children with wisdom, many do not. Mary Lou Wallner did not, and bitterly regretted it. While precise figures are not available, it has been estimated that about one-quarter of adolescents are rejected and forced from their homes when they come out to their parents. This is a primary reason for so many teens staying in the closet until they are off at college or otherwise established independently. A teenager only has to hear of one person, or have one friend, kicked out of the house for being gay to not take that risk.
Personal Opinions vs. Pastoral Pronouncements
There may be a difference, however, between one’s “private opinions” and a pastor’s pronouncements the pulpit, based on the Bible. That difference is small, however, if the person with the “private opinion” is the parent of a gay or lesbian child, and that “opinion” is based on something like the inerrant, unchanging of the Word of God. I don’t know if or how often Rev. Dr. Frankie L. Perdue preached on homosexuality, or how often he strung together phrases like “homosexuals, murderers, and rapists” or “homosexuality, abortion, drugs, and women’s lib.” All I have are his own words.
Homosexuality was, is and always will be an “abomination” before God…. I cannot, no matter how I might wish to, tell gays and lesbians that God is ok with their lifestyles when God abhors (hates in the strongest terms) said lifestyles. It wouldn’t be loving not to be truthful to them in an attempt to give them a false hope of acceptance when damnation and hell awaits.
In the context of using pornography, the commenter left the questionable (dishonest?) euphemism behind and acknowledged that the word “lifestyle” meant sexual behavior. I will assume for a moment that the “use” of pornography, the use to which it is put, is the normally unstated behavior of masturbation. If Rev. Dr. Perdue means by “lifestyle” what the commenter means, that is, sexual behavior, then for a gay teen to masturbate over pictures of men is apparently worse than when a straight male does it over pictures of women. I suppose there are some who would say that both are equally perverted. For the gay teen the act is an abomination to God, always was and always will be; God abhors that “lifestyle,” “hates it in the strongest possible terms”; “damnation and hell” await that young man.
Proverbs: “Even the Kindness and Compassion of the Wicked is Cruel”
Many people refuse to take responsibility for the effects of their words because they think, rightly or wrongly, that what they teach is based on the Bible. “God says it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.” I remember when I embraced the violent, brutal, and unjust picture of God found in parts of the Bible and absolved myself of that picture’s awful implications because it was, after all, in the Bible.
I pity the teens whose pastors preach the language that the Rev. Dr. Frankie L. Perdue used in his reply.
Homosexuality was, is and always will be an “abomination” before God…. I cannot…tell gays and lesbians that God is ok with their lifestyles when God abhors (hates in the strongest terms) said lifestyles. It wouldn’t be loving not to be truthful to them in an attempt to give them a false hope of acceptance when damnation and hell awaits.
If there are 50 teenagers in an evangelical congregation, statistics tell us that at least one or two of them are gay or lesbian. (This is based on conservative figures, not the inflated figure of 10% based on the Kinsey Report’s skewed sample group.) These kids have prayed to receive Christ in VBS, they’ve been baptized, they’ve memorized John 3:16, Romans 3:23, and a dozen other verses. They believe the Bible, and the Bible says that their same-sex attractions will forever be an abomination to God, that God abhors their desires, and that damnation and hell await them.
Sent to hell because of desires and attractions? How is that? Because of what Jesus said: “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” These kids are smart enough to know that if this applies to ordinary lust, then it applies doubly to the twisted, perverted, unnatural crushes they’ve had on friends and classmates. They haven’t just thought about. In God’s sight they’ve already done it. Thinking about it is as bad as actually doing it. Those crushes last so long–they’re proof of the young man’s vile and perverted heart. “Man looks at outward appearances, but God judges the heart.”
I know it’s possible to explain why Jesus’ words don’t really mean that, but that’s an example of fine-print explanations. Having been one for some time, I know that many adolescent minds are pretty literal-minded. Things are black and white, right or wrong–simplistic. Put an adolescent under the teaching of a literal, simplistic, black and white, right and wrong preacher, and you have a recipe for tragedy.
We’ve all read about the mysterious suicides of young teens. “He seemed happy and successful. Good grades, active in sports and in clubs, sang in the choir. We had no idea that he was so troubled. He seemed perfectly fine.” There’s no way to know, but I’m certain that well over half of these mysterious suicides are because of the inescapable bind these Christian young people experience because they’re gay.
I experienced the same self-loathing because of pornography and masturbation well into my twenties. I remember being knocked into depression for weeks, even months, after buying a Playboy at a liquor store or a gas station. But preachers don’t call garden-variety lust “an abomination to God” or call young people “perverts” and lump them in with murderers, rapists, and pedophiles.
The journal Pediatrics reported that LGBT teenagers are 6 times more likely to suffer from depression and 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. My son Jonathan attempted suicide three times due to the rejection he received from Bible-believing evangelicals. And he was a virgin–he had never transgressed the Law–so there’s no claiming that the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment somehow drove him to despair of life. There was no “sin” for which to feel convicted.
People may believe they love gays and lesbians. They may say, “I don’t hate homosexuals. I don’t hate anybody! I love homosexuals, it’s their lifestyle I hate.” But it isn’t what you say, or believe, or think you believe. It’s not how you qualify what you say and how you wrap fine-print disclaimers around it. What matters is what a person hears. We talk about our love; we talk about God’s love. But the real energy is in the word hate.
That’s what these gay and lesbian young people hear. God hates them.
“Hate” is Too Strong? Doesn’t Apply?
Pastors and parents say they don’t hate homosexuals, and insist they only hate the “lifestyle,” that is, they only hate homosexual sex acts. Then Christian kids, gay and lesbian young people, sons and daughters, commit suicide. I can only say that those those brave, defiant pronouncement on behalf of God based on the Bible are hateful. Are they protected speech? Yes. Is it the free exercise of religion? Up till now, yes. However, when we casually disavow responsibility for the impact of our words on the innocent, and the innocent take their own lives because of those careless, literally irresponsible words–well, if that doesn’t constitute hate, let’s look for something else.
On “Law and Order” I hear phrases like “wreckless disregard,” “criminal negligence,” “depraved indifference,” and the like. If “hate” is too strong, then how about criminal.
I’m reminded of Proverbs 24:11-12.
Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die;
save them as they stagger to their death.
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and he sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.
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If you want to Demolish the Strongholds of shallow anti-gay slogans, click here.
If you want to respond to the Clobber Passages, click here.