Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Some homophobes make me sad. Not angry or resentful. Just sad.
At least that’s how I felt as I was watching this video of a member of the Crystal Cathedral calling into Michelangelo Signorile’s show in Sirius Satellite Radio.
The gist of the encounter is that the caller is a Christian who thinks homosexuality is a choice but, don’t worry, he still loves everyone anyway. Signorile appropriately dismisses such silliness. After all, he asks, why should serial adulterers get a forgiveness pass, but gay people not? (Evidently, gay people can get a pass if they try to stop being gay. Um…) How can someone believe homosexuality is a choice, condemn a person for making that choice, and still love that person?
The second question illustrates a concept that is not altogether foreign to me. I was interested in that very paradox in my Sunday school classes growing up. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” I was told.
I guess that makes sense if you’re in grade five. But that isn’t how it works in the real world. In the real world, if someone is engaged in a “sin,” there is no need to protect that person from the consequences of that sin. If one is participating in the “sin” of homosexuality, there is no need to protect a loving gay relationship. Because it’s a sin. One should be shown the error of his or her ways, not be given support for their relationship.
But if you just repeat the mantra “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” this all seems O.K. You’re not a bad person. You love all people. It’s the sin you hate. Hate the sin.
And this is what makes me sad. Listen to the clip. The caller doesn’t sound filled with venom (although I confess that I am easily fooled). He sounds like someone who genuinely wants to be a good person and thinks he is, thanks to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” philosophy. But it’s like he can’t, like he doesn’t even have much of a shot, because someone told him that God says being gay is a choice and a sin.
Churches – and organized religion in general – do this all the time. I live in Kansas. Pretty much everyone I know is a member of this church or that parish. And these aren’t hateful people. They want to be kind and respectful and do the right thing. But so often their minds are poisoned from the beginning against certain people or ways of living. It makes me sad when smart people are taken in by such retrograde and false notions. But it makes me angry to see people at the top of these religious hierarchies get away with it. Just hate the sin, and close your eyes to new ways of seeing the world.
Homophobia, of course, is not a universally held belief among Christians. It’s not even universally held within the caller’s own megachurch. The Crystal Cathedral is at a crossroads: it can continue to demand that homosexuality be actively condemned by the organization, or it can decide to follow the teachings of its founding minister, Robert Schuller, and be open to anyone. With your help, maybe we can make it the latter.