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Self-declared infallibility, inflexibility -- these things build brick walls

by Jeremy Hooper

200801131143On a post we recently wrote about the Soulforce organization's search for dialogue with various U.S. mega-churches, there has brewed a very spirited debate regarding why a anti-gay Bible vs. gay-inclusive Bible conversation is so needed. And within that debate, there has been one particularly strong voice of dissension who has questioned why so many of us in the LGBT community see the back-and-forth between gays and people of queer-objecting faith as one where one side is open to many voices and many outlooks, and one whose mind is already made up. Over the weekend that commenter posed this question to this site and this writer:

G-A-Y - I wonder if I feel slightly as if I'm talking to a brick wall? Would you consider changing your view of the the sinful/non-sinful nature of homosexual activity as a result of any of these dialogues? Would you accept that people feel this way and then leave them alone in their beliefs because they'll never change? :-)

So seeing that (a) our response to this is sort of thing that we feel needs to be conveyed to more than just this one particular commenter, and (b) it's Monday morning and we want to start our day off with an easy post, we have decided to respond to him here. So to both this specific reader and the larger community of folks who thing that LGBT people are just as myopic in their faith outlooks, we ask them to consider this:

You ask, "Would you consider changing your view of the the sinful/non-sinful nature of homosexual activity as a result of any of these dialogues?" But here's the thing -- many gay people have been having this dialogue for years, within both our own community and with various people of faith. We HAVE listened to the "sin" claims. We have dared to look at the "clobber passages" further. We (as a generalization) have not been "brick walls," but rather receptive sponges who will accept varying theories, evidence, and teachings before making up our minds.

You ask, "
Would you accept that people feel this way and then leave them alone in their beliefs because they'll never change?" Again -- most gay people ALREADY accept that people hold anti-gay faith views!! We are not the ones trying to influence public policy and stymie civil equality on the basis of faith belief! And last but certainly not least, we (and again, this is a generalization) are not using our personal scriptural interpretations to so brazenly condemn others!

It's the "only our ideas are right" mentality of so many evangelicals that makes dialogue so needed. But not only dialogue -- dialogue in which both sides have opened both their ears and minds!

**The comments section of our original post: Group to help mega-churches find their 'Soul' [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

Peter said:

"I do want to say that coming from my point of view, this feels an awful lot more like an attempt to force these churches to accept your beliefs on homosexual activity than an attempt to start a dialogue. Please note that I'm not saying it is, but it really comes across that way. I read the release quoted above and it does read as if they're calling on these pastors and their congregations to change or to be "the leaders" in holding the position you favor. If they don't hold that position right now, that reads as wanting them to change, not just wanting a dialogue."

From where I am sitting it seems to me that those that hold "homosexuality is sinful" demand through legislation, schools, and other public venues that we uphold their religious beliefs as supreme over all others. That those that have other beliefs should be made null and void. At least that is what I see.

My thoughts on your beliefs may be churlish below, but I am trying to help you see my point of view on how I see your faith system. I really have no other way to express it. It is not a personal attack against you Peter, (although you may see it that way), but rather I want you to know exactly how I see your belief system through my eyes.

Peter, I have a hard time having dialogue with those conservative fundamentalists/evangelicals that claim to promote "truth" all the while they preach false doctrines such as The Rapture and the Prosperity Gospel. Also within those same churches they disregard Jesus decree that divorce/remarriage is adultery (continuous adulterous sin) and have smugly carried around the cop-out, "Loving the sinner, hating the sin" when in fact it has been played out as, "Loving the sin, hating the sinner". I am not the one obsessed with my sexuality but it is those like you that have made me and other gays the boogeymans and deviants within your churches. And I always wondered why that was. And I finally figure it out that it was a money maker to demonize me and other gays at every turn because speaking out against divorce/remarriage and wealth did nothing to feed the collection plate (in fact it drives people out of congregations faster than the plague). Speaking out against gays had the drive to make those that believe as you do give more money to keep us gays down to second class citizens. I find more hypocrisy within your belief system and those that express it, then I do in most other denominations. It has become a belief system of intolerance and hypocrisy. Rather than letting the Holy Spirit do its work, you demand that the Bible be held up as the only source of true faith, and that in no way could God be speaking today when he gave us the Bible to solely rely on. In fact, the Bible didn't come into existence until four hundred years after Christ's ascension into heaven. Where was the faith then without the Scriptures? Surely, Peter, they could not have been true Christians without Scripture to fall back on right? How do I accept your belief of "homosexuality is a sin" when I see the hypocrisy and "Do as I say and not as I do" within your own churches?

Paul said it best in Romans 14 v. 22-23

~22. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.~

Paul was not only talking about food. If I believe (through prayer and conscience) that my sexuality and the expression of it is NOT sin, then it is not sin. It is sin for you to be gay because your belief system tells you it is wrong to be gay. I do not. Therefore it is not sinful for me to be gay and love another man.

Did it ever occur to you that when you reduce our love, feelings and expressions to a behaviour that you slap me and millions of other gays in the face? Yes, we have feelings. Yes, we as individuals have the desire to experience love with someone, even if that love is expressed with someone of the same sex. But to reduce that to nothing more than deviant behaviour by you and others that believe as you do, is offensive to me and millions of other gays. And to compare it to alcoholism, being a thief, and a murderer, it is no wonder that we find those analogies offensive. Wouldn't you?

Posted by: Ken R | Jan 14, 2008 3:31:23 PM

This discussion always makes me wonder why we haven't seen a major marriage equaility case before the courts that was made on the basis of religious freedom.

If I belong to a faith group that accepts same-sex marriages, why should my right to have that marriage recognized by the state be infringed upon simply because other faith groups don't wish to recognize that marriage? In this case the state is favoring the faith confessions of one group over another without any cause.

There are clear non-religious reasons for the state to prohibit arrangements promoted by certain faith groups such as polygamy, but no such reasons exist for the state to prohibit same-sex marriages. The only arguments I've ever heard presented rely on sterotyping gay/lesbian persons based on (always questionable at best) statistics, but these arguments deny the rights of the individual that our Constitution was set up to protect.

Posted by: GayMormonBoy | Jan 14, 2008 11:50:48 PM

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