In the wake of the Orlando shootings, Christians must recognize homophobia is a sin
By MICHAEL COREN
Wed., June 22, 2016
Perhaps enough time has gone by since the homophobic slaughter in Orlando to slice through some of the rhetoric and speak truth to privilege. Or to put it another way, to try to shake some of the complacency out of the whole damned thing.
One evangelical pastor in the U.S., for example, recorded a message lambasting those Christians who had described the Florida atrocity as God’s wrath against homosexuals. He was rightly angry and more than 10 million people watched him online, many of them no doubt Christian and probably feeling newly generous and clean in their faith-based kindness.
Sorry, it won’t do. The extreme views aren’t relevant, we can deal with the salivating brutes. No, it’s the more mainstream Christians who are the issue, those otherwise generally good people who continue to condemn homosexuality as sinful, who believe that one can reject same-sex relationships as leading to damnation but still “love” gay people; and as a consequence gay kids kill themselves.
This is not hyperbole. Even in allegedly civilized North America, teenagers attempt and complete suicide, fall into profound depression, self-harm and live in fear and desperation because of what myriad Christians, yes Christians, still think and do.
I don’t care how many photo ops Pope Francis conducts where he hugs a gay person or stresses that love is all that matters. He also describes those who promote “gender theory” — Catholic shorthand for same-sex marriage and full gay equality — as being similar to the Hitler Youth and hasn’t changed a word of the Catholic catechism that speak of homosexuality as being sinful and disordered.
Imagine for a moment how a vulnerable boy or girl would feel hearing and reading that. It’s difficult enough being a teen today, without being told that what and how you feel is unnatural, repugnant and wrong.
Conservative Protestants are no better. They cherry-pick the Bible so as to confirm their own fear and loathing. Divorce can be dealt with, the odd bit of lust is not such a big deal, making a fortune while others can’t eat is just one of those things, but those homosexuals have to saved from the fires of hell.
I’m an Orthodox Christian and I say every word of the creed each Sunday with absolute conviction. Sorry atheists and cynics, I’m not your man. But it’s my faith in Christ and His endless, constant, relentless, inexorable, till-the-end-of-time calls for love, inclusion and acceptance that hold me glued to Christianity, not the man-made judgment fetish that infects so much of the church.
Please, do not send me emails quoting the mere handful of verses in Scripture that mention homosexuality. I’ve read them many times, studied them, even written a book about them. They’re ambiguous at best and often not even about gay love at all. Instead, ask why out of all of the Biblical teachings there are still so many followers of Jesus the revolutionary who misunderstand and then obsess about this particular subject.
The genealogy of gay suffering has roots deep in church history. Just as Christians have in the past 50 years revised their understanding and attitude toward the Jewish people, the same has to happen with the LGBTQ community. That by necessity will involve contrition, apology and the opening wide of arms, mind and soul. You will be amazed how many gay Christians come forward in glorious liberation, how many loved ones, and how many people previously reluctant to enter a church building. Good God, it could well begin a great, new awakening.
The criteria for marriage is not gender but love, openly gay men and women must be fully welcomed into churches, and no person should be told they are sinful merely for being who and what they are. Public outrage at a gun massacre is easy but putting a halt to centuries of harmful teaching is much more difficult and in many ways much more significant.
Jesus utters not a word about homosexuality, even though it was as common in His time as in ours but He had so much to say about those who judge others and think themselves Godly.
It’s not that I say homophobes are sinful but that homophobia is — I think making the distinction is, well, the Christian thing to do!
Michael Coren’s new book is Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart and Mind over Same-Sex Marriage.firstname.lastname@example.org