Like many, I accepted the invitation to participate in a blogging experiment started by Wendy Gritter and New Direction, a ministry in Canada and a former member of the Exodus network. The idea, as I understand it, is to elevate the conversation concerning bridge-building between those who are accepting of GLBT people and those who are not, the latter particularly for religious reasons.
I fought to think of what I would say that could help. After just having finished some exhaustive work on yet another one of the reasons that XGW exists (Matthew C. Manning), I’m not in a very good mood.
Then I noticed that Exodus VP Randy Thomas had also participated in this experiment. Randy is another reason this blog exists, so I read his post with some trepidation. The vast majority of it is a copy/paste from material he contributed to Exodus president Alan Chamber’s last book, God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door.
Reading this, a flood of hurt and yes, anger, came back from the first time I read those words. I realized that there was no way I could write and follow Wendy’s rules of staying upbeat, positive, etc.
Since I did agree to write, I feel I owe some explanation, and I have decided to put that here for whatever it may add to the discussion, positive or negative — it is at least sincere. I apologize to Wendy for not being able to offer something more constructive and understand if she does not wish to link to this.
The entire post by Randy was painful for me to read, but near the beginning is an example which might serve as a microcosm of most everything he says publicly concerning GLBTs. He starts by offering up the idea that the classic phrase “hate the sin but love the sinner” is not helpful. In explaining why, however, he turns what one might think is a welcome moment of understanding into a hammer of condescension.
The biggest example of this is the “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Among our Christian brethren, we all know what this means because we know that God does not view people by their actions but for who they are as a soul. We do not see homosexuality as the inherent identity of someone struggling with homosexuality and so it is easy for us to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” But let’s take this to a personal level what if your gay identified neighbor said “hate the Christ but love the Christian?
Now that I have your attention, remember, you are dealing with another sub culture who identifies as “gay.” … To say that you hate homosexuality but love homosexuals does not make sense to those whose primary identity lies within their sexuality. At the very least you sound out of touch and speaking a completely different language.
This does what I believe is the primary, fundamental, absolutely most arrogant thing one can do if one cares about GLBTs, especially for those of faith. He makes the assumption that, if one is gay (he never says gay, he injects his own belief that one only “identifies” as gay), one is not a Christian. This is clearly not the case.
There is an automatically assumed dichotomy, even honestly, though unintended, in the idea behind this synchroblog, that there is gay on one side, and Christian on the other. It boggles my mind how much this idea is ingrained in the church, so much so that one’s own faith is challenged if one thinks otherwise. But for someone who claims to have a “special burden” for GLBTs and who “used to identify as gay” and who works at a place that is supposed to know more than a little about GLBTs, this is a spectacular train wreck of a statement.
Randy then seals this idea by saying that “hate the sin, love the sinner” is equivalent to “hate the Christ but love the Christian.” Because I am gay, Randy believes I put my sexuality on the same plane as God? For those who do not share my faith, thank you for your indulgence here. I do believe in God, and I place my faith in Christ. I do not share Randy’s view of what is written in scripture about homosexuality, but otherwise my views fall in line with orthodoxy. Let God tell me what he wants for my life, and I will do the same for you.
Randy represents a view which I think serves as a primary example of why so many bridge building efforts fail. Only a short time ago, he even wrote a post on why he doesn’t even believe they are a good idea, that he is beyond all that. So what is the purpose here, why this post?
Nothing I say here should be taken as disparaging towards Wendy or New Direction. I have found Wendy to be a very special person, with an unwavering desire to show compassion and love and to please God. I do not envy her the task she has begun, but I believe the time is right to try.