I really wish I could take a disinterested stance on all the gay marriage business in the media lately. I generally do not like to follow the trends when it comes to public uproar, just because I feel like it is too easy to let emotions replace reason when the "mob mentality" kicks in. But I have to admit that some of the things I have been reading lately have been making my blood boil a little. Unsurprisingly, it is all coming from the Christian Right.
It isn't so much the content of what they are saying that is bothering me. All that stuff is familiar to me. They believe homosexuality is wrong, they see gay marriage as bad for the country, yadda yadda. Okay, fair enough. That is bad enough in itself, but I have come to expect it. What bothers me is that they are so incredibly unapologetic about it. It does not seem to matter to them how hard things are for homosexuals. There seems to be absolutely no sympathy coming forth. And it is not as if they are brainwashed into believing that homosexuality is some sort of a perverse choice (though I suppose there are those that still hold to this, despite the ever-growing list of incidents involving bullying and/or suicide). They seem to honestly believe that homosexuality is something that just happens to a person. And yet, they unapologetically pronounce condemnation. They seem almost smug about it. This isn't the majority, of course, but I am seeing it more and more on some of the blogs I frequent.
This is the sort of thing I never did when I was a Christian. When I was a believer, I considered the Christian stance on homosexuality an unfortunate byproduct of my worldview. Even though I believed that homosexuality was wrong, I was sympathetic to anyone who "struggled with homosexual desires" (condescending, I know, but it was a start). I genuinely wished that my faith did not require me to condemn homosexuals, but there was nothing that could be done about it. All I could do was try my best to justify my position to others and hope that they understood. I wanted them to know that I did not want to condemn them. I simply had to. It comes with the territory if one wants to hold onto sound biblical doctrine.
I get the feeling that there are a lot of Christians out there who are just like I was. I know quite a few of them. It makes me feel better about the whole gay rights issue, and it's the main reason that I am hopeful for the future. Sure, there are genuinely rotten people on the Christian Right who really do hate homosexuals, and there are those who, even though they don't hate anybody, feel that it is their duty to celebrate what they believe to be the final Word of God on the issue. But there are also those who, like myself when I was a believer, are only anti-gay because their faith forces them to be. And in all honesty, what do we really expect? If one truly, deeply believes that the Christian faith is true, how could they not follow what they think is God's Holy Word? They have to treat homosexuality like a sin for the same reason that they have to partake in the Eucharist, or pray prayers of repentance, or witness to their neighbor about the love of Jesus. If one truly believes that there is a God who requires these things, who in their right mind would go against it?
I do have sympathy towards this type of believer. I know that many in the secular world would not share this sympathy, and honestly I do not blame them. Many simply do not know what goes on in the head of someone like this. But I do. I know the inner struggle, and I know that when someone gets to this point, it is only a matter of time before they crack. Once you are willing to entertain the idea that your worldview contains moral principles that are, as far as you can see, totally arbitrary, it is only a matter of time before that worldview gets abandoned. Our goal as secularists should not be to fight tooth and nail against these people, but to reason with them gently and let them know that we understand where they are coming from. Never underestimate the value of an honest attempt to understand your opposition, and remember that, as it says in the Proverbs, "A soft answer turneth away wrath."