Letter from a gay-friendly Christian

Background

Dear Mr Shaw,

I’ve had enough of fellow Christians maligning gay people. You are only the latest in a long line, a Pentacostal Christian suggesting that loving a person of the same sex is comparable to loving alcohol, drugs, and hooning.

This was your response to a 19-year old constituent who had taken issue with the State Government’s recently tabled anti-discrimination legislation. You also imply that if this young, gay man were to carry out his desire to “work, live and love freely during the course of [his] life,” then we might as well let sex offenders and molesters also say that they love children and let them do what they want.

As a Christian, but more so an intelligent, decent person, I am offended by the parallel that you draw. I am offended because it is the sort of statement that emerges from the darkest pit of wilful ignorance, spoken by an elected official who purports to be Christian. Such ignorance cannot go unchallenged, nor can I allow people to think all Christians are like you.

First, you probably believe that homosexuality is unnatural. Well let’s have a look at the natural world, then. As many as 1,500 species have been observed to engage in homosexual behaviour, across nearly all phyla in the animal kingdom, including representatives from our primate cousins. If Christians such as yourself believe that being gay is something one chooses to become, then you would also need to accept that gut worms are able to make this decision.

You would further have to explain how something ‘unnatural’ has not been expunged by nature or mere human civilisation after thousands of years. According to a British Archeology article by Dr Timothy Taylor, early written records from 5,000 years ago contain references to homosexuality, male and female transexualism and transvestism. It seems to me that the most sensible conclusion from this is that being gay must be as human as being straight. It is no modern scourge.

You would perhaps argue that neither the natural world nor the weight of history really counterpoints human free will. This may be true but the exercise of such will is not without context. We do because we are, and who we are can be traced for the most part to our genetic heritage. For gay guys, it seems to be the case that their homosexuality is linked to mum’s side of the family, with both family studies and genome scans of gay men indicating ‘maternal loading.’ This is simply how nature works, so it must be natural, wouldn’t you have to agree?

I know your real concern against gays has to do with morality. After all, the Bible is against gays, right? Well, only if you discount the Gospels. Jesus, who freely spoke against all manner of ungodly behaviour, does not actually mention homosexuality. At least be honest about that. By the way, I am happy to be accused of being a New Testament Christian, going on about loving God and my neighbour and all that.

However, even if we were to account for the Old Testament, especially the infamous story of Sodom and Gomorrah, you might need to reconcile your interpretation with that of Judaism, from which this narrative comes. The traditional view is that these cities were punished for inhospitality, not homosexual behaviour. Ancient texts are inordinately scathing of inhospitality, did you know? Those were tough times, and so providing food and shelter to strangers was a code of honour. Not so much today, perhaps, but that’s another matter.

You probably wish at this point to turn my attention to the writings of Saint Paul. I’ve read his words. It seems to me that he condemned sexual exploitation rather than gays. He spoke against sexual activities that were destructive or excessive. I would speak against them, too. This sits very comfortably with my support for gays.

It is a position made possible through the simple process of logic: a) gays do not have a monopoly on promiscuity, and b) straight people do not have a monopoly on intimate, trusting sexual relationships. Therefore, c) it is possible for gay couples to have life-giving, long-lasting, exclusive unions, just as it is possible for straight couples to be consumed by destructive behaviours. (You might have noticed that many domestic violence cases involve heterosexual couples). The only conclusion that can be drawn is that sexual orientation does not a person or a relationship make. I’d like to think that God is more demanding than that. My God is, anyway.

You might now be wondering how it is possible for me to be Christian and gay-friendly at the same time, Mr Shaw. The answer is ultimately simple. I start from the premise that gays are humans first and only. They are complicated, just like you and me, but people just the same. We are not any better than they for being Christian or straight – remember that Jesus abhorred vanity.

Most importantly, Mr Shaw, you need to know that the desires that that young man expressed in his email to you – to “work, live and love freely during the course of [his] life” – they are universal. He does not say them because he happens to be gay. He says them because he is a human being. And the Christian thing to do would have been to respond to him accordingly.



Categories: Politics and Governance, Religion

Tags: , ,

6 replies

  1. Well. Does Mr Shaw believe that God created homosexuals in His image ? Btw, at my blog I have taken objection to your silly article in the NT today.

    • Hi there, Martin. I read your blog post; thanks for the extended response.
      * It’s interesting you use the prospect of another Stalin, Mao and Hitler as dubious reasons to hold on to religion. They were all atheists who perpetrated monumental genocide (Mao through starvation).
      * The Salvation Army does not proselytise as a condition for assisting people in need. I was merely referring to the possibility that someone who is assisted by them, through very ordinary human encounters, could arrive at the conclusion that you yourself reject. People can be moved despite themselves.
      * I take your point that the term ‘secularist’ is not technically interchangeable with ‘humanist’ and ‘atheist’ – but all terms refer to a separation from religion/God. Humanists and atheists cannot not be secularists, so they must be.
      * I tend to think that the choice to believe or not believe is a lifelong process, reinforced by experience. I admire that you want to ‘protect’ young people, but I prefer to see them as resilient and will figure things out anyway, regardless what they are taught.
      * I am not against teaching ethics or comparative religion. Let’s agree on that. Let students have a safe, structured forum to ask questions, where the adult in the room has no agenda but to be fair and truthful.

  2. Hello Fatima,

    I found you on the National Times too. I’m more likely to come here than keep reading the times however. It’s good to have some thinking going on over the chaplaincy thing.
    As a Christian, I’m inclined to like the idea of having a Christian voice in schools, but I think that in multicultural Australia maybe we should be funding it ourselves, and we can care for people as Jesus would, not according to governement policies. I believe the chaplaincy program is doomed, and while there are reasons that’s a good thing, the down side is that the budget will never stretch to having as many public servants doing the job as the current program provides. The kids lose again.

    DR

    • Thanks, DR. I think both sides are guilty of knee-jerk reactions. Critics of SRI are right to be outraged by how it’s being used by opportunists who engender prejudice (against Buddhism, gays etc), but they’re also throwing a number of babies out with the bath water.

  3. Hi Fatima,

    I found your blog via the piece you wrote in today’s National Times section on SMH. As a Jew (and practising Buddhist) I’d like to say well done and it’s about time more people like you had a voice in these kinds of situation. I especially liked your last paragraph:


    From shared fear, perhaps both camps can thus share a common hope: that young people who wish to live authentically and decently as human beings will find what they are looking for.

    I feel this sums up the ensuing mayhem from atheists and “holy rollers” alike. I will be reading your blog here regularly now.

    In metta,
    Lexa

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