Us vs. Them?

As part of blogging on this site as well as my own, I’ve started to try to read more blogs regarding religion – not just where it is incidental to politics, but more about religion itself. There’s a pattern that I’ve observed that somewhat troubles me in regard to the use of language when Christian authors speak about homosexuality that does not apply to any other group of people. There is a tendency on this matter to take an either/or position, the use of language suggests that one might be a Christian, or one might be gay, but never both at the same time. As this piece suggests, gays become “them” too often and too quickly in Christian writing.

Why?

No one refers to adultery, or tax fraud, or downloading pirated Mp3s, or substance abuse in this manner. Why should homosexuality be put into this separate category where it is an either/or proposition? One idea I’ve wondered about is whether many Christians have tacitly accepted that, whatever the causes of homosexuality, it is not and cannot be chosen. Any of us might be tempted to cheat on a spouse or on our taxes, but our sexual orientations appear to be fairly hard-wired. More and more data suggests that those who say that they have changed their sexual orientation are more of an exception than anything else. If it is hard to become straight it seems logical that it must be just as difficult to become gay. In other words, whoever you find attractive now, you will probably always be attracted to them.

All this is a fancy way of saying that homosexuality can more easily be defined as antithetical to Christianity than many other things because we can single out one group and say, “this applies to you, and not me, I am immune” and feel very satisfied about ourselves. Many churches have found theological work-arounds for prohibitions on divorce and remarriage. After all, it could happen to anyone.

All of this explains why it might tempting to define homosexuality and Christianity as opposites but you might ask, so what? Well for one thing, it is incorrect. Quite basically, on an empirical level, it is incorrect to say that someone cannot be both gay and Christian. We should not think that gays and lesbians are somehow inanimate objects, incapable of reading the words of a blogger just because s/he is Christian. Nor should we imagine that being gay precludes someone from having any interest in religion. If this is a plea for language of inclusion (regardless of how you view the topic) it is one based more on the reality of the situation than on some 1960s hippie notion of making everyone feel good or something. It is just not realistic to suggest that we can honestly speak in these terms.