A recent article about Michael Sam and the reaction to him by some Evangelical Christians led to a predictable response by a person who undoubtedly thinks of himself as Christian. It contained the following passage:
“You [liberals] always compare gays to blacks. That is ludicrous. Blacks are a race of people. Gays are people that choose to defile themselves and rebel against nature and God. The world is full of people that choose to leave the gay lifestyle.”
We can pass over the claims that homosexuality is a choice, and that the world is full of people have stopped making that choice. That is a subject for other writers, and has been written about at length. Rather, let’s focus on that first claim, that “liberals always compare gays to blacks.”
No. That misses the point, probably deliberately. There is no comparison between gays and blacks, but between one stupid, hateful kind of discrimination and another. It’s not about “blacks”, who are hardly the only people who have suffered oppression based on religious claims – consider, for example, women, Native Americans, and people of other Christian sects. Rather, it is about victims of those claims and the vile hatefulness of the people who make them.
And it is about the misuse of religion by a particular class of “Christians” who take a very narrow and convenient reading of Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” The message of Romans 14:22, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves” can be read, if you are of a mind to, as being about only “debatable things”. And you can, again if you are of a mind to, deny the debate about the nature of homosexuality, claiming a consensus that does not exist in outside of certain Evangelical Christian circles. The point, though, is that your mind-set, the choice you make in interpreting those passages, is more about you than the Scriptures are. Other reasonable, more accepting and “more Christian” choices are available, if you wish to adopt them. The point is, it’s not about Scripture, it’s about you and the choices you make.
Such people claim to speak for Christ or for Christianity. In fact, they speak for themselves and their like-minded sectarian bretheren. Other Christians have very different, more Christ-like views. For instance, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who speaks for an entirely different, more forgiving and inclusive branch of Christianity:
“It isn’t that it’s questionable when you speak up for the right of people with different sexual orientation. People took some part of us and used it to discriminate against us. In our case, it was our ethnicity; it’s precisely the same thing for sexual orientation. People are killed because they’re gay. I don’t think, “What do I want to do today? I want to speak up on gay rights.” No. It’s God catching me by my neck. I wish I could keep quiet about the plight of the Palestinians. I can’t! The God who was there and showed that we should become free is the God described in the Scriptures as the same yesterday, today and forever.”