What is morality without honesty?

Posted on January 14, 2013

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One step in my journey from conservative Republican Christian to an openly gay member of the Christian Left, was the disregard many of my former associates have for truth. It is apparent in the hatred of science and reason, which have been friends of the church -although the church has not always returned the friendship. Many philosophers and scientists have been followers of Christ, and pursued greater knowledge of God through knowledge of God’s created works. Inevitably, when a scientist discovered some truth, he or she would want to share it with others, and then the church would assume negative motivations and swoop in and burn the person.

Christians should value truth and reason, because without them the Bible is full of holes and without context derived from research, it would appear to be a book of myths. I said to my roommate tonight, “The moral majority/religious right wants everyone to understand reality in light of the Bible, rather than understand the Bible through the light of reality.” The right makes reason the enemy when it conflicts with traditional interpretation because it is easier to have static beliefs (everything is black and white) than to be open to the idea that we will never understand it all and will always be learning.

While this problem is also indicated in discussions on global warming, evolution, and higher education, my blog is primarily about gay issues, so I would like to point out how it affects gay Christians.

The gay version of this problem is wrapped up in ex-gay ministries, the terminology they use, and how it translates into political action. I listened to a (very long) panel discussion between Justin Lee (Gay Christian Network), Jeremy Marks (Courage), John Smid (Love in Action), Wendy Gritter (New Directions – Canada). and Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International.
The names highlighted link to blogs, the organizations link to the org’s website. Ex-gay sites are not linked.
          The mp3 of the panel: part 1 , part 2.

The deception of ex-gay ministries is in the term “Ex-gay.” Because “ex” is a common Latin prefix meaning  “former,” it gives the meaning to self-hating gays and to homophobes the impression that it is possible for people to stop being gay. In the mp3s above, even the leaders of the various ex-gay organizations clearly say that they know it is impossible (some hedge a bit and call it 99.9% impossible) for LGBT people to change their orientation.

Before you start rejoicing- this isn’t them condemning ex-gay therapy, organizations that use their former anti-gay statements against us. And Republican congressmen aren’t out there searching the web for more information on gay issues. They are part of the group that rejects learning in favor of tradition, and they are going to assume that the traditional ex-gays are right and that the new admissions are just part of a gay conspiracy.

Oiy vey! When I came out I had a friend who kept sending me nutty conservative conspiracies, including one that suggested that President Obama had built guillotines and was storing them in a secret FEMA camp for when he declared martial law, started the one world order, and and had all the dissenting Christians executed.
As a librarian, I’m fond of sources and rooting them out like a private investigator. I tracked this rumor down to a bill in the Georgia state legislature where a Democrat was trying to pass a bill that would let those on death row choose to die by guillotine in order to preserve their organs for donation (it would have been a voluntary thing- not able to be forced by the state). The bill never passed.

Well that was a detour.

I guess I’m really frustrated with the right for thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. Every time I read  another gay blog about someone talking about sinners who are so much inferior, I keep thinking about Pharisees. They were the group in the New Testament that lines up (in terms of social values) with the right. Jesus couldn’t stand them. It wasn’t because they were morally bankrupt- far from it! They were the most righteous people around- yet the righteous did not make them good. It made them cruel, and I think that the policies against the poor and against minorities int he US prove the religious right is of the same caliber.

I haven’t treaded very cautiously in this post. I’m sure that someone from the GOP would read this and point out my own pride is evident. As a former member of the religious right, I remember feeling like my Christian views were discriminated against by the media, and that tolerance was a one way street. Now that I am aligned so firmly with the left, I wonder how I can communicate across the boundary that I have crossed. I don’t think that my post is hypocritcal, and though I judge harshly, I believe the parallels between Pharisee and GOP are a tight metaphor.

Sexual deviation or the type of morality that is so highly valued by the religious right is not what was stressed in the Bible. Mentioned, maybe, but not stressed. Jesus was a friend to sinners and was in communion with prostitutes and the downtrodden- not with those who held everyone to a high standard of righteousness.

I can hear GOPs calling me a liberal softy. And I myself do not excuse my imperfections by the fact that Jesus loves everyone. I do believe that there is sin and that self-control is important. However, I also believe as Tony Campolo said:

Love the sinner and hate the sin. That’s just the opposite of what Jesus said. Jesus never said love the sinner and hate the sin. Here’s what Jesus said, love the sinner, and hate your own sin, and after you have taken care of that sin, you can talk about the sin in your brother.

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Posted in: Political, Theology