Christians and “Christians”
I was intrigued by this recent post by PEG on “Christian opposition to homosexual actions.” Despite my own Christianity, I don’t share this opposition. And it bugs me that a lot of otherwise good people say and do a lot of very hurtful things because somebody they trusted told them that being against people being gay is part of what it means to be a Christian. It’s not—but people get confused.
>Christian opposition to homosexual actions isn’t based on an obscure verse of Deuteronomy. It is a fact that the importance of gender difference is highlighted throughout the Bible, from the Genesis creation account to Jesus’ declaration that husband and wife make one flesh, to the Pauline epistles, to roughly 2,000 years of tradition, theology and exegesis.
>Yes, Deuteronomy says things about gays, and also says things about wearing clothes of mixed threads. Yet Christians think homosexual acts are sinful, but have no opinion on clothes of mixed threads. Maybe that’s evidence that Christians are complete idiots who haven’t read their own book (surely that’s true for some of us). Or maybe that’s evidence that you have no idea how Christians actually form their beliefs. Which is fine if you simply want to destroy them in the court of public opinion. But it prevents you from saying anything intelligent about those beliefs.
I want to offer a counterhypothesis: Men think that PEG should shave his beard but grow his mustache out to glorious proportions.
Okay. Perhaps not all men. You can see how I’m generalizing a bit, but whatever. Most men. Similarly, not all Christians have problems with people who are gay.
So, no, not “most men.” I mean, I haven’t asked “most men.” But the vocal ones. It’s like a weighted average. As of 2013, a majority of Christians in the U.S. believe homosexuality should be accepted by society. (Nevertheless, a majority also believe it violates their religous beliefs. You can see where I thik PEG’s statement is leading people astray.)1
SO by “men” I mean real men. The kind that ride motorcycles and go to moustache competitions. The kind that count. The kind that agree with me. The kind that hold themselves out as the only kind of men that matter. (I get that white Catholics hold themselves out as the true manifestation of Christianity. So do the Evangelicals. Needless to say, I disagree with them. The true manifestation of Christianity is obviously Presbyterianism—except not the schismatic Prebyterians like the PCA. Or maybe insisting that you’re the one true manifestation of Christianity is dumb.)
So point one: “Christians” have a rich and diverse set of beliefs. Lumping everybody together is a problem. I don’t blame people who aren’t Christians for generalizing. It’s hard to see differentiation from a distance. But I don’t think there’s any excuse for those in the church to make the same generalization.
The second point is a point for another post. Biblical treatment of gender is a heck of a lot more complicated than that. See, e.g., Galations 3:28 (“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”) A book written over the course of a few thousand years in a society that had a host of problems requires some exegesis. And traditions are well and good, in their place, but we know enough about human error to know that they too need critical examination. For example, the same arguments regarding race or gender segregation in the Bible were used by the defenders of slavery and segregation. That argument has a bad track record.
I realized I’ve cited numbers for only the U.S.. I suspect surveys of most countries would show that the population that identifies as Christian has a reasonably comparable distribution of views to the population as a whole—with the exception of countries where Christians are a small and culturally distinct minority. ↩