Friday, December 4, 2009

Two-Faced Monster

Conservative Christians in America say they condemn homosexuality because the Bible tells them to. They will be quick to tell you though that they love homosexuals and only want to see them led to a better way of life. Opposing Gay marriage, ordination, adoption, participation in the military, and all of that stuff is just loving behavior. They would not, for example, advocate the literal adherence to scriptural sentences of death. Would they?

The writers and signers of the Manhattan Declaration want you to believe that their anti-gay speech, anti-gay political stances, and anti-gay behavior is all innocuous "freedom of religion" stuff. The problem is that some of the same people who are presenting the dovish face of homophobia in the US are supporting the hawkish face of it elsewhere in the world.

The African nation of Uganda is on the verge of passing draconian new legislation that makes homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment. Something called "aggravated homosexuality", defined as any sexual contact between gays or lesbians where one or more of the parties has HIV, is punishable by death. Never mind that HIV in Africa is virtually exclusively a heterosexual problem.

This law is backed by a group calling itself "the Family". Major supporters of "the Family" include Anglican bishops Orombi and Akinola. Rev. Peter Akinola who is one of the primary signers of the Manhattan Declaration. Furthermore, a lot of money has been pouring into "the Family" from American evangelical churches - money which is being used to help get this law signed.

Some prominent members of the right in America have distanced themselves from their former allies in the African church over this. Rev. Rick Warren deserves some credit for saying he opposed the legislation and had cut off ties to friends of his who are behind it. Exodus International also wrote a letter saying mildly that the law is "unhelpful". Clearly there are some who see how the coincidence of these two movements is potentially detrimental to their cause in the US.

Here is the problem from my perspective - it appears that for some (I don't say all or even most), the "love the sinner/hate the sin" line is a facade. Some conservatives, among them prominent signers of the Manhattan Declaration, would probably support outright persecution of homosexuals if they thought it was politically viable in this country. I say this because they ARE supporting persecution of homosexuals in other countries where it is politically viable.

This is my question to conservatives who really believe this "love the sinner/hate the sin" stuff: is this what christianity looks like to you? Bishop Orombi believes all the things you say are fundamentals of the faith - virgin birth, Jesus' miracles, biblical inerrancy, bodily resurrection, substitutionary atonement, homosexuality is sin etc... Is he the kind of Christian you want to be? If so, count me out. I can't stomach the hypocrisy and hatred.


Doug Hagler said...

I wonder whether you'll get any the meantime I think it's reasonable to see signing/supporting the Manhattan Declaration as a tacit "Yes, Aric, this is the church we want" for better or worse.

Jodie said...

I think it's nearly impossible to love the sinner and hate the sin because it requires a cognitive dissonance that is almost impossible resolve.

In practice, we either love the sinner and turn a blind eye to the sin, or hate the sin and turn a blind eye to the sinner.

The gospel is about loving the sinner. It stands to reason that forced to choose, one should err on the side of loving the sinner.

But conservatives are made up of people whose personalities require of them to abide by rules as a first priority. So they prefer to err on the side of hating the sin.

At the risk of creating a caricature, I believe that in the extreme, conservatives have no idea what it means to love the sinner. It's a saying, an idea only.

The bibliolatry that so frustrates the neo-orthodox and non-conservatives is based on this need to abide by rules. We see this manifested in all religions, not just Christianity, and in all right wing political ideologies. "Law and Order". "There have to be rules". "It has to be Scriptural". The written word is the Word of God, and the Word IS God.

In the development of Protestantism we embraced this notion to escape the idolatry of the Pope. As a man, he set himself above the Scriptures, and in our rebellion we created the rule of rules. "Sola Scriptura?" Democracy was founded by Protestants. No man is above the law, but note, the people taken together are. It is not all bad unless taken to an impersonal extreme.

Without checks and balances, it becomes inescapable that to worship God is to Worship the Rules we say are His. Hate the Sin.

But I believe Jesus turned that over. In completing the Law of God in his own Person, he made it clear that the Law is subservient to Man, just as he made himself a servant of humanity and came given by God for the love of all creation. It is a part of the greatest becoming the servant of all. "The Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath". The sinner is more important than the sin.

The moment the rules invoke cruelty to the sinner, they have exceeded their bounds. So, turn a blind eye to the sin if you must, but love the sinner by all means. The saying should be replaced with:

"Love the sinner, look away from the sin"

Alan said...

"Love the sinner, hate the sin" simply means:

"We'll say the word 'love" because it is expected of us to do so, and it's the only way we can get anyone to follow our hateful agenda. But if we catch you on the street after dark, we'll show you what we really mean."

And the radical right's support of the Ugandan law is evidence enough that I'm right. But if there's any question, I'm sure many people can provide evidence to support my interpretation of what they really mean in the form of obituaries.

Frankly I don't care whether or not they call their hate "love" or not. Love or hate, I simply want them to stop inflicting it on us.

If I have a choice in the matter, may I politely request total indifference instead of either their "love" or their "hate"? Please?

Their "love" has killed enough of us already.

Doug Hagler said...

I can certainly imagine the following situation:

1. You think that homosexuality is bad because the Bible seems to tell you so
2. You think that homosexuality is a choice, or
3. You think that homosexuality is just a harmful proclivity, like being a pedophile
4. But, you try to take seriously the stuff about loving other people, even enemies

So, you do things like vote against homosexual equality, but are polite to people even if you know they are homosexual. You fight against ordaining "practicing" homosexuals in the hope that they will end up being coerced into choosing celibacy or pretending to be heterosexual in order to live out God's calling in their life. You think this is preferable because.

You might honestly not see the problems with this position. You might honestly think that this is loving behavior.

In the above case, I haven't found a good way to resolve anything. Challenging the assumptions generally does not work (with a few noteworthy exceptions of course). Pointing out differing views on what "love" means doesn't necessarily convince anyone to change how they love others.

Aric Clark said...

I think the problem comes not from a definition of love as much as a definition of a person. They seem to think you can arbitrarily separate a person from their behavior, but that isn't really true. Loving the sinner/hating the sin is impossible because the sinner is such by virtue of their sin. They are indivisible.

Aric cannot be defined accurately separate from his love of Stacia. And his love of Stacia cannot be defined accurately separate from the behaviors which are the proof and essence of that love, including sex. Aric is not reducible to 'love of Stacia' and that love is not reducible to 'sex', but both those things would be fundamentally altered with those things removed - like a chair with no legs. There is no impervious core to 'Aric' which remains unalterably me no matter what else is removed and which if removed completely eliminates the gestalt that I am.