I’m sure many of you are familiar with the silly song about lying sung in jest by many Christians to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin”: “Revelation… Revelation! 21:8… 21:8! Liars go to hell… Liars go to hell! Burn, burn, burn… Burn, burn, burn!” I am not certain if it started as a joke or anyone’s genuine belief, but thankfully I’ve only heard it as the former. In any case, the duty to be truthful is a serious one for Christians, and it is for this reason that I am calling for conservative evangelicals to reevaluate their rhetoric about homosexuality.
I think I often appear cynical to others. Nevertheless, I am often extremely naive, particularly when it comes to expecting people to be kind, sensible, etc. For example, today I found myself genuinely surprised when I saw “Read about her unexpected journey from being a lesbian professor to a pastor’s wife” pop up on my newsfeed, as posted by Her.meneutics. Then below it I saw an extended description from Christianity Today‘s Facebook account: “This feminist lesbian didn’t want Jesus. She didn’t ask for him. But somehow she went from gay pride parades to church pews, and her heart changed. What a testimony!”
I replied to the latter, “Way to go using “feminist” as a scare word meant to denote, ‘heathen.’ We feminist evangelicals always appreciate it!” I was frustrated by the entire post’s use of “feminist” and “lesbian” (and the article’s use of “leftist”) as code for “evil.” I was surprised Christianity Today would stoop that low, especially as they have often tried to appeal to both egalitarian and complementarian evangelicals, including some egalitarians who self-identify as feminists.
But while deplorable, fright-based headlines really are not really the big issue here.
What I’m really, really tired of is conservative evangelicals continuing to speak as if LGBT individuals, or any of us, chose our gender identity or sexual orientation and can change it on a whim—or through agonizing years of prayer and therapy, for that matter. That simply isn’t what anyone thinks besides you. It’s not what research supports. Let it go. Fess up that this is not really how sexuality works. If this woman “changed,” she was likely bisexual to begin with. Or is in denial now. Or originally chose to be with a woman for reasons other than sexual attraction. Or something else bizarre. But she did not magically go from being a lesbian to not. That is a lie. Quit perpetuating lies.
As difficult as saying, “Gay people should be celibate” sounds, at least it’s honest. So be honest like a few good evangelicals and honest like the Catholic Church and at least admit that gay people can’t really change and, thus, that when you ask them to refrain from acting on their sexuality, you are asking a very, very, very big thing. Maybe you still think it’s right to ask it. But stop telling yourself and others that what you’re asking isn’t so bad because gay people can become un-gay anyway if they only trust Jesus enough. They can’t, and the real-life pain caused by your condemnation of their relationships is why you either need to really believe what you’re saying about celibacy or back down entirely.
And for the rest of us: Take lying serious. Write Christianity Today and tell them how offensive this article is to you as a Christian who loves truth.