And Peggy got a message for me from Jesus/ And I've heard every word/ That you have said/ And I know I've been driven like the snow
-"Cooling" by Tori Amos
I need to stop reading things of interest first thing in the morning. It starts my day off with frustration and hopelessness. This morning it was a particularly incendiary post on Revelife in which the writer imagined a conversation between a conservative Christian narrator and a silent pro-gay agnostic humanist Christian "friend". The conversation was one-sided; the pro-gay agnostic humanist Christian "friend"'s remarks were only imagined, not actually written down, and the conservative Christian narrator made the argument that homosexuality, in her/his opinion, is the highest form of selfish hedonism since its sexual expression is only cased in sexual pleasure, without any chance of procreation.
At some point the narrator also made reference to the silent friend being a "Christophobe." The conversation was quite one-sided, and I didn't get the hint that either character in the narrative learned anything, since it was only a costless trumpet blast for the narrator and the other person didn't get a chance to tell me what she/he thought.
I get frustrated when 'Christophobia' is thrown into the equation because it often carries so little acknowledgement of the history of LGBTQ people in this country and their relationship with Christians in this country. On one hand, we in the Evangelical branch of the American Church grew up with stories of the coming tribulation, watching movies like "A Thief in the Night" and Jack van Impe's "Apocalypse" series and "Left Behind"; I wasn't the only one convinced as a child that I'd live to see large scale persecution of the Christian church, including the arrests and executions of most people I knew.
We had the Jesus Freaks
book put together by the band dc Talk about martyrs around the world, and we learned from a young age about the fates of the Apostles. Using Roman numerals, some of us were able to derive the numeral "666" from configurations of the names of Barney the Dinosaur, the Teletubbies, and Ronald Reagan. The devil really was everywhere, and while that knowledge of the truth bred quite a lot of pride in me, it was still very scary. I don't know how widespread this particular idea was, but we had a pastor at the church I grew up in who predicted that persecution would start within the next twenty years and it would start around the issue of homosexuality.
Based on conversations I had with people involved with Exodus International back when I was into that, it seemed to me that the slippery slope right into an Antichrist-led Christian bloodbath would start with hate crimes legislation and legalized gay marriage. I get it. People are scared. Personally, I still get nervous any time I see new technology related to credit cards advertised on TV.
But on the other hand, I can't help but notice how many Christians who hold viewpoints similar to the nameless narrator in the Revelife post have so little to say specifically on the historic treatment of LGBTQ people. They either actively ignore the roles Christians have played in the persecution of LGBTQ people, or they're actually ignorant of what it's like to be queer in relation to the Church. They're so busy trying to sniff out the Antichrist in the name of their own rights that they don't know what people outside their ranks (or on the fringes of their congregations) deal with on a daily basis.
I'm in both camps here. I grew up both very passionate and convicted about my Christian faith and very strongly attracted to men, and I can assure you that any persecution I've experienced at the hands of non-Christians because of my faith, if any at all, was nothing compared to what I've experienced because of my sexuality at the hands of straight people, both Christian and imaginably non-.
Christophobia, in my experience, has had nothing on homophobia, and here in my city where we have hundreds of churches (I'd heard we had 365 a few years ago, but recently I saw somewhere we're up to 600) for only about 253,000 people, you can imagine who's in the majority and who's not.
Admittedly, the accusation of homophobia doesn't hold up each time it's given out. Merely saying you believe God has asked people not to be in gay relationships doesn't warrant you a 'homophobe' label. But I caution against crying foul against any hearts you may find in the LGBTQ community that have been hardened against your message, because to do so invalidates any bad thing any of us have gone through in Jesus's name.
Can we really play the Who's-Worse-Off game between American Christians and LGBTQ people and expect it to be even? Which do politicians usually pretend to be during election time to get more votes: gay or Christian? Which one hurts more to be called in public: 'bigot' or 'faggot'? Who's more likely to commit suicide: a gay teen or a Christian teen? When I tell my story, do its listeners run the words through the filter of my being sick, like they would if I were an alcoholic or a kleptomaniac, or does my experience count the same as that of someone who's now ex-gay or, in insider lingo, ever-straight?
But then, if you think I'm either the ultimate selfish hedonist at worst or a crime against nature at best without any knowledge of my life, my relationships, or my sexual history, what else would you expect me to do but disregard what you have to say? Are Christians homophobic? Are homosexuals Christophobic? Can we ever find common ground, or at least a place where we can meet in the middle and talk honestly and respectfully without being afraid of each other?