Separating people and their opinions

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Joined in 2012
March 2, 2014, 16:49

A little while back, my mom recommended the sermons (available online) of one Timothy Keller to me. I did some research on him because I don't like to engage blindly with someone's preaching without knowing their views and background. I found, to my dismay, that he is an outspoken opponent of marriage equality and opposes the fact that homosexuality is not a sin. Finding this out makes me feel disinclined to listen to his sermons or anything else he has to say.

Coming to this conclusion brought about a larger realization: with the majority or churches and church leadership still opposing marriage equality and treating GLBT people as normal individuals, how can we engage with any of them? I stopped going to church for this very reason. It was a very difficult decision because I love attending church but I was tired of feeling like an outsider, an outcast, and felt that I was constantly being judged (and in fact I later found out I was!). Am I wrong to feel that someone who holds these beliefs about GLBT people like myself is someone whom I can have nothing to do with?

I tend to feel that Christians who continue to hold to the dogmas against homosexuality will eventually be overwhelmed by the growing tide of support there is in the community at large (and even within church communities), that these people will eventually be a loud but small minority that can be safely ignored. I think in general Christianity is at a critical juncture, where science has exploded many of the previously tightly held dogmas, and this process is still ongoing. I find it arrogant for Christians to put their head in the sand and ignore knowledge and science, an arrogant presumption that they are right and everybody else is wrong. It makes me very angry, but not as angry as the knowledge of how much suffering the GLBT community has endured as a direct result of the attitude of the church. I read the book "Stranger at the gate" by Mel White a few years ago, and the stories of suffering he recounts that were directly caused by the actions of supposed Christians were devastating – I cried bitterly, many times.

When I read debates online between Christians and others on this topic, I just see the same thing I see in all aspects of debates online – small-minded, ignorant folk who know nothing beyond the end of their own nose and indeed have no interest in knowing any more than that, often out of fear of the unknown. Engaging in discussion with them is a fruitless waste of time because they have absolutely no intention of considering any alternative viewpoints.

My apologies for the rambling post – I just wanted to get a few thoughts out there to see what people's reactions might be.



Joined in 2014
March 4, 2014, 14:42

'Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life' by Max Ehrmann has these lines: "As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story". It also contains this simple statement: "Be yourself".

I don't think that there is a hard and fast rule about relating to others who do not agree with us on a certain subject. It can depend on how receptive the other person is to a different point of view, and how much inner strength we have to deal with the situation. When it comes to the subject of sexual orientation, many are obdurate, and no matter what you say, they will not change their mind; others are more open minded. There is little point dialoguing with a 'closed mind'.

I am happy to attend a church service where I can receive a blessing, even though I think that those ministering and attending would probably judge me if they knew of my sexual orientation. However, this situation applies more to the occasional visit, rather than to regular attendance. In that case, I think it is harder, because when you associate with people on a regular basis, it is only natural that you want to be yourself around them, particularly if you genuinely like them. Being on guard and hiding things doesn't foster a good relationship with anyone.

As a member of a conservative denomination, I am wary of sharing such information with other members, because it is obvious what some think of homosexuality by their remarks. However, over a reasonable period of time, I have shared with 3 or 4 people about my orientation with no adverse consequences thus far (as far as I know), although I am not a member of the particular congregation where I usually attend, which might make a difference. Maybe there would be a fuss if I wanted to join them, although I have heard that they are one of the more 'accepting' congregations. Another congregation in my denomination has accepted an openly gay member back into fellowship after many years, so there is hope on the horizon.

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