June 14, 2018

Is Gay Pride and Homosexuality Sinful? Are Christians Right?

A rainbow covered fist raised in the air for LGBTQ civil rights and gay pride. LGBTQ Pride Month June 2018 #GAYPRIDE

HAPPY GAY PRIDE


The month of June is typically associated with GAY PRIDE and this year is no different. HAPPY PRIDE 2018!

Whether your city or town celebrates GAY LGBT PRIDE in June or another time of year, we all know it’s important for us to participate and support the gay community. GAY LGBT PRIDE isn’t just for lesbian gay bisexual transgender and queer people, it’s for our families, neighbors, friends, supporters and allies too! GAY PRIDE is a big party to celebrate you, celebrate me and our friends, celebrate our community, city or town, to embrace and have pride in who we are, and everyone is welcome.


LGBT PRIDE continues to be important because Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are doing everything in their power to turn back the clock on gay rights, and reverse the gains we made during Barack Obama’s presidency. For the second year running the current occupant of the Oval Office, who told the nation he’d be the BEST president for gay people, has refused to acknowledge LGBT PRIDE MONTH again.

While marriage equality is the law of the land, opponents of marriage equality and GAY RIGHTS are still out there spreading lies and propaganda, hoping to find an audience, and maybe a few court judges, sympathetic to their cause. The usual suspects continue to denigrate and slander the LGBT community, and the pathetic ANTI GAY propaganda machine is in overdrive.

Since it's the beginning of GAY PRIDE season and homophobia continues to rear its ugly head, it's a good time to answer an age old question. Is being gay or LGBT a sin? In a word NO. Being gay or LGBT is NOT a sin, and we are going to answer that question in-depth for you.


A rainbow flag on Market Street near Union Square in San Francisco.  out loud and proud #GayPride June 2018

Are Gay People Sinful? Sexual Orientation Does Not Define Sin.


CrossFit’s Chief Knowledge Officer Russell Berger wrote he “personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin” in a tweet that praised a CrossFit franchise for cancelling a GAY PRIDE workout. This “knowledge officer” also wrote “the intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.”

I’m not familiar with “alternative views toward LGBTQ ideology” but I’ll hazard a guess. He thinks a PRIDE celebration is sinful, and believes that gay people are sinful. If you carry his thoughts to their logical conclusion, his views represent what he was taught by his pastor, church, and religion.

After Russell Berger expressed himself on Twitter, he was fired and lost his job. In addition, the CrossFit Infiltrate franchise, located in downtown Indianapolis, was permanently shut down after the homophobic owners cancelled a GAY PRIDE workout, and the trainers resigned in protest.

CrossFit franchises are located nationwide, and a disproportionate number of their members are lesbian gay bisexual and transgender. Russell Berger could have kept his mouth shut and he’d still have a job. He chose to define the people who pay his salary as sinners instead.

The CrossFit CEO’s response to this kerfuffle was “I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”


Screenshot of National Review's Religion OpEd by David French "It's Not Bigotry to Believe Homosexuality is a sin"

*Please Note: I wrote David French an open letter to refute and challenge his Op Ed (pictured above), and you can find the full text of the letter below. I wrote additional commentary for this blog post, which reflect thoughts I didn’t include in the letter. 

Are You A Bigot If You Believe Being Gay Is A Sin? Yes You Are.


The conservative National Review published an Op Ed about Russell Berger and CrossFit by David French entitled “It’s Not Bigotry To Believe Homosexuality Is A Sin.”

French concurs with Berger that PRIDE is sinful, and the writer characterizes pride as a celebration of sexual immorality.
Another Christian has lost his livelihood for good-faith wrongspeak. This time it was for articulating extremely basic Christian truth that it’s sinful to celebrate sexual immorality.
So, for those keeping score, that’s a job lost and a gym closed because it’s just intolerable that a Christian either publicly express his moral point of view or that other Christians refuse to host events they find objectionable.
French falsely claims it’s common knowledge among Christians and within Christianity, that gay people are sinners and GAY PRIDE celebrates sexual immorality.

The Episcopal Church is the Christian faith that I was raised in, and they didn’t teach me to denigrate or demean anyone. They didn’t reinterpret text or change the meaning of certain passages in Scripture to support their political point of view. In fact, we were taught that racism, sexism, and homophobia wasn’t a political issue for the right or left to debate, but they’re a moral issue of what’s right or wrong. 

The Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, place their political agenda at the top of their ecclesiastical priorities. They’re also notorious for altering Biblical text and ancient meanings to support their political objectives.
In reading comments and commentary about this latest turn in the culture wars, I’m struck by the extent to which Berger’s views are cast as pure, indefensible bigotry — and that it’s entirely acceptable to not just label his Christian beliefs false but also to believe that they’re actually malicious.
We live during a time when climate change, global warming, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and extreme weather events, are destroying communities and homes around the world. Scientists agree this is a man-made problem and Trump pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord, and Washington does nothing to address it. Why? Because some members of Congress don’t believe in science because of their religion and Biblical views.

The notion that gay people are sinful is not supported by Scripture. In fact, theologians know that Christ hung out with hookers, the homeless, the hungry and downtrodden, and GAY people!
Some Christian churches wrongly teach that God should be feared, women should be seen and not heard, and gay people are sinful and immoral. They brainwashed people who were taught not to question the veracity of anything related to their religion. [The emphasis below is my own]
But isn’t that a bigoted view? What qualifies an external critic to define the veracity of a man’s faith or the purity of the thoughts in his heart? There seems to be a mistaken belief by some that sexual orientation is absolutely core to a person’s identity whereas religion is something else entirely — so superficial that any given person is one Vox explainer or Bill Maher monologue away from enlightenment. Yet only a few millennia of human history demonstrates that religion is so core to human identity that countless people have been willing to burn rather than recant their deepest beliefs.
I don’t define the veracity of anyone’s faith or judge the purity of thoughts in anyone’s heart.

I agree that our sexual orientation doesn’t define who we are. I loudly disagree with his notion that religious beliefs are more integral to our identity than sexual orientation. In fact, I think that’s ludicrous and either way it isn’t central to the question here.
Moreover, isn’t it also bigoted to believe that a person is incapable of expressing disagreement with a person while also treating them with dignity and respect? Time and again, we’ll see stories of Christians cast aside for expressing orthodox Christian beliefs about marriage and the family — in books, speeches, tweets and in political donations — using the justification that this view somehow means that they can’t be trusted to treat colleagues fairly in the workplace. Yet time and again these individuals have long and established track records free of any claims of discrimination or mistreatment. Their actual record is irrelevant compared to hypothetical fears.
Some Christians are bigots. They actually do hate others and harbor malice in their hearts. But actual Christian orthodoxy — including orthodox Christian sexual morality — is anything but hateful. It expresses the beauty and intent of creation, it honors both the marriage vow and the single life, and it creates a framework for having and raising children in loving, stable homes. It recognizes that each and every person must put a restraint on their desires, orienting their lives towards the true “chief end” of man — glorifying God and enjoying him forever.
Moreover, the vast majority of Christians fully understand that they live in the world, but are not of the world. We will spend their entire lives living and working with people who don’t share their faith. Our obligation is clear: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
All across America LGBT Americans live and work alongside Christians who disagree with their actions and beliefs and also treat them with dignity and respect. It’s not hard to do when you love people and seek to imitate Christ. Should these Christians be muzzled while contrary views be given free rein? Or can we actually be tolerant and realize that disagreement is not mistreatment, and love is not hate? If Russell Berger mistreated any person on the job, then he should be fired. If he merely advocated and celebrated the tenets of a faith that seeks to honor and glorify God, then disagree with him all you like, but leave his livelihood alone.
David French says that Christians should be able to express their religious views publicly, even if they demean and denigrate us. Even if their employer or co-workers are offended and disagree. We can't regulate speech so I say let them have at it. There might be negative consequences - like losing one's job.

Christians can argue and insist gay people are sinful for the next hundred years. What are the repercussions of their slander? Religions and religious teaching is slow to adapt and change, and they catch up to public opinion eventually. It took over a century for some religions to disavow their racist past and reconcile the abolition of slavery with the text found in Scripture.

I find it fascinating that slave owners and racists used arguments about their faith and religion, along with Scripture, to justify slavery, racism, and segregation. Today, anti-gay Christians employ the same arguments and knowingly leave themselves open to criticism.

I don't dispute what the Bible says about homosexuality, I contest the interpretation of what those clobber passages mean. I object to the common Christian practice of cherry picking the passages in Scripture that they like, and disavowing the text they dislike, in order to comply with their inhumane political views. Most importantly, I know that hate and bigotry in any form is both irreligious and antithetical to Christianity.

Is GAY PRIDE and homosexuality sinful? Absolutely not.

Straight talk indeed.



* Please Note: It is within that context that I wrote to David French about his religious Op Ed last weekend. My tweet to French with the letter attached is above. The text of the letter and a PDF of that letter can be found below. 

Dear Mr. French: 
Let’s cue the violins and manipulate public sentiment to engender sympathy for a corporate spokesman who is not as smart as you think. He falsely claimed that a community celebration for LGBT Pride was sinful, knowing that a large and disproportionate number of CrossFit’s customer base is LGBT. Declaring that LGBT Pride is a sin is beyond stupid, and this employee forced management’s hand. They had no choice but to fire this idiot - regardless of how one feels about homosexuality. 
There are good people on both sides of the marriage equality debate who disagree about gay marriage. I don’t characterize all opponents of same-sex marriage as bigots unless they characterize the LGBT community as sinners destined for hell. People who oppose LGBT rights and cite Scripture to justify their position are irreligious and wholly motivated by bigotry.  
When evangelical Christians and conservative extremists oppose anti-discrimination legislation, gay marriage, and any law that offers legal protection to a vulnerable minority that continues to experience discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodation, we have no choice but to characterize that opposition as bigory. Again, bigotry fuels their animus. 
Scripture says we are created by God in his image. Would God create people whose very existence was a sin? Nope. Do Christians who falsely claim homosexuality is a sin get it wrong? Yes. Why does God keep creating gay people? What motivates those who seek to marginalize and bully the LGBT community? 
Homosexuality is NOT a sin, and those who believe it is a sin, have been brainwashed. Opponents of gay rights are no different than the racists and slave owners who opposed the abolition of slavery. Slave owners and racists cited their religious beliefs to justify bigotry too. 
Religious folks keep using language that slanders and diminishes the humanity of gay people. Let’s examine the real world consequences of making false and inflammatory statements about gay people in the name of God. 
What happens when politicians and religious leaders dehumanize the LGBT community? There’s a huge increase in hate crimes directed at LGBT people. Record numbers of LGBT kids are bullied and take their own lives. Record numbers of LGBT youth are rejected by their religious parents and they’re homeless. Trans people are physically assaulted and murdered in record numbers. Record numbers of LGBT people turn to alcohol and drugs, while these “leaders” keep up their attacks. The false prophets who actively oppose gay rights have the blood of LGBT people on their hands. 
I am gobsmacked, shocked, disappointed, and outraged, whenever anyone suggests that gay people are immoral or perverts, undeserving of gay civil rights. Every American is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, including members of the LGBT community. 
Homosexuality is NOT a sin. Sexual orientation is immutable and beautiful and we should celebrate and embrace our differences, instead of using being different to scare and divide us. Sexual orientation and gender identity have nothing to do with sexual immorality, and you know that Mr. French. Don’t conflate the two.
You say that sexual orientation doesn’t define us, and I largely agree with you. The notion that our religious beliefs are more integral to our identity than sexual orientation is ludicrous. You can’t cite any facts or evidence to support your specious claim, and going way back in history to 1693 for evidence that people have been willing to burn at the stake for their religious beliefs is beyond laughable.   
Christians largely reject the bigotry inherent in racism, slavery, and Scripture, despite the Bible’s unequivocal support and advocacy for slavery. Religious teaching rejects the Biblical view. When will they reject the clobber passages about homosexuality? When will they stop demonizing and marginalizing gay people and women, to reflect the majority view of society and our culture today? 
There are powerful institutions, businesses, and individuals, who profit from the myths and junk science perpetrated in Scripture. Anti-gay hate groups are a big business, and the old white straight men who control the religious organizations and anti-gay hate groups, are compensated generously to continue their propaganda campaigns to subjugate women and sew the seeds of anti-gay hate. 
If we continue the status quo, and they continue to conflate sexual orientation and gender identity with sexual immorality, their organizations will be imperiled. When they falsely claim that homosexuality is a sin, we will continue to see the record numbers of people fleeing organized religion. The #EmptyThePews movement will grow, and the role of religion in American life will be rightly diminished. 
Homosexuality is not immoral or sinful, and to suggest otherwise is surely a sin. Christians need to go back to Sunday school to study the two greatest commandments. Christianity is based on love, and there’s no love and lots of bigotry in the statement “homosexuality is a sin.” 
I would be happy to continue this conversation with you at any time. 
Sincerely, 
Roy Steele




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