Project Conversion

Project Conversion


Why Christians and Other Members of Faith Should Support Gay Rights

posted by

Oh snap, it’s on.

I love my home state of North Carolina, however just because I’m enamored by my swampy homeland, doesn’t mean we always agree. The North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (“Amendment One”) is up for vote in just a few days (May 8th), and it’s effectively dividing the state. Odd thing is, same-sex marriage is already prohibited in North Carolina, so why do we need an amendment?

While same-sex marriage is prohibited, it is not expressed in the state’s constitution. The amendment would add the following legalese to Article 14 of the state constitution:

Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.

This not only double-bans same-sex marriage, it also negates other relational arrangements, such as civil unions and domestic partnerships.

So what does this have to do with religion?

Traditionally, folks with a religious background (especially the more conservatively inclined from the Abrahamic traditions) frown on same-sex culture and therefore do not usually support much if any of the gay rights movement. This position stems from a long history of scriptural condemnation of homosexuality and its affiliated abominations:

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.“–Leviticus 20:13

Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.“–Romans 1: 27

Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant!“–al Qur’an 27: 55

Given the scriptural sampling here, our religious friends have little choice. Same-sex = bad.

But what if this wasn’t about religion or abominations? I have a thing for digging beneath our superficial differences and unearthing the common ground between us. I was skeptical at first. What could the LGBT community and Bible/Torah/Qur’an-thumpers possibly have in common?

Minority status.

According to Gary Gates, the demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, there are an estimated 4 million adults who identify as gay or lesbian. That’s about 1.7 percent of the American adult population.

For the early Christian church, the numbers are even more bleak. According to John D. Durand’s Historical Estimates of World Population, the mighty Roman Empire boasted roughly 55 million citizens during the first century A.D. By Rodney Stark’s measurement in The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History, there were only about 7,500 Christians by the end of the first century.

That means Christians made up only .000136% of the Roman Empire at the time.

"I know I dropped the first century Christian around here somewhere..."

These numbers however, are not isolated. Explore the origins of every religious start-up and you will uncover the same story: Every faith and its people are a small fish in a big pond…and many are preyed upon.

Jews, apart from a few brief historical moments of military dominance, have been bullied for most of their existence. Muhammad and his early Ummah (community) of believers were constantly harassed by the powerful Meccans and nearly exterminated. Christians, the bastard middle child between Judaism and the Roman world, became a scapegoat for every social ill, from the burning of Rome to crop failure. Indeed, Romans didn’t persecute Christians because they necessarily disagreed with their theology, but because they were readily available and easy targets.

Minorities and others our society bullies tend to be that way. I should know, I was bullied mercilessly up until 10th grade.

But once start-ups grow and become big fish, the tables turn. Now they become the bullies and forget their humble past. Once judged, persecuted, condemned, they become the judge and the blunt end of moral stick.

When Rome burned to the ground during Nero’s rule, he blamed the Christians and tortured them in the Coliseum. Christianity was indeed outlawed for nearly three centuries until Constantine came along and legalized its practice (for dubious reasons).

How often do we hear religious leaders spew their holy verbiage on homosexuals being the cause of our social pains? Gays are blamed for everything from the September 11th attacks (others, such as Pagans are listed too) to Hurricane Katrina. Are members of the LGBT community really the cause of violent weather systems and political/religious extremism, or are members of the faithful–now in the comfortable seat of majority–using the same scapegoat tactics of their former oppressors?

The apple surely hasn’t fallen far, and it wasn’t a snake that tempted you.

It is for this reason that members of the religious community should support gay rights, because they are a minority whose fate is being determined by others. The religious majority is now wearing the laurel of Rome and public policy has become the lion-infested Coliseum for minorities of various spiritual and social backgrounds. How can you throw them into the pit? Do you not remember the pain of persecution for simply being different?

This isn’t about agreeing with the LGBT lifestyle, it’s about recognizing their right to legal union with the person of their choice. I may not agree with a myopic, racist, xenophobic couple and their views, however that doesn’t mean I do not recognize their right to wed…even if it will likely result in the genetic propagation of their barbaric and archaic outlook.

Here is the common ground between you: Once upon a time, the religious majority was once a minority which feared for its existence. You were marginalized, ostracized, persecuted, slaughtered, and made sub-human by the consensus of the majority. Here is your chance to exemplify the grace, mercy, love, and compassion of God and his people you keep preaching to everyone about.

Christianity did not invade the Roman Empire through votes in the Imperial Senate, but by Christians allowing the example of their faith through daily living to plant the seed of Christ in the lives of others. Mark my words, if you deny equal rights to gays or any other minority, your struggles will only multiply (remember women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement?). The anti-theistic movement is a direct blow-back from generations of overly aggressive proselytization and policy incursion from the “religious right.” The tables have turned. Atheism currently outpaces the conversion growth rate of every faith represented in the U.S. In short, people are getting tired of Bible bullying. This is a monster you’ve created, and marginalizing others will only feed the beast.

If you want to see Christ transform the lives of those around you and actually have faith in his abilities, plant the seed and walk away, don’t yell at and prod the soil.

Believe responsibly.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(5)
post a comment
abowen

posted May 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm


Alex,

Thank you for this. Culture does indeed paint our perceptions and interpretations.

Andrew



report abuse
 

Alex Haiken

posted May 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm


Nearly every person who acknowledges an aversion to homosexuality does so on the basis of what he or she believes the Bible has to say. In their mind, there is no doubt whatsoever about what the Bible says and what the Bible means. Their general argument goes something like this: Homosexuality is an abomination and the homosexual is a sinner. Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, if we are to be faithful to the clear teachings of Scripture we too must condemn homosexuality. Needless to say, this premise is being widely debated among evangelicals today and seriously challenged by biblical scholars, theologians and religious leaders everywhere.

It rarely occurs to any of us that our reading of Scripture is profoundly colored by our own cultural context and worldview. In light of the post above and since I happen to speak and write on this very topic, I thought you might find some of these posts of particular interest and relevance. I would particularly recommend the following:

“Genesis 19: What Were the Real Sins of Sodom?
“Leviticus 18: What Was the Abomination?”
“Romans 1: What Was Paul Ranting About?”
“Romans 2: Paul’s Bait and Switch”
“Genesis 1: Turning the Creation Story into an Anti-Gay Treatise”
“Why No One in the Biblical World Had a Word for Homosexuality”
“Exegesis: Not For the Faint in Heart”

(Links to these and more may be found by simply clicking the link below and then selecting the “Archives” page.)

-Alex Haiken
http://JewishChristianGay.wordpress.com



report abuse
 

abowen

posted May 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm


Emma,

Ouch, that is discouraging news…on the other hand, I was a hardcore fundamentalist like the IFB Christians once upon a time and now, well I’m not. So there must be some glimmer of hope ; )

Thanks for reading!



report abuse
 

Editor B

posted May 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm


A great and unexpected take on the issue. I wonder if it will change any minds? That’s hard to do, but your post gives me hope.

Another way to look at it is that marriage is a religious issue, and the state should get out of religion (including marriage) entirely. Leave it up to individual religious groups to decide. In other words, make it a private issue. Let the secular state recognize civil unions only. The problem is, that’s a big radical change and therefore seems unlikely.



report abuse
 

Emma Taylor

posted May 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm


I totally agree on a lot of these grounds. The LGBT community should be supported by everyone. However, after growing up in a family that was all hard core Independent Fundamental Baptist Christians [IFB Christians], I don’t think they would find this argument valid. Because the IFB’s all believe that EVERYONE in the world is wrong, and they are the only right people. Not only do they not support gay rights, but they also think that Buddhism, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews, Catholics, and every one else are all are going to hell and need to convert to IFB Christianity. I know not all churches are not fire-and-brimstone-male-dominant-often-abusive-towards-members churches, but for one that is, they could care less if anyone was a minority. They are still wrong and need to convert. Though, these peoples mind sets are completely different than most peoples. Its almost like a cult, where theres the leader who’s got all the power and the followers who are mostly secluded to only the church. So really, unless the leaders all were suddenly agreeing to gay rights and preaching it among the followers no one would EVER consider it a possibility.

I really love your articles though! I am fascinated by other religions after escaping the IFB church. Thank you! :)



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Project Conversion. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Religion 101 Happy Reading!

posted 2:34:58pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Is God an Immersionist?
In the world of faith, folks often point out the obvious fact that God does not belong to a particular creed, religion, race, or school of philosophy. This sentiment establishes the divine as one which transcends divisive terms of affiliation. But I am here to announce that a brief exploration of

posted 7:00:59am Jul. 12, 2012 | read full post »

Immersion in Relationships: Five Ways to Bring your Relationships to Life
I did something last night with my wife that we haven't done in a very long time... Okay, not from that far back, but it certainly feels that way. Last night, we had a date night. N

posted 10:58:33am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

The Path of Immersion: An Introduction and How Entering the Path Leads to a Deeper Sense of Self
Today marks my official declaration of fidelity and discipleship to the Path of Immersion. Along with that declaration, I also invite you to join me in whatever capacity feels the most suitable. The Path of Immersion is not one which demands conversion, evangelism, worship, or exclusivity. Along th

posted 6:00:19am Jul. 09, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, Project Conversion: The End of an Adventure
When I converted to Christianity at the age of 15, I assumed the faith with a passionate resolve. Despite the positive instruction from my pastor and others, I (for reasons I cannot explain) transformed into a fiery evangelist, launching Christianity at friends and strangers like salvos of religious

posted 12:49:25pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.