Austin Ruse’s post last week on the wealth and political power of gays and lesbians left me uneasy. That’s not because I thought his point was entirely illegitimate (it’s fair to point out that the situation of non-straight people today is not exactly comparable to that of non-whites in the mid-twentieth century) but because of everything he left out.
As David Blankenhorn commented:
Really, it’s ethically shockingly obtuse to conclude that because LGBT people are comparatively financially well off that “we should all be so discriminated against.” To even say such a thing is to overlook so much painful history, and so much actual human suffering due to persecution and stigmatization, that — well, one hardly knows where to [begin].
Christians must be willing to talk about and fight the bullying, harassment, and (yes) bigotry that gays and lesbians face. Roughly 80 percent of LGBT teens have experienced verbal harassment, and 40 percent have experienced physical harassment. Not infrequently, such abuse leads LGBT teens (or those perceived as LGBT) to commit suicide. We cannot ignore these facts, even as we continue to preach the gospel in its entirety.
Making a similar point, Jordan at the Gay Subtlety blog recently described Evangelicals’ engagement with LGBT people this way (emphasis his):
It’s like the church is chasing after them, hurling spears of condemnation and prejudice, all while shouting, “We love you! God loves you! No, seriously! Come back!” And when they keep running we just shake our heads and attribute their retreat away from us as a sign of their gross sinfulness, a refusal to accept the “Gospel-centered” kind of love we’ve offered them.
What the hell is wrong with us?! We treat them like crap throughout history and expect a different outcome? Maybe they reject us because we’ve never really loved them in the first place. Maybe they reject us because we are continually rejecting them.
Where were we when they became victims of abuse, hate crimes, disease, stigma, and bullying? We were either perpetuating their pain or apathetic toward it. And for those brave few who dared to stand beside them and model a different kind of love? We yelled across the chasm of our fear, “While you’re over there, make sure you tell them they’re sinful, otherwise whatever you’re doing doesn’t count!” Then we patted ourselves on the back for being “missional.”
Although trying to end bullying and bigotry would help us look better, this isn’t just about appearances. No matter what happens in the political realm with gay marriage, we have a moral obligation to fight the mistreatment of LGBT people.
Again, that doesn’t preclude defending traditional marriage or pointing out the differences between the civil rights movement and today’s LGBT activists. But it suggests that we should at the same time acknowledge and make efforts to combat the abuse that gays and lesbians face.