Among the good things that I listed in my recent Good News in 2020 post, legislation was passed in some areas here and there that will help protect people who otherwise were at risk to be denied employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Laws such as this are often touted as a victory for people who are lesbian, gay, bi, transsexual, or otherwise queer (LGBTQ); but in actuality, they benefit everybody. A society in which someone is marginalized is a society in which anybody can be. It means an LGBTQ person can’t be denied a job because they are not straight, but it also means a straight person cannot be denied a job just because he or she is straight.
It seems absurd to even think of being discriminated against because you are straight, right? While the vast majority of straight people are lucky to have never experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation, this is something that gay people have had to deal with for many, many years.
Why is it important to protect against discrimination in employment?
Before launching into this particular situation, I want to say that regardless of the group being singled out, I’m all for any laws that protect people from discrimination in employment. [Well, I’m against discrimination at all, but I’ve narrowed this to employment.]
Making sure everyone has equal access to have a job means more people being granted the dignity of having a job in this society where, right or wrong, “what you do” is equated with “who you are.” It gives people the means to support themselves, put food on their tables without requiring charity, and keep a roof over their heads. As an uncounted number of gay people have been shunned or are at best merely tolerated by their own families, many have zero family support, making them especially in need of being able to support themselves.
And if compassion for others isn’t your bag, here’s another way of looking at it: enabling people to support themselves means fewer tax dollars spent in supporting them. I’d call this a win/win/win situation.
Why am I writing about this?
I’m sharing this partly because I want to express my views of why I think the existence of equal rights for everybody is critical. But also I want people to realize that when we see one or two groups seeming to get specific protections, what some may unconscionably say are “special” rights, this usually means that we have most likely been benefiting [unconsciously or not] from a privileged position that makes it even more important to support those groups.
Finally, I want to share this because I want to provide ideas for others who are out there defending discriminated “others” from such religion-based discriminatory views.
For many reasons, right or wrong, for the rest of the post I will simply use the word “gay” to refer to non hetero-sexual and non sex/gender-normative individuals.
The very unChristian bias against gay people
After I published my Good News in 2020 post, I emailed it to various people and shared it on social media. One person replied saying, “There are quite a few things there that I would not consider good. I don’t think the LGBQ folks should be abused or punished, but I obviously do not endorse that life choice.”
She went on to say that, as she had a very close friend in high school who later became trans, that made her “more supportive of the gay situation, than you may think.” She continued:
“And I’ve had some transgender patients, and have seen their intense loneliness because they do not fit in with either group! It sadness me for their situation.
God loves the individuals, and wishes they would turn to Him. But their choice is not according to His Way. There are multiple Bible verses that talk about it. So, that is why I cannot endorse a gay agenda.
I don’t hate them individually or as a group. So continue to keep me out of the group that does. Our church actually has a ministry to the LBGT community, reaching out to them at LGBT events, to communicate that God loves the individual.”
I literally gasped when I received this message. I was deeply shocked, as this was from someone I’ve always considered to be kind, generous, and intelligent.
Knowing the person was a Christian and not wanting to cause a permanent rift in our relationship, I gently disagreed and suggested we drop it. But when she sent a follow-up message on the topic, I couldn’t stay still.
The more time that went by, the more upset I became. After stewing for a few days and getting angrier with each passing hour, I had to say more. Silence makes you complicit, and I had to speak up.
Below, although edited here and there, is what I sent to her, footnotes and all. Her response after a few hours was: “Just reading this now. Thanks for your thoughts. Let me chew on it and get back to you.”
She never did.
First, it isn’t a choice. There are surely people who are horny and are just playing around on both sides of the field just for an experimental lark. You can say those people are making a “choice” if you want. Sure. But a person’s sexuality is determined largely by their genes (see note 1).
If we are going to bring God into this: God gave them those genes. For the vast majority of gay people, they are dealing with the hand that was dealt to them by genetics — or as you would say — by God. If you believe that God created your genes, yet He requires that you live a miserable life in contradiction to the genes He gave you or else burn in Hell, then you can’t refer to your God as a loving and merciful God because that is a contradiction.
And justifying this because it is in the bible doesn’t work (see note 2A). If we want to apply bible verses to the world today, why do we pick and choose which ones? Is it a sin to wear fabric made from two different types of cloth? Is it really okay to sell your disobedient daughter into slavery? Should anyone who works on the Sabbath be killed (see note 2C)? Of course not — that would be absurd!
At the end of the day, you are responsible for the verses, translations, and interpretations in the Bible that you choose to believe in and let rule your attitudes and life. You can say you are against equal rights for gay people because the bible says so, but that is a choice you have made.
I’m very glad to hear that you don’t hate gay individuals, but that does not absolve you of the fact that your attitude causes very real and lasting harm to people who are gay. You can say that it’s those other, more fundamentalist Christians who are actually being hateful — but you are all achieving the same results of hindering the gay person’s rights to participate fully in this society. You not hating someone does not mean that you are not part of the problem, because you are supporting those who do, and the result is LGBTQ people who are disenfranchised and worse. And a far-too-large number of these people are in this world with rejection from their families rather than support — making them even more in need of the means to support themselves.
Frankly, I think Jesus would be ashamed.
It would be easier for me to shut up and look the other way, but I just can’t. The more I have let this lie, the more upset I have become. I feel that NOT saying this to you would be on par with being among friends who are telling very hurtful racists jokes and me not saying something: silence makes you complicit.
To be painfully clear: I find your attitude about gay people EQUALLY offensive as a racist who believes that Black people should not be allowed to hold a job. I don’t know how equal rights for gay people is a “gay agenda.” Do you think that laws against discriminating against Black people are a “Black agenda”?
I could launch into how this is exactly the sort of thing that makes me recoil from Christianity in general, but I think we have enough of a controversy here as it is.
Just in case you are engaged in a conversation about this with others, here are some references.
1. The genetics
Reliable studies about the genetics around sexual preference:
“Stop calling it a choice: Biological factors drive homosexuality”
“Genetics may explain up to 25% of same-sex behavior, giant analysis reveals”
“There’s no one ‘gay gene,’ but genetics are linked to same-sex behavior, new study says”
2. The Bible
(These references were culled from an abstract in the Biblical Theology Bulletin: Journal of Bible and Culture.)
(A) The oft-cited biblical references to homosexuality:
- Noah and Ham (Genesis 9:20–27)
- Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1–11)
- Levitical laws condemning same-sex relationships (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13)
- Two words in two Second Testament vice lists (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:10)
- Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 1:26–27).
(B) Bible verses that lead progressive scholars to believe that the above verses refer not to homosexual relationships between two free, adult, and loving individuals; but rather describe…
- Rape or attempted rape (Genesis 9:20–27, 19:1–11)
- Cultic prostitution (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13)
- Male prostitution and pederasty (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:10)
- The Isis cult in Rome (Romans 1:26–27)
(C) Bible verses with other strict laws from biblical times:
Note that The Old Testament contains 613 commandments for God’s people to follow. Leviticus includes rules about offerings, clean and unclean foods, diseases, bodily discharges, sexual taboos, and priestly conduct. But the New Testament teaches that Christ’s death and resurrection fulfilled the law, which is why some Christians say its many rules and regulations have never applied to Christians. Romans 10:4 says, “Christ is the end of the law.” See https://reformationproject.org/case/levitical-prohibitions/ for more
Wow! Hit this one outa the park, Kathleen.
Thanks for your thoughtfulness on a very difficult topic. (Well, actually it isn’t all that difficult since the most consistent thing Jesus taught was LOVE!)