Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Objections to Danny Mann on Homosexuality

Some of Danny Mann's latest comments on this blogsite have prompted a spirited response by Justin, and I've taken the liberty to start a new thread just for a continuation of this discussion.

Danny's original comment  (November 3, 2010 10:34 AM) included this:

"Christians are being persecuted and marginalized around the world, but this doesn’t become a source of shame, but of genuine pride (Matthew 5:11-12). This is because we know that we are in the light (John 3:19-20) and our conscience does not condemn us. If it was simply a matter of society not accepting the gay lifestyle, LGBT people could merely laugh away the stigma. The fact that they can’t suggests that there is a deeper issue."

Here is Justin's original email, which he re-posted on this blog (November 3, 2010 9:56 PM):

"Where are Christians being persecuted and marginalized? Name one place in the USA where this is happening. Name one place in the USA where Christians are being beaten and killed for being Christians. Name one place in the USA where Christians are killing themselves for being taunted and bullied. When you've done that we can move to one place in the rest of the world where Christians are being persecuted and marginalized outside of communistic or Muslim societies.

"You are being rather disingenuous - it is time that you stop.


Danny Mann's response (November 3, 2010 10:34 AM):

"I’m sorry that you feel that I’m being disingenuous about Christians experiencing marginalization and persecution – You challenged me to cite examples for the USA – and I believe that you genuinely feel this way.

"This is a difficult thing to quantify, so let me just give you some examples of what I see from my perspective. I see Christians, especially priests and pastors, consistently made to look foolish and contemptible by the media and the universities, while gays are portrayed as lovable, in-touch and aware. I see numerous cases of Christians loosing their jobs for simply expressing their Biblical beliefs about homosexuality, sometimes even when off-the-job. I see churches being vandalized and Christians intimidated – sometimes physically (especially in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California). However, I’ve seen no examples of Christians bullying gays or vandalizing their institutions.

However, I must confess that what I see might also be badly skewed by my social location. I tend to read more Christian-oriented sources than gay-oriented. These talk about the injustices meted out against Christians and not gays. Meanwhile, I’d guess that you've read much more of the latter and therefore have a very different perspective.

(continued below) 


  1. continuation of Danny Mann's original response:

    "For another thing, we tend to get more upset when we hear about injustices perpetrated closer-to-home. I was very disturbed to hear about the Islamic killings of more than 50 at an Iraqi Catholic worship, but I have to remind myself that 100,000 Iraqi Muslims have also perished in this conflict. So I do want to remain open to your perspective at the same time.

    "But I also hope that you have thought about the central point of my piece – that the gay lifestyle is self-destructive. We both agree (?) that statistically, gays suffer – both mentally and physically – significantly more than straights. Is this because of stigmatization or because the lifestyle conflicts with our created-in-the-image-of-God nature?

    When I shared my reservations about the gay lifestyle with a friend’s son, who is actively involved, he looked at me with perplexity. “I didn’t think that anyone still held your ideas” was his response. He had submerged himself so completely in the gay sub-culture here in NYC, that he never encountered other views. Nevertheless, no longer exposed to stigmatization, he still seemed to be suffering from his lifestyle choices.

    "But please know that the Christian faith stigmatizes all of us! We are all in the same boat; we are all sinners who need a Savior. We are all taken captive by our denials, self-justifications, rationalizations, and self-righteousness – so much so that we can barely see it. However, Jesus taught,

    • 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)'"

  2. Here is Justin's reply (November 3, 2010 9:56 PM )

    "I've read your response three times and I will have to read it a fourth because after the third reading I am still left shaking my head.

    "For the time being I will just say that pastors and priests looking foolish and contemptible cannot in any way compare to people being killed or committing suicide because their lives are made a misery by people who are emboldened by the statements that people like you make. I am ashamed both as a Christian and a human being ,that you would dare attempt to equate the two."

  3. Justin,

    You’re right – the ridicule of Christians isn’t the same thing as the murder of gays, and, as a Christian, I never want to lack sensitivity to this fact. However, I also think you should acknowledge that the language of ridicule often becomes a prelude to violence as it did in Europe for the Jews. Today Christians are being martyred at alarming rates, and you seem to be aware of this fact. Therefore, you’ve challenged me specifically about the USA.

    We all must be concerned for the welfare of GLBTs. This honors Christ and brings us back to the over-arching question, “Is there something self-destructive about the gay lifestyle? Does it destroy those who persist in it?” From a Biblical perspective – I’ll appeal to the Bible since you self-identify as a Christian – sexual sins are particularly destructive:

    • “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:18-19).

    And it’s not just the Bible which is saying this! We see that GLBTs are suffering disproportionately. While you might argue that it’s exclusively a product of social stigmatization, there are just too many other indications that much of the problem is endemic to the lifestyle.

    In view of this, isn’t the loving and Christian obligation one of warning those embarking into this life?

  4. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.

    "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolvent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:18-32

  5. It's always good to get responses, and I appreciate the strength of Florence's convictions on this matter. But we've all read these passages before. Proof-texting does relatively little to further the conversation because it's not the text that decides the matter -- but one's INTERPRETATION of the text. To think otherwise is arguably making an idol of the printed word -- and remember that St Paul didn't write in 20th-century English. In other words, Scripture is where the discussion begins, not where it ends. So I suggest we take this up under the thread "Scripture and Homosexuality."

  6. I would suggest a return to Danny Mann's first statement, "If it was simply a matter of society not accepting the gay lifestyle, LGBT people could merely laugh away the stigma. The fact that they can’t suggests that there is a deeper issue."

    First off, the word "lifestyle" is inaccurate and dismissive. To use the term "lifestyle" to describe a homosexual person is to say that sexual activity DEFINES them. I would ask the heterosexual people reading this blog to ask themselves if who they choose to sleep with and what they choose to do with their sexual partners defines them? I'd be the first to say no.

    Now SOME people might have a style of life that is all about pursuing and having sex, just as other people's lifestyles are all about pursuing and having wealth. There is the upwardly-mobile-social-networking lifestyle, which often consumes a person's schedule. I believe there is also a Christian lifestyle that attracted so many pagans to the early church because of the visible love and caring Christians showed to all people.

    But sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice like where to live, what to do. Sexual orientation, like gender identity, is a biological reality as sure and certain as the color of your eyes. This is the "deeper issue" that Danny Mann unwittingly pointed to when he asked why LGBT people can't just "shrug off the stigma."

    You can't shrug off the rejection of who you are as an individual. Asking this is the same as the pre-civil rights thinking that asked black Americans to shrug off and accept white rejection of them over the color of their skin... something that was as integral and immutable as their orientation.

    As I recall, white Christians also used the Bible to explain away their rejection of and refusal to accept their black brothers and sisters. Even to whitewash the institution of slavery itself.

    People of faith can disagree on what the Bible says about homosexuality. It is a faithful reading of scripture to say that the Bible condemns it. It is ALSO a faithful reading to say that Jesus challenged and broke down the walls society uses to separate people into "good" and "bad."

    It's hard enough to follow His commands for ourselves, but I don't see how we can act or speak faithfully while dismissing, ostracizing, and oppressing others. So many of Jesus' parables turned definitions of good and bad on their heads. Who are we to ignore that?

  7. Eleanor,

    You wrote a number of things that would be fit for further discussion, but let me just address one of them:

    "I don't see how we can act or speak faithfully while dismissing, ostracizing, and oppressing others. So many of Jesus' parables turned definitions of good and bad on their heads. Who are we to ignore that?"

    I'd be glad to discuss Jesus' parables with you in this regard.

    The last thing I'd want to do is to "oppress others." However, we might have an entirely different understanding of what it means to oppress. I don't think that it is a matter of oppression to reflect the fact that the Bible deems certain conduct as "sin." Besides, I think it is quite well established that same-sex behavior is self-destructive in many ways. Love would require us to warn and not be silent when we note that the gay male lives on the average of 20 years than the average.

    I'm truly sorry if you find my views "dismissive." I think that we all have to learn that if we are going to live with one another, we have to remain in dialogue and not dismiss what the other says and feels.

  8. Danny and Eleanor

    Where I don't think it's a settled matter as to whether or not homosexuality is biological, I don't really think too much hangs on this question. It might as well be biological, because it's that fundamental to a person's identity, at least at some key points in development. This is not the same as saying, as those who speak about the "Gay Lifestyle" tend to, that gays are one-dimensional, sex-crazed miscreants. For anyone's sexuality is basic to who that person is, and that genuine human love can be expressed in same-sex as well as heterosexual relationships.

    How do I know this? Because I have been there, and I think almost all critics of "the gay lifestyle" have not. Yes, there are "ex-gays," but I'd be very surprised to find an ex-gay who ever actually had a real gay lover (and I don't mean one-night stand). If he had, then he wouldn't decry the gay lifestyle as empty and depressing.

    Though romance is hardly the answer to all that ails us, any of us who have been in a loving relationship knows that love heals. And to deny someone the social support to experience that healing is to do them a kind of violence which all the proof-texting in the world cannot mend, and before which all the protestations over loving the sinner but hating the sin ring very hollow indeed.

  9. David,

    I certainly wouldn’t deny that there are very compelling forces that drive LGBTs to make their lifestyle choices. However, I have to question whether these choices are in their best long-range interests. There are certainly many evidences that, emotionally, physically and even spiritually – and this is the main consideration for me – these choices are detrimental.

    In defense of your position, you often resort to anecdotal evidences: “any of us who have been in a loving relationship knows that love heals.” I don’t deny that these relationships can be very fulfilling in the short run, but I think that there are many costs involved, as the statistics point out, that might be escaping your attention.

    Besides, if I’m weighing anecdotal evidence, I must also consider the experience of others – ex-gays, for example. You claim that “I'd be very surprised to find an ex-gay who ever actually had a real gay lover.” Here’s one testimony that you might consider: And there are many more.

    So what is love? Is it a matter of enabling people to pursue self-destructive behaviors? As Christians, we are instructed to warn:

    • James 5:18-20 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

    Please forgive me if I haven't treated you with the love that is required.

  10. David,

    Your blog has been as silent as a morgue. I hope that everything is OK. Do you plan to resume?

  11. Your blog makes me think of a couple of things: it always bothers me that gay people equate their sexuality with their identity. Sexual orientation requires the presence of another person for you to be attracted to; therefore, it can't be your identity. Your identity is YOU; and you could go your whole life without having sex, and you'd still have an identity. For me, "gay pride" is also a stumbling block. You're supposed to be proud of something you've ACHIEVED; if, as most people now believe, gayness is innate, there is nothing to be proud of. And last, events like the "Gay Games" bewilder me. How is a gay athlete different from any other athlete? And indeed, if you're participating in an Olympic-type event worrying about whether you're gay or not, you shouldn't be in athletics because your mind is not on the sport. Just a few points to ponder...

  12. Anonymous, I think that you are making some sound observations. I think that some of the inconsistencies that you observe come the fact that today's gay identity is not the product of consistent thinking but rather considerations about the impact that this constructed portrait it will have on society and also about guilt and shame.