Monday, July 06, 2015

Two Huge Lies...

This statement by Rick Warren has gotten plenty of mileage on Facebook, but it has some serious problems in its logic and integrity.
The first "lie" that Warren claims our culture has accepted is that if you "disagree" with someone's "lifestyle" you must fear or hate them (or, he implies, you will be accused of hating and fearing). But what does Warren mean by "lifestyle"? LGBTQ people tend to lead lifestyles identical to straight people. Non-religious young-adult LGBTQ people may be promiscuous and like to party, just as non-religious young-adult straight people do. Older LGBTQ people tend to lead the same types of stable, boring lives that older straight people do. LGBTQ people of faith pray and study scripture and go to church and participate in ministry just like straight people of faith. So what is this "lifestyle" that Warren speaks of? Of course, by "lifestyle" what Warren really means is "sex." That's what he is really talking about. And so by equating "lifestyle" with "sex" he is reducing people's entire existence down to sex acts. That is demeaning.

If the issue here really boils down to sex (which most people--gay or straight--spend very little time engaging in compared to the rest of their life's activities), then isn't it true that our culture tends to disagree with all kinds of sexual scenarios--such as exploitative sex or marital unfaithfulness--without hating or fearing those who engage in them? We (society) just think those behaviors are harmful. Rick Warren thinks that sex between people of the same gender (even those in a committed, monogamous relationship) is harmful. Ok, that's his opinion and and it is shared by many others. It is not as common now as it was a few decades ago, but there are still people who believe that sex between heterosexual people of different races is wrong. That's their opinion.

But there is a vast difference between "disagreeing" and actively trying to block people from having basic civil rights, such as marrying the consenting adult whom you love (regardless of their race or gender). The rhetoric used by many in Warren's camp against LGBTQ people *is* fearful and *does* sound a lot like hate to those on the receiving end. The use of a demeaning euphamism like "lifestyle" to refer to someone's sex life isn't perhaps hateful or fearful, but it certainly isn't kind or considerate. If Warren and other conservatives were simply "disagreeing" about other people's sex lives it wouldn't be so bad (even if it is none of their business), but lobbying to deny people rights is on a whole different level than mere "disagreement"--especially when for justification they rely upon an interpretation of scripture which most other Americans don't agree with or don't care about.

I disagree with a lifestyle built around over-consumption of junk food and mass media. I think it rots people's bodies and brains and contributes to the dumbing down of society. Plus I can provide good scriptural support against the sin of gluttony. But I don't hate or fear the people who engage in that lifestyle (and this is a more accurate use of the word "lifestyle"). I just think they're making bad choices. But I wouldn't call those people disgusting abominations or kick them out of my church or lobby to take away their access to McDonald's and cable TV (while making sure that others--those who consume the way I approve of--can still have Big Macs and CNN).

The second lie that Warren claims our culture has accepted is that "to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do." That is just silly. I don't know anyone who believes that. I pretty much disagree about something with every person I love. Some of my closest friends and relatives disagree with me vociferously (and I with them) on important matters such as religion, politics and pizza toppings.

Love is revealed by how we treat someone. Do we sacrifice for them? Do we forgive and forbear? Are we patient, kind, humble, honoring, not keeping record of wrongs? Is that how conservative Christians have treated the LGBTQ community? Conservative Christians can say all day long that they "love" LGBTQ people, but do their actions support or betray that claim?

So Warren's statement is disingenuous and absurd. And the LGBTQ community (as well as the majority of Americans who support LGBTQ equality) see right through it as a lame attempt to justify bigotry.


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