On the Question and Answer section of his blog, Donny Osmond, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was asked the following question.
“Here is my question. How do you think Christians should respond to Gay friends who consider themselves ‘Married’?”
Part of his response to that question is the following:
“There are many gay individuals that are members of our church. I know many of them. In fact, some of my best friends are gay. You ask how I react regarding their marriages. Well, I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with gay tendencies in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations. Everyone has tenancies [sic] to succumb to temptation, but we all have the same standard given to us by our Father in Heaven. Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well.”
Although Mormonism is not within the mainstream of Christianity, this one response sums up the “justifications” for a lot of the revulsion, despite all the sanctimonious rhetoric in the world, which many professing Christians have toward Gay people! I want to comment on significant parts of his response, as I think that his response gets at the very heart of what we’re fighting against when we engage in the struggle for full and equal rights for Gay people; certainly including the right to marry.
“There are many gay individuals that are members of our church.” Why any self-respecting Gay person would be a member of any organization, church or not, that discriminates against him/her and preaches that being Gay is in any way immoral, disordered, evil, a threat to the “sanctity of marriage,” a threat to children, etc., is a mystery to me. He/she must have a tremendous degree of self-loathing that is superficially masked by proclaiming, “It’s my church too.”
Really? Can you preach from the pulpit that being Gay is healthy; faithful same-sex love is just as sacred as is opposite-sex love? Can you feel free to live as a Gay person within that church and among its members? Do you have the right to excommunicate people from your church? Get it clear: It’s not your church too!
Gay people should flee those homophobic churches as fast as they can, lest those churches wreak more havoc with your psyches than they may have already done. It’s not healthy for you, and just gives that church credibility through your very presence and through the monies you contribute so that they can turn around and use that credibility and money to continue to proclaim that your lives are “immoral” and “sinful” and that you deserve to be deprived of full and equal civil rights. Just get out of those churches, and either go to a church that is worthy of you and that embraces you as it does anyone else, or you’re far better off not going to church at all!
“…some of my best friends are gay.” Yeah! Right! With the feelings toward Gay people that he holds and expresses, how in the world could any self-respecting Gay person be his “best friend” or believe that he is their “best friend?” He’s either deluding himself and/or others, or has as Gay “best friends” terribly self-loathing people who lack self-respect.
“…I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with gay tendencies in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations.” Saying “gay tendencies” is equivalent to saying “straight tendencies.” We don’t have sexual “tendencies,” but our emotional/sexual orientation and stimulation exist at the very core, the very heart, of our beings, be we Straight or Gay. He would never talk about “heterosexual tendencies,” but feels free to talk about being Gay as being a “tendency.”
He represents most professing Christians who are homophobic in that they feel that homosexuality is merely engaged in by perverted heterosexuals. They fail to see that homosexuality is as much a part of one’s core being as is heterosexuality, and that mere suppression of those “tendencies” is not only doomed to failure, but even if one can suppress those “tendencies,” the warped creature that emanates from all that suppression can cause, and frequently does cause, inestimable harm to him/herself and/or to others.
The emotional/sexual urge is so primal, so fierce within one’s very soul, that to talk of “Gay tendencies” shows a woeful ignorance of both Gay sexuality and Straight sexuality. Both partake of the very soul within a person; each is just as integral a part of one’s soul as is the other.
So, it’s just as foolish to ask why a person is Gay as to ask why a person is Straight! Gay people are not perverted Straight people! And that fact must be hammered home to those who insist with oracular authority that that fiction is the case; that very fiction demonstrates their woeful ignorance of sexuality.
“…I do support our Church leaders who say that we can accept those with gay tendencies in our church as long as they do not act upon their temptations.” That’s not at all true! Just as in life, in the Christian life, one size doesn’t fit all. God made each of us unique, and it’s that very uniqueness that not only defines our humanity, but enables each of us to express the different gifts God has given us in ways that help others and glorify Him.
The only standard of following Jesus was given to us by Jesus, when He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus then answered, “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Nowhere did Jesus ever advocate shunning another; depriving anyone of full and equal civil rights; denying anyone a seat at the Lord’s table, save for the self-righteous legalists who in any way distort, through ignorance and/or malice, the only Gospel to be found in Christianity: the Gospel of grace or unmerited favor God freely gives to us through our faith in Him.
Hear the Apostle Paul: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Elsewhere Paul asserts, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)
The homophobic professing Christians fail to realize that they commit a grievous sin: they “frustrate the grace of God,” and see themselves as “righteous” because they seek to articulate and impose on others God’s “law,” as they see it, a “law” that coincidentally matches their preconceived prejudices. However, when that “law” threatens their own interests, they “miraculously” receive “another revelation,” as occurred when the Mormon Church in 1978 gave up its institutional racism; when the Mormon Church officially gave up the preaching and the practice of polygamy.
“Whether we may be tempted to be immoral with members of our own sex or of the opposite sex, we are expected to live chaste lives. This is very well explained not only in the Book of Mormon, but in the Bible as well.” Many people view being Gay as being equivalent to being “immoral!” And that perverse view, of course, is learned largely from homophobic clergy and other religious leaders who rail from assorted pulpits throughout the world concerning the identification of being “Gay” with being “immoral,” and with being “hedonistic.” It is equivalent to defining heterosexuality by focusing on adultery and spouse swapping.
Homophobes have a vested interest in dealing with what they refer to as a seemingly “seamy” side of being Gay while at the same time focusing on the seemingly “healthy, family oriented” side of being Straight. It doesn’t matter that it’s Straight people who have put the myth to the oft used phrase, “sanctity of marriage,” given rampant divorce rates. In order to maintain the fiction that Gay people are “immoral” and “hedonistic,” homophobes have to engage in the irrational by blaming Gay people for the downfall of the institution of marriage.
If we are truly consistent in the mandate for Christians to live “chaste lives,” it would do well to have them read Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:27-28, as by that standard virtually every church would be empty. Moreover, such a personal moral sin as divorce is deliberately avoided by most clergy, as most clergy are not likely to condemn divorced people, lest their church membership dwindles and the financial contributions dry up!
Moreover, to say, “It’s in the Bible,” seeks to elevate and justify one’s prejudicial mind-set that actually contradicts much of what is, in fact, in the Bible. In an article entitled, Our Judgments of Morality, that appeared in the November/December 1999 issue of “Whosoever,” I wrote the following:
“Jesus as human was the consequence of fornication and whoredom, and He had in His lineage a murderer. The prophet Hosea was told by God to marry a prostitute. (Hosea 1:2) The prophet Isaiah was told by God to walk around naked for three years. (Isaiah 20:3) Can you imagine what the Church world, the Vatican, and we ourselves would make of all these events today? It is important to remember that God’s purposes will be fulfilled despite the judgments of man, our traditions, culture, mind-set, and prejudices.”
Things in the Bible, as in life, are not as simple and one-dimensional as the legalists would have us believe!
The more Straight people have occasion to know that members of their families, neighbors, friends, and co-workers are Gay, the more likely it will be that the fiction that Gay people are inherently immoral and hedonistic will be seen for the big lie that it is. However, to the degree that Gay people can be seen as “the other,” even as “the enemy,” it’s to that degree that all sorts of irrational rhetoric, with the discriminatory actions that follow that rhetoric, will hold ascendancy in the psyches and actions of many professing Christians and others.
The attempt to impose such irrational views on civil society, and seek to deprive Gay people of basic civil rights, is seen as “justified” by the belief in the myth that Gay people and what Gay people do sexually is “immoral.” However, knowledge of the truth must gain ascendancy, and that is currently very unlikely among many, if not most, professing Christians given the mind-sets of people who choose to blindly follow their homophobic clergy-leaders in both thinking and in actions; among those who lack a discerning and critical intellect, especially when it suits their own prejudices.
The definition of “Chaste” is as follows: “refraining from sexual intercourse that is regarded as contrary to morality or religion; virtuous.” Being Gay and having faithful same-sex relationships is, indeed, contrary to a great deal of religious rhetoric, but the fact is that faithful same-sex love and relationships are every bit as moral and virtuous as are faithful opposite-sex love and relationships!
So many professing Christians and others miss this truth, and it must be continuously proclaimed to those who are not blinded by mere institutionally religious loyalties to homophobic clergy who insistently proclaim in their ignorance, and thereby show their ignorance, the very opposite of this truth!
Being Gay like being Straight is normal, healthy, life-affirming, Godly, and sacred! And all the homophobic religious leaders and their blind followers in the world can continue to spout their lies but will ultimately never successfully overcome these truths!
And in the not too distant future, all decent and intelligent people, Christians and non-Christians, will come to see the basic depravity of homophobic thinking, much as they now do with its cousin, White Supremacy, that was in ascendancy in this country not all that long ago!
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.