Your Gagging Isn’t Loving

love out of reach

Last night I had to take some deep breaths after reading the internet. My friend Stephanie linked to this post by Thabiti Anyabwile and my initial response was just a blind rage. I have long thought that one of the primary objections to marriage equality is the “ick” factor, but I never thought I’d see a group like The Gospel Coalition put that forth as a valid argument against it.

The post is terrible. And other people who are much smarter than I am are going to talk about why it’s terrible.

But in the tweet storm that erupted last night, there was one that stood out to me. From Joe Carter, one of the editors at TGC:

So here’s the thing. Well, two things.

First? Being gay affirming when you’re a Christian does not make you popular. It’s not nearly the bad thing that it was even a few years ago, but trust me, it’s not going to make you the most well-read blog, the most sought after speaker, or the most quickly published author. So let’s please put THAT to rest.

But more important,

That post wasn’t loving.

If I tell someone, “The way you have sex makes me want to vomit, therefore you are sinning,” it isn’t loving.

It. Isn’t. Loving.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)

I’m tired of good news that is hurtful in the way that it engages people. I’m tired of prejudice masquerading as love. I’m tired of the lives of gay and lesbian young people being brushed aside as some kind of diversion from what God really wants.

Yes, love tells the truth.

But when your truth degrades people, it’s not loving.

When your truth reduces relationships to sex acts, it’s not loving.

When your truth makes people want to hurt themselves, it’s not loving.

When your truth makes the gospel something that is only available to people who believe like you, it’s not loving.

When your truth pushes people away from Jesus instead of toward him, it’s not loving.

And if your truth isn’t loving, is it really truth? 

+++++

A few months ago, I wrote about some of my favorite gay and lesbian Christian resources. I still highly recommend each of these. Additionally, I encourage you to check out The Gay Christian Network. I believe that the work being done there is important and worth supporting.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Yes…well…agreed.
    I’d simply dismiss this piece as patently bigoted and say “screw ‘em”; but unfortunately their witness is my witness too. My sincere thanks for raising your voice in counterpoint.

  • Agrajag

    It’s becoming a standard monumental copout. When christians spread hate, disgust and anger, they claim that in doing so, they’re being loving, because in telling “the truth about sin”, they are leading people to the True word of God, and that’s loving by definition.

    That’s 11 different kinds of nonsense. When you tell people they should be repulsed and nauseous about eachother, you’re spreading hate – not love, no matter how you wrap it.

    Interesting to me, is that the sexual practices described, for example cunnilingus, are common and popular practices, among homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Thus being repulsed by it really just comes down to being repulsed by sex in general. It’s not as if married, christian, heterosexual folks ain’t discovered the joys of oral sex.

    I suspect that deep down, folks like these have never come to terms with sex at all, for any reason other than procreation, thus every sex act except penis-in-vagina is repulsive, and even that one is only acceptable under certain very narrow circumstances.

    When people, as he says, feels uncomfortable about straightforward descriptions of perfectly average sexual acts, it’s also a symbol of the degree to which talking about sex at all is a *taboo* in church. Oh, it’s okay aslong as it’s on the level of “oneness of the flesh can strengthen the holy bond between husband and wife”, sex is something that’s dirty and ugly, but which *may* be acceptable because it serves purposes, because it may strengthen emotional bonds, and because it produces babies.

    The “emotional bonds” are allowed value. Sex itself, not so much. You can’t stand in a church and recommend making love to your wife – because that’ll make booth of you feel good, and that’s a good thing in itself. “how to strengthen your marriage” is approved as a topic. “how to make your wife scream with pleasure”, not so much. (not even at adult-only times and places)

    This is hate-speech. Hate being preached in the name of God, is still hate.

    • Michael Mock

      “When you tell people they should be repulsed and nauseous about
      eachother, you’re spreading hate – not love, no matter how you wrap it.”

      Well said.

      Also: if this “gag reflex” is proof that God thinks this is wrong and/or unnatural, then wouldn’t you expect people to have a consistent “gag reflex” reaction to the acts he’s describing? (And yet, strangely, the strongest reaction I could muster was, “Eh, not my thing.”)

      Also, by that measure, mushrooms are unclean and eating them is a sin. (I have trouble with the texture of mushrooms, and – guess what? – they trigger my gag reflex. Clearly, they are evil and have no place in a church luncheon.)

    • r.

      “Interesting to me, is that the sexual practices described, for example cunnilingus, are common and popular practices, among homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.”

      no kidding right. I’m going to be crude here, but if a dude sticks his dick in a bum, does it matter what gender that bum belongs to? or mouth belongs to?

      ehhhh i’m sure there are xtians out there who think anything outside of missionary is somehow wrong, even between two ‘perfectly married couples.’ next thing up is a tgc piece about how men must orgasm within a lady or SINNING~

      also no pastormark doesn’t count to positive representations of christian sexuality. why am i talking.

      good post alise love your fire.

      inannnnnnnne.

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I have yet to hear one the people repulsed by anal sex say anything negative about penises. Don’t men urinate with their penises? They have plenty to say about gay men’s butts, and often about women’s vaginas too (blood! fluids! icky!), but are mysteriously silent about peeing with the very same organ they use for sex. Straight folks enjoying non-vaginal sex are also rarely mentioned, for some reason.

      • Agrajag

        If gag-reflexes where a reliable indicator of wrongdoing, I don’t think I’d recommend drinking blood and eating human flesh as a sacrament.

        • Monika Jankun-Kelly

          Wine, all by itself, with no “blood of a deity” idea even, makes me gag. It’s the bubbles, and the taste of alcohol. I loathe both. Soda too. Blech! And yet, somehow, I manage to support Sunday sales and people’s right to drink the beverages of their choice.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        I have yet to hear one of the people repulsed by anal sex say anything negative about penises. Don’t men urinate with their penises? They have plenty to say about gay men’s butts, and often about women’s vaginas too (blood! fluids! icky!), but are mysteriously silent about peeing with the very same organ they use for sex.
        Historically, the fact that the urinary and reproductive systems use the same (male) or adjacent (female) orifices HAS squicked out churchmen in the past. St John Chrystosom was so squicked out by that piece of anatomy that he used it as a major justification for celibacy in a surviving epistle.

  • http://danileekelley.wordpress.com/ Dani Kelley

    I have LONG thought that most Christians believe all truth is loving because of “speaking the truth in love.” Which, really, isn’t the Bible saying that truth CAN be loving if it’s specifically saying, “Hey, do it in love”? I don’t know. But gahhh.

    • Agrajag

      Apparently, some christians read that and thinks it means they can say: “Hi, I don’t think you deserve basic human rights, I think you’re repulsive, and you make me nauseous — and in saying all this, I’m demonstrating LOVE and KINDNESS because I’m leading you to God.”

  • Sharideth

    Once again you nailed it, my friend. That post made me much sicker than I have ever felt about homosexuality. Even in my most conservative days.

  • http://www.sistersadist.com/ Cam

    When people reduce LGBT couples’ relationships down to only what happens behind closed doors and in private, I can’t help but think that they must reduce all relationships, including their own to those levels.

  • Dan McM

    “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes….”

    I think some people need to revisit their dictionary, figure out what that means.

    Great post.

  • http://laurakreitzer.com/ Laura Kreitzer

    Why is this even a debate? Religion and our laws should be SEPERATE. Marriage has been around long before Christianity (and many, many….many religions have their own marriage ceremonies), so why the fuck is it the Bible and Christianity that dictate marriage law? If we want to pull out that fun word everyone seems to use, then let’s do it. “Traditional” marriage. Throughout ancient cultures, marriage was seen differently with widely varying degrees of responsibilities for both parties involved. Honestly, I don’t see US law dictating these aspects of marriage, mostly because “traditional” marriage breaks so many laws and crosses ethical lines. Marriage now is merely a contract. So why bring any religion or morality into it? In the scheme of things, it doesn’t fucking matter./rant

  • http://laurakreitzer.com/ Laura Kreitzer

    P.S. I’m pro-gay marriage.

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

      Really? ;)

      • http://laurakreitzer.com/ Laura Kreitzer

        I, uh, get a little worked up when laws are discussed and decided on by using religion. I don’t see the point. …. *innocent face*

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Wonderful, Alise.

  • http://www.twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis/ @teenbug

    YES, Alise! Thank you. xoxo

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  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    Jonathan Haidt, psychologist, writes about the different foundations of ethics that liberals and conservatives have. One of the key differences is that many conservatives actually genuinely believe their personal and subjective “ewww icky” equates to objective “wrong / sinful for everyone”. Conservatives value authority (obey clergy / follow tradition), loyalty (my tribe is better than yours), and purity (ewww icky!) as much as compassion / harm and fairness. Liberals weigh those last things much more, and think they trump authority, loyalty, and especially “eww icky”. The liberal bias in this comment is mine, not Haidt’s, btw. Haidt is optimistic that understanding those with different mindsets will let us communicate and work together more effectively. I’m much less optimistic. :/

    For anyone interested, here is his TED talk and some of his publications.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

    http://www.ethicalsystems.org/content/jonathan-haidt

  • Jo Malone

    AND they spelled Rangitoto incorrectly!
    As a proud kiwi-fied pom (that’s a person originally from England who’s lived in New Zealand for almost 20 years), I was overjoyed to listen to the first same-sex wedding on Radio ZM. I sat in the car outside the office and had tears in my eyes as the joy and relief coursed through me.
    I walked in to work, sat down for our morning prayer meeting, and as we went around the group talking about our up-coming days, I mentioned what a wonderful day it was for NZ.
    The volunteer next to me muttered under her breath, “Gross”. The short version of this story is I haven’t attended our morning prayer meeting since, and I’m still processing.
    Not really the place for this story maybe, but then again maybe it is.
    Thank you Alise for hitting the nail squarely once more.
    x

  • Amanda Williams

    Great post! I am proud to be a straight person who is a member of a gay affirming church. Jesus did not say, “Love your neighbor as yourself…as long as he does what you think he should.” And what kind of sex two consenting adults have in the privacy of their own home is no one’s business but their own, and so far down on my list of things I give a crap about I can’t even tell you.

  • http://godspotting.net Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    I’ve decided that I simply must run around and “lovingly” point out everybody’s sins to them—just as soon as I’ve vanquished my own.

    I think I managed to not break at least 3 commandments today. At this rate I’ll be out “witnessing” before–well, maybe not before Hell freezes over.

    Seriously. Thank you for this. I’ve often felt that a smokescreen is at play regarding this issue. I mean, if it’s about what’s “Biblical,” then why aren’t we out there campaigning against divorce? Or at least against second marriages for divorced persons?

    What’s that you say? “Because it’s already legal”?

    Um, so is abortion, and plenty of Christians are willing to take up that battle.

    (Full disclosure: I love Jesus. And I’m married. And It’s not my first rodeo.)

  • http://godspotting.net Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    I’ve decided that I simply must run around and “lovingly” point out everybody’s sins to them—just as soon as I’ve vanquished my own.

    I think I managed to not break at least 3 commandments today. At this rate I’ll be out “witnessing” before–well, maybe not before Hell freezes over.

    Seriously. Thank you for this. I’ve often felt that a smokescreen is at play regarding this issue. I mean, if it’s about what’s “Biblical,” then why aren’t we out there campaigning against divorce? Or at least against second marriages for divorced persons?

    What’s that you say? “Because it’s already legal”?

    Um, so is abortion, and plenty of Christians are willing to take up that battle.

    (Full disclosure: I love Jesus. And I’m married. And It’s not my first rodeo.)

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  • http://www.lambpower.com/ Steve Dawson

    Alise, the only thing I can figure is that the traffic must have been down at The Gospel Coalition website. Time to create some extra traffic! Say demeaning things and the traffic will come.

  • http://www.ashestobeauty.net/ Lily

    Are alternative opinions allowed here? : ) (I’m not being sarcastic, I’m just trying to find out if I’ll get tarred and feathered if I bring in a different point of view.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    “Reducing relationships to sex acts” cuts both ways. I’ve seen the assumption all over mass media, and there are those — gay and straight — whose entire concept of “self” is completely defined by their sexual orientation and behavior.

  • Teri

    Alise, this may seem a silly question, but would you define what YOU mean by “gay affirming”?
    Thanks so much,
    Teri

  • http://ourgirlsclub.blogspot.com/ Ginny Bain Allen

    Jesus IS the Truth, Alise. He along with God’s Holy written Word are the standard by which we measure all else.

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