Thursday, February 21, 2013

Insight on Why Gay Marriage is Threatening to Some Christians

New to the blog? Skip to the Highlight Reel.

To me, one of the great mysteries is why so many people feel "threatened" by similar-gender marriage.
I think I get why some people are skeeved by (male) homosexuality - frankly for the same reason I was before I tried it - the "ick" factor of imagining sexual acts themselves in the abstract before you have any idea what they actually feel like.
So there's the "ick" factor, and its close kin, rank homophobia. And that's probably 80-90% of it right there.

I listen to certain religious right commentators every day - one might say religiously. In particular Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins. In part because I want to know what they're talking about - they drive so much of the political and social opposition to me just having a normal day - so I want to know what's coming next from them. But I also listen to them because I'm curious, and I really do struggle to understand how they see the world.

I start from the supposition that people usually try to tell the truth (to the degree it is apparent to them), and that people at their base nature are good-hearted. I want to believe that these rabidly anti-gay commentators are honestly representing their perspective. Very often people like Tony and Bryan get written off as being cynical, dishonest, hypocritical. But I don't think that's the case. I actually think that they are giving a full-throated defense of their deeply-held beliefs. We've certainly seen plenty of cases (Larry Craig, Ted Haggart, Eddie Long, George Rekers...) of vehemently anti-gay men who turned out to be turning tricks.
But I think there are also plenty of people, like Tony and Bryan, who aren't hypocritical - they're just critical.

So, that's the crux (so to speak) of the mystery for me - how could a man who is heterosexual to the core, who does not hate homosexuals, yet feels so threatened by homosexuality? So threatened that they can't let a week go by without railing against it on a nationally syndicated radio program.

I finally had an insight about that. Unlike my assumption that people are basically good, and want to tell the truth, a key belief for many Christians is that we are born with a sinful nature, that without the restraints of morality, without the constraints of vows and pledges, we would naturally sin in any and potentially every way. In other words, without their faith and adherence to religious principles and practices, they would be unable to help themselves, and it would only be a matter of time before they finally got around to sinning in a homosexual fashion.

I know that sounds simple, and I can't believe it took me so long to figure it out. I have vague memories of a ninth grade teacher trying to explain "original sin" to me. It sounded like the weirdest work-around. In a lot of ways, listening to these guys is like being in a dream where you understand all the words someone is saying, but the meaning is absent. Except that I think I understand what they mean, but what they are really saying escapes me.

I'll keep listening - so you don't have to.