One more thing

A few days ago I wrote a post on what I would like to tell straight Christians. The following is a followup expanding some of the ideas I touched on in that post, particularly more of what is behind my frustration with people trying to force “Washed and Waiting” on anyone in the Church who has found the strength to come out. 

Most of the time I’ll give bad theology a pass. I know it’s not very PCA of me to say that, but in the grand scheme of things relationships are more important than being 100% in agreement on arcane theological points. The regulative principle? Don’t really care one way or another. Methods of baptism? Eh, not worth getting so worked up to chase somebody out of Europe over it (true story, that’s why I’m American, my ancestors got chased out of Europe over baptism). Who can administer sacraments? Meh. What I can’t handle though, is when bad theology hurts people.

When the Southern Baptists of my childhood utterly missed the point of the Levitical rule against tattooing oneself for the dead and thought it was about tattoos being bad and not a prohibition on engaging in the pagan religious practices of their neighbors, that was harmless. Stupid, but harmless. When conservative evangelicals read verses that, in context, are clearly a prohibition on engaging in the pagan religious practices of first century Greece and Rome, completely miss the point and think it’s about same-sex attractions and relationships, that is most definitely not harmless.

Telling people that they are fundamentally broken is a kind of bad theology that hurts people. And when you have people who grow up in the Church, love God and want to serve Him and then somewhere along the line become aware that they aren’t like everyone else and their attractions run to people of the same sex, that bad theology is devastating to them. Chalking it up to living in a fallen world and being a consequence of a broken world is the kindest version of this bad theology (the worst version being the “It’s a choice” lie) but it’s still a theology that teaches that they are irreparably broken on earth and destined for continued struggle as long as they live. That every time they notice the hot guy or hot girl walking down the street, they should feel guilty because they didn’t guard themselves enough against the constant struggle with temptation. It’s a system that is ridiculously messed up and it screws with people’s heads because it tells them that the only way they can love God is to hate themselves.

It is not people who are broken, what is broken is a system that tells them the only way they can possibly love God is to hate themselves and to believe that they are broken. The system that conservative evangelical Christianity has created is a terrible one. I hate that it’s a system that forces guilt and shame on people just for being who they are. I hate that there are gay Christians who are stuck in that system and who are convinced that the only way to love God is to hate themselves. That the system has made them so internalize the message that they can’t see any other options. No one should have to live like that and it breaks my heart that there are so many people who are stuck in the system and convinced not only that there is no way of escape but that there shouldn’t be an escape.

The whole thing is exceedingly depressing, and it’s not something I’d want to subject my worst enemy to. It doesn’t have to be though, there’s no good reason for people to beat themselves up and live life in constant struggle and guilt. It’s possible to be happy and to look forward and imagine building a life for yourself with a family. It’s time for the Church to understand that and to stop heaping on the guilt and condemnation.