Evangelicals LOVE gay people. They do. They really love them. In fact, nearly every evangelical I know, when talking about their views on homosexuality, preface their opinions with disclaimers about how much they love gay people. Many prove their progressive-leaning love by talking about how often they watch Modern Family.
For many evangelicals, watching Modern Family is like having a gay best friend.
Now, some evangelicals don’t say anything about loving gay people; but they swear on everything good and holy that they don’t hate gay people. They hate that loaded word—”hate”—because it makes them sound mean and unbecoming.
Both types of evangelicals—the lovers and the non-haters—seem to become frustrated or bewildered or or defensive when people don’t believe them when they say they love or don’t hate gay people. Which makes sense, of course; most of us become agitated or saddened when somebody doesn’t believe us.
But consider the last two weeks. Because I think these last 14 days might offer us a little insight as to why many GLBTQ people think us evangelicals—those of us who affirm and those of us who don’t affirm—are full of crap.
♦ Because on May 28, the American Family Association issued a statement to all of its members regarding the stamp honoring activist Harvey Milk. In that statement, the evangelical organization wrote:
1. Refuse to accept the Harvey Milk stamp if offered by your local post office. Instead ask for a stamp of the United States flag.
2. Refuse to accept mail at your home or business if it is postmarked with the Harvey Milk stamp. Simply write ‘Return to Sender’ on the envelope and tell your postman you won’t accept it.
♦ Because 2 days earlier, Franklin Graham, while talking about how much he loved GLBTQ people, offered the objects of his affection God’s ultimatum: “I love them enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it’s the flames of hell for you,” Graham said. “Now, if you don’t like that, don’t get mad at me. I didn’t write the rule book. Almighty God wrote it, and it’s a sin against Him.”
♦ Because on June 2, a whole bunch of Southern Baptists met in Baltimore for their annual convention. On their list of topics to discuss were the “700,000 Americans [who] perceive their gender identity to be at variance with the physical reality of their biological birth sex.”
Amid their chat, a summary as to why the topic was being discussed was offered…
WHEREAS, the American Psychiatric Association removed this condition (aka, “gender identity disorder”) from its list of disorders in 2013, substituting “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria”; and
WHEREAS, the American Psychiatric Association includes among its treatment options for gender dysphoria cross-sex hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, and social and legal transition to the desired gender; and
WHEREAS, news reports indicate that parents are allowing their children to undergo these “therapies”; and
WHEREAS, many LGBT activists have sought to normalize the transgender experience and to define gender according to one’s self-perception apart from biological anatomy…
♦ Because on June 3, John MacArthur published a YouTube video offering his best advice to parents of gay children. In the 2-minute clip, MacArthur said that, if the gay child was a Christian who refused to repent, “You have to alienate them, you have to separate them; you can’t condone that [because] it’s inconsistent with a profession of Christ. So, you isolate them. You don’t have a meal with them. You separate yourself from them. You turn them over to Satan as scripture says…”
♦ Because three days later MacArthur offered his wisdom about how bakeries should respond when a gay couple asks them to bake a cake for their wedding…
♦ Because people flock to read evangelicals like Matt Walsh acting like Matt Walsh on the topic of transgender children.
♦ Because this Christian politician from Oklahoma seems to think that stoning gay people isn’t out of the realm of possibility…
♦ Because Tony Perkins, the guy in charge of the Family Research Council, had the audacity to say this…
I can’t be sure, of course; but these last couple weeks seem to offer a lot of reasons as to why non-evangelicals of varying kinds don’t believe that evangelicals love (or don’t hate) gay people.
Most evangelicals will say something like this: Those examples are extreme. They don’t speak for me!
While they might not speak for you and me, can we honestly say that these are the evangelical extremes any more? The guy from Oklahoma? Sure. He’s extreme. But all of them? I don’t think so.
Does the average church in American evangelicalism really believe or adhere to a different doctrine than many of these examples? Sure, they might never project their ideas aloud when cameras and microphones are present, but are their beliefs/doctrines/values different enough that they’re willing to challenge these ideas?
Because the only evangelicals challenging the messages of these voices are the progressive ones, a handful of liberal evangelical bloggers who have little influence on the likes of Franklin Graham, John MacArthur, and the SBC. If these people don’t speak for evangelicals, where are the non-progressive evangelicals who might challenge these messages? We need them to speak up, on behalf of the gospel, Jesus, and the evangelicals who really do love gay people.
Because I refuse to believe that the majority of America’s Evangelicals are okay with these agenda-driven evangelicals speaking on their behalf. Because whether we like it or now, right now, they are. And they’re getting louder. And they’re speaking up more often.
And they are the reason why so many GLBTQ people laugh or roll their eyes or scream expletives when an evangelical says that he or she loves them. Because nothing they hear coming out of evangelical culture suggests love or non-hate… it’s the same rhetoric that evangelicals have been preaching in America for nearly 70 years, a rhetoric of shame and hopelessness.