Some Things Christians Could Agree Upon Even If They End Up Having To Agree to Disagree (About Gay Issues)
So, it appears that Christians are no closer to being able to agree with one another about the morality of same gender sex than they ever were. There are two opposing views. I call them Side A and Side B.
And, one might wonder, in the face of a disagreement so bitter, divisive and deep, whether there could possibly be any common cause among the disputants. Are there, in fact, some things Christians could agree upon, even if they find they disagree on the morality of same gender sex?
Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I think there are.
(1.) We could agree that since we all have to exist on this same planet and in this same society together whatever we can do to foster mutual respect and consideration is all to the good. Insults, misrepresentations, generalizations, etc. — common as they are — will not help in this effort. Neither do efforts to silence or oppress people because someone doesn’t happen to like their ideas, or “lifestyle choices” (whatever that is), or religion, or whatever. Neither do efforts to misrepresent the things people are saying just to score some sort of rhetorical point.
The rule here is the same as in any other effort to understand and communicate: spend twice as much time listening as you do talking. Don’t try to shout down the opposition. Listen to them. Then, having carefully listened, point out where you think they are wrong.
Here’s good rule of thumb: if you find yourself saying: “I can’t understand why anyone would believe thus-and-so” — it’s a sure sign you’ve missed something. Can you state your opponent’s position in a way that your opponent would recognize? If not: what have you missed?
Most Christians already have pretty strong feelings about this subject, and in my experience, Bible arguments (whether they’re great arguments or terrible ones, (and I’ve heard both) don’t usually change people’s minds on this subject. As a Christian, I believe my view should come from Scripture, but I also know that Bible debates aren’t likely to change other people’s minds. So I encourage you to work within your church to build relationships with those who disagree with you, and at the appropriate time, share your story about your friend and why this matters to you. Even from a Side B perspective, there are a lot of things your church members could do to show the love of Christ, and they may not have thought of many of them yet!
This is my experience as well. Heading into debate, or attempting to produce what you think to be some “killer argument” is just going to make matters worse. This hardens disputants into their previous positions. And, as the frustration grows, the tone of the debate gets worse.
So, don’t do that.
It’s a simple principle (one would think): we must live together on the same earth with people we do not agree with — and whose choices we may not approve of. They are still deserving of respect and consideration.
(2.) We could agree to a common commitment to truth telling. A thing is not “true” because it fits with my overall point of view. In fact, if it doesn’t seem to fit, maybe I should give that datum a little more consideration. Do not write off uncomfortable information just because it doesn’t fit.
For many years now I have been unable to understand how Christians can in good conscience promise gays & lesbians that the Holy Spirit will cure their same-gender attraction. Where does that even come from? Yet, I hear it all the time from my conservative friends. “God can cure that, y’know.” Where are they getting this? Where in the Bible does it say, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will make thee to lust after thy opposite sex”?
But then, from my point of view, much of the stuff coming from SideA Christians is misrepresentation or falsehood with regard to the Scriptures & the Christian Tradition. I can’t believe the stuff my Side A Facebook friends post on this issue. And, I know it’s not even worth talking to them about it.
Obviously, there’s some disagreement over what is “true’ and what isn’t. Okay. Fine. Whatever. But, at least we can be committed to truth telling within the limitations of our own ability to discern what the “truth” is. And, we could be open about what the foundation of our truth-claims are, so that our listeners can decide for themselves how they want to evaluate that.
Notice this article written by Sonia Balcer (I think) in 2002: “The Conservative Church's Response to Homosexuality: A Quantum Leap of Honesty and Relationship.” She wrote that a long time ago, but how many people have made this “quantum leap”? It’s embarrasing. It’s time to get honest.
(3.) We could agree to a common commitment to respond to individuals as individuals rather than simply as members of a particular group.
(4.) We could agree to somehow helping to defuse this issue so it isn’t such a “flash-point” issue for people. People seem to have trouble talking about sexuality issues in general. It’s just too personal. They get angry. They get nasty.
Why do people insist on saying such hateful things about others who disagree with them on the homosexuality issue? Why do people insist on misrepresenting what other people are saying in the effort to further their own cause?
This issue is not going to be “resolved” anytime soon. We could all agree to act like Christians in the mean time.
(You can find more opinion and links on this and other sexuality issues on the Sexuality page at this site.)
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