Monday, November 1, 2010

Gay Shame: Is it about Stigmatization?

This is a response I’m posting on a gay friend’s blog. Here’s the address if you wish to follow the dialogue! (


These are certainly interesting anthropological examples of the prevalence of same-sex practice, and I wish I had time to follow up on these examples. However, prevalence is one thing – and I don’t dispute your claims of prevalence – but viability is another. In all my travels, I haven’t encountered any examples where history has given same-sex practice its stamp of approval. Meanwhile, we find enduring churches on every corner of the city.

While you mention the prevalence same-sex behavior in traditional animistic-spiritistic cultures, we must recognize that these cultures are the ultimate in pragmatism (getting results) – what protects them from their enemies and produces fertility. This means that they’re always changing according to the “findings” of the latest medicine-man and spirit-encounter. Therefore, these examples fail to say much about viability – how health-giving this practice is.

Instead, the verdicts of world religions (especially the Bible’s), history, stats that show that there is a huge price to pay for gay practice – physically, mentally, and spiritually – and anecdotal evidences against this practice are so pervasive and compelling.

Last night, we went to a Halloween party where we met a gay, angry male. I was wearing a provocative wooden cross on a heavy chain. Thinking that I was mocking the Christian faith, he confided the source of his anger:

• “I won’t tolerate Christians who ask me, ‘Let me just ask you a question…’ They have no right to ask me their questions! They think I’m a ‘pervert,’ so I’ll just act like a pervert. I’ll organize groups to go to their churches and do all sorts of perverted things!”

I felt so helpless to penetrate his worldview, that I didn’t disclose the fact that I’m a Christian. Later, I thought that I should have braved-it to tell him that real Christians realize that we too are “perverts” in so many ways, and that it’s only through the assurance of our Lord’s mercy – His love and forgiveness – that we can lift up our heads (Luke 18:9-14). Having received the mercy of God, we are called to express the very same compassion to others that Christ has extended to us (Phil. 2:1-8). And when we fail to do this, we displease our Lord.

I feel that my fear of a possible angry outburst prevented me from expressing Christ’s love to this tormented young man. He was sure that the source of his torment was the condemning church. However, it was apparent that his torment was originating from within himself, living a life in opposition to his God-given conscience! He knows the truth but projects his shame on Christianity as the culprit.

Meanwhile, Christians are being persecuted and marginalized around the world, but this doesn’t become a source of shame, but of genuine pride (Matthew 5:11-12). This is because we know that we are in the light (John 3:19-20) and our conscience does not condemn us. If it was simply a matter of society not accepting the gay lifestyle, LGBT people could merely laugh away the stigma. The fact that they can’t suggests that there is a deeper issue.

Here is my response to a man who emailed me in regards to the above:

I’m sorry that you feel that I’m being disingenuous about Christians experiencing marginalization and persecution – You challenged me to cite examples for the USA – and I believe that you genuinely feel this way.

This is a difficult thing to quantify, so let me just give you some examples of what I see from my perspective. I see Christians, especially priests and pastors, consistently made to look foolish and contemptible by the media and the universities, while gays are portrayed as lovable, in-touch and aware. I see numerous cases of Christians loosing their jobs for simply expressing their Biblical beliefs about homosexuality, sometimes even when off-the-job. I see churches being vandalized and Christians intimidated – sometimes physically (especially in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California). However, I’ve seen no examples of Christians bullying gays or vandalizing their institutions.

However, I must confess that what I see might also be badly skewed by my social location. I tend to read more Christian-oriented sources than gay-oriented. These talk about the injustices meted out against Christians and not gays. Meanwhile, I’d guess that you read much more of the latter and therefore have a very different perspective.

For another thing, we tend to get more upset when we hear about injustices perpetrated closer-to-home. I was very disturbed to hear about the Islamic killings of more than 50 at an Iraqi Catholic worship, but I have to remind myself that 100,000 Iraqi Muslims have also perished in this conflict. So I do want to remain open to your perspective at the same time.

But I also hope that you have thought about the central point of my piece – that the gay lifestyle is self-destructive. We both agree (?) that statistically, gays suffer – both mentally and physically – significantly more than straights. Is this because of stigmatization or because the lifestyle conflicts with our created-in-the-image-of-God nature?

When I shared my reservations about the gay lifestyle with a friend’s son, who is actively involved, he looked at me with perplexity. “I didn’t think that anyone still held your ideas” was his response. He had submerged himself so completely in the gay sub-culture here in NYC, that he never encountered other views. Nevertheless, no longer exposed to stigmatization, he still seemed to be suffering from his lifestyle choices.

But please know that the Christian faith stigmatizes all of us! We are all in the same boat; we are all sinners who need a Savior. We are all taken captive by our denials, self-justifications, rationalizations, and self-righteousness – so much so that we can barely see it. However, Jesus taught,

• "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

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