2. You are not being persecuted when prevented from persecuting others.
Several respondents found my second point insulting. “We are not persecuting anyone. We love homosexuals, but we just hate their sin. We have a right to hold our own viewpoints. When you call us “persecutors” you are judging us like you say we are judging them.”
Looking at the actual words, I don’t believe I accused anyone of anything. I said it isn’t persecution to be prevented from persecuting others. I didn’t say other people don’t have a right to their own conviction that homosexuality is wrong, I was saying no one has a right to take away the rights of others.
Suppose the shoe were on the other foot. Suppose I were to act on my belief that fundamentalism is wrong. I believe that literalism and sectarianism result in misunderstanding and violence. Now suppose you are a fundamentalist. Wouldn’t you agree that I have a right to my opinion, but it is something very different if I am arrogant enough to force my belief into law? Now further suppose, as I do, that Jesus condemned fundamentalism in his core teachings. Isn’t it vital that I not presume to force my vision of Jesus even on the church? It is one thing to try to persuade you. I might even consider that my duty. But, it is something very different to coerce you. I am merely saying that I cannot call myself a victim if someone does not let me force my opinions on you.
I believe the unconscious root of all forms of prejudice to be a sense of entitlement and a belief that “difference” means “less than.” In other words, when I unconsciously think of my group as the model for all humankind, I will either attack those who are different, or try to cast them in my own group’s image. And when we are bigoted against another type of person, we usually have no sense of our own presumption. It just feels like we are looking at the world from a higher vantage point. We are simply reading the text the way God intended it. Those who disagree obviously don’t care about scripture as we do. We, of course, humbly realize that we are sinners too. But because we are sorrier for our sins than others are, it is our duty to serve as referee for the rest of the species. Because our sense of privilege is invisible to us, any effort to describe what we are doing feels like an humiliating insult. So, if anyone steps in to defend our target, we view ourselves as the real victims.
Our prejudice is more easily justified if we can find some verses in the Bible that seem to say the same thing we are saying. There are certainly verses in scripture that seem to condemn homosexuality, but the reason they leap out of their context in the food and cleanliness codes, is because of a prejudiced reading. Prejudice has used the Bible to defend capital punishment for adulterers, banning of divorce, defended slavery, promoted sexism, and called for the corporal punishment of children. The reason those verses convince some and not others has nothing to do with the Bible and everything to do with the prejudices we all start with before we take up the text.
Let me repeat that I didn’t call anyone a bully or a persecutor. I described bullying behaviors and some people self-identified. What I am calling “fundamentalism” is I believe our survival instinct to simplify the world, to group with people like ourselves and to try to find our way back to a simpler time. I was trying to state a principle that would protect all of us from this frailty we all carry in our human tissue. Let me assure you, I don’t trust myself to be your overlord any more than I trust you to be mine.