Apparently we hit a nerve. Yesterday there were over 17,000 hits on my blog still responding to the article “What I Wish the Church Knew About Homosexuality.”
Having weathered this storm before, I knew there are certain patterns to the assaults one can expect after making a Christian defense of homosexuality. The first waves of negative responders assume I am a gay atheist defending my “lifestyle.” These are usually kind but frightened people who are just repeating what they have been heard. Many of these people stay surrounded by other people of like mind and have never really heard how hateful and shallow their arguments sound out of that context.
In this first wave, people often repeat the barely understood Bible verses they have been taught assuming that I just haven’t noticed those places in scripture. When it becomes obvious that I am straight, and a Christian, and ordained, and that I know scripture much better than they do, there is usually a panicked attack which brings the second wave of assaults.
At this point, people quit being nice and say things like I am a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” not noticing that they are the ones with fangs bared. Now it gets interesting. Some of the people go back to their pastors for reinforcement. At this point, the heavy weights start showing up in the third wave one might call “the Bible Bullies.”
“Bible Bullies” are people who, at some point in their lives, realized that scripture can be used as a power tool. In other parts of their life they may be timid and unremarkable, but if they master the obscurities of scripture they can use that knowledge to rise to leadership positions. The problem, of course, is that the only fuels that can drive this kind of power are fear and anger. So they must constantly point out one threat after another, or lose power.
This is why they can’t leave other people alone. Without threats and scapegoats the theologies of fear and anger do not work. So their worldview resembles that of an abusive family. God is presented as a kind of cosmic drunk daddy with a major anger problem, but is the only protection we have from mean ol’ Uncle Satan.
One cannot understand the teachings of Jesus and see the world this way. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, one is called to trust, not hyper vigilance. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, one is called to a life of forgiveness, not constant judgment. If one begins with the Sermon on the Mount, it is quite clear that the only “fuel” that can drive this theology is love.
When a Christian (or someone from any other path of love) is confronted by a Bible Bully it is essential not to respond in kind. If you become angry or afraid you are using the fuel that works in their religion, not yours. It helps to remember that we can all be bullies when we are frustrated or afraid, and that what we are really seeing is not a powerful giant, but a frightened little heart.