taking the words of Jesus seriously

Yesterday, there was a bit of an online uproar on this post from The Gospel Coalition in which contributor Thabiti Anyabwile used the argument that Christians and society should be grossed out by homosexuality and gay marriage.

I’m not making this up. That’s quite literally the point of the post.

The author invokes countless scare quotes around the very concept of homosexuality. In one portion, he writes –

“Gay” and “homosexual” are polite terms for an ugly practice. They are euphemisms. In all politeness, we’ve actually stopped talking about the things that lie at the heart of the issue — sexual promiscuity of an abominable sort…”

And after citing the ‘yuck factor’ and using self-described ‘obscene descriptions’ of sex acts (the details of which would make just about anybody blush) he continues,

That sense of moral outrage you’re now likely feeling…that gut-wrenching, jaw-clenching, hand-over-your-mouth “I feel dirty” moral outrage is the gag reflex.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t know Thabiti Anabwile. I can’t recall ever reading a thing he’s previously written and had never heard of him before yesterday. And I doubt he’s heard of me or read anything I’ve written.

But I hope he – and The Gospel Coalition – reads this.

His article attempts to elicit and steer feelings of revulsion and disgust toward LGBT people. He purposefully seeks to criticize, marginalize, ostracize and dehumanize.

Related: The Biblical Definition of Marriage and Its Relevance to Marriage Equality – by Kristen Howerton

And that. is. unchristlike.

Richard Beck wrote a brilliant article in response, citing his previous work Unclean which discusses how disgust is inherently a dehumanizing emotion. In his post, Beck harkens back to the namesake of the current Pope, St. Francis of Assisi.

He writes,

St. Francis was known for his care of lepers. And what I find so powerful about that is how St. Francis refused to be guided by his disgust response. Listen, if you are a heterosexual Christian I wouldn’t be surprised if you found images of gay sex to be a bit disgusting. There is a reason you are heterosexual after all. And that isn’t any different to how gay persons feel about straight sex. That’s a part of why they are gay.

 

My point here is that feelings of disgust, even if they do exist,  aren’t really relevant.”

But Beck wasn’t the only one throwing up posts about gag reflexes (see what I did there?).

The #gagreflex hashtag on Twitter expanded throughout the day. Blog posts abounded, using wit,  humor,  the gospels and common sense pointing out the inconsistencies in the ‘gag me’ argument, discrediting the call Anyabwile made for straight Christians to be disgusted with our LGBT neighbors.

As one blogger wrote,

I’m tired of good news that is hurtful in the way it engages people. I’m tired of prejudice masquerading as love. I’m tired of the lives of gay and lesbian young people brushed aside as some kind of diversion from what God really wants.

 

Yes, love tells the truth.

 

But when your truth degrades people, it’s not loving.

 

When your truth reduces relationships to sex acts, it’s not loving.

 

When your truth makes people want to hurt themselves, it’s not loving.

 

When your truth makes the gospel something that is only available to people who believe like you, it’s not loving.

 

When your truth pushes people away from Jesus instead of toward him, it’s not loving.

 

And if your truth isn’t loving, is it really truth?

That’s not to claim that Anyabwile and the good ole’ boys at The Gospel Coalition – or anyone else, for that matter – aren’t welcome to hold sincere beliefs about homosexuality. They can, and do. But as I’ve written previously,  thinking that we’re right does not dictate nor demand disrespecting those who believe differently.

Also by Michael: RIP, Rob Bell

It is possible –necessary, even – to disagree in generous and hospitable ways.

But that’s the opposite of what Anyabwile does in his post. to paraphrase the conclusion of a post linked above, the moment the way in which someone projects their understanding of truth becomes explicitly antithetical to the life and teaching of Jesus,  they cease to be a people of the gospel and instead become a coalition of hate.

A thought :: instead of trying to force feed our preferred perspective to the point of purposefully making people gag, perhaps when we’re disgusted with someone else, we should put a gag on ourselves. Because when we open our mouths and attempt to marginalize, criticize, ostracize and dehumanize another – we’re showing the nastiest part – not of them, but of us.

Perhaps sometimes it’s better just to keep our mouths shut.

What do you think?




About The Author

mm

Michael Kimpan is an organizer with OPEN networks, bringing together progressive evangelical and non- denominational churches, organizations and individuals to connect with, resource, and learn from one another in expressing a just and generous evangelical expression of faith in the United States. Michael has worked around the country helping individuals and institutions think critically about matters of faith and culture. He blogs regularly on cultural and theological issues from a Christ-centered perspective in an ongoing effort to create thoughtful conversation and intentional movement toward reconciliation.

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