Communication Barriers Between Christians and Gays
Let it be said this way: Many communication barriers exist between some Christians and some gay people. It is unfortunate and has cost both wholesome relationship and understanding of one another and their ideas.
But this is odd—to speak of the two as though they are perfectly incompatible or as if “gay” and “Christian” do not describe the spiritual experience of some persons.
We all understand how consuming a topic this has become. We have watched the new stories, heard from hardliners in both camps, drawn our opinions on the politics, and questioned our own prejudices when things have turned tragic.
There is particular tension from a moral and religious aspect and perhaps it is understandable. In a nation that has been overwhelmingly Judeo-Christian in its religious outlook, orthodox definitions and interpretations of love and theology are being challenged.
Many Christians are affronted that their scriptures should be reinterpreted to allow for a position they say God condemns; many gays love God or want the embrace of the church but feel scolded and are in search for acceptance.
The Greatest Command
I believe there are two major communication barriers that exist between many of the Christian and gay people we all know—a real reason why dialogue turns into emotional blowouts or frustration that leads to irreparable relations. I’d like to explain them and without many of the charged notions that often sideline the conversation, if this is possible.
Let me first give disclosure. I am a devout Christian. I also believe traditional Christian teachings on this subject. But this doesn't exclude the fact that I love God deeply and try earnestly to love him as he’s told me how—by loving my neighbor, to start.
God doesn’t give me stipulations on who to love or under what circumstances I may offer or withdraw it. I am—in one sense—every man and don’t get to stand over another in merciless judgment without fear of my becoming like him in whatever state he may be. So I am a human striving after God and learning more about him as I look in the faces of others.
I write this because I’ve seen some ugly things deriving from each side of the issue. Yet I feel that both Christians and gays have valid arguments but are clashing, each on what seems to be a sore point for the other. So let's address them.
Communication Barrier for Gays
Christians inflame gays when they claim that their sexuality is a choice. Many Christians do not care to believe that same-sex attraction is anything other than a person's choice. There is no scientific evidence validating same-sex attraction but no biblical proof to the contrary either. I only wonder if Christians listen with their hearts.
I do not believe that men and women who express knowing their difference from an early age and who grew up altering part of their identity by suppressing their feelings would choose a life that oftentimes is unavoidable of much personal pain and scorn. It is not fair to dismiss their feelings by saying they are not real.
Such is a deep insult to gays, many who believe God made them as they are. Christians strip gays of part of their personhood when they say their feelings are chosen.
This is not merely about what Christian theology teaches, which is not necessarily wrong. This is about human emotions and perhaps not knowing why they work differently for two men or women that love each other. What if a gene is discovered that indeed proves same-sex attraction in some? There are only 10,000 gene functions currently known of the 80,000 genes in the human body. The conversation about choice from a Christian standpoint is a valid one but not regarding a gay person's feelings.
There is far more to be discussed and more I could offer of my own opinion, but it isn’t necessary. What I hope to express here is that Christians must avoid risking becoming graceless and unloving for lack of real dialogue and opening their hearts to hear another’s.
Where do you stand?
Communication Barrier for Christians
Gays inflame Christians when they attempt to reinterpret the scriptures to be more condoning of their feelings or behavior.
Christians have 2,000 years of developed teaching and doctrine—and more counting Hebrew tradition—that have already been challenged in numerous ways, from lifestyle to heresy. But there has generally been consensus about what godliness entails based on what God has revealed to his people through his prophets and preachers and, ultimately, through his words, now contained in the Bible.
When some gays and scholars opt for new or amended revelation from God on the matter or say that the scriptures, as have always been understood, are inconclusive or not meaning what they have always meant or do poor study and build arguments by pitting scripture against scripture—this is high offense, often seen as coming from those who have determined to live as they desire and twist God’s arm to bless it.
The insult to Christians is the questioning of their tradition and sacred scriptures, even the “makeover” of a holy God.
Christians would argue that if gays wish to be part of the theological and scriptural discussion—and their insight is welcome—it should be inclusive of a wrestle with biblical, historical, and cultural norms, customs, and definitions and not accomplished with alterations and appendages.
Again, there is much more I could offer here but won’t. What I hope to express is that gays must see that they don’t get to glibly pass over two millennia of solid tradition and teaching.
Now, I’d love to know what you think. I hope you respect the fact that I’ve kept my opinions to a bare minimum. There are many things that could be discussed. I’ve opted to communicate two very thorny barriers between Christians and gays, which I believe expressed is now enough to alter how we dialogue.