These days, every Christian who is “against homosexuality” (whatever in the name of Monstro’s blowhole that actually means) presents the same argument. That argument is … well, this, taken directly from an email sent me this morning:
Would you support a serial adulterer who loves his wife, but is just attracted to other women because that’s who he is and how he was born? How about an alcoholic who just can’t help himself? Would you support him as he leaves his wife for alcohol? A glutton? A man of extreme pride? Why does homosexuality get a pass, and not any other sin? A person with homosexual desires who resists temptation is exactly the same as a married man who resists temptation to carry on affairs with other women — which is to say, a human being battling the temptation to sin. The most compassionate thing that we could tell someone struggling with homosexuality (or any other sin for that matter) is to keep resisting temptation. Keep battling. Don’t give in. This is your badge as a Christian, that you fight temptation.
By “these days,” I mean that the typical Christian argument against homosexuality has changed. It used to be, “Gays are really only messed-up straight people. They should let Jesus make them straight, so that they can stop acting all gay and not go to hell.”
Nowadays, the Christian refrain isn’t, “Stop being gay.” Now it’s “Stop acting gay.” They’ve given up trying to argue that gays can change their sexual orientation: the complete failure of Christian Fix-a-Gay and Homo No’ Mo! programs — not to mention a universe of anecdotal and empirical evidence — have left them little choice in that.
So they’ve changed their approach. Now their argument is that a homosexual struggling against the temptation to act homosexual is no different from anyone else struggling to resist a sinful temptation.
Christians love this new argument. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it ten thousand times. We all have. You whisper “gay” into the ear of a sleeping Christian, and there’s an excellent chance they’ll just start saying it in their sleep. “Just like any other sinful temptation. We’re all sinners. Must resist.”
And putting your brain to sleep before you say that is the very best way to say it, too. Because it could only make sense to a brain-dead person. It’s just too stupid for words.
But lemme try to find some words anyway.
Virtually all sins share a crucial, defining, common quality. Because that quality, which is present in every other imaginable sin, is utterly missing from being or acting gay, insisting on putting homosexuality into the same category as every other sin — or in the category of sin at all — is like gluing wings on a pig, and insisting the result belongs in the category of “bird.” It doesn’t. It can’t. It won’t. Ever.
Here is that Big Difference between homosexuality and all those activities generally understood to be “sinful”: There is no sin I can commit that, by virtue of committing it, renders me incapable of loving or being loved. I can commit murder. I can steal. I can rob. I can rape. I can drink myself to death. I can do any terrible thing at all — and no one would ever claim that intrinsic to the condition that gave rise to my doing that terrible thing is that I am, by nature, simply incapable of giving or receiving love.
No one tells the chronic drinker, or glutton, or adulterer, or any other kind of sinner, to stop experiencing love. Yet that’s exactly what so many Christians are insisting that gay people do.
When you tell a gay person to “resist” being gay, what you are really telling them — what you really mean — is for them to be celibate.
What you are truly and actually saying is that you want them to condemn themselves to a life devoid of the kind of enduring, romantic, partner-to-partner love that all people, Christians included, understand as just about the best part of being alive.
Be alone, you’re demanding. Live alone. Don’t hold anyone’s hand. Don’t snuggle on your couch with anyone. Don’t cuddle up with anyone at night before you fall asleep. Don’t have anyone to chat with over coffee in the morning.
Do not bind your life to that of another. Live your whole life without knowing that joy, that sharing, that peace.
Just say “no” to love.
Be alone. Live alone. Die alone.
The “sinful temptation” that Christians are forever urging LGBT people to resist is love.
Being, of course, the one thing Jesus was most clear about wanting his followers to extend to others.