In the endless timesink that is Youtube, I tend to stick to four particular subjects: video games, LGBT, religion, and politics. Four things it’s a seriously bad idea to talk about in person, with the last three often having an overlap. A video recently popped up in my suggestions sidebar, with the title “Can You Be A Gay Christian?”
I didn’t bother to watch, so I could consider the question on its own merit without my thought process coloured by someone else’s input, but I thought on it a while, and came to the following conclusion:
“What a delightfully stupid question!”
But, of course, argument by dismissal is no argument at all, so I decided to address it in full.
The Factual Response
First, let’s take a hard look at what the question means, the concepts involved, and definitions.
“Can you be a gay Christian?”
Let’s identify our variables.
“Can you be a(n) [x] [y]?”
Y is a noun, and x is an adjective, or a noun used as such. For the answer to a “can you be X and Y” question to be ‘no’, X and Y have to be mutually exclusive.
For two things to be mutually exclusive, the absence of one must be written into the other: it’s impossible to be both at the same time because being X removes all possibility of being Y, or vice versa. A coin landing heads or tails are mutually exclusive outcomes – they cannot co-exist. To give a few examples:
“Can you be a misogynistic feminist?”
Misogyny is a general hatred of women for no reason beyond their gender. Feminism is the belief that women should be equal to men. These terms cancel each other out. So, no. Ergo, ‘misogynist’ and ‘feminist’ are mutually exclusive terms.
“Can you be a law-abiding thief?”
Considering theft is against the law, no. Abiding to the law entails you don’t steal, and breaking a law is written into the premise of stealing. You may not break all laws, but you are not abiding to them.
On the other hand, here’s an example of two terms that, to some, go hand in hand but aren’t mutually exclusive:
“Can you be an irrational atheist?”
Yes. Although there’s usually a correlation between the two, being rational doesn’t instantly equate being an atheist / vice versa, and being an atheist doesn’t remove the possibility of being irrational. Atheism is a pretty rational belief but one can arrive at it through irrational means (an emotional response, or just wanting to be ‘rebellious’ and ‘hip’ and ‘edgy’) and still be irrational in their other ideas. ‘Irrational’ and ‘atheist’ are not mutually exclusive terms.
Hopefully now you have an idea of what ‘mutually exclusive’ means. If not, go to Wikipedia. Unless you’re one of ‘those types’ who believes Wikipedia has a liberal bias. Then you can go to google. With that out of the way, let’s return to our original question. To determine if you can or can’t be a gay Christian, you have to break it down and see if the terms ‘gay’ and ‘Christian’ are mutually exclusive.
First, let’s take ‘gay’. Gay means ‘happy’ or describes a state of carefree abando-oh? Pardon? Oh, you mean that gay, as in homosexual. Funny how so many words relating to that had their meaning changed from something else. I was called a faggot yesterday, wasn’t sure if I was referred to as a homosexual, a piece of meat, or a bundle of sticks. Queer, too, that word’s changed. I’m pretty sure marriage is next on the list of words to be given an up-to-date meaning.
But I digress. Anyway, homosexual. Being homosexual broadly means someone who is sexually (does not have to mean romantically) attracted to a person of the same sex.
One down, one to go. Now for ‘Christian’. A Christian is a person who believes the teaching that Jesus Christ is the alleged Messiah who died for our sins and respawned three days later (damn lag), both God and the son of God (I’m quite sure Freud would have something to say about that). That’s the common factor across all denominations. There are many other tenets, most of them ‘borrowed’ from Judaism and varying throughout denominations, but the Jesus thing is the defining factor.
On the one hand, having faith that a prophet with a badass beard is the saviour. On the other, getting a bit hot under the collar when thinking about someone’s dangly bits that are similar to one’s own dangly bits. I see no conflict here. So, yes, if we deal in definitions, it’s easily possible to be a gay Christian.
But It’s a Sin!
Of course, I’m aware that the kind of people who won’t agree with this are those who aren’t fond of dealing with things like hard facts. It’s about interpretation and principle and all that guff (except for Genesis and hating the gays, of course). According to these people, you can’t be a gay Christian because homosexuality is a sin.
Again: mutual exclusivity. Sinning doesn’t exclude someone from having a particular belief. That’s why there exists the sacrament of confession (it’s not so priests could find out what everyone did, dole out public shaming and rat people out to the Inquisition, no siree). However, let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that sin excludes someone from being a Christian. Now sub in ‘gay’ for any sin of your choosing and apply some grammatical fixes…
“Can you be a stealing Christian?”
“Can you be a greedy Christian?”
“Can you be a Christian who eats meat on a Friday?”
“Can you be a murdering Christian?”
“Can you be a Christian who has premarital sex?”
“Can you be a rare-steak-eating Christian?”
“Can you be a Christian and plant two crops in the same field?”
“Can you work weekends and be a Christian?”
“Can you be a rich Christian?”
“Can you have a crucifix, statue or painting of the Sacred Heart in your house and be a Christian?”
“Can you be an anti-slavery Christian?”
“Can you be a polyester-wearing Christian?”
All these are things condemned by the Bible, many of them with that ‘stoning to death’ business as the penalty…but why is it that being gay is singled out?
But Those Laws Don’t Matter!
When criticising politicised religion and homophobia, there’s always a temptation to bring up some of the crazier stuff in Leviticus as I did above (that guy seriously needed a hug and some Prozac. Grumpy old bollocks). However, it’s true that Jesus, in one book, said that ritualistic ‘abominations’ no longer applied (in another, mind you, he says not one jot of the old laws is to be ignored until the alleged Revelation, GG biographers) whereas the moral ones did.
Aside from the fact that I’m left scratching my head as to why an omniscient, omnipotent, infallible God would retcon his own laws (regardless of developing a second personality between Testaments, he was pretty awesome in the Old Testament), couldn’t the guy have been a bit clearer? What’s ritual and what’s moral? What about ejaculating anywhere outside a womb, something God hated so much that the first time he saw it he personally came down to smack Onan six ways from the Sabbath for doing (however, banging your dead brother’s wife is a-ok)? Working on the Sabbath sounds like a ritualistic guideline, but the Ten Commandments are held in high regard as the general quick-and-easy version of God’s law (even though the second commandment is broken on a daily basis). What about not allowing women to talk in Church? Are all the very specific slavery guidelines moral without commenting on slavery itself?
It’s the same as what’s going on today. Doctrines are viewed differently when some of them are shown to be, put bluntly, bullshit. Even some of the Ten Commandments are a little iffy, before being translated, edited, and generally dicked around with. There are many, many different denominations of Christians – Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Mormons, Calvinists, Methodists, Church of England (all because Henry needed a few more wives, I might add), and even then there’s subsets like Redemptorists and Franciscans. All of them have different doctrines and practices.
Many denominations, such as Catholics, don’t view the beer, sex and meat hang-ups with the same attitude as a few decades ago. One original tenet of Protestantism was that faith alone was all you needed to get into heaven, good works not necessary (I guess living breathing hate crimes like Michele Bachmann should consider converting then). Mormons need to wear magic underpants when being ordained and despise caffeine and most hot drinks (a caffeinated hot drink must be Satan’s piss), so not only can you never have a beer with Mitt Romney, you can’t have a coffee with him either. Calvinism is pretty much summarised as ‘no fun allowed, ever.’ The jury is still out on if fucking altar boys is God’s work or not.
So what’s to say your splinter group has the ‘right’ set of tenets? Or is God nice enough to go “Ah, feck it, sure I’ll let all ye in”? Is it not strange how God always hates gays but doesn’t really mind any more about diets and people actually enjoying sex or – perish the thought – having it on a Friday, and naked at that? Why have all the priests suddenly forgotten to stone my neighbour to death for mowing his lawn on the Sabbath and giving in to idolatry with that Jesus statue on his mantelpiece? Maybe the Greeks were right all along and we’re rocketing to Hades. Ooooh, no, dibs on Vikings! Valhalla sounds neat!
But It’s a Special Kind of Sin!
The difference, well, at least according to the fundies, is the ‘homosexual lifestyle’. Being gay is a ‘different’ sin because of the other things it entails. From my own experience this involves reading books, browsing tvtropes, informed consent, watching TEDtalks and Big Think, waiting in lines to buy chocolate bars, getting a bit scared when I have to drive around a roundabout, playing video games, walking my dog, and other insidious activities aimed at destroying western civilisation as we know it. I do struggle to find that fifteen minute time slot every day dedicated to donning the pink jackboots, plotting world domination and preparing to install an atheist communist Islamist Marxist Nazi Jewish Satanist fascist totalitarian New World Order. With fabulous theatre productions.
Back on point, the ‘sin’ of being gay is different because in the words of some people, gays don’t accept that it is a sin whereas murderers and rapists do and are repentant (if you’re aware of the precise year in which sociopaths stopped existing, please fill me in). This is aside from the pseudo-fact that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’ (it isn’t. See: animal kingdom, reality) or the non-fact that it is ‘a choice’ (it isn’t. See: gay social conservatives, gays raised in hardcore Christian areas, free speech, common sense). Huh. Guess we need to have a check of that Bible again…oh? What’s this? Prohibiting women from talking in Church? Wow, take a step back Shirley Phelps-Roper, you’re damning Fred’s soul to hell with your flapping lips.
And what of this? A quote attributed to Jesus? I’d think this would be pretty important, considering the faith is named after him and all. Well, would you look at that. Jesus was against public prayer. “Do not pray in public as the hypocrites do, but when thou prayest, enter into thine closet” (snicker…’closet’). My, oh my. Tim Tebow and every churchgoer ever, you’re crapping all over Christ. Abandon your sinful unrepentant lifestyle!
Oooooh, here’s a juicy one, Jesus again. A rich man has less chance of passing into heaven than “A camel passing through the eye of a needle”. I’m not an expert on physics, but that’s probably pretty fucking hard. I guess that excludes televangelists, social conservative politicians pushing ‘family values’ and a massive chunk of religious hierarchies from the domain of being called ‘Christian’. Nobody thinks of being rich as a ‘sin’, but I wouldn’t argue with Christ on Christian doctrine. I think he’s pretty knowledgeable on that.
But I’m Still Right!
Quite frankly, I wonder why I bothered writing this. Idiot fundies will continue to be idiot fundies. But hey, if I make one person smile today, I’ve done my job. It was quite entertaining demolishing this ridiculous question on so many levels.
I’m not a Christian, but there are gay ones out there, and for one thing beyond their control, they get more flak from peers than those who make a great many conscious choices that the big guy in the sky would frown on every single day, but it’s okay because they like the opposite sex. To try and exclude them from that circle (provided you’re not trying to push said circle on lawmakers) is sickening, even to a secular deist like me. I must have missed the memo that conferred the right to take away someone’s spirituality and dictate doctrine to them just because you put your hee-hee in a hoo-haa and they don’t.
But God Wrote The Bible Because the Bible Says He Did It And The Bible’s Infallible Because God Wrote The Bible Because The Bible Says He Did It And The Bible’s Infallible Because God Wrote…
I think I’m done here.