Hello There, Pro-LGBT Christian Person. Why Can’t You Be More Like Me?
Adam Lee at Daylight Atheism has a message for Pro-Gay Christians:
Wouldn’t it be such a relief to just be, to live your life honestly and without apology, without all this worry about bigotry and rejection? You can. All you have to do is walk away from this rigid, cruel and hidebound religion, give up these beliefs that have caused such enormous guilt, pain and suffering to LGBT people throughout the ages, and come join the rest of us outside, in the sunlight and freedom of the secular community. Your life could be so much easier, so much happier. What’s holding you back?
Adam, did you just walk out of a tie-dye time machine? It’s not 1975 anymore. There are actually a good number of LGBT affirming churches. I’m not Christian, but I’ve known about the following directories for a while now:
Besides the increasing availability of queer affirming churches, many people can’t turn off their belief in a god at will. Their spirituality is deeply a part of who they are and how they experience the world. Religion and spirituality serve as foundational sources of culture, community, and identity for many people. Spirituality is a fundamental aspect of being, regardless of whether some people view theists’ beliefs and their religion as being in error. It’s both unrealistic and lacking in empathy to expect that pro-LGBT Christians can spontaneously abandon their religion, traditions, identity, and social spaces just because you think it is expedient to do so.
We also need to approach this as a matter of equal access, too. Why should we LGBT people be forced to give up on our spirituality and our associated social networks when cishet people can take it for granted that they can walk into any church and not have their sexual orientation or gender identity held against them? Speaking as a queer person, I want to see other LGBT people have access to the same institutions and spaces as their cishet peers. Regardless of whether we’re talking about the military, places of employment, congress, wedding cake bakeries, or the church, it pisses me off to see the unfair levels of privilege cishet people wield in accessing most social spaces and institutions while the rest of us have to settle for less… way less. Look, I’m not enamored with Christianity. I certainly have my qualms with Abrahamic religions but I think I’d be a poorer friend and ally to Christian LGBT people in my life if I didn’t support them in their right to access and reform those institutions.
Furthermore, calling for pro-LGBT cishet people to leave Christian institutions means that you are also calling for the bigoted population in those institutions to become even more concentrated. The outcome of this demographic shift will reduce the chance for these institutions to be reformed for the better. Consequently, those LGBT people who do remain, especially the LGBT children growing up in those faith traditions, will face increasingly concentrated levels of bigotry in their spiritual spaces. Calling for a mass exodus of pro-LGBT people from religious institutions can not be separated from the terrible consequences of that exodus. You are effectively calling for the cessation of any reform of those institutions. You are calling for the abandonment of those LGBT people who remain. If you do that, you aren’t being a ally to queer Christians. You are being quite the opposite. And given that so many queer people are still involved in religious institutions, you are being a terrible ally to LGBT in general.
On a personal note, I have a friend who is a Methodist pastor and she’s a lesbian. I know how important Christianity, theism, and the church is to her and I want to honor that. I’d be a rotten friend if I said, “The Methodist denomination still hasn’t fully accepted LGBT people. So why don’t you just give up on the Christian god, your traditions, and your community and become more like me?” That’s pretty horrible and it reeks of a kind of narcissism. And if I can’t do that to a friend—someone who I care about very much—why should I do the same to a stranger? Because I feel less empathy for them? I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t make sense.
Again and again, I find that the antitheist variant of atheism fails at advocating for social justice in practical, caring, empathetic ways. It privileges the abolition of theism and religion above all other considerations and causes. In doing so, these efforts often come at the expense of resolving intersecting social justice issues.
Mr. Lee, go back to the drawing board and rethink your approach because the one you’re suggesting doesn’t work well. It’s also a terrible path of action to suggest if you actually care about being an ally to LGBT people.