I read yet another article today from a Progressive Christian who was angry at the hate preached from his childhood church’s pulpit. The article was called How my church tried to make me hate Gay people.
 The author decided to write about homophobia for two reasons he said: “first, to demonstrate the falsity of fundamentalist rhetoric about ‘hating the sin and loving the sinner,’ and, second, to shed light on the tools fundamentalists use to instill fear of LGBTQ people in their children.” It was a very well written article and echoes what I’ve heard from many other “Progressive” Christians, or those also who like me and my husband have dropped any association with those beliefs.

The author said: “Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia, drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above.” 
I hate to admit it, but I still have a subconscious fear of cross dressers as being on par with “woman of the night” or worse. Just tonight driving by a manly looking “woman” (?) in gaudy prostitute looking attire, I foolishly commented to my husband Mike that “this is the time they tend to come out”. . .as if like the bats, werewolves, witches and Dracula, these gay, cross dressers only come out to do their wicked deeds at night. It’s sad how deep the programming of your childhood goes.

  As the article put it: “My church badly wanted to pin an image on homosexuality, to label it abnormal and self-destructive. . .” (With a bunch of other self destructive things -it’s a great psychology trick to add being gay to a list of obviously bad things.) “My church, after all, was fixated on the end times and craved evidence of increased moral depravity.” (Unfortunately for them, that evidence is hard to find, as stats tell us quite the opposite is happening worldwide. With the fall of religion comes peace, not depravity.)
It just came down to fear of the unknown that is just human nature. Of course, we didn’t admit to that! As the author put it: “There were all the justifications, the lies that enabled us to pretend we weren’t just scared”:
  1. Gay and lesbian people are sexual predators.
  2. They all have AIDS.
  3. They hate God and want to drag us down to hell.
  4. They have abortions for fun.
  5. They want to spread their “lifestyle.”
  6. They don’t carry out God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

“When I was a fundamentalist kid, I was never afraid . . .My discomfort was more generalized: gay people represented something out of Order. . . I wasn’t afraid of a “gay demon,” but rather of the demons of sexual perversity that only manifested in some as homosexuality. But I could never articulate what I expected would happen to me if such a demon did leap onto my shoulders as I walked past . . .two men kissing. My fear was grounded in emptiness. . .Gay people were impure, out of Order, perverted. But I couldn’t for the life of me say why that belief made me feel so threatened. “Touch not the unclean” defines homophobia for me. It’s a sense of generalized discomfort and disgust with others that was founded on nothing. It’s not rational, so it defies rational explanation. It’s a conditioned emotional response that causes fundamentalists to pull away from “corruption”. . . . 
It’s also a response that makes no sense in Christianity: such an attitude towards publicans, lepers, poor people and Samaritans was exactly what Jesus opposed. And he didn’t oppose those attitudes only to replace them with a sanctimonious missionary attitude that says, ‘I hate the sin but love the sinner so that I might bring him into the fold.’ He genuinely loved, respected, and accepted them as human beings.” For all their frothing over “worldly” perversions, one wonders whether fundamentalist preachers have ever actually read half of what Jesus supposedly preached!

 Interestingly, I see some Christians (admittedly all Fundamental type ones) fear Atheists in the same way they fear gays. Again, Atheism has been put with a long list of evil doers, and stupid behavior, in an attempt to discredit the life and intelligence of the Atheist. (Neither of which have anything to do with whether their lack of belief in gods is validated with even the reasoning of an un-brainwashed child.)

Furthermore, there is a fear that the Atheist might lead you astray and straight into Hell! And justifiably so, because the moment you do open yourself up to an open minded discussion with them, you will see their intelligence and the common sense of their thoughts and likely join them. . .but not in Hell, as you will realize that Hell is just a silly myth. (The key here is “open mindedness”, which only a “progressive” or smart rebel Christian will allow themselves to be. . .because a sincere Christian can find verses that make that open mindedness a lack of faith, and a sin.)

I was recently was sat down with my hubby in a circle of Christians for some insisted upon some “Adult conversation”. I knew what was on their minds, as they all wanted to convert us back to Christianity. . . Not surprisingly though, no one had the nerve to bring it up apparently, and neither my husband or I had a reason to bring it up ourselves. . .so the “adult talk” never happened. It was obvious they had nothing to say, and we were fine with that. We would always be fine with not bringing it up ourselves too, if it weren’t for the many things we feel we just have to speak up on, that feel wrong to us that they do. They don’t have anything “on us” to make us fearful of confrontation, to my knowledge, but if they did, we would be open to hear about it. . . if it was an issue of life, not just beliefs!

Who cares how you believe, if it hasn’t changed you into a better person! My family knows that my character has always been basically the same; caring, helpful, truthful, and even conservative person in most areas. . .whether a believing Christian or not. Whereas, we see other family members and friends getting saved or rededicating their lives to God late in life and not changing at all, at least in any areas that would actually help them have better character. (Just easy outward stuff changed, and they got all preachy saying what a better person they were with Jesus controlling them. . .yeah right!) People just don’t change much deep down I’ve found. Their level of selfishness, generosity, intelligence, strength of will, and just overall character instilled in them from childhood, as well as their personality, will stay for life.

In the past I had this illogical fear of Atheists myself, and I got the shock of a lifetime when I got married to my husband. . .I mentioned before how I met my hubby in Bible school, and how we got separated for 2 1/2 years before getting married. (Read about it here in my post on He said he’d marry his first girlfriend. . .how we met.) Well, when I was with him, he was this patient, soft spoken, “godly”  leader. He knew his Bible better then anyone I knew, and even won big awards for it in highschool days! He  graduated top in his class, and was respected by most everyone as a guy of character and good work ethic, as well as brains. . .(even if some did mockingly call him a “prick”, or “gay” behind his back.) Anyhow I could brag more, but you get the idea.

Then, due almost exclusively to his disappointment in people, as well as some miserable life circumstances at the time, he went searching for reality and truth. He knew he was struggling and couldn’t lead me if he didn’t know where he was going himself, but he didn’t have the nerve to disappoint me. So with some hesitation, he went forward with our wedding. (This story does have a point here. . .)

We then went back to Bible school for him to finish up his music degree, while taking on a youth/music pastor position, and him working two jobs, and me one. (After my green card came in 6 months later then promised.) It was about two years of part time school, and making many 4 hour trips to our ministry for the weekend, that we took some time off to travel to Brazil. I was 7 months pregnant, and a position had opened up for Mike to be a music professor in a Bible school in Brazil when he graduated, so we had our expenses mostly paid to check it out.

That trip was not only completely miserable on me, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time, (called an irritable uterus and horrible roads) but it showed us the secret life of missionaries. . .we came home needy, deflated, and a little lost. Mike continued on in his search for truth, and realized he didn’t fit in with his Bible school anymore. He knew he would have to sign a doctrinal statement to graduate from his Bible school soon, and realized that he couldn’t in a good conscience do that. So using our really poor finances, and my pregnancy issues as the reason, he dropped out of school, we then moved away from Wisconsin, to his family in California. There he started a business with his Dad, doing handyman stuff, and we lived with them for a while until I got back to feeling better.

In the mean time,( to make a long story longer:) my husband finally admitted to having no faith in the God of the Bible, and said he was an Atheist until he could find out what God was the true God. (He was not a true Atheist though IMO, he was just angry and bitter at what he’d been taught wrong, people and circumstances. He had a lot of questions, but saw no good answers at that time.)

Well, thanks to my great judgmental training as a Christian, and a lot of pressure from family, I harshly judged him and looked for fault in everything he did. I pestered and nagged him, I guilt tripped him whenever I could, and I didn’t listen to a thing he tried to tell me. He was constantly studying, while I was constantly preaching what he already knew. (As if I was the one who knew the Bible inside and out, and had a much “better” life!) Not surprisingly, he got depressed and drowned himself in work and sports to get away from me and our miserable baby-who I made miserable with my Christian control methods. . . He told me later that he almost left me, but couldn’t quite bring himself to doing it. ( I believed he was just miserable and depressed because he was trying to live without God.) He knew he wasn’t happy, and didn’t- at the time- have any conclusive evidence against the Bible, and certainly not against the existence of a God! So when out of his stress and half awake state while praying one day, he had an out of body experience, he believed that was his answer. Mainly because the last thing he remembered praying was that God would reveal himself to him if he was truly the God of the Bible. Convenient timing for our marriage, and easy to see how the mind would twist that situation, because he was desperate for any answer, even one his mind made up. So he came to me crying and we were both amazed with God’s provision and in love again. (Knowing nothing of the science behind the Out of body experiences, and how typical it was.)

Soon we were unfairly evicted from our home and job as managers of a Motel, and sent in desperation to Canada to take a position to care for my Grandpa (because our other family we had lived with had just sold their home and were moving to a 55 + community). After selling most of our stuff in 2 weeks, and packing our 2 cars to the gills, we found out that my beloved Grandpa had died, and my paid position had now dried up.

Having nowhere to go, my parents told me to come anyhow and house sit for a short time, or until we had something come up. In that short time, because of my husband’s trusting nature, our new car (Almost all of our money had foolishly just been sunk in that car.) and my Greencard in it was stolen. That led to a 9 month nightmare of fixing up an old RV to legally stay camped out together in the winter with a baby, on church property, (In trade for services) and Mike daily crossing the border to get a lousy fast food job. Then trading in our last descent car to buy a cheap van and trailer to haul our stuff across country in, to cross the border when we got approved of another greencard at a long awaited appointment. (Which we had the van die before getting there, making us in debt, and almost late for the appointment that we found out later was totally unnecessary to have to drive to.) It was ok though, because we believed that “God was testing us”! We were most importantly though, happily united, and searching together for the “perfect” church. . . (Another long story.)

Anyhow, the moral of the story to me was this: money and security doesn’t bring happiness in a marriage where you are judging, instead of loving and accepting. The moment I stopped it though, all of the security and money dropped away, but we were strangely happy with just love and acceptance! I learned my lesson, and I vowed I would never make his or my life so miserable again by judging him.

And you know what? He never actually changed to be this horrible, Atheist I presumed he would, or even justified that he had been, in his depression. He was the same great guy! I just made him really sad and even mad at times because of how I treated him.  I realized later, that I see more marriage problems started and continued by the religious, preachy, judgmental wife (or husband, rarely)! Well, I learned my lesson for the next time he turned Atheist for real on me. . .and we never had anything but positive changes in our marriage that time. And I listened to him too. . .

 So my conclusion on the matter is this: if we can just enjoy people based on the similarities we have in character and personality (and/or life experience, hobbies and interests) and not focus so much on judging the differences in beliefs we have, I think we will not only have no fear of the differences, but as communication opens up, we will also have more understanding, love and acceptance as well. . . Actually, acceptance is necessary for true love in my book.