Monday, December 10, 2012

[does a conservative belief have to translate into hateful attitudes and behaviours?]

Over the past year the news has had various stories about evangelical pastors with conservative perspectives on same-sex relations who are saying hateful things. Even extreme hateful things like "all gay and lesbian people should be rounded up and put inside an area with an electric fence and left to starve". And there are christians who you don't hear about, who snub their gay colleague or speak badly about their lesbian neighbours, or kick out their gay teenager. Granted, there are many pastors who are loving — but we don't hear much about them on the media.

Perhaps you are a christian who has a conservative or traditional view about homosexuality, yet you don't want to be mean and hateful to other people. Do you have to be? Does having a traditional or conservative view about same-sex relations have to go hand-in-hand with hating gay and lesbian people? Or is it possible to love others and be respectful of differences?

Wendy Gritter discusses this question in "A Study in Contrasts: how those with traditional views can speak publicly about homosexuality." The post offers two specific examples of people with traditional views of marriage: Dr. Richard Mouw who is the President of Fuller Seminary, and Kirk Cameron in an interview with Piers Morgan.  The specific context here is speaking in public about one's views, but the lessons can be applied when speaking and interacting individually as well. Wendy examines the ways in which they communicate and the attitudes which exist behind the words they spoke.

I did not listen to the Kirk Cameron interview, as I've heard enough similar things. But in light of Christian colleges and universities dealing with the question of same-sex relations, I did listen to the first 25 minutes of Dr. Mouw's address to the Fuller community, and while we have different theological perspectives, I respect the attitude of love, humility and generosity he showed as brought out in what he shared about conversations and interactions he has had with those who are part of a sexual minority.

What do you think? Does having a traditional or conservative view on homosexuality oblige a person to be hateful?

How can a person hold certain beliefs and yet act civilly – no, more than that – Christianly toward those who have different beliefs or who have taken a different path in life?

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