Tuesday, December 06, 2011


This cartoon reminds me of that famous line from Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Aside from issues of right and wrong, do we hear what we are saying? Do we understand why it is reasonable for such statements to be perceived as anti-gay?


  1. Rob,

    Okay, you got me with this one. With the previous ones, I found them a nice reminder to think about what we are doing and how we communicate and welcome others. This one got a much stronger response from me and I was trying to figure out why. Perhaps it is a mix of:
    > Are you saying we can't have or hold to a principle?
    > Is this any different than saying "You can take anything that you want from the store... but only if you pay for it! That is discriminatory against money-challenged people!". No, it isn't the same, but just how different is it?
    > Is the approach to "love the sinner but hate the sin" a valid one or not?

    Perhaps my questions are more around is your concern more about the belief (sex outside of heterosexual marriage is wrong) or is it the communication of that belief (we're right, you're not) that is the concern?

    Maybe I'm just yearning to hear what your intentions were and how they were to be understood. Thoughts?


  2. Alex:

    Thanks for your questions. Primarily, this cartoon is continuing the exploration of what it means to say "we're not anti-gay" and how such a statement is perceived against the background of other things a person or a church says or does. Of course, it touches on many other issues as well, and your questions have brought out some of these.

    For the record, I do believe that we can have and hold to a principle. But I would also ask, "do we hold to our principles in love?" and "are we open to the possibility that we might be wrong?"

    I don't like the phrase "love the sinner and hate the sin." In many cases, the person using this phrase views the other person as the sinner and themselves as somehow not (or at least, as not as much of a sinner), doesn't really love the person the way Jesus loves, and has decided that certain sins should be focused on while ignoring many sins of injustice, greed, self-righteousness, etc.

  3. Rob,
    So, can you make a recommendation on how the comments in the comic could be improved (whether it is in respect to homosexuality or any other topic), given that a stand is taken? Perhaps the idea should be that we should focus first and foremost on pointing people to Jesus, rather than on specific 'issues'. But there are times we are asked point-blank about a stand on an issue, or there are people that are seriously looking for help and guidance on a topic.

    One response might be to say always "take it to the Lord" for guidance. Always good. Yet there are times that the Bible gives clear guidance on what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. You mention some of those in your comments. Paul's letters are full of what some have called very judgemental language, as is much of the Old Testament.... There must be something to that. But, as you say, how to balance that without getting to the sins of injustice and self-righteousness?


  4. There is a guy that is an accomplished bank robber, and yet also attends church. He claims that the banks rob everyone else, so the money doesn't really belong to the banks anyway. One day he goes to pastor and says:
    Guy: "Can you please pray for me and ask for God's blessing for me? I'm going to rob the local bank around the corner tomorrow."
    Pastor: "Um, no, I think that robbing others is wrong."
    Guy: "Oh, so now you think I'm evil. I've donated money to the church, I pray. I'm a Christian just like everyone else here. Except today you are all high-and-mighty and telling me I don't belong. Hippocrite. Who made you the judge an jury?"


    Sometimes I feel that unless I completely agree with someone else and the way they want to view the world/situation/topic, that I am then labelled as exclusive and judgemental. Perhaps that's just what some want me to believe - guilt is a powerful tool/weapon. Am I guilty just because I don't agree completely with someone? Is there a better way to state the case without leading to intolerance?


  5. Hi Anonymous Alex:

    First, I would suggest not saying "we're not anti-gay" in the same conversation in which other beliefs or statements indicate that one is anti-gay. This does hinge on how one understands "anti-gay", and a difficulty here is that the word gay can be used to refer to orientation, behaviour, and so on. Compare that with the clarity (and inconsistency) of saying, "we're not anti-robbery" and "we will not pray for your bank robbery to be a success because we think it's wrong."

    If asked point-blank what my stance is on an issue, it may be necessary to clarify what exactly they are asking. For example, "What do you think about homosexuality?" is a vague question, and I would want to know what the person is really asking about. On the other hand, "What do you think about the legalization of same-sex marriage?" is quite clear. Then I would answer the question respectfully and in a way that owns it.

    Matters like gender and sexuality can be much harder to have differences about while still being respectful and caring about the other person, compared to more day-to-day matters like food preferences and political views (at least if you're north of the border!). And this difficulty can be amplified if it happens in the context of a church.

    You mention the clear guidance the Bible gives at times. This is one of those times when the Bible seems to give very clear guidance on the topic of homosexuality... until one finds out that there are many committed Christians (lgbt or not) who believe that the same verses clearly mean different things than we have been taught and therefore do not apply to gay and lesbian people today. And then some people have a dilemma, and feel they need to label the other group as "unfaithful to scripture" or "deluded by the world" or whatever else.

    In regard to living together with significantly diverse perspectives, I have found Wendy Gritter's posts about "disputable matters" very helpful. First of ten posts.

    For a real-life example of a church which is carrying this out, see A Third Way. Many individuals have posted comments on these two blosg -- a great learning experience!

  6. I tried to respond to this a couple of times, but had some iPad failures. Needless to say, I will keep trying.

    It was an interesting read of 'disputable matters'. I managed the first but not the rest. One comment was interesting:

    these (conservative) churches typically do not consider those who are in covenanted same-sex unions to be Christians.

    I'm not quite sure what is a "covenanted same-sex union" (basically, what exactly is a "covenanted union" - same-sex or otherwise) but the attitude in churches I know is more that the people certainly can be Christian, but that homosexual behaviour is not in line with God's standard. Just as being angry with my brother is not. It doesn't disqualify anyone, but rather the question is can that behaviour be 'blessed' as good. If it can't, does that exclude the person? Does the person feel excluded because their pet behaviour isn't considered good? Where does that leave the church community and where does that leave the person that feels excluded?