Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Christians, And Homophobia, And Solutions

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush writes: Christians Are a Cause of LGBT Oppression So We Have to Be a Part of the Liberation! And it's great when anyone stands up for the human rights of any oppressed group. It's good when anyone speaks up against the homophobic policies of Uganda and Kansas and Russia and Nigeria, as Raushenbush is doing. He even admits that Christians are involved with the homophobia, which is almost enough to make you fall down in shock, a leading "progressive" Christian admitting such a link.

The thing is, Raushenbush doesn't trace the origins of this Christian homophobia back for more than a few years, when the plain fact is that until a few decades ago, homophobia was the UNANIMOUS official policy of ALL Christian groups. One reader actually responded to this story by bragging about how his Christian group, the Unitarians, had been pro-gay for "an especially long time." All the way back to 1970! Wowser. Around 1900 years of homophobia, and then, for the last 40-odd years, some Christians have begun to roll back their hostility to LGBT's in certain respects. Sorry, Unitarians, but once again, jazz musicians and gangsters have trounced you in the tolerance race, having accepted gays for decades before any Christians did.

As long as well-meaning, pro-rights Christians continue to deny that their religion was 100% homophobic in its official statements for around 97% of its existence, I don't see how they can expect their present tolerance to be anything more than a Band-Aid compared to the deep wound of the full extent of Christian homophobia. The plain fact is that the pre-Christian Roman Empire, as well as many other cultures taken over by Christianity, completely lacked homophobia as we know it.

But Christians never have been so much with the facts, have they. Well -- except for those of us who have become ex-Christian atheists. Raushenbush makes no mention whatsoever of the homophobia which characterized the vast majority of Christian history. Instead, he and the other pro-LGBT-rights Christians accuse the homophobic Christians of not being true Christians, of misinterpreting the Bible and thoroughly missing Jesus' message. Exactly the same things of which the homophobic Christians accuse them. Exactly as many, perhaps most Christians have always denounced other Christians. Some of the pro-rights Christians declare that the homophobes are not really Christians; conversely, some pro-rights Christians say that they are not Christians, but rather followers of Christ. "Followers of Christ," of course, is precisely what the term "Christians" means.

It's all just so very depressingly stupid. The ignorance of certain statements is just appalling -- and I'm talking about the pro-rights Christians, who are by far the more intelligent of the two Christian groups in conflict here. The utter lack of historical knowledge. One reader, a pro-rights guy, one of the good guys, claimed that before 1971, no-one ever referred to him- or herself as a Christian. I'm not making that up. And furthermore, that comment was posted for days before anyone thought to challenge it. Well -- unless the Huffingtom Post didn't publish any of the replies challenging it. (Surprisingly, they published my reply. I don't expect an intelligent answer, but at least someone is on record as saying something to the effect of, "WTF?! You don't realize that people called themselves Christians before 1971?!") The majority of the comments on Raushenbush' story and stories like it are from pro-rights Christians and homophobic Christians arguing over WWJD? -- What Would Jesus Do? -- and what did Jesus mean? and how are we to interpret this or that Bible verse. And very little discussion of what Christians have actually tended to do over the course of the past 2000 years. Well, again -- perhaps the majority of people who are not homophobic and who have looked into the history of Christianity are in fact no longer Christians. If they had, how could they still want to belong to such an outfit? And by looking into the history of Christianity, I mean looking at primary sources, and not relying solely on the piping-hot ahistorical bullshit served up in the sermons they hear and in the writing of popular "progressive" Christian theologians, in which they hear that Christians of earlier eras were basically identical to 21st-century progressives.

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