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Q & R: 5 Questions on hostility towards homosexuals

Here are the Questions, with Responses inserted:

I'm a heterosexual man who is writing a paper on the effects/reasons for hatred toward homosexuals and I was wondering if I could get a few more answers to the major questions that I've been having.

1. Why do heterosexuals not understand that being homosexual is about as much as a choice as being heterosexual?

Two quick thoughts. First, many heterosexual Christians have been taught everything they know about homosexuality by other heterosexual Christians. This is how all prejudices spread. People only listen to a small range of voices, often who have limited data to offer ... and they disqualify the voices who would challenge their assumptions.

Second, many conservative Christians aren't really arguing about homosexuality. They're arguing about a view of biblical authority on which nearly everything they say and do depends. They can't imagine their faith surviving if they lost their current view of biblical authority, so they find themselves sometimes saying and doing things that really bother their consciences ... but they feel they must, for the sake of "groupishness" (which I explore in my new book on Christian identity in a multi-faith world).

2. Why do the baptists (such as myself) or other religions only pick out the negative verses about homosexuality as aposed to the ones like the golden rule?

Again, people are taught how to use the Bible in a certain way, based on certain assumptions - and geared toward certain vested interests. Many of us are trying to demonstrate another way of interpreting and applying the Bible that will steer us away from the abuses of the past and present.

3. How can I help put discrimination toward homosexuals to an end?

Get to know some gay people so you can advocate for them as individual human beings. When people say prejudicial things against gay people, you can say, "My friend Mary isn't like that" or "My friend Jack isn't like that," or whatever. At some point, you may choose to disassociate from groups that discriminate against gay people.

It's important to graciously speak up when unkind and/or untrue things are said, or when opinions are stated as fact (as they often are). In my talks on my recent book (which is about inter-religious hostility - but much of it applies in this situation as well), I recommend we learn to say, "Wow, I see that differently!" Not arguing, not fighting, just having the courage to speak up and differ graciously - and suffering the consequences graciously too.

4. Can I believe that the behavior is a sin but still be an activist for the person?

Yes. This is the position I was taught many years ago. But I think it is an inherently unstable position over time. It's a step in the right direction, but I think over time, people will move beyond it.

I know thats kind of a lot but if you can give me anything that would be truly appriciated.

Glad to be of help in any way I can. Thanks for caring. Those of us with close friends and family members who are gay are deeply grateful for people like you who are trying to reduce hostility against our friends and relations.