by Dan Savage
on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 5:48 PM
I have no beef with evangelical Christians who support full civil equality for gays and lesbians despite believing that gay sex is a sin. Heck, I'll personally mow the lawns of evangelical Christians who refrain from actively persecuting gays and lesbians. I've said that the gay rights movement shouldn't get into arguments about theology and that people have a right to their own beliefs. I frankly don't care if someone thinks I'm going to hell after death and I'm not going to argue with him for the same reason I'm not going to argue with someone who believes that I'm going to the lost continent of Atlantis after dinner. All gays and lesbians want from evangelical Christians is the same deal the Jews and the yoga instructors and the atheists and the divorced and the adulterers and the rich all get: full civil equality despite the going-to-hell business. (And isn't hell punishment enough? Do we have to be persecuted here on earth too? It's almost as if they don't trust God to persecute us after we die. Have a little faith, people!)
I'm what most would consider a fairly conservative Evangelical Christian pastor. And I firmly believe in the right of homosexuals to have every civic right that any other citizen of this nation enjoys. I believe that gays and lesbians should be able to marry, to pass on benefits to their partners, and so on. If they are Americans, then they should enjoy the same rights as every American, regardless of what I think of their lifestyle. But I do believe that homosexual behavior is sinful, and I do believe the Bible when Paul reaffirms the sinful nature of homosexual activity. I believe that some activities are not God-pleasing and yet can still be a "right" in our civic understanding.
...but this evangelical Christian pastor, unlike Andrew Marin, isn't showing up at pride parades in an "I'm Sorry" t-shirt. This pastor isn't actively misrepresenting his position on homosexuality to gays and lesbians at pride festivals. This pastor is not falsely suggesting that he has repented of his past beliefs about gays and lesbians—no one looks at those "I'm Sorry" t-shirts and thinks, "Oh, that poor man feels bad about the tone of his previous statements about homosexuality!"—in the hopes that unsuspecting gays and lesbians will engage with him so he can explain that to them that homosexual lifestyle is a sin.
So perhaps I should amend this statement I made about Andrew "I'm Sorry" Marin...
When evangelicals who want to come to pride parades and want to be welcomed into our lives are ready to admit that the bible got homosexuality wrong—just like it got slavery and shellfish and figs and masturbation and burnt offerings wrong—then we can talk.
Andrew Marin's personal religious beliefs about homosexuality—which are wholly irrelevant to my life—aren't the problem. It's Marin's dishonesty and manipulativeness that infuriate. Half-naked guys would not be jumping off floats in gay pride parades and hugging Marin and his crew if their t-shirts read, "I'm Sorry—You're All Going To Hell, Your Love Is An Abomination, Your 'Activities' Are Not God-Pleasing, But I Suppose I Could've Been Nicer The Last Time I Pointed That Out."