A secular gay’s thoughts on Christianity
Because I am a gay rights activist, and because I am gay, people often assume I am an atheist. If I am arguing with a Christian over gay rights, they will oftentimes casually refer to me as a “non-believer” before it is ever established what I do or do not believe. And I don’t usually bother to correct them either.
Am I a non-believer? Well, sure. Whatever that means. I think we’re all non-believers to some extent. The number of gods that Christians deny is just one god shy of the number of gods I personally deny. I wouldn’t say I’m an atheist either, though. My beliefs on cosmogony are entirely my own and I’ll just leave it at that.
But when arguing with Christians or critiquing religion, the most common thing I run into is “but we’re not all like that” or “why are you bashing my beliefs?”
I think people have confused my willingness to discuss religion, and sometimes hold it accountable, with an outright hatred or disdain for religion.
I am from the Bible Belt, so outright hatred or disdain would certainly be the easy route for me to go, but I want to be clear - I accept the religious beliefs of others. I acknowledge their right to hold those beliefs. I will not discriminate against you for whatever religious beliefs you choose to hold.
But now I must ask just what it is you want from me as a secularist.
If you’re asking me to recognize that not all Christians are close-minded bigots, then that’s fine. I can agree with you there. I absolutely recognize that not all Christians are close-minded bigots. I have Christian family members and friends of many denominations who are very loving and accepting. Not all Christians are straight. Not all Christians are conservative. Not all Christians fit the stereotype. I get that.
But if you are asking me to turn a blind eye to the history of violence and oppression that Christianity has been a part of, if you are asking me to ignore the modern church’s role in the suppression of gay rights, and if you are asking that I accept the platitude “but those people aren’t real Christians” and just carry on, then I’m afraid you’re going to leave empty handed.
They are real Christians all right. No less imaginary than you. How do I know they are real? I can almost literally feel the weight of their beliefs on my shoulders. The beliefs that keep me from acceptance, from freedom, and from equality. No matter where those beliefs come from, be it fear or hatred or ignorance, they are still dogmatic in nature. And dogma and religion go hand in hand.
“But that’s not my God! My God is a loving God!”
Let me tell you something - there are as many gods as there are people who believe in one. From the person who believes in Vishnu to the person who believes in Yahweh there is a world of difference. But even between two believers who attend the same church in a small farming town which has had the same pastor for over twenty years, there is also a world of difference.
The way you interact with your god, speak with your god, and make peace with your god is truly unique and entirely your own. That is your spirituality, and I think it is valid, and I think it’s great that you have that. I would never try to take that away from you.
That is, unless the private business of your spirituality interferes with my private business and autonomy as a citizen.
Between the Christian who privately believes gay people are going to hell but also believes in the separation of church and state and the Christian who privately believes that god loves gay people but also believes Christianity should have more influence over national law, I would rather have the former. A hundred times the former. It doesn’t mean we’d be friends or hang out over coffee, and if they brought up that view as a means to put someone down, then yeah we’d fight about it. But I’d rather have the anti-gay person who recognizes my right to live secularly than the pro-gay person who wants to inject their religion into the state.
Because maybe you’re “pro-gay” but also “pro-life.” In which case, you trying to influence national law with your religion is good for me but very bad for someone else’s autonomy. The point is this: your religion has no place infringing upon or controlling the lives of those who do not subscribe to it.
All I ask is that you make your religion your private business and don’t impede on my own civil rights or my pursuit of happiness. Period.
I want my personal life and my personal choices as far away from your Bible as I can possibly make it. I mean no offense by that. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I have absolutely no desire to live my life in accordance to your holy book. Even if the Bible said nothing about homosexuality, and several scholars have come forth to say that we have misunderstood what it says on that subject, I still wouldn’t want anything to do with it. The Bible could be 2,000 pages of the evils of homosexuality for all I care.
And any arguments you have against the legalization of gay marriage that are based on your Bible are automatically void. Atheists get married. Non-Christians get married. I will simply not hear it.
I am not a Christian. I do not want to be. Your religion should hold no power over me in a secular society. My sexuality is not something I should have to reconcile with your worldview.
I will not pretend religion didn’t aid in violence and oppression, as evidenced by my ancestors in native Mexico, nor will I pretend like the majority of mainstream Christianity isn’t suppressing LGBT rights in this country.
I am not saying any of those things are personally your fault as a Christian. I am not saying your particular branch of Christianity takes part in it. I am not saying that you and I can’t hang out and play video games and get along just swimmingly because you are a Christian and I am gay.
I am just trying to point out the obvious.
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