Sometimes I forget that the world is still half-filled with homophobes. It seems so antiquated at this point, like rotary phones.
But then every once in a while, a photo comes across my Facebook feed. It’s a mugshot of some dude who got beat up, and there’s a caption that reads “Your face when you try to use the same bathroom as my daughter.”
That’s when I remember that we are still a country full of scared, simple-minded rubes who blindly follow the man who shouts the loudest. I don’t surround myself with these people so it’s easy to forget how many of them there are. But I know many of you aren’t as fortunate. So today I thought I’d pass on a couple of “talking points” for you to keep in your back pocket when Drunk Uncle goes off on one of his rants.
You can start with this quick story. Back in the ‘70s there was this thing called Exodus International. (I’d link to their official site but they closed up shop three years ago this June.) It was an organization created to help gay men re-orient their same-sex attraction through an exceedingly controversial and spiritually violent practice called Reparative Therapy. The process, also known as Conversion Therapy, has since been discredited by every major medical association.
One of the founders of Exodus International is a man named Michael Bussee. Bussee grew up hating his gay feelings and did everything he could to “fix” himself. In 1976, he set up a ministry in an Anaheim strip mall and began holding conferences with other like-minded, confused, ashamed gay men. One of the men who did a great deal to help Exodus get rolling was named Gary Cooper (not that one). Bussee and Cooper’s work helped grow Exodus into a nationwide organization. But something else happened as the two men worked so closely over the years.
They fell in love.
They kept it private for years, but in 1979 they divorced their wives, held a small commitment ceremony, and spent the rest of their lives together (Cooper died in 1991) fighting against Exodus and any other organization that preaches ex-gay ideas.
Now THAT’S a story. I couldn’t make that one up if I tried. Doesn’t it remind you of all of those Republican congressmen who are vocal in their condemnation of homosexuality, but then end up getting caught in a bathroom stall? These poor men are so ashamed, so embarrassed about their true selves they go to such great lengths to pretend to be something they’re not. Why do they do this? Why do people still think homosexuality is wrong? Short answer? The Bible.
So let’s talk about The Bible. Let’s all go to Vacation Bible School for a few minutes. First of all, if you haven’t watched this clip, do it now.
Aaron Sorkin and President Bartlett pretty much decimate the practice of cherry-picking what parts of The Bible we continue to hold relevant. But if that argument, for some reason, still doesn’t work on Drunk Uncle, there’s one more thing you can try.
If Christianity has a central thesis, it’s this: Jesus died for your sins. We’ve all seen those words on picket signs at rallies. But how many people who claim to live by it really know what it means? I’m no expert. I don’t go to church, and I haven’t read much of The Bible. So instead of hearing from me, let’s hear from someone who knows what he was talking about: The Apostle Paul. Paul wasn’t one of the original Dirty Dozen, but he is responsible for writing 14 of the 27 books in The New Testament. Here he is in Galatians 3:13.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us.”
“The Law” to which he refers is all that stuff that Martin Sheen was talking about up there, what with the crops side by side, the garments, the pig skin, the Sabbath, and yes, the oft-cited passage, Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind, it is an abomination.”
When Paul says “Christ redeemed us from the curse…”, he’s saying that when Jesus died on the cross, he effectively wiped out any power “the Law” held over humanity. Jesus died for our sins. That’s what it means. That’s what the whole religion is based on.
So any time you hear someone quote Leviticus to mask their bigotry, politely remind them that they’re rendering their savior’s ultimate sacrifice completely obsolete. Now, I don’t know the man, but I bet that really bugs him.
You should ignore anyone who tries to quote you passages from The Bible that Jesus himself isn’t even a fan of. Christianity can be used to do so much good in the world. Don’t waste your time with people who try to use it to justify their hatred.