There is so much wrong with Tony Perkins' recent Guest Voices post, published by On Faith with the title "Christian compassion requires the truth about homosexuality." The "Christian compassion" touted in the headline is faux compassion at best. It offers virtually nothing to ease the fears and self-loathing experienced by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers who contemplate choosing suicide over a life they are told is condemned to unhappiness, loneliness and despair. Indeed, Mr. Perkins' comments only go to support the attitudes held by the bullies who drove gay teens around the country to make that choice.
However, as a Bishop of the Church, and a trained theologian, let me focus on Mr. Perkins' flawed reasoning and inadequate exegesis in quoting scripture to bolster his arguments. He cites the story about the woman caught in adultery, whom Jesus admonishes, "Go and sin no more." In this approximation of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach, the religious right tries to sound pastoral, while violating the true meaning of this passage.
The sin referred to in this passage is intimate sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage. Indeed adultery, by definition, is a violation of the vows taken in marriage by one or both partners. Jesus rightly tells this woman never again to engage in such violation of those vows.
But it is just as important what Jesus did NOT say: "Go and never have sex again." Had he done so, this scripture might be relevant. But he did not. The sin was not intercourse, but the context within which it occurred.
If the religious right wants to argue that the context for same gender intimate relationships is important, then they should join the fight for same gender marriage, helping provide the trustworthy, responsible and mutual context for all intimate sexual relationships. Not to provide such a context only supports the culture of promiscuity the religious right rails against.
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October 20, 2010
WEAR PURPLE ON OCTOBER 20 FOR SPIRIT DAY –
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
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San Francisco Chronicle
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The Huffington Post
Support For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Teens -- Facebook Goes Purple for Spirit Day,
By Ki Mae Heussner, October 29, 2010
Religion-based bigotry harms youth
By Mitchell Gold, October 18, 2010
The Washington Post
In the past few weeks, the shocking number of suicides by gay teenagers has sparked a serious national discussion about the root causes of anti-gay harassment and bullying. Across the country, parents, school officials, legislators, religious leaders, and others are recognizing that young people are deeply harmed by the message that being gay is sinful and wrong. For the first time, many voices are calling for accountability from groups and public figures who misuse religion to justify anti-gay bigotry.
Not surprisingly, those who have made careers of promoting anti-gay views are fighting back. Last week, Tony Perkins, the director of the Family Research Council, attacked those who "lay blame at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong." In an guest voices column for On Faith, Perkins cynically denied any connection between the harassment of gay youth and the belief that gay people are sinful and disordered. According to Perkins, all responsibility must be placed on the bully, and not on religious teachings that condemn homosexuality as a threat to society. Incredibly, Perkins claimed that if gay youth commit suicide, it is because they "recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal," not because of rejection by family, friends, and religious leaders.
Perkin's distortion of scientific research and callous disregard for the harm caused by his anti-gay views have been widely condemned, and rightly so. And yet the views he expressed are shared by millions of Americans of integrity and good will who genuinely love and care for their gay children and family members. For decades, anti-gay religious leaders have taught that homosexuality is not an innate aspect of a person's identity, but a sinful choice to engage in immoral and abnormal conduct. Many people of faith have been deeply influenced by those teachings and have internalized them with little thought or reflection.
Mitchell Gold is co-founder of renowned home furnishings brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, and founder of Faith in America, a 501 C-3 non profit whose mission is to educate about the harm caused to LGBT Americans by religion based bigotry; and in 2008, published a book entitled CRISIS: 40 Personal Stories Revealing The Personal, Social and Religious Pain And Trauma Of Growing Up Gay In America.