Along with abortion, homosexuality is the big issue when it comes to the popular anger toward conservative Christians. Evangelicals are put into the same category as other religious people throughout history who have withheld rights from certain groups, such as the blacks in the American south or South Africa, or women. There is something that feels righteous to stand up for an oppressed group and to speak against the oppressors. It is also assumed that evangelicals hate homosexuals, that they are homophobic, that they do not want them in their churches, and that they are convinced God hates homosexuals as well. Why won’t conservative Christians get with the times and acknowledge that homosexuality is natural and stop being so intolerant?
I will readily confess that there are conservative Christians that would easily be described by what I wrote above. The infamous Westboro Baptist Church is one example. However, a belief that homosexuality is not God’s will does not make one a hate-filled person. First of all, I do not think equating sexual attraction with race or gender is appropriate. Anyone can choose to live a homosexual lifestyle, but you can not just choose to be black or be a woman (at least not without radical medical intervention). I am not saying that homosexuality is simply a choice, I say this only to differentiate sexual attraction from these other categories.
I cannot speak for every evangelical, but I do want to present a balanced view. Many evangelicals no longer believe the stereotype that people just choose to be gay. But nor do we follow the popular idea that every homosexual is born gay. Research seems to indicate that things are much more complicated. How one is raised, parental relationships, sexual abuse, and other factors seem to play a role. There may even be a place for a genetic predisposition. So, if most people do not choose this, why do we condemn it? No one should be condemned for what they feel, especially when they have no choice. What is condemned is sexual activity outside of marriage (we will get to marriage in a moment). That is heterosexual and homosexual activity outside of marriage. One is not worse or more serious than the other.
So what about marriage? Canada, where I live, has legalized same-sex marriage. Why do conservative Christians oppose this? The issue is not that evangelicals think homosexuals are bad people and therefore should be punished by not being allowed to marry. The issue is that for many evangelicals, marriage by definition is between a man and a woman. Many evangelicals have no problem with equal legal rights as long as it is not called marriage.
But why do evangelicals hate homosexuals so much? I do not know any evangelicals who hate homosexuals (although I am sure there are some). They are welcome in our churches. At a previous church, I made a point of inviting a young man who was gay to sit with my family. Nothing made me more angry than when I saw anyone giving him a hard time. He knew that I believed that homosexuality was not God’s plan for him, but I also treated him with respect.
But is it not intolerant to be against homosexuality? First of all, tolerance literally means reluctantly and temporarily putting up with something you do not like, so we better be careful how we use the word. But let me answer the question with a question: Is it it not intolerant to be against conservative Christianity? No one would see a person who was harshly critical of conservative Christianity as a bad person. In some circles, it might seem like a good thing. So why is it so bad to be critical of the homosexual lifestyle?
I do not believe that homosexuality is God’s will for humanity. I was once called a “Hitler youth” for having such beliefs. Does this really make me hate-filled or a bad person? I do not hate homosexuals. I attempt to treat all people the way I would want to be treated. I would like to suggest, as unpopular as this might be, that anger towards conservative Christians who disagree with the homosexual lifestyle is misplaced.