Fostering rational debate

Yesterday, I ran into an article posted by a good friend of mine on Facebook. The article was on whether or not the church should categorically condemn acts of homosexuality as evil.

Let me explain first by saying that this is a much respected friend of mine. Because of the rapport we have built, and because of many conversations and observations, I have come to conclude that his character and opinions merit heavy consideration.

Even so, when I saw the title of the argument and the description he had posted, it didn’t sit well. I felt awful, a sinking sensation in my stomach. Why didn’t it sit well with me to see that a respected friend was potentially arguing the case for homosexuality?

I looked at the reason carefully and realized it had nothing whatsoever to do with my own moral sensibilities – those sensibilities, that is, that were founded on sound reason. The truth was, I didn’t want to revisit the issue. Even though this man who had posted the article and made his own stand had such a high standing to me, the implications of me actually sitting down to consider the issue were large.

My family and I don’t have the greatest of histories. At one point they found my moral stance on a particular issue delusional. The last thing I want to do is give them more reason see me that way, by telling them I am considering the possibility that exclusive, mutual homosexual relationships might actually be God-honoring.

Not only would it potentially (in my mind, at least) damage my credibility with my family, it would raise many eyebrows in the JBU community and might even cause drama with my boyfriend.

The point I wish to draw here is not a conclusive argument for or against homosexuality. What I want to point out is that this fear within me is not uncommon. I’ve seen people who seem reasonable about most things. But when an issue comes up that their family holds a strong opinion on, they protect that view with no thought to weighing it rationally.

The consequences? The same kind of assumptive oblivion that led and still leads to the subjugation of women, complete ignorance of the condition of the poor and racial bigotry.

I am taking a stand here and now against the kind of hubris that assumes that our opinion is correct, and is so obviously correct that revisiting the issue would not only be a waste of time, it would be offensive.

In my attempt to promote clearer understanding I am not suggesting we trample others’ sensibilities. Rather, we should understand both sides. I’ve never been good at this. But in honoring others, I believe there are two things we should do.

First, we should refuse to hastily judge those who hold views we consider dishonoring to God. Second, we should also refuse to bash those who view something we see as wholesome to be evil.

While holding these two together, I believe there is a place for denouncing injustice on both sides. Once we respect the difficulties both sides face, though, a more wholesome dialog can begin.