Opinion

Phrases to strike from the debate

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how homosexuality should be dealt with in general, within the church and at JBU. That’s good; it’s an important conversation to have.

What frustrates me, though, is the level that the discourse so often fails to rise above. So I’ve taken the liberty of compiling four of the phrases I most wish would disappear from the discussion.

“It’s a choice.”
Insisting that being gay is only ever, and nothing more than, a choice is just an excuse to avoid sympathy with those who “choose” the “gay lifestyle.” It’s a vast oversimplification, and it’s a hateful one.

I’m not about to claim that homosexual desires come about in only one way. But if you’ve looked at the neuroscience or even just had a few nominally open conversations with homosexuals, there’s no question that orientation – straight or gay – is something that many are simply born with.

Of course, there is still a choice involved: Being born gay doesn’t mean that one has to act on those inborn desires. Which leads to my next point…

“This is who I am.”
A person’s sexuality is a deep-set and deeply personal thing. I understand that. But a lot of the time when I hear this phrase from members of the gay community, it carries an implied argument that if this is how someone is born, then acting on it must be OK.

Logic says differently, however painful it is to hear. Some people, for instance, are born predisposed to violence. That doesn’t make stabbing everybody who makes you angry a morally viable option.

In other words: A desire being inborn doesn’t make it a good desire to act on any more than it makes it a bad one to act on. The two aren’t connected.

So if someone comes to you and says “I love you, but I believe taking part in homosexual acts will spiritually harm you,” try to take it at face value, however sad/angry/frustrated it may make you. If that person genuinely believes it, then telling you so is an act of love, and probably a scary one.

“The Bible says…”
When you say that the Bible condemns homosexual relationships, you need to realize that you are citing only a handful of verses, and that your reading of those verses is deeply influenced by your particular subculture.

Each book of the Bible was written to a specific audience at a specific time. These books come down to us through thousands of years and several language barriers. If you’re going to say that these verses must be taken at face value, as they appear in modern English, then do that with every other verse in the Bible. Stop wearing polycotton (Leviticus 19:19) and eating hot dogs (too many verses to list). Start covering your hair in public if you’re a woman, and cut that stuff short if you’re a man (1 Corinthians 11).

Instead, be aware of the informative debate going on over whether the verses ostensibly about homosexuality have anything to do with it. Many contend that, read in-language and in-context, they are actually about being separate from surrounding cultures, specifically those cultures’ practices of sexual exploitation.

If you’re going to use those verses to tell people they shouldn’t marry people of the same sex, then at least do your due diligence and find out if you’re off-base. And if you do that only to stick to your original interpretation of the Word, then don’t be so puffed up as to belittle those who honestly disagree.

“It’s an agenda!”
I hear this from vocal parties on both sides of the issue, and I’m sick of it. So-and-so is working on behalf of the “gay agenda,” whereas such-and-such has an “agenda of hate.”

Guess what? “Agenda” is just a loaded way of saying someone has an opinion. Having an opinion isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

And hearing an opinion contrary to your own expressed in public is not actually the same thing as being persecuted. So long as it’s expressed by someone who’s willing to consider your side too, it’s called a “conversation.” Sure, plenty of people aren’t actually willing to do that, but changing that starts when people on both sides quit holding up having an opinion – excuse me, “agenda” – as some kind of unforgivable sin.

Wilson graduated from JBU with degrees in journalism and history. A professional writer, he can be reached at WilsonLNU@gmail.com.