I want to thank you all for your kind invitation to address a recent dust-up in the blogosphere. It is not often that I get to discuss things like this.
Thabiti wrote a good article here, which elicited boatloads of comments, and so he followed it up with more here. Jonathan Merritt thought that the occasion was ripe for him to demonstrate that he doesn’t know what a rant is, which was amply accomplished here. And Denny Burk came in with a good wrap-up here.
But, believe it or not, there are certain things left unsaid. I want to make a few incidental comments, tossing them casually on the coffee table, and then get to the main event.
First, the incidentals. Merritt is quite right that Christians need to learn to stop trying to play the victim, but not for the reason he thinks. The game is rigged, and they will never let us. The Supreme Court of New Mexico could have decided that evangelical wedding photographers needed to have all their houses burned down, and there would still be religion-page shills out there defending the need for such (temporarily) austere measures as we seek to build a more equitable society. So we need to save our breath for cooling our porridge. And besides, watching persecutors feeling tormented by their victims is kind of entertaining.
Second, Merritt needs to learn what Pharisaism is — which is to say, the prideful inculcation of a moralistic standard with a club. And who is it that is having “pride” parades? In his third point, he tried to turn the “gag reflex” issue into one that casts conservative believers as folks who are too fastidious to minister to people who sleep on urine-soaked mattresses. But of course, that is not the issue at all. The issue has to do with those who romanticize such behaviors, and who want to turn character defects into points of personal pride. It has happened before with the ideal of the noble poetic soul using opiates, and it is happening now with sodomy.
Deep opposition to those who want to be the booster club for any particular vice, and deep compassion for those who are trapped by that same vice, are not inconsistent depths. It is one thing for a pastor to help put a family back together, shattered by adultery. It is quite another to deal with someone who has devoured a family, wipes her mouth, and says “that was fun” (Prov. 30:20). The issue here is not the sex, but rather the pride. Pride is the besetting sin of moralistic Pharisees, and their heirs today are the crusading bigots who are tracking down evangelical bakers of wedding cakes in order to make them celebrate and applaud what God requires them to detest.
So, then, what is the main issue? What must we learn from all this? What is not yet being addressed?
The point of sodomy is transgression, and as such it is essentially parasitic. The tang of it comes from the violation of taboos. Without those taboos, the homosexual movement is a tapeworm bereft of an intestinal wall. This is why, incidentally, there is at least some strident opposition to homo-marriage from the advocates of deep queer. When you have normalized everything, where do the queer go? What do the queer do when nothing is queer anymore?
In every form of transgressive sexuality, there must be a boundary to be crossed. Some see the signs posted at that boundary and recoil in horror. Others cross that boundary with one eye on those who recoiled in horror. Among those who cross, some of them share in the horror — the self-loathing homosexual — while others are simply spewing their malice toward the sovereign God, giver of every good gift. They are the ones who in their high rebellion want to say, “evil, be thou my good.”
Anyone who has not seen people getting their essential kicks out of offending white bread suburbanites really needs to get out more. Rap artists do it with what I shall call the enword, and homos do it with the effword, but they are all junior high boys wanting to startle the cute girls into a shocked round of giggling. The rap artist wants to be a bad ass, and the catamite wants an ass that is bad, but it all amounts to the same thing.
Imagine a hipster washed up on a desert island — no scope for irony at all. Imagine Lady Gaga washed up on a desert island — how long do you think those outfits would last? Imagine Miley Cyrus washed up on a desert island — think she would be dancing up and down the beach with that foam finger? No. The whole point is to shock and insult those who don’t know that they are being played. Take that away and the whole game collapses.
You can take that away in two different ways. One is to stop being shocked through a compromised surrender, which is what they are demanding from us. If they succeed in this, they will have their own troubles down the road — what happens every time the parasite kills the host, which we can leave them to figure out.
The other is to keep that sense of shock, but to do it as biblically informed people, and not on the basis of cultural inertia from the Eisenhower era. Treating a man as though he were a woman is not described in Scripture as something that is technically erroneous. Rather, the Israelites were taught to treat it as detestable, as an abomination (Lev. 18:22). God does not simply require us to disapprove. He requires us to loathe. But going back to Merritt’s faux-point about compassion, there is no inconsistency between having compassion for the sinner and detestation for the dungeon filth he is living in.
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).
So those enslaved by homosexuality don’t have the right to tell us “love me, love my dog.” We can love them and hate their dog. Dogs are excluded from the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:15).
And in the meantime, remember that the “yuck factor” is essentially a shared commitment. It is something that evangelicals and queers can agree on. Is it not?