Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Homophobe versus Christophobe

I offer this link to the Rev. Rick Warrens most recent video blog for your information and to point this out as a reason why is it a poor strategy to automatically label those who are anti-marriage – such as Warren – as being homophobes or haters or bigots or whatever. It’s a poor strategy because it gets us no where, stops the debate cold, and allows the other side to blame a lack of progress on us. It’s a ridiculous tactic, and Warren provides the perfect reason why it’s ridiculous when he retorts with the idea that those who call Christians names for supporting Prop 8 are “Christophobes.”

I know some of you are probably laughing at such a sophomoric label for us, but I urge you not to. Examine your reaction to this spurious moniker, because your reaction is their reaction. Pay attention to it and learn.

Warren’s message is being delivered to ready ears; he is, after all, speaking to his congregation. So when he calls those of us in the pro-marriage camp “Christophobes,” it’s a label that will stick. However, it is an easy label to discredit. And when you think about it, how we might respond to this label is again very similar to how a Christian might respond to the label “homophobe.” It’s similar, but not identical.

No one likes to be called names. And no matter a person’s age, the response to being called a name is universal; we react with a very immature response that goes back to childhood. Our feelings become hurt, and when our feelings get hurt, our ability to think clearly disappears; rather, we react. And all you have to do is look at a 4-year-old to see what the reaction normally is: we respond with name-calling of our own. Warren gets labeled a homophobe and his response is to call us Christophobes. And where are we after that?

Rather, we should respond with empathy and understanding. We need to listen to the anti-marriage crowd and understand why they feel the way they do. And each time they provide a concrete reason for their particular belief, we need to be able to provide contrary evidence as found in other denominations within the Christian faith. Why is it that their belief is that God does not sanctify same-sex marriage when other denominations believe that God does sanctify such unions? We don’t need to establish that one belief is correct and the other incorrect. Just point out the difference, because the next question to ask is given that these interpretational differences exist, is it necessary to go out and denounce the other denomination for believing that way? Chances are the response is: no, we don’t need to denounce the other denomination, but I don’t need to ascribe to it either.

Yay! That’s progress, because the logical response is that the other denomination doesn’t need to ascribe to that person’s interpretation either, do they? So why does his or her interpretation have to be mandated into civil law, when it is clearly a matter up for theological dispute?

This isn’t the end of the discussion, obviously. But it’s a place to start. This opens the door for more discussion. Name calling, however, is a closer.

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