Category Archives: Prejudice

Open Letter to LGBTQ-phobic Pastor Sean Harris

This line sums up so much of what it means to be Christian: “Because here’s the thing: I’m a Christian. One who believes that God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Raising My Rainbow

Homophobic North Carolina preacher Sean Norris recently gave a sermon in which he advocated physically assaulting gender variant toddlers.  Listen to it here.  This letter is my response to him.

Dear Pastor Harris,

Hi.  I’m C.J.’s Mom and boy would you hate me!  I have a little boy who likes “feminine” things and I’ve allowed him to do so.  I’ve even shared it with people on the internet.  But, not by taking pictures and posting them on YouTube, as you suggest — mostly because that’s not exactly how YouTube works, I think you have it confused with Facebook, but that’s not really the point I’m trying to get at anyway.

My point is my son is gender variant.  He’s a little boy who likes all things girly, like playing with dolls and wearing skirts.  My son started acting a little girlish at age two and a half and I…

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Diversity and Judgement

Just like straight people, gay people are a diverse bunch. On one hand there are the drug-fuelled, sexually promiscuous party-goers, and on the other hand there are the couples in decades-long stable, faithful relationships. Because of that diversity you can’t look at one part of the spectrum and judge the whole continuum based on one small sample.

Similarly Christians are a diverse bunch. In Northern Ireland we have a number of big denominations – the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Church of Ireland, and the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as those four, we have many smaller denominations, such as the Free Presbyterian Church, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Baptists, and the Christadelphians. There is even, on the Cliftonville Road, the Antiochian Orthodox Church of Saint Ignatius.

You can’t look at part of the Christian church and judge all of Christianity on one small sample. Even when the names of the denominations are similar, you will find huge differences: my husband and I are welcomed as members of a Non-Subscribing Presbyterian church, while one of the key protest groups at the annual Belfast Pride parade is organised by a minister from a Free Presbyterian church.

Today in Belfast, a group called CORE, a Christian group which supports “men and women with homosexual issues who voluntarily seek change in sexual preference”, is holding a one-day seminar at Belvoir Parish Church. A lot of LGBT people and their friends and families are very upset about this and are planning to protest outside.

Whether they mean to or not, CORE supports the idea that being gay is somehow a lesser option than being straight. They support the idea that being gay is a problem, something that can be fixed. In turn that idea harms gay people, sometimes very seriously.1  As a gay Christian, I do not support CORE. I don’t believe that the Bible says you can (or should) change your sexual orientation; as a matter of fact I believe that the Bible celebrates the love between Jonathan and David (which will be the core of my talk during Pride Week 2011). So, to gay people who are disgusted at Christianity because of CORE, I say this: don’t look at just that part of the Christian spectrum. Come to the Faith and Pride talk and see another part of Christianity. It is a part of Christianity that accepts and supports you for who you are, rather than pressuring you – even unintentionally – into changing your sexual orientation.

And to any Christians who are disgusted at gay people because of the protest at Belvoir today I say this: don’t just look at that part of the LGBT spectrum. Come to the Faith and Pride talk and see another part of the LGBT community. It is a part of the LGBT community that accepts God, Jesus Christ and the Bible just as readily as you do.

The Faith and Pride talk takes place on Sunday the 24 July at 7 p.m. in All Souls’ Church on Elmwood Avenue, Belfast.

1 Wayne Besen‘s book Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth and the website Truth Wins Out describe the harm that therapy to change sexual orientation can cause.

A Simple Kiss

On Facebook, as with the rest of my life, I am openly gay and I am openly Christian. For example, updates to this blog are published automatically into my Facebook news feed.

For a while now, I’ve been in a relationship with another man, Michael, and on the 6th and 7th May we got married. Lots of friends and family were there, and lots of photographs were taken. On Sunday morning I changed my Facebook profile picture to one of the two of us kissing outside the church – you can see the picture yourself at the top right of this post.

During the day on Sunday, I got the following message from a Facebook friend we will call Q.

I am happy for you if what you have done is what you want. I have nothing against you or any other person, but I do believe the thing you have done to be an abomination in God’s eyes, so feel obliged to remove you from my friends list. I do this with great sadness, but still rejoice in your happiness and pray that God can find the way take you to the kingdom by His love. This may mean that my view is still too narrow, but I see the scriptures on the issue as pretty clear. Your latest profile pic was the last straw I am afraid.

This does not mean I no longer love you and care about you, just that I feel obliged to make a stand against what you did today.

What is the “thing that [I] have done” that Q finds so offensive? What does he have to make a stand against? He clearly has no problem with me being gay and Christian: he was happy to have me as a Facebook friend when I was gay and single, he was happy to have me on his friend list when I was engaged, and he was happy to have me on his friend list when I was publishing blog posts that are supportive of gay Christians.
What is the thing that I have done? What I did was I got married. Q has taken an extremely curious position for a Christian to take. I know there are Christians who object to people being openly gay, and there are Christians who object to gay people calling themselves Christian, and all sorts of variants thereof. These Christians base their objections on their belief that the Bible forbids gay sex.

But if you can tolerate an openly gay Christian man as a Facebook friend, what scriptural reason is there for unfriending him because he has entered into a permanent, faithful, stable lifelong relationship? Where in the Bible does it say that marrying another man is “an abomination in God’s eyes”? Q wasn’t objecting to me being in a sexual relationship with another man, because his message was about a specific event — “the thing [I had] done” — not some (assumed) aspect of my relationship with my husband.

This actually exposes ‘Christian’ opposition to same-sex relationships for what it is: homophobia, thinly veneered with Christianity in an attempt to make it respectable.

Johann Hari: Why is it wrong to protect gay children?

In the Independent today Johann Hari has an excellent article on the Melanie Philips issue and the B&B thing.

When people say that a “deeply held religious conviction” should
enable you to break anti-discrimination laws and treat gay people as second class citizens, I reply – what about the Mormons? Until 1975, they believed black people did not have souls. (They only changed their minds when the Supreme Court ruled it illegal, and God conveniently appeared to say they did have souls after all.) Should they have been allowed to run adoption agencies that refused to give babies to black people, because of their “deeply held religious conviction”?

Full article on The Independent.

Full article on Johann Hari’s site.

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