Jolyn said she believed gay sex is sinful. I responded:
“OK, you can believe homosexual sex is sinful. However the problem is that many teenage gay people believe it is sinful too, because they have been told so by others, and are damaged by the distress they suffer, even to killing themselves. People are bullied because of homosexuality or perceived homosexuality.
“We could agree to disagree, even worship together, because what we share- the desire to follow Christ- is so much more important than what divides us. But if you state your belief in public, however gently, you give aid and comfort to the bullies, and heap distress on the heads of the gay people who are bullied.
“I hope you accept that homosexual desire is so deep-seated that it cannot be said to be a choice. The choice, then, is between celibacy and a loving gay relationship. You can decide that you do not want to have gay sex. I am fine with that. I am less fine with you telling others that you think they should be celibate. What right have you to say that?”
We do not speak or write in a vacuum. What we say has an effect on others. The thing is, I have some sympathy with people who wish to show respect to the Bible, and not just ignore what it says, and people who take their religion seriously. I can understand Jolyn being upset to be called a “hater” for her honestly held religious views. I have no respect for people who deny reality and claim that homosexuality is a choice, but a commonly held reading of the Bible is that it condemns gay sex, and people have lots of reasons for adhering to Christianity.
I have less respect after her response. Why, she asks, is bullying for sexuality considered so much more important than other reasons for bullying? It isn’t, actually. People take body image issues more and more seriously. I have sympathy for her being bullied over being studious at school, but if that could not be prevented, encouraging bullying of gay people hardly makes things better. She does not want her children “confused” by “displays” of her friends’ homosexuality- so we must all pretend to be straight. Having adults pretending all the time, never saying what they really feel, confuses and harms children. It teaches them feelings are something to be ashamed of.
If a gay friend tells Jolyn of his great night out with a new boyfriend, and Jolyn says she disapproves, I don’t think that does huge harm to that friend- but it does no harm at all to Jolyn. People disagree. We think differently and feel differently, and we still rub along together OK.
What harm does Jolyn suffer if she sees a gay kiss on a TV drama, or reads about an out gay man in a magazine? She learns that other people think differently from her, even that they have different disgust reactions. It may be more comfortable if everyone appears to think and feel the same way, but it is more mature to tolerate difference. Which of us is going to Hell is God’s decision, not Jolyn’s.
And- have a look at Neil’s video. You might say that it is crude and manipulative- the music takes you inside the emotional world of the victim, rather than the bully or a bystander- but can you conceive of any circumstances in which you are on the side of the bully, rather than the victim, and his many courageous supporters?