I’ve heard the standard Christian arguments. “Homosexuals hate Christians because darkness hates light.” “We have a righteous anger about immorality.” “We hate the sin but love the sinner.”
It’s relatively easy to justify our attitudes, but truthfully speaking, all too many professing Christians do feel contempt toward those in the GLBT community. In essence they despise those who embrace or promote homosexuality as a lifestyle. Contempt is rooted in self-righteousness and serves in many ways as the antithesis of love, being therefore a form of hatred.
On the other hand, conservative Christians are often perceived as the dreaded enemy and orthodox Christianity the evil empire ruled by the hate-filled followers of a capricious, judgmental deity.
Of course, a certain amount of friction is to be expected between these two opposing camps (okay, maybe a lot of friction!). But the vehemence of the contempt and the harshness of the rhetoric have risen to scary heights. Why is this?
Fear! And in many cases, it’s a fear incited and preyed upon by leaders from both camps.
Experience teaches us that most people crave comfort and security. They’re looking for meaningful relationships, decent jobs, nice homes and an abundance of food for the table. Of course, entertainment and material possessions score high on the agenda. Much of this is oriented toward self. They may express concern about the goings on around them, but as long as the bad stuff is out there they have little motivation to do anything more than shake their heads as they mournfully discuss the sad state of the world.
Leaders see life differently. They often think deeply about issues and focus squarely on the ramifications of governmental actions and cultural trends. The always looming challenge for leadership is to motivate the rank and file with a vision to give and to serve.
Now tell me, how better to effectively motivate people than with fear? Fear has a very real way of grabbing our attention and compelling us to do something. If we can convince people that a particular group poses a threat to them and their loved ones, we are better able to motivate them to action.
Adolf Hitler was a master at appealing to what he called the unthinking masses by using propaganda to play upon their fears, in particular, their fear of Jews. Ever so skillfully his regime painted a warped picture of those evil Jews as the root cause of all the nation’s ills. We all know the painful results.
Such propaganda techniques are now commonly used for political leverage with little thought of potential repercussions. The more leaders can demonize perceived enemies, the more resources they will be able to garner for the cause. And while such scare tactics may help win specific battles, in the long run they damage lives by inflaming dangerous passions of hatred and contempt.
The more we allow these efforts to fuel the flames of hatred and contempt in our own hearts, the more we actually begin to resemble the evil enemies we are accused of being. The painted portrayal eventually becomes reality.
I once heard a homosexual activist with conservative Christian roots say that leaders from both camps regularly demonize those on the other side because it is an effective fundraising tool. The more evil and uncaring they make the enemy look, the more money people give.
Many GLBT leaders continue to stereotype conservatives as hate-filled, homophobic bigots and no small number of conservative leaders continue to portray all with alternative sexual orientations as openly lewd, hateful and militant. Simply add a heartbreaking story about someone whose life was painfully damaged or destroyed by the callousness of the enemy and the propaganda cocktail is complete.
It’s all a game of strategy, but in the end there are no winners. And much worse, there are some very big losers. In my next post I’ll talk about the plight of those caught in the crossfire between the homosexual and conservative battle lines. For some the pain is unbearable.