Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Double-Edged Sword: Two Ideas of Christianity, Part 1

I no longer to go to church, but the doings and trappings of Christianity in America still remain of interest to me. So, with that interest in mind, I decided to watch two recent documentaries with two rather divergent takes on where Christianity in America has taken us.

The first of these is “For the Bible Tells Me So,” which examines the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality. I watched the film with rapt attention. So long used to the negatives Christianity hurls at the GLBT community (although plenty of examples of those are also presented), it was refreshing to hear the opposing side, the mantra of which is homophobia is the sin, not homosexuality.

The meat of the film is interviews with a group of Christian GLBT people – some famous, some not – and their families. Although each family came to accept their gay child in different ways, all but one family were united in the fight against hate and discrimination.

Images of those families in picket lines and gay pride parades in addition to the words of religious scholars and leaders debunking the myth of what the Bible says about homosexuality made me feel optimistic about the possibilities of bridging the gap between being gay and being Christian.

I have seen firsthand the damage church teachings can inflict upon Christians who also happen to be gay. My first girlfriend was raised Baptist, and I recall at times she would feel conflicted about being gay because, she told me, of what she had been told all her life, e.g. homosexuals are bad people and are going to hell. No one deserves that – to be told you are evil and worthless because of something as intrinsic to you as the color of your eyes.

Yet, that hateful rhetoric continues ever on, perpetuated by such faith-based organizations as Focus on the Family, which was spotlighted in the film. Indeed, the climax of “For the Bible Tells Me So” is when one of the families interviewed by the filmmakers goes to a protest at the Focus on the Family headquarters and reads a letter addressed to the notoriously homophobic Dr. James Dobson, the organization’s director. The family is then arrested for crossing a picket line and is filmed being taken away by the police.

Hopefully, such courageous acts will inspire other families to take a stand and reject the idea that homosexuals are unloved by God. Let us love one another, for the Bible tells me so.  Homophobia is the sin, not homosexuality.

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