Why It’s Impossible for Followers of Jesus to Hate Gays

T-shirt design by Scott Freeman

Because gays are people.

Several years ago I stopped referring to myself as a “Christian” because I felt the term was too broad. It simply doesn’t communicate very well. So I started referring to myself as a “follower of Jesus” because it’s descriptive and actually communicates something that anyone can understand: a follower of Jesus tries to follow what Jesus said and did. Simple.

On the other hand, “Christian” is such a broad label that it can encompass pretty much anyone who wants to claim it, which can be confusing. It includes me, but it must also include:

  • Cults of unorthodoxy such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, whose extra-biblical authoritative writings depict Jesus as a created being, among other things. Yet, I think we have say if the central figure in a person’s religion is a version of Christ, then their religion is a Christian religion.
  • Members of liberal Christian denominations, who don’t believe in the virgin birth or the miracles of Jesus, and who discount many statements of Jesus in the Bible. Same as above.
  • Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, whose message is that God hates the world; especially gays, apparently. Same as above.

All of these people can be said to be Christians in some sense, but none of them can be said to be followers of the Jesus of the Bible.

It’s impossible for followers of Jesus to hate gays, because if they hate gays, then they’re not following Jesus. Boom. Jesus simply doesn’t give His followers the option of hating people.

Jesus inseparably linked loving both God and people with following Him. He stated that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and then to love people (Mt 22:35-40; Mk 12:28-31.) He said those who keep His commandments are the ones who love Him (Jn 14:21.) The Apostle John says that he who does not love does not know God, for God is love (I Jn 4:8.) He also equates loving others with following the commands of Jesus (2 Jn 1:5,6; 1 Jn 5:2,3.) In a definitive statement, Jesus claimed that all people would know who His followers are by their love for one another (Jn 13:34.)

Furthermore, Jesus is like no other moral teacher in that He didn’t merely talk about love in His teachings. He demonstrated love in an ultimate way, and in doing so He literally created a new option for humanity: He made it possible for us to freely love each other by creating the possibility of internal change through spiritual rebirth (Jn 3:1-7; 1 Pet 1:23.) By spiritual rebirth we receive a new identity as children of God, receiving His very Spirit into our hearts (Gal 4:4-7; Ro 8:9, 14-17.) By His redemptive death and resurrection, Jesus made possible for us a restored, unified, and loving relationship with our Creator, whose image we bear. Thus we are motivated to obey His commands, not out of fear, or guilt, or to earn points. Instead we obey from the best possible motive: that of wanting to please someone we love. “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19.) It’s a brilliant plan.

So, no. Followers of Jesus can’t hate gays, even if the natural, redneck part of them wants to.

But then, what about all of those stories in the news about Christian business owners discriminating against gays out of anti-gay hatred and bigotry? Aren’t the Christian butcher, baker, and candlestick maker discriminating against gays simply because they’re gay?

Actually, no – they are not discriminating against gays simply because they’re gay. The proof is that these businesses had been knowingly serving gay customers for years. Here’s the issue: These businesses all drew the line when they were asked to essentially become participants in a ceremony that would violate their religious beliefs.

The same Bible that defines all people, including gay people, as bearing the image of God also defines marriage as a heterosexual institution designed by God having something to do with sexual complementarity (and therefore, the probability, at least, of procreation and child-rearing.) These businesses often explained to their gay customers that they would be happy to provide other services for them, just not wedding services. In other words, they were not willing to become a party to the redefining of something they consider sacred; something that had already been defined by their God.

So these cases are about religious liberty, as guaranteed in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. They have nothing to do with “anti-gay hatred,” or even personal dislike of gays.

Underneath it all, for these business owners it’s a question of authority.

A True Story About Lying
I once joined a respectful, online group discussion about gays and the church. An older gay participant frequently claimed that an average of one gay person per week is assaulted, raped, or murdered by evangelical Christians. He repeated this in the discussion several times. This was news to me.

I finally called him on it, told him it was ridiculous, and asked him to provide some proof. I told him it was like saying most vegetarians eat raw squirrel once a week. Or that two thirds of Mormon housewives home brew their own beer. His claim was self-refuting. He immediately provided a link to the US government annual FBI hate crimes statistics.

The FBI. That certainly sounded credible. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the church of Jesus Christ was actually a hate organization after all, and it had somehow escaped my notice.

I thought of the evangelical families I knew. I pictured the dad coming home after work, exhausted. I pictured the mom, also exhausted after simultaneously homeschooling 7 kids all day, and then preparing a nutritious meal for 9. They all gather around the table, say grace, and then talk about the day over dinner. Afterwards, the kids clear the table and load the dishwasher. Then the dad announces, “Okay kids! Everyone into the mini-van! It’s time to find some gays to beat-up, rape, or murder! Hurry up – we still have to do baths tonight before bedtime!…”

I don’t think so.

I checked out his FBI link. Um…first of all, the FBI does not track the religious identity of perpetrators of hate crimes, only the racial identity. My gay acquaintance was simply assuming the offenders must be evangelicals. Second, in 2006, (the latest year that completed stats were available when I had this discussion,) there were 0 rapes and 0 murders of gays recorded in the FBI stats. That’s rare – the next year there were 0 rapes and 5 murders reported. That’s still too many, but it certainly isn’t a weekly occurrence, and if it was, I guarantee we’d be hearing about it. As always, there were hundreds of assaults reported across the board, including verbal assaults. Of all hate crimes reported each year, nearly 50% are still racially motivated, with the remaining crimes divided up between the categories of sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and disability. It turns out you are still far more likely to be a hate-crime victim in America if you are black than if you are gay. Here is THE LINK to the latest FBI hate crime statistics, for those interested.

Was That Guy an Exception?
Perhaps you’re wondering what my point is in telling this story. Obviously the guy falsely accusing Christians was an unscrupulous butthead. So what am I doing? Painting all “marriage equality” supporters as liars because of one exceptionally dishonest guy’s propagation of a vicious lie?

But was he exceptional?

I don’t see how. It has now become routine for the media to characterize any opposition to redefining marriage as motivated by hatred. Disagree with the politically “liberal” position on this topic and you are “spewing anti-gay hatred and bigotry.” If you believe that marriage is a uniquely heterosexual institution, you are a hater, period. My question is: Really? And what do people who hate people do? Well, we can look at groups around the world who actually do hate people, and see what they do. They assault, rape, purge, and kill the people they hate. Think ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, and Hamas.

I suspect that most of the Left knows better than to believe that Christians hate gays. I think repeating these accusations of hate is a political tactic intended to manipulate and shame Christians into shutting up and leaving the field. Fortunately, the if-you-repeat-a-lie-often-enough-people-will-believe-it tactic has its limits. In this case the Left is lying about too large a percentage of the population. It’s like trying to convince the nation that all brown-eyed people smell bad. Except that a lot of us are brown-eyed, and we all know lots of brown-eyed people who smell nice.

I get why my liberal friends support “marriage equality.” I think you honestly believe you are standing for civil rights and equality. I totally understand how it seems bizarre, backward, and hateful to you that anyone would think otherwise. But the fact remains that there are some very stubborn problems around the issue, and the interests of adult gays do not trump the interests of everyone else. We’re going to have to all settle for the freedom to respectfully disagree. Liberal bigotry and intolerance is no more virtuous than conservative bigotry and intolerance.

For further non-hateful reading, here’s a great non-religious case for marriage as a heterosexual institution.

Art from The Swimsuit Lesson-Scott FreemanOn a lighter note, check out my newly released storybook, The Cocky Rooster, available only through MY WEBSITE.

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10 comments on “Why It’s Impossible for Followers of Jesus to Hate Gays

  1. A really good example of liberal intolerance is the recent exchange between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck. They are all liberal, yet Bill Maher, is telling the truth about Islam. Watch the fury, anger, and name calling by Affleck as Maher and the person sitting next to him simply try to cite facts. – Jonathan Williams

    Here’s the link:
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/10/03/bill_maher_vs_ben_affleck_on_islam_mafia_that_will_fucking_kill_you_if_you_say_the_wrong_thing.html

    • I saw that video earlier this week. It’s kind of a hairball of a discussion. The guy next to Maher is Sam Harris, the “new atheist” who wrote The End of Faith. In his book he contends that all religious faith is the same, which is flat out wrong. I suspect Affleck also sees all religion as basically the same, ironically, but he wants to see it in a positive light. It’s an interesting exchange.

      • I take it you mean “hairball” in the Hallmarkian sense & usage.
        That is, a rolling ball to which some ideas stick & others fall off.
        I tend to get a smile when I hear an exHmker use that term.

  2. Ken Gauthier says:

    The real issue concerning gay marriage, in my assessment, at least, is that it is a matter of law, and not religion. Marriage existed long before Christianity and has existed in nearly every other culture in the world from as far back as we have historical record. Traditional Asian weddings have always been accepted without regard to the fact that they have nothing to do with Judaic traditions or ideals. In all cultures marriage is a commitment by two people to support and nurture each other in a monogamous relationship come whatever may. It is also a statement to the families and community that we are now to be taken as a set, and when you deal with my wife, you’re dealing with me as well. Monogamous partnerships are healthy for all of society. Would you rather have the alternative?

    • Thank you for your respectful comments, Ken.
      This post was about Christians being accused of hate, so I had to reference biblical support for Christian belief. However, you may have noticed in my previous posts on “marriage equality,” I don’t use religious arguments. This is because I don’t expect anyone other than Bible believers to give a rip about what the Bible says. If the society at large is going to refuse to redefine marriage, it is going to need strong “non-religious” reasons for doing so, and I think there are plenty. This is why I provided the link in the last sentence of the post, “for further non-hateful reading.” I think Anderson’s article is well worth checking out. In it he addresses why government should care about people’s love relationships at all, which alludes to your opening sentence. It’s an important question.

      I agree that monogamous relationships are healthy for society. But “marriage equality” makes consensuality the only standard. As Anderson points out, once we make heterosexuality unnecessary in marriage, there is no reason for other aspects such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence to remain an essential part of marriage, so long as the parties agree. This is not speculation. Several prominent gay writers have suggested that gay marriage will help heterosexual marriage by normalizing the idea of “monogamish” marriages. (Google monogamish Dan Savage.) These guys state that monogamy is impossible and unnatural, and that sex with other people is only cheating if you keep it hidden from your spouse.
      We really are looking at the disintegration of marriage with “marriage equality.”

      • There are plenty of straight folks saying that finding successful monogamy
        during a historical period of increased life-expectancy is impossible for most folks.
        The statistics are adding weight to those assertions.
        Only the coldest cynism would blame the failure of hetero-monogamy
        on Gay monogamy.
        Consider, too, how many gay relationship have lasted for decades.

        We need to be careful how we use terms like “unorthodoxy” & “cult”.
        Some of those “liberal” Christian “cults” have existed since the earliest
        days of Christianity. Many, it appears, even flourished until the trinitarians
        rose up & killed those who questioned Christ’s divinity.

        • Thanks for your insights Calvert.
          I’m certainly not blaming the failure of hetero-monogamy on gay marriage. I’m saying gay marriage will contribute to its further disintegration, according to many gay pundits who see this as a good thing. And I actually agree with them that monogamy is not “natural,” (as I have written here: https://artandlifenotes.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/more-about-mores-and-morays/ ) But I’d rather seek to support & strengthen the institution rather than give it a final shove off the cliff.
          I think it’s a high & important ideal worth aiming for.

          I agree we shouldn’t use the term “cult of unorthodoxy” carelessly. However, there is a generally agreed upon stream of orthodoxy in Christianity that is harmonious with the Bible, and the 2 groups I mentioned fall well outside of it due to their adherence to very recent (19th c) extra-biblical writings. Based on my study, I don’t buy the Dan Brown-type stories of the violent suppression of many diverse early gospels. My understanding is that all known “lost” gospels were of later origin, and the number of gospels that were seriously considered for inclusion in the canon was zero. But I suppose that’s another topic. My point was that the label “Christian” covers a very wide range of beliefs.

  3. Kathy Elder says:

    Scott, I liked this thoughtful article from the Gospel Coalition and would like to hear what you think of it: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/traditional-sexuality-radical-community

    • Kathy,
      I think that article is spot on. I pretty much agree with everything he said. Recently I started following a blog called Sacred Tension. It’s written by a young gay man who is a Christian and is trying to sort this all out. I started following his blog because I think I need to have his perspective in my head if I’m going to write about this topic, regardless of whether or not I agree with him. He’s really been through the wringer as a sincere Christian trying to deal with his sexual orientation. Much of what I’ve read from him confirms what’s in the article you cite. It’s a very difficult issue.

      Having said that, I feel that this is a critical time to be in the national discussion, and we can’t leave the field to avoid over-emphasizing marriage. But hopefully having my friend’s voice in my head will help me to be less of a butthead in the discussion.

  4. I love the way you make your point here.

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