It's very hot today in Southern California, and quite humid. I am glad I got my run in early this morning. I am off to the market for dinner supplies momentarily, but first:
An interesting exchange in my comments section on this post has got me thinking.
David Morrison of the fine Sed Contra blog wrote:
I used to be a "gay Christian" too. But I couldn't square, and I don't think anyone else can either, the call and claims of genuine and authentic love, love for Christ, love for my neighbor and love for myself with homosexual activity.
To which a reader named Robert responded:
The need you apparently feel to place qualifying quotation marks around the term gay Christian, as if it is an obvious oxymoron, speaks volumes about the level of respect you have for the discernment and commitment of authetic gay Christians. If I have misunderstood your intention, my apologies. However, I think you would understand my point.
I wish I could have said it half so well as Robert said it.
If there is one thing I am committed to in blogging, it is calling other folks by the terms they would choose to use to call themselves. Since I was in college, I have been committed to using the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" when discussing abortion. I can't stand it when pro-lifers use the term "pro-abort" or "pro-death" to describe folks on the other side; I am equally repulsed by the left's use of "anti-choice". In discussions of homosexuality, I try and avoid using words like "homophobia", except when I am using it in its clinical sense. Of course, I don't use terms like "perversion" or "unnatural" either.
When I disagree with folks, I try and ask them what they would like me to call their position; I then invite them to use my preferred term for my own views. Sometimes, we need to work on subtle compromises. This can get very interesting on abortion! For example, what to call what is growing inside a woman? Pro-lifers want to use the words "baby" and "child" and "person"; pro-choicers like terms such as "fetus" and "embryo" and even "zygote." Tough to find compromise there! (In case you're curious, the best compromise I know is "human fetus"; the first word honors the pro-life side, the second honors the pro-choice position.)
I think calling other folks what they want to be called is the sine qua non of civilized political discussion. The issue raised today by both David and Robert is not about whether one can be both actively gay and authentically Christian; the issue is how those of us who disagree passionately on that very issue can agree to have thoughtful, cordial relations with one another.
Some might think this is about avoiding conflict. It isn't. It's about avoiding superficial, self-righteous conflicts over terminology that only serve to mask what could be more serious, thoughtful, and productive arguments over issues of policy, humanness, sexuality, faith, and identity.