Over the years, I have been a part of many conversations concerning homosexuality. I have been thinking recently about these conversations because I believe they are representative of a larger problem that we as a society have concerning those who are different from us. To manage expectations, this is going to look like a post on homosexuality (that may come another day though, spoiler alert, I think most of the church has done a pretty terrible job of loving their brothers and sisters) before morphing into something else.
On the whole, debates surrounding homosexuality within settings of Christian faith are terribly predictable; mainly because Sodom and Gomorrah is always one of the first cards played.
There is a huge problem with equating the Genesis 19 account of Sodom and Gomorrah with the present-day topic of homosexuality. This was a scenario in which a group of men came to someone's house and demanded that visitors to the town be released outside so that this group could sexually assault these guests.
We had a visitor come and speak to our class last night about domestic and sexual violence. She repeated again and again that assault is about power and control; it is not about sex. Sodom and Gomorrah's sin was not about homosexuality. It was about violence, power, and control. Just because the violence is committed by males to males does not make that story a statement concerning same sex relationships.
Let me be clear to say something that I wish I had said in many conversations: You cannot equate someone who is gay or lesbian with a band of marauding rapists. It is evil. It is dehumanizing. Wherever you stand on the issue as a Christian, you are called to love your neighbors. Citing Sodom and Gomorrah as evidence that God abhors homosexuality does not convey love.
Here's the thing, I think many people that make their case using this passage would be horrified if they realized what they were implying. That's what I'd like to believe anyway.
Yet I think this is representative of a terrible problem that exists today in which we use the absolute worst of a group different from us to be representative of the whole. The most prominent example of late is how Muslims are often portrayed in the news and media. You will find no shortage of people that declare the terrorist organization ISIS is representative of Islam. ISIS is no more representative of Islam than the KKK is of Christianity.
You can turn on cable news and find people that will say all Republicans are close-minded money grubbers who only care about white people or all Democrats are godless communists that would protect a tree before they protected a baby. Some Christians will say all atheists are immoral, selfish individuals who only want to take faith away from people. Others will say Christians are a bunch of anti-science, bigoted homophobes.
It goes down to smaller things as well. I overheard a well-respected gentleman refer to all praise and worship music as crap. I imagine that there are many people citing Left Behind as representative of the poor quality of all movies that contain themes of faith. Don't even get me started about how college football fans talk about opposing teams and fans.
We live in an incredibly divisive society and people are highly distrustful of those that are not like them. As such, people will paint the other side in the worst possible shades. They'll use a story that is not true of the whole and say that is exactly what represents everyone or everything on that side. Sometimes it is done out of hatred. Sometimes it is done out of making people feel better about themselves (at least, we're not like them). Sometimes it is done out of sheer ignorance.
Regardless of why it is done, it is tearing us apart and it is tearing people apart. We have to realize that the worst is not the whole. Otherwise, we are going to be caught in a cycle of fighting, mistrust, ignorance, and fear. I believe we are to reach out to those different from us so that we can learn from and help each other. That cannot happen if we keep assuming the worst about the other while simultaneously assuming the best about ourselves.