“Hi, my name is [blank], and I’m a homophobic bigot.


“Either that or at least, my Christian beliefs have blinded me to the rights of gay people, and so it’s safe to assume I’ve been utterly lost to humane dialogue on the subject. (Don’t even try. It’ll get ugly.)”

This disclaimer may as well be stamped across the foreheads of everyone who disagrees with gay rights. Many have suffered the loss of friends, even jobs, because of this very prejudice about them. Usually they were never asked how they really felt about gay people.

Because gay activists always champion love and acceptance, the assumption has sprouted that everyone else is either opposed to the love, happiness, and equal fulfillment of gay people, or at least doesn’t know jack about it.

And in fact, many on the pro-family side will end up talking about anything but that; they talk marriage, law, procreation, society, and a million other things that – in one sense – miss the point.

Philosophical arguments have a way of dragging out endlessly, only to wind up offering what can seem like a lifeless set of conclusions demanding compliance. It’s what speculative sciences do best – and the theoretical side definitely has its place. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t help us address the real-time loving, hurting, and hoping for the world to change that fuel the hearts at the center of the issue.

Debate after debate, the scenario is the same; we’ve all seen it. Without fail, the moment gay activists claims a monopoly on love and acceptance, dialogue shuts down with no hope of revival. They’ve shown sensitivity to the issue in its personal, flesh-and-blood form.

They’re on to something. The question of how to really love everyone – not how to marry, or how to uphold society – is the driving force underlying this debate. As often as the pro-family side ignores it, they lose, no matter how seamless their argument.

But it would be strange if Catholics and Christians, who have a lot to say about love in other contexts, really had nothing to contribute now. After all, the revolutionary idea of an all-inclusive love was Christianity’s to begin with. Did the gay rights movement really get the idea better than its inventor?

A Whole Love

As Ingrid Michaelson would say:

Everybody, everybody wants to love
Everybody, everybody wants to be loved
Oh, oh
Just let the love, love, love begin

In a way, it doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. We feed on love, and its best parts are available to all of us, straight or gay. The right to love means that everyone deserves love, respect, and equal treatment – simply because they’re people. No other credentials necessary.

But obviously, this alone is too abstract to be useful. Everyone knows that “love” is among the most abused words, often stretched beyond recognition. While some would argue its meaning is purely subjective, it can’t be, at least in one respect: we know love is basically something that fulfills us, makes us happy and at peace. We can disagree on what it looks like, but agree that’s the point: love is about helping and protecting, not hurting.

That’s where the two camps really diverge: not whether to love, but how.

Activists support gay sex because, they believe, that’s what will make homosexual people happy. For Christians to love homosexual people and oppose gay sex only makes sense in light of one premise: that gay sex is harmful to the person who practices it, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

This also involves denying that homosexuality is an inextricable part of someone’s personal “identity.” (It could be argued that it seems this way because our male or female sexuality, not its orientation, does form the core of self-expression.) From this point of view, people are not “gays,” “lesbians,” or “heterosexuals.” People are first and foremost, people – not to be reduced to their actions or habits – and deserve attention primarily as such.

Leave aside for now the arguments over whether the Christian view of homosexuality is actually true – in any case, it’s what Christians believe both from faith and from reason. The point is that based on this view, every Christian is doing a service of love, not an act of bigotry, when they warn against the gay lifestyle.

It’s by the same token that Christians oppose it in spiritual terms as well: in other words, warning against sin or hell. The only difference is that here, they’re promoting a different aspect of someone’s well-being, one that happens to be eternal. As Penn Jillette, the atheist comedian of the Penn & Teller duo, mused: “If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever … how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”

So we speak out because we love, and because we love, we have no choice. For millennia, Christians have enriched and annoyed their neighbors by this odd habit: slavishly insisting upon a whole love, uncompromising, unfashionable, and inconvenient. Today, we’re going to keep right on doing it, and hopefully we’ll be brave enough to admit it.

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