I was listening to Christian talk radio on my way home last night (ok, I admit it, I do that a lot), and the topic was gay marriage, or more generally homosexuality. It was kind of bizarre. They were trying to grapple with the fact that Jesus is losing the culture wars, especially in the arena of gay rights. It’s no longer cool to demonize gays, which means that believers at long last are beginning to realize that their attacks on gays do more damage to the church these days than to homosexuals. And they were groping, adrift, trying to find some way to reconcile their religious dogmas with the fact that homosexuals are not actually evil, immoral, or corrupt.
And they found it. Sorta. They decided that it was ok for Christians to tolerate homosexuals because Jesus used to hang out with prostitutes and tax collectors.
This, in Christian circles, is “progress.”
The Apostle Paul once declared that the goal of Christianity is to “take every thought captive,” and once it has you, it’s very reluctant to let you go again. Even when trying to be tolerant of people whose only “offense” is that they happen to fall in love differently, believers are stuck with the fact that the Bible has an irrational prejudice against gays. Their whole worldview forbids them from even suggesting the possibility that the Bible might be barbaric and outdated and in desperate need of some moral improvement, and consequently they are forced, by their faith, to add a perverse and malicious insinuation to their “acceptance.”
This is what religion costs us. It imprisons the minds of people, and impedes them from recognizing their neighbors as persons of equal worth and merit, even when they would like to. The believers on the talk show last night could see that there was no justification for the hate that the Bible aims at homosexuals, that it was all just pointless bigotry, but they couldn’t quite admit it to themselves. That would imply that God had made a mistake or that the Bible wasn’t really infallibly true. And either one would overthrow their whole worldview.
Sadly, their worldview is more important to them than other people are. Better to slander and mistreat others than to risk harming your worldview. The only good news here is that the intolerant and unteachable Christian worldview is turning people off, and damaging the church. And there’s nothing they can do about it, either.