After the Orlando Shooting: Some Uncomfortable Truths about Christianity and Homosexuality

Claiming that Christians are responsible for the Orlando shooting is inaccurate and disingenuous. Here's a look at how Christians have historically responded to public displays of homosexuality.

By Michael Brown Published on June 22, 2016

In response to my article, “The Outrageous Attack on Conservative Christians After the Orlando Massacre,” one commenter wrote, “This vicious homo-narrative has been going on for YEARS — it’s a shame that it took this incident to make people listen.”

In other words, contrary to my claims, Christians really are complicit in the Orlando massacre.

Another commenter wrote, “Calling a group of American people perverted, sick, disgusting, child molesters, deviants, evil, depraved, wicked, a mentally ill chosen behavior while accusing them that they are out to destroy the country … and then spending billions on laws that hurt and discriminate … marginalizing them to the point of suicide and creating an atmosphere for hate crimes … doing everything to punish and shame them at an early age, kicking gay children out of their homes … destroying their families and preventing them from attaining their own … vicious, cruel, unrelenting …

“That is HATE. The ‘at least we don’t kill you’ excuse is a FAIL.”

Is there any truth to these claims? Am I wrong in saying that it is immoral and inaccurate to connect Christian teaching with the Orlando tragedy?

Before responding to these charges, let’s not forget that: 1) the murderer, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS in the midst of the slaughter; 2) he reportedly celebrated the 9-11 terrorist attacks when in high school; and 3) a man claiming to be one of his gay lovers says that the killings had nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with Mateen being slighted by Hispanic gays. (Could this be why he allegedly avoided killing African Americans in the bar?)

While the jilted-gay-lover claims remain unclear, what we do know is that the slaughter had nothing to do with Christian teaching.

But is it true that Christians are guilty of hating gays and thereby sparking a toxic, deadly atmosphere? I’m sure that some professing Christians have been hateful, and their words and actions have deeply wounded many in the LGBT community, with some children being driven to despair or even suicide as a result. Whenever I have encountered such hatred I have renounced it clearly and categorically — see here and here for examples — and I have counseled parents whose kids come out as gay to show them unconditional love while not compromising their own standards and values.

But there’s another side to the story which must be told, as uncomfortable as it might be. How did the last generation of Christians encounter homosexuality in the public square, beginning in the late 1960s? Christians encountered homosexuality at gay pride events and at “zaps” and other gay protests to the chants of “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” They encountered scantily clad (or naked) men marching down the streets holding signs proclaiming, “God is gay and we want your boys.”

They encountered giant floats with massive phalluses; they encountered drag queens dressed up as Catholic nuns; they encountered topless female bikers celebrating “nipple freedom”; they encountered groups like NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, marching in the parades; they encountered the celebration of every kind of sexual fetish, with some events exclusively focused on BDSM.

In fact, it was vulgar displays at a gay pride event in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2004 that first drew my attention to what was happening in the city.

The ugly truth is that gay pride events were infamous for their sexual displays, to the point that the Harvard-trained gay authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen addressed this in their watershed book After the Ball in 1989.

They wrote, “What it boils down to is that this community isn’t the personal turf of drag queens and pederasts … The actions of gay pride marchers don’t take place in a vacuum, and, as long as their disastrous tactics drag us down with them, we have a just cause for complaint” (147).

Kirk and Madsen were not happy with the bad rap the drag queens and pederasts were bringing to their community, and as part of their “Self-Policing Social Code,” they suggested the pledge, “If I’m a Pederast or a Sadmasochist, I’ll Keep It Under Wraps, and Out of Gay Pride Marches.”

As I asked in A Queer Thing Happened to America, “What would have happened to the civil rights movement if Black Pride rallies in the 1960s were marked by lewd public displays and a fixation on male genitalia? Wouldn’t this have discredited the whole movement, not to mention the people themselves, in a moment? And what if the immigration rallies of 2006 and 2010 were marked by nudity and gyrating drag queens? Wouldn’t this have severely damaged the cause of illegal immigrants?

“Could anyone imagine lewd public acts being associated with ‘Asian Pride’ or ‘White Pride’ or ‘Jewish Pride’ or ‘Muslim Pride’?” (296)

The point I’m making is that, by and large, the Church was confronted with the ugliest side of the LGBT community, and, for the most part, it is only in the last decade that many gay pride events have become much tamer, with quite a few wanting to be “family friendly.”

Yet even with all this, Christians were not physically attacking gays at these events. They were not stabbing them or shooting them, although they may have prayed for God’s judgment on these shameful displays.

But I ask again: Was such a reaction so surprising? Was it wrong to think that many (or most) gay men were pederasts, especially in light of the celebration of Greek pederasty of the past? And even to this moment, what are we to make of gay activists like Dan Savage who mock Bible believers and who advocate being “monogamish” rather than monogamous (in other words, having “open” marriages)? Does Savage represent the face of gay America?

As for allegedly “spending billions on laws that hurt and discriminate,” what we have done is respond to the onslaught of gay activism — fueled by its own billions — and said, “We don’t believe in redefining marriage, we believe in religious liberties, we believe in bathroom privacy, and we will fight for those things.”

That is hardly a position of hate.

Ultimately, now that Christians have engaged with family members, friends, and co-workers who identify as LGBT, some of whom attend church regularly and share many similar family values, these Christians have responded with a message of love, reaching out with compassion without compromising the truth, as hard as that truth may appear to be.

By God’s grace, we will continue to do this very thing, knowing that preaching the truth of the Scriptures leads to life, not death, to freedom, not bondage. And we will do this full of the love of God, repudiating hatred wherever we see it and renouncing calls for violence against gays as utterly and completely unchristian.

And we will do it despite the flood of hatred that comes our way day and night from many in the LGBT community.

We will not be the haters.

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