Responding to the Raw Hatred of the Gay ‘Nativity’

By Tom Gilson Published on December 6, 2017

Jennifer Hartline’s reaction here at The Stream to the gay “nativity scene” in California was spot on. She condemned it in literally the strongest possible words: “demonic;” “perverse;” a “lie … from the pit of hell.” If stronger words had been available — barring foul language, which is merely more shocking, not actually stronger — I’d have supported her using them, too.

She focused on the way the display rewrites God’s final word, erases women and defiles God’s design for families. That’s bad enough, but there’s more to be said about it besides. It’s raw hatred on bald display. We Christians now have to decide how we’ll respond to it, and other displays like it.

When It Isn’t Really Hate

The word “hate” has been overused through all the years of controversy over gay marriage and variant forms of sexuality. Somehow “disagreement” has become equivalent to “hate;” but only when it’s Christians and other conservatives disagreeing with gay activists. When they disagree with us, it’s their expression of “tolerant” virtue.

We could have said in tit-for-tat fashion, “If our disagreement is ‘hate,’ then so is yours. You’re haters, too!” I haven’t seen much of that from Christians. More often I’ve seen Jesus’ followers put it more reasonably: “Whether we disagree with you, or you disagree with us, we simply don’t think disagreement equals hate. Could we please quit using that word to mean something it doesn’t mean?”

So in other words, yes, “hate” has been badly overused in this debate. This time, though, it fits.

And When It Really Is

Whoever erected this display must have known what it meant. They had to have known they were poking a finger in the eye of Christian believers. They must have realized it would spark anger. They had to have known it would provoke disgust. I can’t believe they wanted to accomplish anything else but that.

It’s not going overboard to call this hate. It is what it is.

They had to know, too, how deeply Christians cherish the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God born of a virgin, come to teach and to demonstrate God’s love to all the world.

They might not realize how much our relationship with Jesus Christ (and especially for Catholics, His mother Mary) is an actual relationship of love. But still they could hardly be oblivious to how important Christmas images and symbolism are for us — and how very close these things are to our heart.

Yet given that awareness — which I am convinced they held — they chose to aim a hugely symbolic arrow at Christians’ hearts anyway. They intended it to hurt. And it does.

So it’s not going overboard — it’s not some false “Christian persecution complex” — to call this hate. It is what it is.

How Then Should Christians Respond?

 I recoil from at the sight of this outrage; yet I must remind myself it’s really an expression of hate toward Jesus Christ. He says in John 15:18-19,

 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

He goes on a moment later to say the world’s hate comes from its unwillingness to heed His word. It’s not us that they hate; it’s the standard of God’s righteousness that we represent, and which we seek (however imperfectly) to uphold.

“They hated me without a cause,” Jesus says in verse 25 of that chapter. Yet He loved them. And willingly suffered and died for them — as He did for you and me and everyone. And forgave them, even from the Cross where they killed Him.

That’s a standard to which I have not attained. I really don’t know how to love as Jesus did. Not even close. But I’m committed to following Him until I learn, even if it takes all eternity.

It isn’t Christ or His glory that’s at risk in this display.

In the Meantime, Jesus Is Still Okay

Meanwhile, I want to remember that every arrow aimed at Jesus is bound to bounce right off. This is an attack on Jesus like blowing paper covers off milkshake straws would be an assault on Andrews Air Force Base. It isn’t Christ or His glory that’s at risk in this display. It isn’t even His followers. It’s the people who set it up, caged in their own hatred and no doubt congratulating themselves for their creativity in displaying it. We’ve all got our hatreds, petty and grand; but it’s especially tragic when we consider them so worthy of parading before the world this way.

So I pray for them today, that God would soften their hearts. I pray they’ll see true goodness of the One who came to earth to redeem us all from our errors, and the arrows we unleash at others’ hearts. And I pray with new fervor for peace on earth, good will among men.

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  • KC

    We are to love as Jesus loved – He asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him. I believe the person or persons who put this nativity out – don’t have a clue as to what they are doing. They don’t understand that they are making fun of the birth of our Savior – pray for them that they might repent and come to know our Jesus before they die and spend eternity separated from him.

  • JP

    This is a great opportunity for Christians to show the bankruptcy of the lgbt movement. That can’t get their facts straight. We should point this out and let them know how embarrassing its for them. The Truth will set you free.

  • Craig Roberts

    You’ve been trolled.

  • Patmos

    One of the things about the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah is that they were implicated not only for their perverion but also their pride. Pride is in essense selfishness, and I’ve seen the argument made that those two cities were condemned solely for their pride and not their perversions. This argument is of course made by those who in their pride want their perversions to be permitted.

    In short there is no real discernment in the reprobate mind, as nearly everything is filtered through the lense of self servitude, from which perversion emerges.

    The truth of the light of Christ, by way of revelation through God’s word and the glory of his kingdom, is what will set them free.

    • tether

      Their sin was fornication, or sex outside of God’s design. Sexual immorality is however a prideful sin because in doing so one is saying they know better what is right or wrong than God does.
      Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

  • Steve Rich

    No, sorry. That is being way too nice. I know how I should respond.

  • Jennifer Hartline

    Well said, Tom.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Maybe their local Home Depot was out of “Mary’s” ?
    Perhaps their Lesbian neighbors ( this is California ) bought the Mary’s from these guys for a similar themed nativity scene ? Hey, as potentially offensive as this can be to the faithful & as misconstrued as a nativity scene can be , it is also a characterization of the times.
    In a segment of the culture that embraces gender confusion in so many deviant ways , does this really surprise anyone ? It’s scripturally unprecedented . It’s maybe a little bit funny, in an obscure & somewhat perverse way. It is also in the end a prescription for how NOT to celebrate this most significant of biblical observances …

    • tether

      Ok

  • Ryan

    One has to wonder at the patience of the Lord with Sodom and Gomorra, and even more with His patience today.
    One thing is sure, it has been recorded what happens when He runs out of patience.

  • Jones Howell

    Oxy-maryon

  • Philmonomer

    So it’s not going overboard — it’s not some false “Christian persecution complex” — to call this hate. It is what it is.

    Of course it’s going overboard to call it hate, without knowing more.

    • Bryan

      Just out of curiosity, what additional information do you think is necessary?
      It’s possible that there is some sort of mistake at work here, but I find that highly, highly unlikely. Sure many people don’t really know what they’re talking about when they use certain historical terms or various hashtags, but I don’t think we’re quite reached the stage where the culture knows so little of Christmas and the Nativity, that they can’t figure out why this would be offensive to many. Or for the owners to not have some sense of “in your face, you dirty hypocrite christians!” If you have a plausible explanation that doesn’t involve hate on some level and that is rational enough to plausibly be the actual and innocent reason for this display, I’m interested.

      • Philmonomer

        Rather than try to go through a laundry list of possible reasons (which I started to write up. It wasn’t that hard to think of reasons, but was going to take a little bit of time.), let me answer with a question. Do you think the artwork, “Piss Christ” by Catholic artist Andres Serrano, means that Serrano hates Christians?

        • Bryan

          Having been unfamiliar with the work until now, there are some differences but I would say at some level yes and if not specifically Christians, than Christ. According to the article I read, the artist seemed to be against the commercialization of Christianity, at least in part. However, to take an image that is sacred to many, even if only a cheap copy, and desecrate it in that way shows some degree of hatred for the object or its symbolism. I don’t like the idea of commercialization of Christianity either, but that piece of “art” doesn’t lead me to believe the artist is against commercialization rather that he’s against Christ, that Christ or a symbol of Christ, has no worth.
          BTW any person can claim to be a Christian or Catholic or Presbyterian. That doesn’t mean that they truly are.
          If you don’t care to write up your laundry list, I understand. Just list up to three things you would need to know before you considered the two Joseph scene hateful. I would caution that listing three things that would be consider implicit just by the fact that they set this up on (presumably) their lawn, won’t help here, for the simple fact that many Christians who offer message of love or hope are seen as implicitly hating whatever the current topic is regardless of whether they’ve said or done anything hateful at all. For example: a group of Christians who offer to pray for or with women before they enter an abortion clinic are considered hateful even if all they say is “God loves you”. Or the Christian who tells his gay friend that he loves them even though he disagrees with the friends choices. Even if the friend doesn’t think the Christian is being hateful, he’s being told by the culture that because the Christian didn’t affirm his choice, the Christian is a hateful person. So, unless the people who put up this two Joseph scene truly made a mistake, there aren’t many (if any) reasons that don’t have “I hate Christ/Christians” at it’s core. Good luck!

          • Philmonomer

            Thanks for your thoughtful response. I will not have time to respond today (simply slammed at work/life). Maybe I will have time later/tomorrow.

          • Serrano’s “art” work could have been ironic, it could have been an expression of how Christ has been treated, and neither of those world necessarily have meant he agreed with the surface meaning of the work.

            Your point?

          • Bryan

            My point is trying to figure out what Philmonomer needs to know in order to call this display purposefully hateful that isn’t implicit in the nature of the display.
            Before today, I don’t think I’d heard of Serrano’s “art”. I’m not a fan but I don’t think that piece has quite the same implications as the display we’re currently discussing.

          • Sorry about the confusion, Bryan. I meant that question for Philmonomer.

          • Bryan

            No worries here. I hope @Philmonomer:disqus will have time to respond to the earlier comment and give a list of a few pieces of information that are necessary to call this display hateful that aren’t implicit in the display itself.

          • Philmonomer

            My point is trying to figure out what Philmonomer needs to know in order
            to call this display purposefully hateful that isn’t implicit in the
            nature of the display.

            Let’s try to understand what we mean when we talk about “hateful.” When I hear the word “hateful” I think of personal animosity. “Raw hatred,” as used in the title here, means “really strong personal animosity.” Like someone is willing to shout in your face that you are evil.

            What do you mean by “hateful?”

          • Philmonomer, Christians have been called haters in this conflict over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, and the word has been used indiscriminately and without the slightest thought as to what it really means. I mentioned that in the article. But be that as at may …

            I’d call this “nativity” the graphic equivalent of shouting in our face that we are evil. So I think it fits your description quite nicely.

          • Philmonomer

            Let’s be clear: I think its wrong to call Christians who are anti-SSM relations “haters.” I view that word as inappropriate.

            Philmonomer, Christians have been called haters in this conflict over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, and the word has been used indiscriminately and without the slightest thought as to what it really means. I mentioned that in the article. But be that as at may …

            Yup, you also think its wrong for those people to call Christians haters. But it’s ok here to call the people who put the display up as haters, and you see that as consistent. I think that position is nuts.

            I’d call this “nativity” the graphic equivalent of shouting in our face that we are evil. So I think it fits your description quite nicely.

            And I think this position is also nuts. Completely nuts. But if that’s how you feel, there really isn’t anything I can say.

          • Philmonomer

            My point is that you have derived the meaning of the piece based purely on your own understanding of what you think the author intended. As an example, the obvious meaning of “Piss Christ” is hatred for Christianity. Just like you think the obvious meaning here is “raw hatred.”

            When the meaning is clearly and obviously unambiguous, that might be appropriate. It wasn’t true in the case of “Piss Christ” and isn’t true here.

          • Philmonomer

            If you don’t care to write up your laundry list, I understand. Just list
            up to three things you would need to know before you considered the two
            Joseph scene hateful.

            I’d want to know, what were their motivations? Why did they do it? What is their opinion of Christians? Do they call themselves a Christian? Do they think they hate Christians? What did they think the response would be? Did they intend to show hatred toward Christians?

            I would caution that listing three things that would be consider implicit just by the fact that they set this up on (presumably) their lawn, won’t help here, for the simple fact that many Christians who offer message of love or hope are seen as implicitly hating whatever the current topic is regardless of whether they’ve said or done anything hateful at all. For example: a group of Christians who offer to pray foror with women before they enter an abortion clinic are considered
            hateful even if all they say is “God loves you”. Or the Christian who tells his gay friend that he loves them even though he disagrees with the friends choices. Even if the friend doesn’t think the Christian is being hateful, he’s being told by the culture that because the Christian didn’t affirm his choice, the Christian is a hateful person.

            Well, just like I think it’s wrong to call the display “raw hatred” here, I also think it’s wrong to call the actions of the people in your examples hatred.

            So, unlessthe people who put up this two Joseph scene truly made a mistake, therearen’t many (if any) reasons that don’t have “I hate Christ/Christians”at it’s core. Good luck!

            I think their reason could be as simple as “I support Gay marriage; but I don’t hate Christians.”

          • Philmonomer

            However, to take an image that is sacred to many, even if only a cheap copy, and desecrate it in that way shows some degree of hatred for the object or its symbolism.

            Why can’t it mean a respect for the symbol, by trying to re-imagine it, or re-image it in a new way?

    • Mo

      @ Philmonomer

      “Of course it’s going overboard to call it hate, without knowing more.”

      What more is there to know? Whoever did this knows the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong. They also know that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, and that’s why there are images of the Nativity displayed during this season.

      Knowing these two things, they intentionally chose to make this display. Of course it’s hateful!

      Again, what more is there to know?

      • Philmonomer

        “Of course it’s going overboard to call it hate, without knowing more.”

        What more is there to know? Whoever did this knows the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong. They also know that Christmas is about the birthof Christ, and that’s why there are images of the Nativity displayed
        during this season.

        Knowing these two things, they intentionally chose to make this display. Of course it’s hateful!

        Again, what more is there to know?

        Well, I’d want to know the motivations of the people who put it up. What were they? Heck, maybe they are Christians themselves. Who happen to think conservative Christians are merely misguided.

        The author of this post seems to know their motivations:

        Whoever erected this display must have known what it meant. They had to have known they were poking a finger in the eye of Christian believers. They must have realized it would spark anger. They had to have known it would provoke disgust. I can’t believe they wanted to accomplish anything else but that.

        I don’t know how he can know that. Maybe the people who put it up thought that it was a good way to show support of gay families, and didn’t intend for it be a “finger in the eye of Christian believers.” Heck, I certainly wouldn’t think that it was intended that way! I’d think it’s a sort of fun, lighthearted way (come on, it’s on your front lawn, like lawn ornaments!), to show support for gay families (they are in pink robes!).

        The pieces also states:

        They might not realize how much our relationship with Jesus Christ (and especially for Catholics, His mother Mary) is an actual relationship of love. But still they could hardly be oblivious to how
        important Christmas images and symbolism are for us — and how very close these things are to our heart.

        Yet given that awareness — which I am convinced they held — they chose to aim a hugely symbolic arrow at Christians’ hearts anyway. They intended it to hurt. And it does.

        He is convinced they held this awareness, because why? No reason. Just because. I’d want to know that before calling it “raw hatred”!!!

  • I don’t know. This doesn’t really bother me. It reflects the absolute moral bankruptcy of the secular left, and I think most people know it. Remember, according to Hollywood homosexuals are everywhere. A couple years ago I asked family members what the actual percentage of self-described homosexuals in America is, and got from 20 to 40%. These are not uneducated rubes, just people who uncritically swallow popular culture. According to a huge study, the largest ever done, by the CDC a few years ago, the actual number is . . . . 1.6%. America’s secular cultural elite is trying very hard to shove the normalization of homosexuality down our throat, but it will never change human nature the way God made it, male and female he created them. The 98% of Americans who are not sexually attracted to people of the same sex know this display is silly and absurd, even if they couldn’t articulate it. And I would bet that most of that 1.6% think it is tasteless and offensive as well.

  • I heard about this the other day. It actually looks worst. This is disgusting. Urrgghhh.

  • Az1seeit

    This is an abomination that doesn’t deserve a response.

  • Trilemma

    One of the Josephs is the son of Jacob (Matthew 1:16). The other Joseph is the son of Heli (Luke 3:23). Seems only fair that both of Mary’s husbands be with the baby Jesus.

  • NellieIrene

    It is definitely demonic. Whether those who did it realize they are a pawn of the evil one or not. They may have done it to show their animus toward Christians and they may have harbored a desire to poke us in the eye. But regardless of the reason for the display, those responsible cannot possibly believe in the bible or the miraculous gift that God gave us. They couldn’t do such a thing if they did. Our reaction should be akin to Jesus when he was on the cross. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

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