Why Christians Get Wrongly Accused of Being Haters
There’s a lot of hate in the world these days, and I’ve been told I’m one of the haters. It’s because I don’t agree with revisionist views on marriage and sexual morality. That’s hateful, they say — even though I don’t feel hate, I don’t treat people hatefully, and the one gay man I’ve spent significant time with says he knows that I love him. His friends have known I’m fine being friends with them, too.
But that’s not good enough. I’m a hater anyway.
LGBTQ activists have strategic/rhetorical reasons for making us “haters.” It takes away our moral high ground. But strategy doesn’t explain everything about the “hate” thing. It’s also about identity.
It’s an Identity Thing
The gay-rights movement insists that people’s sexual attractions define them. Historically that view is eyeblink-new, but it’s now taken root everywhere. So for the person who is attracted to people of the same sex, it’s no longer, “I experience same-sex attraction.” It’s “I am same-sex-attracted.” But they don’t even say that. They say “I am gay” or “I am a lesbian.”
Something like this happens with “gender identity.” It isn’t just what people experience, it’s what they are. They collapse their identity into their sexual experience.
Part of this must have to do with being different. I know a little bit about this, having once been a musician, and now being a writer. These are special sorts of callings, and they influence my view of my own identity. I don’t just write; I am a writer. I didn’t just play music earlier in my career; I said, “I am a musician.”
But no one thinks playing music and writing are inflexible “orientations.” It’s easy for me to keep a loose hold on the identity they form in me; indeed, I no longer say, “I am a musician.” It was a bit rough to let go of it at the time, but I made it through just fine.
Disagreement With “Who I Am” Looks Like Hate
This explains some of the “hate” accusation many people throw at us Christians. We say we disagree with same-sex physical intimacy and gay “marriage.” We’re talking about their feelings, experiences and actions, or in other words, what they experience and what they do.
They don’t hear it that way, though. They hear us attacking who they are. They take our disagreement as dehumanizing. And dehumanizing a person really is an act of hate.
God Loves Us, Not Our Inclinations
That’s part of why they think we’re haters. But it also highlights why the charge misses us; why we’re not haters as they think we are. (Let’s not worry for now about the minority of claimed Christians who really do have hate in their hearts. That’s a real problem, but it’s also another topic for another day.)
We think this is a distortion of reality. We don’t see persons’ identities — or their value — as wrapped up in their feelings, their experiences, their desires or even their communities. We know instead that we have value by virtue of being creatures made in the image of God.
God loves us — all of us — enough to die for us. He did it even though all of us have mixed-up, distorted desires, experiences and actions. Those flaws don’t diminish His love for us; in fact they help to prove His love, for as Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The passage goes on speaking of how rare it is to want to die for someone who’s in total conflict and rebellion against a person. But God did it anyway.
Therefore as Christians see it, behavior, desires, attractions and orientations don’t define a person’s humanity or worth. God does. So when we disagree, we’re not attacking anyone’s humanity and we’re not diminishing anyone’s worth. How could we be, when God Himself has already given us value?
It Really Is Just Disagreement, Not Hate
Therefore Christians can truly say, “This isn’t hate, it’s disagreement. I’m not attacking you as a person, I’m just disagreeing with some of your preferences and actions. It is okay to disagree, isn’t it? After all, you disagree with me.”
Will those who identify as LGBTQ etc. hear us clearly when we say it? Don’t count on it, at least not in the short run. Still, it’s the truth — a truth we have to work hard at communicating. I’ll have more to say on that in a follow-up article.