I love a good argument. And I enjoy seeing protests and people stand up for their beliefs. There is no better way to see the deep flaws in their thinking.
So of all the arguments and shouts that occurred last Wednesday at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, among my favorites were when protesters (apparently squirming at the idea they might seem as boorish as they are) tried to appear more tolerant and show understanding. They have nothing against homosexuals as people, they suggested, as long as they don’t see them. Why can’t they stay home and keep out of sight?
Of course, those words (ignorant at best, disingenuous most likely), show most clearly how the protesters have failed to comprehend their own actions. Now that’s not much of a surprise given the fact their self-proclaimed desire is to remain ignorant and blind.
No, their argument is not simply that certain types of love between people can be sinful. For if sin were the issue, then why, you might wonder, are there no other protests? Is there no coveting? No stealing? No giving false witness? How about pride, envy, gluttony? Yet we don’t see these people blocking the government building, do we?
So why does this one raise such emotion and motivate some beyond their typical (and some would say welcome) apathy?
The best explanation I’ve seen came 20 years ago when the Christian theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas wrote a fascinating comparison of the moral considerations of Christians and gays serving in the military. Part of it applies here perfectly.
“Discrimination against gays grows from the moral incoherence of our lives; people who are secure in their convictions and practices are not so easily threatened by the prospects of a marginal group acquiring legitimacy through military service.
“Gay men and lesbians are being made to pay the price of our society’s moral incoherence not only about sex, but about most of our moral convictions….”
“We are confused about sex, why and with whom we have it, and about our reasons for having children.
“This moral confusion leads to a need for the illusion of certainty. If nothing is wrong with homosexuality then it seems everything is up for grabs. Of course, everything is already up for grabs, but the condemnation of gays hides that fact from our lives.”
I suggest we consider these words the next time a group, too insecure in their beliefs to shut up and stay home, protests some people who merely seek to have rights. We don’t need a Stonewall riot here. Progress will come in much slower steps. In the meantime, better to remember one more conclusion from the Hauerwas essay:
“But in some way this prejudice against gays has worked in their favor. They at least know more about who they are and who their enemy is.”