Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College, spoke this morning to the Q Ideas conference here in Boston. He, and the college he leads, are under severe attack for holding to orthodox Christian teaching on LGBT. Gordon is Evangelical, but very far from a fundamentalist stronghold. Yet they are seen by many people — many powerful people — as a bastion of bigotry.
Lindsay told the audience about a phone conversation he had with his Congressman when Gordon first got into the news. He said that his Congressman told him straight up that he hated Gordon’s stance, and that he was going to do everything he could to force the college to change it — meaning that he was going to bring the force of federal law, inasmuch as he could, to compel the college to violate its corporate conscience.
This left Lindsay staggered. “There are very few playbooks to tell you what to do when your Congressman shouts at you,” he said.
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[Response to expressed concern that Christian] prioritizing the wrongness of gay marriage will make us seem anti-gay. Seem? Christianity is opposed to the contemporary ideology that equates us with our sexual desires and tells us we’re entitled to their satisfaction. We oppose the Gnosticism that says our bodies have no intrinsic moral meaning and are mere instruments in the service of our fine inner feelings. We assert the male-female union as normative, surpassed only by the sublime, supernatural vocation of the celibate life dedicated to divine service. Christianity can’t avoid being seen as anti-gay, because a failure to be “pro-gay” today is invariably regarded as “anti-gay.”
Christianity is “pro-person.” I am profoundly sympathetic to Christians who want to provide hospitality and companionship to our gay friends—and that includes friends who don’t obey biblical norms, and even gay friends who have married. I have such friends—along with divorced friends and friends who cohabit—and friends who have stolen, cheated, and lied. The company of the perfect is vanishingly small, and I’m not among them. But we need to get a grip on reality: We are the bad guys of the sexual revolution. We are the heretics of our time: We forbid when it is forbidden to forbid. No appeals to the great cathedral of Christian doctrine are going to change that.
(R.R. Reno, emphasis added)
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The one lesson that everyone in the gay marriage dispute should agree on is that the law has a pedagogical function: having been told (now) by the Supreme Court that objectors are motivated by animus, our society is simply starting to believe it. What else would we expect? It is precisely what conservatives have been arguing about the institution for the past twenty years, and on this they have once again been vindicated.
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Frederica Matthewes-Green writes of “Why I Haven’t Spoken Out on Gay Marriage–till Now.”
Is it okay to call a woman a mensch? I’ve known of Frederica for well-nigh thirty years, when we were both Protestant (well, she was Episcopalian, but I stand by “Protestant”) and we were both involved in pro-life work, she as President of Feminists for Life, me as (my chronology is a little muddy here) legal counsel for Indiana Right to Life (a short gig) and/or Board Member/Advisor to Matrix Pregnancy Resource Center (a very long run).
She has never been strident or harsh, unlike me. Neither of us, to my knowledge, has written what would be called “hateful” in saner times.
We both found our way into the Orthodox Church eventually. We’ve had (very) occasional communication, and I influenced one of her Podcasts by (as I recall) correcting her legal misimpression a few years back.
But she has held back from speaking out until now. From her Facebook page:
I wonder if a reason I wasn’t motivated to fight against gay marriage is that my parents had gay friends when I was growing up. I’m talking about the ‘50s and ‘60s, in the original “deep south,” Charleston, South Carolina. There was a male couple that regularly came to town, and they stayed as houseguests. My best friend had a gay uncle who lived with her family. The nice men who ran the small bookstore on King Street were a couple. Everyone knew, and accepted it, and if anything felt protective toward them. There was no doubt some patronizing stereotyping mixed in (“Gay people are so artistic!”)
I think seeing them so readily accepted had the opposite effect from being alarming or confusing, for it was clear how few of they there were. Marriages were all around us; almost everyone got married, and divorce was very rare. There were marriages everywhere we looked, and only a tiny few were same-sex. It was evidently an oddball thing, and not the kind of marriage we (most of us) would have one day.
(It was a funny thing because the grownups I recall were uniformly racist, despite being pro-gay. I remember someone in my parents’ generation being very upset because her house was on the market, and a black doctor with a wife and two kids was interested. “If he wants to buy it, there’s nothing we can do!” she said. “It’s the law, we have to sell it to him!” She was very relieved when it was purchased instead by a gay couple.)
She still has concerns about the way the case against same-sex “marriage” has been presented, and is quite frank about the damage done to natural marriage by the 98%. For instance:
Some years ago I received a Christmas letter from the head of an evangelical organization. About halfway through he shared that, sadly, he had gotten divorced that past year. But in the next paragraph he had great news: God had given him a new wife!
Well, maybe there were extenuating circumstances, maybe I shouldn’t judge—but it still irritates me how blandly Christians accept this sort of thing.
When reminded of those higher standards, of not that long ago, people say, “But it would be too hard for divorced people to remain unmarried. It’s too hard to live without love.” Yet that’s exactly what we ask gay people to do. We should at least admit that it is not easy; it is in fact a kind of heroism, and we should honor it better than we do. I don’t advocate relaxing the rules (of the faith) for gays, but I wonder how straight people came to relax the rules for themselves.
Amen! When Mark Sanford, putative Christian, spewed the stream of “soul mate” kitsch about his Argentine mistress, I just wanted to puke. The only appropriate responses were (1) Mea culpa! Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa! or (2) “Well, I guess the pretending to be Christian isn’t going to work any more.” (See what I mean about strident and harsh?)
But we’re reached a milestone:
I’ve resisted joining up with the “defend marriage” movement for a long time, and you might wonder why I’d change my mind now. It’s not that I think I have anything fresh to add to the conversation. People aren’t listening anyway; to gay advocates, I am just another hater. When I tried, a few years ago, to put my “live and let live” perspective into words, a gay blogger responded with a post stating, “Frederica says I don’t deserve to be loved.”
No, I’m joining the fray because it looks like the battle is lost. That means it’s time to stand together. It’s not hard to predict what happens next: winners silence their opponents, and losers are hounded, misrepresented, and punished for their views.
Well, what did we expect? What we are saying seems nonsense to the secular world, and is felt as actively antagonistic. Jesus said, “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 its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
This past Good Friday I was struck by the scripture that says Christ suffered “outside the gate,” as an outcast, beyond the city wall. Why should we be any different? As the Scripture says, “Let us go forth to him outside the camp, and bear the abuse he endured” (Hebrews 13:13). It’s time. Let’s go.
Read the whole thing. It’s totally not my style, but it’s ably expressed, and I’m sure it’s faithful to what she really believes.
Still, she can’t avoid taking flak from left and right.
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I thought for a moment the author had gone off on a tangent, unresponsive to the question, but then he answers the question powerfully:
I’m glad Markham raises the question of whether First Things welcomes articles arguing for the validity of “lifelong, monogamous gay relationships.” I appreciate the delicacy with which he cordons off the question of gay marriage. But, no, we won’t. In the present climate, it is for all intents and purposes impossible for a person who publically dissents from gay rights orthodoxies to get a job teaching in higher education. It’s increasingly impossible to be the leader of a major corporation or to get a job at a major law firm. The New York Times certainly won’t publish the most modest demurrals from these orthodoxies. And I dare say one cannot find preferment in the Episcopal Church unless one subscribes to the same orthodoxies. Pretending that there is an honest public debate about the gay rights agenda is an act of dishonesty.
And not just dishonesty. There are many courageous people who have refused to capitulate to the ruthless Jacobin suppression of all dissent. Many have paid a heavy price, including gay writers who defend Christian teaching in our pages. Were we to play the idle game of “dialogue” on this issue, the implication would be clear: These people foolishly sacrificed their livelihoods and reputations for the sake of an ambiguity, not a truth. That’s an act of betrayal First Things will not commit.
(R.R. Reno again, echoing Frederica’s commitment to solidarity)
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A black friend’s grandmother, encouraging her children in the 1940s not to let their spirits and their dignity be broken by white hatred, counseled, “Don’t be the kind of person they think you are.” That’s great advice for Christians going forward.
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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)