Friday, March 28, 2014

Further Rants on Homosexuality: The World Vision Fiasco

I've been sick. It's my annual Very-Bad-Cold-That-Morphs-Into-A-Sinus-Infection, and I'm not sure why I always fight taking antibiotics, because truly they are a wonderful thing. Anyhow, excuse my absence.

While I was gone, half of my Twitterverse (for the record, my Twitterverse consists of religious blogs, yarn blogs, eventing Tweets, and John Green) blew up about the World Vision thing, which, if your Twitterverse doesn't look like mine, consisted of the following:

1. World Vision, a well-respected international social justice organization with employees in many countries and many U.S. states, announced that they would extend their U.S. hiring practices to include legally married gay couples. WV's current hiring policies require that employees be celibate or married--abstaining from unmarried sex. WV stated that they were not commenting on the morality of gay marriage, but merely recognizing that while they consider themselves Christian in a broad sense, their employees have always stemmed from a wide range of Christian denominations, including those--the American Episcopal Church and the  Lutheran Church, to name two--which recognize gay marriage, as do many U.S. States.

2. Evangelical Christians went berserk, writing impassioned blog posts about sin and exhorting Christians to drop their World Vision sponsorships of poor children living in the developing world.

3. Some of my favorite bloggers went nuts back, imploring Christians to quit focusing so much on sex and, above all, not punish children living in extreme poverty because of their hatred of gay people.

3a. I'm slightly oversimplifying for brevity, but not much.

4. Over 2000 people dropped the child they sponsored through World Vision in the first 24 hours.

5. World Vision rescinded their decision to hire married homosexuals.

I'm Catholic, as I said before. I don't come from an Evangelical background, so there are a lot of things I just don't get, including but not limited to young earth creationism, complementarism, and the whole idea that girls are responsible for dressing so as not to lead boys into sin (I think boys should be responsible for themselves.). This strident anti-homosexuality is wearing me down. I don't understand it. So, as I lay on the couch this week, I tried to. I tried to see the threat in it. After all, most Evangelicals don't believe in Transubstantiation, but they don't seem to be threatened by it. I've never had an Evangelical give me grief about Transubstantiation, even though I would say it's probably the biggest difference, doctrinally speaking, between my beliefs and theirs. (They get all hung up on Mary--and yet, I've never met an Evangelical who could accurately tell me what I believe about Mary.)

I finally figured it out, I think. Evangelicals believe that being gay is a sin, and they also believe that it's a choice. Therefore, if gay people become acceptable to society, pretty soon they'll be everywhere. I'm still not sure what the threat of that is. Catholics are also everywhere. Muslims, Hindus, they're everywhere too, and don't seem to be causing harm. In fact, while World Vision is a Christian organization, they do not spread religion, and they operate in many non-Christian parts of the world without proselytizing.

The Evangelical mindset toward homosexuality is causing grievious harm. (For the record, the official Catholic teaching--that being gay isn't sinful, but gay relationships are--also causes a lot of harm, and causes a lot of people to leave the church. But my limited experience is that many Catholic people disagree with the official Catholic teaching here, accept their gay brothers and sisters lovingly, and wish everyone could receive full acceptance into the Church.) If you're a child growing into the realization that you're gay, and all your life you hear that being gay is a sin, that God hates gays, that even though you personally love Jesus you should not be calling yourself a Christian--you'll turn your back on God. You'll be turned away by the very people who should be calling you towards Him. Many gay children attempt suicide in despair. Some of them succeed.

We are told we are made "in the image and likeness of God." (Genesis 1:27). All of us. And science now offers compelling evidence that people's sexual orientation is caused by an interplay of genetic factors and hormones present or absent in the womb. Gay people are born that way. Also, as far as anyone can tell, the percentage of gay people in the world has stayed the same not for centuries but for millenia.

If you don't believe in science--just because something's true doesn't mean you have to believe it--ask yourself this: when did you chose your sexual orientation? At what point in your life did you look around and make this choice? If it wasn't a choice for you, why would it be a choice for anyone else?

And why on earth does it matter? I'm sorry, I'm trying to understand. I'm trying hard to step inside Evangelical shoes, to comprehend all this as something other than hatred and malice. I haven't gotten very far.

Here is something I wish Evangelicals would understand: I read the Bible too. I read the same verses they read, and I disagree about what they mean. Not just the ones Evangelicals claim condemn homosexuality; many other verses, too. (Transubstantiation: "This is my Body." What could be more clear?) That isn't surprising. If the Bible could truly be taken literally and inerrantly, in every language and translation, we wouldn't have so many different versions of Christianity. We'd have one version. Which we don't. Which is good, because if the only available version of Christianity was Evangelicism, I regret to say I would be out the door.