Wednesday, December 13, 2006

On Evangelical Compassion

According to an article in today’s New York Times, the recent coming out and subsequent resignation of yet another prominent Evangelical minister has prompted several Church leaders to urge a modification of the Church’s aggressively hostile attitude toward homosexuals; while still maintaining that homosexuality is sinful, they urged compassion towards homosexuals, especially those within the Evangelical Church. As explained in statements issued by these Church leaders, it was having respected colleagues who had struggled with their sexual orientation that had brought about their change in attitude.

I suppose we should be grateful for small favors and accept the Evangelicals’ change in attitude as some sort of progress. Nevertheless, as a man who ascribes a great deal of importance to rational processes, I still find their expressed justification for their change in attitude shocking: Formerly, they supported aggressively hostile behavior towards homosexuals; now they urge compassion, but the reason for that compassion is that some important members of their own social group have been affected. It was not reason that brought about the change, no change in the determination of what is right and what is wrong, but rather an emotional reaction based upon personal contact or association.

Why is this important, and why am I so negative? According the Evangelicals’ expressed decision- making process, it was acceptable to be hostile as long as no one who they knew and was important to them was affected. By extension, since we know no one in Darfur, have never been driven from our homes, and have never been on the verge of starving to death, the Evangelical Church would have to conclude that withholding compassion for the Darfur refugees is acceptable.

This is, of course, nonsense, as is the way in which the Evangelicals arrived at a compassionate attitude towards gays. It also gives us an idea of how difficult to effect a real change in attitude will be in a group who rejects reason as a vehicle in the decision making process. I almost prefer the old hostility rather than a compassion based upon reference to some self loathing gay minister.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:39 PM  
Blogger RIC said...

– "They urged compassion towards homosexuals, especially those within the Evangelical Church".
Shocking, to say the least…
– "Formerly, they supported aggressively hostile behavior towards homosexuals; now they urge compassion, but the reason for that compassion is that some important members of their own social group have been affected, which is clearly an emotional reaction based upon personal contact or association".
Are these matters like toys children play with now and then throw away?
– "It was acceptable to be hostile as long as no one who they knew and was important to them was affected".
There's a scent of the mentality that drove the Inquisition to act the way it did ever since its beginning: if you're a member of our group, everything's okay. You may even have Jewish blood in your veins; your mother may be accused of witchcraft. No harm will come to you. But beware, if you ever leave our group. We'll go mercilessly after you.
Mutatis mutandis, we're in front of the very same stage, watching the very same play... If I didn't know it's a prejudice of mine, I'd say: "Christians, all the same! Pf!"
Obnoxious and appalling!
Thank you, Bruce!

2:16 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

While I agree with you 100% - in my heart of hearts I'm hoping that it's because they respected the religious devotion of these clergy and can clearly see that they couldn't change their gayness - that it was out of their hands; and that they were born this way. Perhaps it took them seeing it for real - to actually believe it. That's what I'm hoping is happening, but realistically, you're probably right.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

it takes a long time to change the culture of something.
Little things I will be grateful, even when I feel it is not enough yet.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Will said...

I wondered about this issue when the latest to fall from grace said in his public statement that he had struggled with his homosexuality since the age of five and begged God to take it away from him but that God had not done so.

I wondered if this minister had some understanding that if he knew as a child he was gay, and that if God hadn't taken the dread homosexuality away from him, maybe it was God who had created him gay and wanted him to be gay. I wondered also if others in the greater homopphobic Evangelical community might not also begin to get the point.

I agree about the revolting attitude that they'll condescend to give some compassion to homosexuals, particularly Evangelical homosexuals. Apparently Jewish homosexuals and Quaker homosexuals and agnostic homosexuals are still perfectly contemptible. But maybe it's a tiny start. Maybe.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I find that it is really unbelievable that these are the people that so many turn to for spiritual advice and consent. It's such a racket, like so many other things in life, sustained by the ignorance and the will of the people. They are like the Sopranos: bilking their flock for as much as they can, protecting their own, issuing retributions... it really is not that different.

In the short time i've known you Bruce, I have seen and really appreciated your devotion to reason. But there is such a vacuum of reason in so much lately. I say why should we even care what the Church says about anything anymore? Why are any of us listening? If we weren't, they would have no impact. I realize not everyone is an aetheist like me, but really, what spirtitual value does a Church like this have?

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:37 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Your thesis is a good one: People tend to remain ignorant until it affects them.

6:55 AM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

The Evangelical churches and the Roman Catholic church are well en route to a natural death (albeit, self-induced). I am inclined to hold their hands and offer soothe while they gasp their last on their adjacent death beds. We need do no more and certainly no less.

6:33 PM  

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