I recently had (another) discussion about conservative Christian attitudes toward homosexuality on Facebook. I never take up a discussion about this issue as a means to convince people that homosexuality is a sin and the reasons why. Facebook is a difficult place for any discussion and explaining why Christianity believes this requires an entire conversation about cosmology and the nature of God/man relationship. It also isn’t my job to convince people of this belief. But I do find myself compelled to defend Christians against allegations of bigotry and hatred in an attempt to find some sort of middle ground. The Christian and secular communities are becoming increasingly divided on this issue and I have a desire to make it clear to people our attitudes toward the LGBT community. This is also made difficult by idiots like those of the Westboro Baptist Church whose despicable acts of hatred do infinitely more to harm Christian ideas than any homosexual couple out there. I want to somehow separate myself, and every Christian who I have ever attended church with, from these fools.
So I want to post the discussion I recently had in its entirety. I will change the names of the other parties out of courtesy. I will commentate on this discussion which puts the other gentleman at a disadvantage here since his comments will not be defended while mine will be. It is only fair to point this out. I am trying to make sense of the attitudes towards us Christians and this is what I will be musing over here.
The discussion began with a post from a brother of an old friend. This person did not contribute to the conversation beyond the original post. It went like this:
Poteat, V. Paul, and Ethan H. Mereish. 2012. “Ideology, Prejudice, and Attitudes Toward Sexual Minority Social Policies and Organizations.” Political Psychology 33(2): 211-224.
“Results also diminish the principled conservatism argument that conservative positions on these policies and organizations are absent of prejudice. As policies continue to be enacted that affect the sexual minority community, research is needed to identify the underlying motivations for individuals’ positions toward these policies.”
(If you need an explanation, this is a reference to an academic study citing prejudice as the reason conservative Christians are opposed to same-sex marriage, and a claim that more research is needed to find out why people feel this way. So I responded:)
Andrew–Perhaps a more effective means of research would be simply dialogue.
I’ll offer some here.
The underlying motivations for individuals’ positions toward these policies are very clear and are frequently offered.
The prejudice you are seeing would be the same prejudice felt towards spouses who are unfaithful. You are able to feel love for these people and care about them, but are less able to say that the act of infidelity was “right”. So we have policies that allow for divorce and laws that don’t allow polygamy.
I guess you could say policies or attitudes are prejudiced against open or polygamous relationships but I don’t think that word, prejudice, would describe it correctly.
(My first comment was an attempt to spark a discussion which it did. I don’t know anything about the person I had this conversation with. I will call him Mark. He responded:)
Mark– What’s the argument there? We call something prejudice when its not a prejudice, because then we would have to call other things prejudice that we don’t call a prejudice, so, therefore, it isn’t a prejudice?
Andrew– I wasn’t really making an argument per se, it was an attempt to illustrate the “underlying motivations for individuals’ positions”. It was also a feeble attempt at dialogue.
Mark– Well, the question is if people that are unfaithful and are polygamist should be punished for their actions/beliefs. If you think they should be punished, and it’s the role of government to do so, then is it not the same kind of thing happening with “sexual minorities”? The prejudice certainly can extend to other groups, but it need not be applied consistently to all groups within “sexual minority.” the point is that people basically judge beforehand that some things are “right” and “wrong” in a particular way, which you admit. (We all do, btw.) But, it seems that there is no real reason to include only one handful of people over another. Policies that are written to keep some in and some out, then, are primarily based on nonsense prejudice. So, really, there can’t be an argument that says this is X because some agree it’s X, and it therefore cannot be Y. If you want to say that the truth of X is because the laws or general people say so, fine–but that will change. So: QED NBD.
(Okay, I didn’t know what QED NBD meant so I had to look it up. I’m not particularly fluent in internet slang. It means, Quod Erat Demonstrandum(it has been proved), No Big Deal. I was dealing with a confident fellow. I went on:)
Andrew-Sorry, movie night with the kids (I took twelve hours to respond to this comment which in the meantime I finished the work day and had another discussion with this person where he accused me of being racist for not voting for Obama).
I just want to point out that I wasn’t making an argument about whether or not polygamist and the unfaithful should be punished. I was saying that the in the mind of a Christian conservative, these are the same things, or are at least approached with the same thinking as same-sex unions. They(we) are not prejudiced towards polygamists and adulterers, it is just thought that these practices are not healthy for a society.
Stop. I am still illustrating a mind frame so don’t get all bent out of shape.
You can probably agree there should be some laws prohibiting polygamy, and feel our attitudes which don’t condone an unfaithful wife or husband are justified. Maybe you don’t. But let’s say you do. Can I call you be prejudiced for this? For the conservative Christian, it is the same feelings toward the same-sex marriage. Our line is drawn at different points. You may feel these are different things, but the others do not. This is what I am trying to say.
Prejudiced just doesn’t fit. People are not being pre-judged. If you were to say discrimination, I could see your line of reason. You called it nonsense prejudice and I can see why you think that, but for others it is very clear.
I’m not trying to convince you of anything I just want to try and explain how others may think. The laws may change, and maybe that is good, but the idea that homosexual unions (sexual and marital) are wrong are going to remain in the Christian community forever. We have to figure out how to coexist.
(I attempted here to find some middle ground and plea for some sort of common understanding. He responded:)
Mark– CALLL OUTTTTT!!!
Calls have been made.
(I have no idea what this meant. Was it a mistake? More slang? A threat? Still don’t know.)
Andrew– What does this mean?
Mark– What is the difference between prejudice and discrimination?
Andrew– Is that what you meant by “CALLL OUTTTT!!!”? Who are calls being made to?
Prejudiced -1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
Discriminate- 1. to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit; show partiality
Mark– Oh, you are a clever one, you are.
Here is the whole definition from Dictionary.com—let’s let the jury decide if the distinction stands:
prej·u·dice [prej-uh-dis] Show IPA noun, verb, prej·u·diced, prej·u·dic·ing.
an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.
such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.
damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.
dis·crim·i·na·tion [dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn] Show IPA
an act or instance of discriminating.
treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment: She chose the colors with great discrimination.
Archaic . something that serves to differentiate.
So, which ones fit with your defense of being a bigot, again? (My emphasis)
(I felt the discussion slipping away at this point. I obviously was not illustrating my point the way I wanted to. I tried one last time for an understanding. Oh, he followed with another definition which I left out- discriminate.)
Andrew– Mark, I am trying to illustrate the mind of someone who does not agree with you. I know your views are different.
Someone who sees homosexuality as a sin is not working from a feeling of prejudice because the homosexual has already committed the act. Now when they create laws that are detrimental to the homosexual then I can see how that would be discrimination.
You do not see homosexuality as a “sin” so you find this distinction as unreasonable and without merit, thus prejudiced, and so all acts of wordage or policy making become discriminatory.
There is a disconnect between these two ways of thinking that is not being communicated properly.
What is the answer?
Mark– Yeah, that’s fine. I agree with you: you operating with prejudiced and/or discriminatory beliefs. What was the disagreement? That I didn’t know the people who have different beliefs than me were bigots that are happy being bigots? Cause, yeah, I guess I didn’t realize just how happy there were in their bigotry.
bigotry[ big-uh-tree ]
noun pl. big·ot·ries.
1. stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
2. the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.
(I’m glad he ended with this definition.)
Andrew– So be it.
That was the end of the discussion. I will continue my personal analysis of the conversation in another post.