An Open Letter To All Those Who Call Me An Intolerant Bigot

Dear Friends,

It’s been a pretty big brouhaha (I’ve always loved that word) lately, hasn’t it? First, NBA player Jason Collins openly admits that he is gay. Then, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard raises questions about the rightness/wrongness of being gay. Then all fury erupted. Now, Christians, and anyone else who questions the morality of homosexuality, are being accused of “intolerance”, “bigotry”, “closed-mindedness”, and other similar things.

And I get it, I really do. It takes a lot of courage for a professional athlete to admit that he is a homosexual. And then us hoity-toity Christians swoop in, raining on everyone’s parade. If I wasn’t a Christian, I’d probably be mad too. Christians are always ruining everyone’s party, or so it seems.

But see, here’s the thing: the reality is, you probably shouldn’t be calling me a bigot, you should be calling Jesus a bigot. Or I suppose you could call us both bigots. What I mean is, the only reason I oppose homosexuality is because of what Jesus says in the Bible. If it were up to me, I’d agree with the Beatles that all you need is love. Or, as Sheryl Crow put it, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad. I want everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life.

But ultimately it’s not up to me. As a Christian, I have given my life completely over to Jesus, which means all my opinions, ideas, desires, and dreams are submitted to him. He is the king, I am not. His word is final, his rule is complete. I can’t make Jesus fit me, I must fit him. I can’t make Jesus fit my opinions, I must make my opinions fit Jesus. The reason I oppose homosexuality is rooted solely in what Jesus says in the Bible (I am counting all of the New Testament as being the words of Jesus). The New Testament makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin. It’s not worse than any other sin, but it is a sin nonetheless.

Therefore, please don’t interpret my opposition to homosexuality as personal opposition to you. I have no vendetta against you, and carry no grudge toward you. I love you, and want you to experience God’s absolute best. I want to be friends with you, hang out with you, barbecue together. My opinion about homosexuality springs out of my allegiance to Jesus. My allegiance to Jesus takes highest precedent in my life, and informs everything I think and do.

So am I an intolerant bigot? I guess that depends on what you mean by “bigot”. Do I think certain things are objectively right and wrong? Yes. Jesus defines what is right and wrong, and my opinion must line up with his. Does that mean I hate those who do wrong things? No, absolutely not. In fact, I actively “tolerate”  and respect those who hold different opinions than me, which is the true meaning of tolerance. When you call me a bigot you are implying that I actively hate you, which is far from the truth!

Ultimately, I want to be like Jesus. The Bible describes him as being full of grace and truth. On the one hand, he was gracious, loving, and respectful to those who did what was morally wrong. He spent many hours hanging around those who were despised by the religious leaders of the day. His love for people was not based on their righteousness. On the other hand, he lovingly spoke the truth to those who did what was wrong. He called people to submit their lives totally to him.

So if you’re going to call me a bigot, you must also call Jesus a bigot. But please don’t call Jesus a bigot. Bigotry implies venom and hatred, which is the opposite of Jesus. He loves you far more than you can possibly imagine.

Note: I’ve left comments open for now, but I don’t want this to turn into dogfight. As soon as that happens I’ll turn off the comments.

Second Note: I hope you can tell from the tone of this post that I obviously disassociate myself from the folks in the photo…

Comments

  1. Mel says

    The some of the people on my facebook would have no problem doing that and the others just see me as the people in your picture and themselves as the real loving Christians. It's really pointless to even talk about it. They don't get it.

  2. says

    It might be helpful to make a distinction between happiness and sensory or psychological pleasure. The latter is often confused with the former.

  3. says

    Thanks for this post. It's a blessing to know that we stand behind a tradition and more importantly Jesus on this issue. It's also comforting to know that we have the approval of the Father through Jesus and need not fight for acceptance from people by lowering God's standards of holiness.

  4. Laura says

    very well written. your comment "I can’t make Jesus fit me, I must fit him" sums up the Christian life. quite the challenge to make myself fit Jesus! but He gives me grace and strength to do just that. also a good point to remember that Jesus is the opposite of venom and hatred.

  5. michaelandrzejewski says

    Thank you for the 2nd note. Call me crazy, but I have a much bigger problem with Westboro Baptist Church than I do with Jason Collins. I'm thankful for Chris Broussard and you, as both his words and your post are sprinkled with grace and not ridicule and the calling down of fiery judgment. Homosexuality is sin, just like any other. Again, thank you. http://cbcpm.net

  6. Felicia says

    Thank you for always saying the right things when I need to hear them. Your posts are a continuing blessing to me and I enjoy sharing them with my family. Blessings to you!

  7. Ruth says

    Excellent post/discussion. I plan to share this w our church youth, many of whom are pulled by the media depiction of "intolerance."

  8. says

    "I want everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life."

    And the amazing thing is, so does Jesus! He wants everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life too. The difference is that we don't ultimately know how to get those things, and He does. We search for happiness in the things that will make us miserable. We look for love in the places that will ultimately leave us lonely and dejected. We try to find meaningful relationships in short-sighted and superficial ways.

    But Jesus does know how to obtain the happiness, love, and relationships that we can only dream about. And He came, died, and rose again to give people just that. So embrace Him as Savior already! :-)

  9. Alex says

    There is not a SINGLE direct quote where Jesus said anything about homosexuality. Just go ahead and try to provide one, please, do look. Your allegiance is to what the christian scholars call the synoptic writers. a whole big group of different people at different times who weren't alive when Jesus was alive. Ever played the game telephone? That's oral tradition for you. Study more about the bible.

    • says

      Hey Alex,

      I realize that Jesus never said a direct quote about homosexuality. That's why I said I'm treating all of the NT as Jesus' words. And honestly I'm not sure what you mean by the "synoptic writers". The synoptic writers were Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who were disciples of Jesus and authors of the synoptic gospels. And actually, contrary to what you state, almost every letter written in the NT was written by someone who WAS alive when Jesus was alive. Modern scholarship has tried to discount the authors of the NT, but there is substantial (and I mean really substantial) evidence that all the letters were written by those who were very close to Jesus.

      And in terms of oral tradition, it is far more reliable than you seem to imply. Because of the Jewish fanaticism about preserving their written words, the manuscripts of both the OT and NT were duplicated thousands and thousands of time. Of course, popular authors like Bart Ehrman object to this, but they are simply ignoring the facts.

      You are free to disagree with the words of Jesus and to discount him as a liar or crazy person, but the historical evidence does not allow us to discount the fact that Jesus really did live, really did die, and then really did rise again. If you want to disagree with the Bible, at least make sure you disagree with what is written in the original source manuscripts.

      • Tim says

        How do you respond to the verses immediately following Mark:6-9, which read

        10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

        Source: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%

        It seems that a large portion of the world, and nearly 1/2 of all marriages here in the US, are resulting in adultery

      • Tim says

        For clarity, here is Mark10:6-9

        6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

  10. Elan says

    You are not following Jesus, you are following people who tell you about Jesus. Are you willing to live your life based on the word of a few people ?

  11. yourlovingmountainman says

    Great post, I love it! This topic has really been weighing on my mind for the past several months, and I think it's sad how the Christian worldview are so misrepresented. I agree, I get really mad at all of the "Christians" who are more concerned with speaking out against homosexuality than they are about preaching Jesus. Moreover, they are sinners too, and are no better than homosexuals; the only thing that separates them from homosexuals is that they have been redeemed through Christ. They don't hold a humble view. I disagree with homosexuality, but I love gay people as much as I love anyone else, and I think Jesus does too! I mean, seriously, Jesus chilled with prostitutes and tax-collectors. He was more concerned with showing them the love of the father–which sent him to the cross for people such as them (and you!)–than preaching them away. It is when we set the example of Jesus' love and humility that homosexuals will be drawn to the Gospel!

  12. Maverick says

    Where in the Gospel does Jesus condemn homosexuality? Verse? It's only mentioned once in the OLD Testament.

    • Horton says

      What evidence do you have that there is no God, despite the fact that you have never seen him? And, without one, how did the earth come to be?

      • Tim says

        Being unable to supply an answer, backed by evidence, to the question "how did the earth come to be (without being created by God)" is not an argument for the earth being created by the Christian God, or any other god(s) for that matter. It's not an argument to say "you have no evidence, therefore, God"

        Christians have no more evidence for how the world was ultimately created than atheists. The idea that the Earth was created by God is strictly based on faith; faith that the bible is the true word of God, faith that the bible was not influenced by those who wrote it, and faith that the story of Adam and Eve was more a parable than anything

          • Tim says

            At the end of the day, I'm not sure what I believe, honestly. Maybe there is a higher power, or powers, that started it all. I assume your asking is just an innocent question, but I don't feel my personal "belief" is wholly relevant to the topic being discussed.

            I just take issue with the idea that if there is no current scientific explanation for something, then for some Christian's, the God rule is invoked. And sadly at times, even when there is a scientific explanation, it is ignored or also attributed to God. Bill O'Reilly's infamous "we don't know how the tides work" comes to mind

            I feel like using the Bible as a general basis for morality is not necessarily a bad thing, but if we're to believe it's a guide-book for how to live our lives, then one also has accept that it is littered with questionable and conflicting things stories and ideas.

            Violence towards one another, both old and new testament. Being commanded to "love thy neighbor", followed by being told that homosexuality is a sin (which is the catalyst for this article) and then in the same passage being told that if you divorce and re-marry, you've committed adultery, which is largely ignored by the Christian world.

            I'm sure both pro-Bible and anti-Bible sides can go on for days with example and counter-example to support any given idea, and that is fine, as long as both sides acknowledge that those conflicts exist within the book, and I think that's largely the issue right now. I feel like Christians are cherry-picking the bible for support passages while ignoring others

        • Steve says

          And there is the test of a true Christian, without complete evidence still being able to believe in God. I respect your opinions because from your standpoint they are quite logical. But I have taken the leap of faith, and I believe in God, and I know that to most of us there will never be absolute proof of God(that is, until faith).

          • guest says

            How did you choose which god to believe in? Would you have chosen the christian god if you grew up in Egypt? In Iran? In India in a Hindu family?

            Is there a rational reason to choose christianity over any other religion except that many people also believe in it?

            • Jenny says

              Well, I can't force you to believe what I believe (Christianity). I can only say that I've tried a lot of things to give my satisfying and lasting happiness. Relationships, food, things, money–those are all good things, but after a while I left them feeling dejected, unsatisfied with my success and pleasure. In my need I turned to the God that I heard about constantly growing up, and since I have turned to Him, my life has meaning, and he carries me through it.

              All that to say that I can't give you a scientific reason for faith. There isn't one. People all over the world believe in something, whether they know it or not. But there is a difference between Christianity and other religions. Yes, there are things that God says to do and not to do. But, if you look at the religions around you, they have a sort of bondage to them. There are rituals that you MUST do, or you won't go to Heaven (according to their religions). But, with Christianity, all you have to do is believe and trust in God. You don't have to make a journey, or reach a certain age–you just have to believe, and God will save you! Please consider: what gives you happiness? And are you really happy?

  13. says

    Actually, Jesus wants us to love. That means we should show love to homosexuals, prostitutes, and all those who society deems unloveable. We do not have to accept their lifestyles but we should respect them as human beings. Churches are not suppose to condemn but to share God's love. As a person who is still struggling with sexuality, I would not know Jesus's love, if my family and church did not respect me or shared that there is someone who will forgive my sins and make me feel loved. The facts that I am a sinner and I am being blessed, proves that love is here with me. God is love.

  14. Rafael says

    This post makes me sad. You seem to be quite happy to discard your own morality. I’m also curious: what DO you believe? You have said that you have to align your beliefs to what Jesus believes, but do you agree with him? How do you know that Jesus’ opinion is actually moral?

  15. Neil says

    What casts Christianity in a bad light is not its calling of homosexuality a sin, which in light of your beliefs is understandable even if immoral in todays societies social mores, but its single-mindedness on concentrating on discriminating, protesting and vilifying this one "sin" amongst so many others. Why are there no pickets against remarriage after divorce? Why are people not storming into Boston and turning over the tables of the chowder tradesmen? If you say we can not call you bigots, we can at the very least call you hypocrites. Its time Christians took a long hard look at themselves and admitted that their detest of this single issue is not solely due to following Jesus's teachings, but due to policy. And at the heart of that policy, what you find is hatred and disgust at homosexuality. If that isnt bigotry, what is?

    • Steve. says

      I agree there is a paradox there. I quite agree that we who are Christians should be openly opposed to those things as well. I as a Christian am, I know my pastor and (at least) most of my church is. Not saying you won`t find sin here, but point it out and we will do our best to correct.

    • Mel says

      There are many churches that will not let you be a member if you are divorced or married to a divorced person. There are Christian Universities that will not let you attend if you are connected to divorce in those ways. Does that make you feel better? I know of a local church that voted a widow out when the he got engaged to a divorced woman. The fact that he hadn't married her yet, ultimately didn't marry her, didn't matter. Does that make you feel better?

      But you hold yourself up as the example of what decent people should be. Your religion is your opinion. You have made yourself our judge. We MUST measure up to your criteria or you will call us a name. So your religion goes by the rule of "Do as I say and not as I do" Just a tad bit hypocritical but okay since you are a god then I guess you get to make the rules. Excuse me if I don't chose you as my god and refuse to recognize your authority.

  16. Ryan says

    Okay, that is all fine. But when you try to force your beliefs on others, that is where I have a problem and is what makes you a bigot. The United States was in no way founded on Christian beliefs. Also, Christians have no right to define what marriage is, considering that marriage was around long before Christianity. Marriage is a legal binding, and really has nothing to do with religion (unless you want it to), and not allowing homosexuals to marry is against the constitution, no matter what you believe. It is a right that they deserve.
    Also in this article you basically admit that you are not thinking for yourself- you are not thinking if YOU agree with it, you are just going along with what Jesus supposedly said. If God exists, he gave you a brain for a reason. He would want you to think, to decide for yourself what you think is right, not follow what others tell you. That is what is so great and beautiful about humans, we all have our own thoughts.

    • lisa says

      "If God exists, he gave you a brain for a reason. He would want you to think, to decide for yourself what you think is right, not follow what others tell you."
      Ryan, may I respectfully ask you, how do you KNOW that this is what God would want? I mean, who says?

  17. Bonnie says

    you make me sick. i literally feel physically sick reading this. excuse me while i go throw up thinking about what complete idiots still exist in the world. are you really so immature you can't even think for yourself? or is it laziness? grow up.

  18. says

    " I want everyone to be happy, to find love, and to be able to find meaningful relationships in life."

    So, if it were up to YOU, gay marriage would be perfectly fine and acceptable, but you'll support the denial of that privilege anyway and essentially place all the blame for your bigotry on Jesus? You don't see anything off about that? My biggest issue with this argument is the complete disregard for personal responsibility. Do you support slavery as well? Would you beat your wife to death if she cheated on you? Because there's evidence Jesus would be okay with that.

    PS: You really could have chosen a different picture. That's just unfortunate. Think about it. The Westboro Baptist Church does what it does in the name of Jesus too–what makes you any different from them? So you don't protest military funerals and tote hateful signs? You may word it differently but your message is the very same. Bigotry is bigotry. Period.

  19. Andra says

    I appreciate that this piece comes from a place of respect and love, and I do not wish to start an argument; however I must insert my findings on the matter. Jesus never spoke of homosexuality, and the NT is hardly "clear" on the subject.

    The context, cultural differences and translations must be thought of. There was no concept of sexual orientation when the Bible was written, nor a word for homosexual. All the NT passages are mentioning idol worship, promiscuity, rape, other sins along with the homosexual acts. These were not the loving and committed relationships that thousands of gay people are in today.

    Furthermore, people don't feel very loved when they don't get equal rights. As you said, we are all sinners, so we should all be treated the same. Especially under the law of a country which cannot make laws on religious grounds. I support your right to believe whatever you want to believe, but I have to stand up for a large number of hurting people, who despite being equally sinful as the rest of us, don't get equal treatment. Everyone sins and yet they can still get married, share health benefits with the one they love, not get fired for being themselves, etc.

    Treat everyone as you would want them treat you, and let everyone find their own happiness.

    • Mel says

      They will feel worse sitting in hell because no one would speak up because they wanted to feel proud of themselves for not telling them things that might hurt their feelings. People have a right to walk out into a rushing river when they can't swim but is it loving to not tell them that they will drown at some point when the water is over their head? Or will you stand on the bank and cheer so that they can feel 'supported"?

  20. markthog says

    Jesus, in discussing marriage, said “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Mark 10:6-7). Jesus defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Marriage cannot be defined any other way. Thank you, Stephen, for articulating how all Christians should believe regarding the question of homosexuality (or adultery, or theft, or lying, or cheating on taxes, or having an ungrateful attitude…). Jesus sets the standard. It's not up to human reason. And besides, it's unreasonable to believe that people of the same gender were meant by the Creator to have a sexual relationship. Read Romans Chapter 1:18-32. The wording there is very clear.

    • Andra says

      You're aware that the bible also defines marriage as a man and multiple wives, a man and a woman and a concubine, a rapist and his victim? Fifteen-year-olds got married, women were property of their husbands… The definition of marriage has changed already.

      • markthog says

        Andra, there is a difference between "defining" something as foundational as marriage and providing an unedited record of the actions of individuals in the Bible. David committed adultery. This is a record of what he did. But it does not define adultery as the norm. Solomon had many wives and it caused his downfall. You need to distinguish doctrine from the anecdotal record. Also, Jesus came to fulfill the law not to abolish the law. He rescued the woman caught in adultery from stoning, but he told her "Go and sin no more." Again, please read Romans 1:18-32 and tell me how you can interpret it any other way than defining homosexuality as an aberration that was/is not God's plan.

        "But this is the one to whom I will look:
        he who is humble and contrite in spirit
        and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:2

        Do you tremble at His word, or do you tremble at the opinions of a fallen culture?

  21. Ted says

    The Word of God as a reference for some who wants to see it for themselves probably helpful. We know Him and follow Him by faith.Let the dialogue continue and see where our blind spots are.

  22. Andra says

    Paul’s focus in Romans 1 is pretty clearly that this group of people decided to ignore God and worship false idols. They were empty of God and LOVE. What if it was unnatural sexual desire because these were straight people? Gay sex is unnatural to straight people, but its natural to gay people. Straight sex is unnatural for gay people. Just a thought. But I feel like its pretty clear that their sin was ignoring God and using sex to worship idols, possibly in an orgy.

    Gay people want love, just like everyone else. They’re not all filled with lust and hatred for God. Tons of them are Christians, wanting to do good and live their lives for Jesus. Also, if they were allowed to get married it would be possible to refrain from pre-marital sex.

  23. Angie says

    Jesus had love for the least of us and was not judgemental. We should all take his lead and save our judgement for ourselves. We must remove the judgement of others from the Christian handbook.

  24. Tony says

    So why do certain Christians take issue with homosexuality specifically and not tattoos (Leviticus 19:28), haircuts (Leviticus 19:27), second marriages (Mark 10:11-12), or seafood (Leviticus 10-11)?

  25. Zikander says

    I am not going to call you anything sir you have a right to believe in Jesus and a right to stand by your faith but what off those who do not adhere to your menatality and your way of thinking you cannot make my decisions for me and no one is asking for you to hold the hand of a homosexual but there is tolerance is not acceptance and personally I dont need to you accept me but it would be nice if you respect my right to live my life with out being judged by you .

  26. Rod says

    The "new bigotry" as I have seen it, is the attitude that calls those who hold to classic, traditional views of Christian truth, expression and application "bigots." There is a lot of intolerance (it is becoming the cultural norm) and narrow minded thinking toward anyone who holds to a moral value that is clearly defined by the Bible. Bigotry works both ways it appears.

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