Thursday, June 11, 2015

People Aren't Numbers: A Plea to Christianity Today

    Two days ago, leading Christian magazine Christianity Today published this article affirming their belief in one-man-one-woman marriage.
     Now, I truly believe that we must listen and learn from each other with humility and love. But I fear Mark Galli's article only serves to alienate - because despite his declared intention "treat with charity and respect those with whom we disagree," his article does nothing of the sort. Sweet words do not necessarily mean one is being respectful or charitable.
      First, despite the title, Galli cites no stats to back up his "2 Billion Christians" argument. This begs the question as to whether this estimate actually exists, or whether, once more, people's lives have been reduced to clickbait.
    Continuing with the title and lack of statistics, I really wonder how Galli intended the "Breaking News" part of the title as anything other than mockery. Again, that is neither respect nor charity. 
    Second, as I've argued before, we humans know so little about the universe and each other, that, when someone queer says "this is how I am, and God does not condemn me," perhaps it is best - the nonjudgmental, non-pharasaical way, in fact - to trust them, and let God handle the rest. To say that you know someone better than themselves is alienating, un-empathetic, and arrogant.
    Moreover, Galli claims that we who argue for LGBTQ+ inclusion are caving into culture. In this, he dismisses the work of Matthew Vines, my friend Derek, and any of the numerous scholarly Biblical interpretations that dispute Galli's opinion. 
    And, speaking of ostracism, Galli dismisses the suffering of the entire LGBTQ+ community in his implication that culture makes it easy to be queer. For many queer folk, coming out may cause ridicule, beatings, the rejection of friends and families. Coming out as LGBTQ+ poses a lot of risks, and facing those risks for the sake of justice and truth is hardly "caving into culture."
    As a Christian, I'd also like to point out that it's not caving into culture when the culture you grew up in is non-affirming (Rachel Held Evans once wrote an article articulating this in greater detail, but I can't find the link). Personally, as a straight ciswoman who could have easily blended in with non-affirming people, I spoke up because I felt I could not remain silent while any human suffered. I spoke up in spite of my culture, not because of it. 
    But Galli's dismissal doesn't stop there, and reveals something fundamentally broken in his argument. Galli claims "The church has been and remains overwhelming united," a statement that dismisses the opposing viewpoint as nearly nonexistent, mere noise created by American culture. Such a claim implies that because the opposing viewpoint has the smaller number, because these people are the minority, their voices are ultimately insignificant. The statistic that 48% of LGBTQ+ Americans are actually Christian doesn't matter. Only the majority, the privileged, the powerful, matter. 
     What Galli misses is that ignoring the small numbers only works for mathematical estimates, not for real people. Jesus, the Jesus Galli and Christianity Today and I myself claim to serve, stuck up for the marginalized. He treated every person like they mattered. 
    Ignoring the small but growing number of LGBTQ+ and affirming Christians contributes to the ostracism of this precious community. Respect and charity this is not, despite Galli's intentions. I have no doubt that he intended his article to be exactly as he claimed.
    Yet the problem is that when we aren't willing to hope the best in each other, we aren't loving each other as Jesus did. 
    The problem is that when we focus on the majority, we affirm that power, not the hurting minority, is what actually mattes. We dehumanize the minority in favor of a numbers game. 
    That's hardly respect and charity, and I hope Galli and all the non-affirming staff of Christianity Today learns this ASAP. Because this is real life, and all life matters.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this critique and offering an alternative vision. (I found your website via your comments on Neil Carter's blog).

    Especially your phrase that stood out for me is "to hope the best in each other."

    I want to do that with everyone:-)