"Go and sin no more"
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, believes that homosexuality is a sin.
He is unrelenting in his attacks on gays and lesbians for their immoral behavior.
There are many who believe that Perkins and those who share his beliefs are responsible for the anti-homosexual rants we have seen lately and their words may have contributed to the spate of recent suicides among gay teens.
Perkins represents a large number of conservative Christians who are adding their voices to the political and moral debate in this country. Their beliefs are based on their religious convictions. This is a powerful and influential group of people and it is important to understand their position on homosexuality.
Last week, Perkins wrote a piece for "On Faith" titled "Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality" in which he addressed the issue of teen suicides. "Some homosexual activist groups lay blame at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong, as well as pro family groups such as Family Research Council which opposes elements of the homosexual political agenda, such as same-sex 'marriage,'" he wrote.
Perkins asserted that the bullying had nothing to do with his group's religious convictions but blamed the bullies themselves because of their lack of religious values. He even suggested that many of them probably didn't go to church.
He said that Christians can offer homosexuals hope that their "sins" can be forgiven. He called homosexual behavior "harmful to the people who engage in it and harmful to society at large...This is why, in the public policy arena, we will continue to oppose any policy or action that would celebrate or affirm homosexual conduct." He concluded that "the life which is holy (from a spiritual perspective) or even healthy (from a secular perspective) requires abstinence from homosexual conduct."
We have been hearing this kind of homophobia a lot lately because of the suicides. Perkins asserted that there is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems and depression in general but said that there is "no empirical evidence" that this is caused by discrimination.
However, in the very study Perkins cited, American Psychiatric Association researchers wrote that "Discrimination may help fuel higher rates" of depression. It would certainly make sense. Who wouldn't be depressed to see people like themselves bullied, beaten, tortured, vilified and humiliated?
The notion that homosexuality is sinful, wrong, abnormal, unholy, perverted, an abomination or willful is plain nonsense and most people know this. I believe this anti-gay bias is erupting because those who have always felt comfortable in their religious beliefs about homosexuality are being challenged every day and in every way. They feel threatened that the population is becoming more tolerant. Just look at the poll numbers and see, especially among young people, how much more tolerant our society is today about gays than it was even five years ago. Those who have held anti-gay positions are changing their minds. One of the reasons is hearing from Tony Perkins and realizing that his position against gays is not Christian at all. Perkins continues that "Jesus' command to love our neighbor clearly embraces the homosexuals as well. But love does not require affirming every behavior in which an individual engages."
Either we love our neighbors as ourselves or we don't. I can't believe Christ would equivocate.
One day sooner rather than later, our society will look back on these days and the final throes of anti- homosexuality with shock and horror and shame that a portion of our population was so badly abused.
Perkins says that when Jesus stopped the people from stoning the adulteress, he told them, knowing they were all sinners, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." And Jesus said to her "Go and sin no more." He didn't, Perkins points out, say, "Go for you have not sinned."
Free speech in America is one of our most cherished ideals. Perkins is entitled to his opinions. But saying what he believes does not excuse him from responsibility for the consequences of what he says.
It makes me wonder about Perkins himself. Would he consider himself without sin? And if not, how can he cast a stone at homosexuals? How can that not be considered a sin?
If it is, I would say to Perkins, "Go and sin no more."
October 18, 2010; 3:56 PM ET
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Posted by: JenWhite | October 22, 2010 10:26 AM
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