Greg Koukl answers a listener’s question, “Is it my responsibility to educate myself on gay rights history as a family member has told me?”
Caller: I have a brother-in-law who recently came out as homosexual. I had an interaction with him where he was referring to a gay rights event that was going on that he wanted to attend, and I didn’t recognize the name of it. I kind of looked at him with confusion, and then other people in the group were saying, “You need to educate yourself, and you need to learn more about this, and you need to know what’s going on, and you’re being a little ignorant.” Do we have the responsibility to educate ourselves on gay rights to be more understanding and to be able to interact with people that we love who are living the homosexual lifestyle?
Greg: This is a challenging question, because I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it is always appropriate to be sensitive to people who have experienced some measure of suffering for some aspect of their life—especially if it’s a controversial aspect of their life, and especially if they have a different point of view than we have—to be cordial and sympathetic and to try to understand their view, even though we don’t agree with it. In fact, it’s hard to disagree with a view we don’t understand, so it’s important to understand that. But I think that sometimes that can be overdone, and it’s an observation about the culture right now.
You hear this word, “conversation,” a lot. In other words, we have to have a conversation. We need to have a cultural conversation. Now, the concept of having conversation with people who disagree with us is fine, but I actually think that the way it’s being used now is manipulative, because when—let me just call it the secular environment or the left on these issues—when they talk about conversation, they do not mean conversation. They mean, “Let’s talk about this thing the way I talk about it.” In other words, their view. Let’s affirm it. “Oh, you disagree? Okay. Well, then the conversation’s not over yet. We have to keep having the conversation until you get it—until you see it the way we see it, and we’re going to keep pressuring you and browbeating you with it until you agree with us.”
I mean, I can think of conversations I’ve been in with people, and they’ve said, “You’re not listening to me.” And my response is, “Of course I’m listening to you. I just don’t agree with you.” They’re saying, “You’re not listening,” because I haven’t changed my mind yet. No, I’m listening. That’s not hard. This issue is not difficult. We have a different point of view on this, and so, I think there is a limit, then, to what can be expected of us in terms of bending over backwards to have conversation and to understand the plight of people.
Plus, you know, there is a huge wave of victimhood that has been encouraged and abetted by propaganda and rhetorical tricks. I’m not saying there aren’t victims out there, but this has been so overdone that it distorts what the truth is about the circumstances. There is absolutely no sense that any conservative person is a victim, even though I just listened to Kevin Sorbo last night doing a thing for Prager. His Hercules show was the most popular show in the world, and his agent and his manager came to him, and they said, “We cannot represent you anymore.” There’s a cash crop here for managers and agents. They said, “We cannot represent you anymore.” He said, “Why not?” “Because you’re a conservative, and you’re a Christian. We’re firing ourselves.” I mean, it’s boggled. This is what’s happening. So, is he a victim? Does that count when Hollywood cancels somebody out? What about our stories? They are not interested in our stories because they do not care about how we feel or what befalls us for our views. It’s our own fault. That’s their perspective.
In summary, I think that there is a legitimate place for what you described, but I think that the demand that is being made is excessive, and it’s a one-way street, as it always is with these people. It is a completely one-way street. There are rare exceptions to that, but as a generalization, this is the way it is. Whether it’s the press, whether it’s Hollywood, whether it’s the academy, whatever. No matter how you cut it, that’s the way it is. It’s a one-way street. And this happens also in families because they’re taking their cues from the rest of the world, and it’s working. The rhetorical propaganda game plan is working just fine. Why should they change for you? I think that’s what you’re up against.
Caller: Yeah, it’s a really difficult—I guess to use your word—conversation to have. The other difficult part about this is that he grew up in a Christian home. My in-laws are Christians, and he decided that wasn’t for him and that he didn’t want to submit himself to God’s law anymore, and so, he said, “I believe that I’m gay, and I understand that’s not okay with Christians, so I’m walking away from Christianity.” So, in this specific instance, there just seemed to be a little bit of understanding that, because of the choices that we have made to be Christians and to follow God’s law, we don’t agree with his lifestyle. It’s kind of an understanding that we have with each other, that we have our beliefs, he has his beliefs. Often, it just doesn’t come up because we’re trying to avoid it.
Greg: Well, that’s better than usual. I mean, a lot of times, what’s going to happen is you’ll be ostracized in the relationship because you’re not celebrating the direction he’s going. In any event, you can still be gracious, still have relationship, because we don’t expect non-Christians to live like Christians. Yet, at the same time, they should not expect Christians to believe like non-Christians. So that’s a kind of a two-way street, but it rarely works that way. Usually it’s one way. We need more conversation. I want to know what that conversation looks like, and maybe that’s the question. What does that mean? What does “conversation” mean? I know what it means in practical terms with these folks. It’s a one-way. It’s my way or the highway. That’s their view, or else. It’s not an adequate conversation unless they can persuade you. Just something to think about. Ask them, “What does that look like? What do we need to converse about? You know my view. I know your view. Where is the place for conversation on this issue?”