Christian Living

The Myth of Hate

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 11/04/2014

I’m told writing this post won’t matter. I can clarify until I’m blue in the face and nothing will change. It doesn’t matter what Christians actually think or believe about homosexuality. It seems the world will still believe what it wants to believe no matter what anyone says.

But I still have hope. So, I’m putting this out there. The most common misconception about Christians and homosexuality is that Christians hate homosexuals. Though there are some things Christians have done to contribute to this impression, it’s largely untrue.

Let me first speak for myself. I can honestly say I don’t hate or feel animosity towards people who identify as gay or lesbian. Keep in mind that I’m, allegedly, one of those right-wing fundamentalist fanatics who say homosexual sex is sin. I travel around the country teaching about the Christian worldview and often address the topic of homosexuality. I’m the one the media refers to as “a Christian minister who serves up homophobia to congregations across the country.” If there’s any kind of person who is supposed to hate homosexuals, it’s me. I’m the activist.

But I don’t. Not even a little. I have family and friends who identify as gay and lesbian and I love each of them. They come over and spend time with me. There’s no malice. I’m not angry. They’re always welcome in my home.

I realize I don’t speak for every Christian, but I know and have met a lot of Christians across the country. I’ve been travelling and specifically talking about this topic for over a decade. I’ve met Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Coptics, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites, Methodists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Orthodox, and others. Guess what? I don’t find they hate homosexuals. In fact, they’re often frustrated that no one believes them that they, as Christ commanded, love all people. Of course I’m not claiming to have performed a rigorous poll. But if hate largely represented the attitude of most Christians, you’d think I’d run into it when I spoke up on homosexuality.

Are there some people—even Christians—who hate homosexuals? Sure, you can find them. They often get disproportionate media attention because of their noxious speech or behavior. Others can be found on internet forums and in the comments sections of blog posts or articles. But you can’t broad brush all or most Christians this way.

Two years ago I met a Christian who was genuinely hateful towards homosexuals. At first, I didn’t believe he was serious because it’s rare to find that attitude in the Church. He explained that his father (now deceased) used to disparage homosexuality and that’s what instilled hate in him. Even though he admitted he felt this way, he knew it was wrong, confessed his sin to me (a stranger to him), and asked for help to change.

Even though it’s rare to find bona fide haters, many homosexuals tell me that Christians show hate to homosexuals by what they do. “You may not feel or say you hate homosexuals, but your behavior—denying marriage equality—is hateful in itself. Your actions speak louder than words.”

That doesn’t logically follow, though. People have been legislating against one another since voting began. That’s part of the political process. People might vigorously disagree on public matters, but it doesn’t mean they hate each other.

Furthermore, even though Christians agree with the biblical prohibition of homosexual sex, it doesn’t mean we hate people who violate it. This is an important and obvious distinction that seems forgotten. The Bible, for example, is opposed to gluttony, but we don’t hate gluttons. The Bible is against drunkenness, but we don’t hate people who drink too much. The Bible is against pre-marital sex, but we don’t hate people who have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The Bible is opposed to stealing, but we don’t hate thieves. Yes, the Bible is opposed to homosexual sex, but we don’t hate homosexuals.

In fact, the Bible commands us to do the opposite. We’re called to love our neighbor. Indeed, Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–44). I’m not saying homosexuals are the enemy—they’re not and I make that clear each time I teach. My point is that we’re not given room to even hate people who are against us. That’s because our enemies are also made in the image of God. They deserve dignity and respect.

Loving homosexuals—indeed all people—is consistent with what our King commands. That’s why the Christians I see are eager to live accordingly.