Last week Al Mohler wrote an article for RNS, asking if Americans have really changed their minds on same-sex marriage. He blames Hollywood and the cultural elite for a moral shift, but ultimately suggests that people say that they support marriage equality because they believe that’s what they’re supposed to say, not because they actually support it. He took one line from a report about poverty and single parenting and turned it into a rant against extending marriage rights to everyone. It’s really quite a piece of willful ignorance on display.
But I’m not here to talk about Rev. Mohler’s choice to misrepresent the information actually presented in his argument. I want to talk about his argument itself. Are people actually pressured in their beliefs about marriage equality and the morality of same-sex relationships?
You see, I have a theory that mirrors Rev. Mohler’s position. I also believe that people are being influenced by those in power to say that they believe something that they do not in their heart of hearts actually believe. But I completely disagree with him about who is doing the pressuring.
When we were asked to leave our church for refusing to remain silent about our support of our transgender child and the LGBTQ community, we found that there were a number of people who quietly voiced their support of us while remaining in the church. As I have participated in groups for the parents of LGBTQ kids, I see parents who love their child, but who are unsure if their faith allows them that opportunity. I see people who say that we must “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” and mean that sincerely, because they genuinely do love the LGBTQ people in their lives, but feel that they must attach “sinner” to them, lest they be outcasts in their faith community. I see people who lose their jobs because of their position on LGBTQ equality.
Al Mohler says, that people have been shamed by Hollywood and the elites to say that marriage equality is good, but at their heart they don’t believe it. What I see over and over again is not shaming by the evangelical community toward those who are affirming, but rather outright threats and intimidation.
Don’t agree with our institution’s stance about marriage equality? You don’t get tenure. Don’t think that it’s a sin for two men to marry? Don’t let the door hit you your way out of our sanctuary. Planning to help your child receive the medication they need to help their outside match their inside? Remember that you’ll be going to hell for those actions.
People are trapped in their fears not by some far-off academic elites, but rather by the person who stands in front of them every Sunday morning claiming to speak for God. They struggle to openly love their LGBTQ child because they have been told that they must choose between God and family. They fear the reaction of their Bible study group if they admit that their son likes to wear dresses and wants to use female pronouns and a more feminine name.
Fear is a powerful motivator, but it is losing its grip. There is a shift happening, but unlike Rev. Mohler, I believe it is a move toward a moral stance rather than away from one.
It is a move toward more courage. It is a move toward more acceptance. It is a move toward more love. And if it is a move toward all of those things, I believe it is a move toward God.
I’ll agree with Al Mohler that the numbers probably aren’t accurate, but I think the amount of support is actually under-reported. People are beginning to refuse the bullying and intimidation that has been a staple of evangelicalism for so long. They are recognizing that they don’t have to choose between loving their child and loving God, because they are seeing the reality that God loves their child.
People are more willing to embrace all expressions of love because they are beginning to believe that perfect love casts out fear.
In my book Embracing Grief, I talk about the grief that surrounded me after my child came out to me as transgender. The book is now available for preorder at Amazon for only $1.99. I’d love for you to check it out!