Oh Shut Up, Rick Warren. And I Mean That Compassionately

This past week on Facebook, lots of people changed their profile pictures to a red equality sign to show their support of overturning the absurdly named Defense of Marriage Act. (Whose marriage does it defend? Not my Christian marriage of 20+ years to my husband, I assure you.)

Reactions to the creeping sea of red across people’s Facebook feeds varied, and several people who oppose marriage equality posted this quote in response.

Text reading: "Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. -Rick Warren"

You probably recognize it as the extended mix of the slogan, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” Let’s break this quote down sentence by sentence, shall we?

Our culture has accepted two huge lies.

What were you expecting to come next? “The paleo diet is scientific, and jailing people for drug possession makes sense”? Or, “College basketball and celebrity fashion choices actually matter”? Nope!

The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.

Being gay is not a lifestyle. It is a fact about a person.

Linguistically speaking, you can’t “disagree” with someone’s being gay. You can disagree with opinions, but not facts. Why do people who oppose gay rights invariably substitute “disagree” for the correct word, “disapprove”? To disguise what they are doing, which is judging.

If you deny people rights, whether you feel like a good person while doing it is irrelevant. Many Christians once opposed interracial marriage, and Biblical verses justified this position. If someone came up to a married black woman and a white man and said, “I don’t fear or hate you, I just think you are sinning and your marriage should be illegal,” how would that sound? That is how you sound.

You want to discriminate against gays and lesbians and you expect no criticism for doing so. At least the Westboro Baptist “Church” does not, as far as I am aware, post self-pitying statements about how they are actually very nice. Let’s move on.

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.

You don’t have to approve of everything someone believes or does. You also have the ability to shut up about it, which is what Christ recommended. He told you that instead of trying to get the specks out of other people’s eyes, you should get the log out of your own eye, and then maybe you’ll be able see things clearly.

Christ preached tirelessly against material greed and the importance of helping the poor. Why aren’t you campaigning for higher tax rates for the rich, or launching big PR campaigns to encourage people to volunteer to help the poor? When a friend posts a picture of the McMansion he just bought, do you lovingly chide him for his materialism? Wealth and poverty is much bigger issue both to the country and to Jesus.

The Bible has more verses decrying drunkenness than homosexuality. When your friends post on Facebook that they got a little buzzed, do you feel compelled to respond in a passive-aggressive way by posting a minister’s quote about temperance and sobriety? Are you writing your Congressperson in favor of bringing back Prohibition? Why not?

How convenient for you, straight people, that the sin you have singled out as the Especially Wrong Thing is the one you aren’t especially tempted to do.

The quote from Warren concludes:

You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

The lack of marriage equality means that some gay people can’t be with their loved ones who lie dying in the hospital. It means that the some children of gay and lesbian couples live with a stigma reserved in previous centuries for bastards. It means that people who bully, assault, or even murder people for being gay can feel their country has legitimized their bigotry. It means that LBGTQ teens, many of whom have parents like you who believe that the very way their children love, one of the best and most sacred things about them, is wrong, are much more likely than straight teens to kill themselves.

This is not compassion. This suffering is your doing, and your attempts to experience yourself as a nice or kind person in spite of it do not change a thing.

Martin Luther King, Jr. felt the white moderates were more of an obstacle to civil rights than the KKK. I believe the “loving Christian” who denies people equality and dignity is a bigger problem that the most rabid gay-hater.

Anyway, Rick Warren, you’ve already lost on this issue. In the coming decade, you will either have to “evolve” in your understanding of homosexuality or your church and your influence will diminish. Those are your choices. And if you choose the latter, will your grandchildren or great-grandchildren be proud of your moral conviction because you were one of the last bigots standing? Will they be impressed by your rationalizations? Hardly. They will be ashamed of you.

I am writing this on Easter Sunday, and I suggest that Christians who oppose gay marriage pray to Jesus about this and listen for a response. Read Christ’s words about not judging others, and consider why he had nothing to say about homosexuality, which is hardly condemned by his commandment to love one another. Read about Peter’s vision in which his old prejudices against those who are “unclean” are refuted. Revisit the story of David and Jonathan and their love “surpassing the love of women.” Ask yourself why it was okay to set aside the verses in the New Testament condoning slavery, or just forbidding women to speak in church.

Search your heart. There is no shame in having a road to Damascus moment: quite the opposite, in fact. Come on over and join us in the sea of red.

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Bryn Donovan

Romance writer, poet, quilter, and dog cuddler.

12 thoughts on “Oh Shut Up, Rick Warren. And I Mean That Compassionately”

    1. And sometimes I wonder if that’s what its really about: people like Warren being busybodies? They need someone to rail against. Someone they can’t relate to so they don’t have to feel inconvenient things like guilt for being such assholish judgmental cretins

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