This column by Frank Bruni in The New York Times is lighting up a lot of us this morning, judging by my e-mail. It captures the spirit animating the LGBT movement and its allies. That the most powerful newspaper in America would feel comfortable publishing this is a signal. This is not a war we have chosen, but make no mistake, it is a war. Here are the relevant excerpts:
And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.
That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.
But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.
It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.
Got that? Today, we have special access to the truth that St. Paul, the authors of the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, and virtually every Christian in history until around 1970 in the West believed to be true. And not only do we know they were wrong, we have the duty to make those who still believe in clear Scriptural teaching and the reliability of authoritative Tradition repent of their heresy. Bruni enlists liberal Evangelical professor David Gushee in his crusade: “Conservative Christian religion is the last bulwark against full acceptance of L.G.B.T. people.”
So, having defined the enemy, the one thing standing between them and cultural hegemony, what do they propose to do? This (emphasis mine):
Creech and Mitchell Gold, a prominent furniture maker and gay philanthropist, founded an advocacy group, Faith in America, which aims to mitigate the damage done to L.G.B.T. people by what it calls “religion-based bigotry.”
Gold told me that church leaders must be made “to take homosexuality off the sin list.”
His commandment is worthy — and warranted.
Not “must be persuaded,” but “must be made.” Compelled. Forced. And not forced to change our behavior, but forced to change what we believe. Because You Must Approve.
And just how do Bruni and his militant Social Justice Warriors plan to force us to repudiate our beliefs? We are going to find out. Indiana and Arkansas showed that most Americans don’t much care about religious liberty — and in fact, people like Bruni and the newspaper he works for have contempt for it, at least when it is practiced by “conservative Christians.”
And not just The New York Times, but newspapers like The Forum, in, get this, Fargo, North Dakota, published a front page running the photographs of every member of the state legislature who voted against an LGBT equality bill. Of course I have no problem with a newspaper, or anybody, criticizing, and criticizing strongly, those who vote the way they don’t like. But the imagery and the format here is that of a witch hunt designed to hold Enemies Of The People up to public contempt.
Can you imagine the outcry if Ross Douthat, an orthodox Catholic colleague of Bruni’s, writing a piece endorsing as “worthy — and warranted” the idea that pro-LGBT Christians and others “must be made to put homosexuality back on the sin list”? I’m a conservative Christian who believes the traditional teaching, and I would find such a coercive statement appalling. But of course nobody on that side seems to have the slightest doubt about their cause, their motives, or their methods. None. In a holy war, there is no room for doubt.
Can you imagine the outcry if the Times published a column saying that Jews or Muslims must be “made” to quit believing a tenet of their religion? If socialists must be “made” to disavow any of their political convictions?
But not when the target is conservative Christians who persist in their heresy.
Bruni’s words are not a tossed-off phrase that appear in a minor media outlet. The Times edits these columns closely. The Times is representative of elite cultural opinion. These words, appearing on that platform, matter. So do the endorsements of prominent Christian leaders like David Gushee. I was thinking that maybe Gushee didn’t realize that his comments would be put into service of so shocking a column. I checked his Twitter feed, looking for a clarification or something like it from him. Here’s Gushee’s verdict on the Bruni column:
— David Gushee (@dpgushee) April 4, 2015
Skillful, important. Ah. So much for religious liberty and that sort of Christian. It is really useful to learn where the lines are in the current and coming battle.
Don’t say you weren’t warned, readers. Prepare.
UPDATE: Gushee clarifies:
— David Gushee (@dpgushee) April 4, 2015