Why are gay activists outraged by this? Shouldn’t people have the freedom to pursue the dictates of their own consciences? Why must they be shamed and marginalized until they submit to the norms of the gay rights movement? Must every person experiencing same-sex attraction act on those attractions or be shamed? Surely this is not the kind of society that we want to cultivate. If it is, it is a society that will not tolerate real live Christians.
TLC will air a special on January 11 titled “My Husband’s Not Gay.” It follows the lives of several different Mormon men who experience ongoing same-sex attraction but who have also chosen to be married to women. They have families, and they are trying to live out the teachings of the Mormon faith, which prohibits homosexual conduct and encourages conjugal marriage. Watch ABC News’s report about the program above.
As you can imagine, there has been a significant backlash against the show from gay activists. In fact, Change.org has started a petition to pressure TLC to cancel the program before it even airs next week. Why? There are at least two reasons cited in the petition:
(1) “[The] show… promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities.”
(2) “TLC is… sending the message that being gay is something that can and ought to be changed, or that you should reject your sexual orientation by marrying someone of the opposite sex.”
There is more to the petition, and you can read the rest here. I am a little surprised by the sloppy thinking and the open intolerance cited in this petition and in the ABC News coverage above. A few thoughts:
First, it is an incontrovertible fact that many “faith communities” require chastityoutside of marriage and fidelity inside of marriage. I myself am a member of a church in which one cannot remain a member in good standing while openly defying the clear teaching of scripture on this point. There are countless other Christian churches like ours. Why? Because that is what Christianity has understood to be the biblical norm for its entire 2,000-year history. To label this norm “false” and “dangerous” is to label Christianity “false” and “dangerous.” It is essential to our identity as Christians. To be sure, the protest is aimed at Mormon families, but the implications go far beyond Mormonism.
Second, the program does not indicate that being gay is a choice. In fact, one of the men said the exact opposite in the preview! Moreover, all of the men profiled in the program say that they continue to experience ongoing same-sex attraction. They didn’t choose to have those attractions. In fact, they apparently wish that their attractions were otherwise. Nevertheless, they have chosen not to act on those attractions so that they might pursue conjugal marriage and remain faithful to their religious beliefs. Again, these men do not deny that they experience gay attractions. They simply do not wish to indulge them because doing so is incompatible with Mormonism.
Third, why are gay activists outraged by this? Shouldn’t people have the freedom to pursue the dictates of their own consciences? Why must they be shamed and marginalized until they submit to the norms of the gay rights movement? Must every person experiencing same-sex attraction act on those attractions or be shamed? Surely this is not the kind of society that we want to cultivate. If it is, it is a society that will not tolerate real live Christians. It will be a society in which any mention of Christianity will have to have a “not safe for children” label affixed to it. That is precisely the point that Robin Roberts makes at the end of the ABC News piece above. She is a reporter. Nevertheless, she warns viewers that a show like this one harms children.
In short, the “backlash” against this television program is a bald display of intolerance. Either get with program of the sexual revolutionaries, or find yourself marginalized and stigmatized in the culture. It is one thing for Change.org to have this view. It is another thing entirely for the anchors at ABC News to promote this view as well. That’s not journalism; it’s propaganda. This kind of intolerance of traditional viewpoints is absolutely toxic, and I hope that viewers will see it for what it is.
Denny Burk is Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.
[Editor’s note: One or more original URLs (links) referenced in this article are no longer valid; those links have been removed.]