Love the sinner, hate the sin: Redux.

Gay rights has become one of the pivotal social issues of our time, pitting those who strictly follow religious doctrine against religious moderates and secularists. It has become one of the primary grounds of the culture war between social conservatives, and both libertarians and liberals.

Organized religions that subscribe to the view that homosexuality is a sin, an illness and a perversion, have found themselves backed into a corner. They have been accused of being bigots, cherry-picking parts of religious texts to suit their prejudices, and have been compared with those who chose to deny rights to ethnic minorities in the past (i.e., in the US, those who fought against the abolition of slavery). Many of the people who are members of these religions have found it extremely difficult to try to reconcile their religious beliefs with their desire to be good, nice, non-hateful people (this is a classic example of cognitive dissonance). This has led to a lot of mental gymnastics on their parts to try to justify their beliefs. Probably the best example is the idea of loving the sinner but not the sin. In other words, as someone who follows strict religious doctrine, you love the homosexual as a person, but not his/her behaviour (as its sinful). This allows them to speak out against homosexuality (and actively fight against gay rights, in many cases) and still feel good about themselves.

Here's a good explanation of why this problematic, from John Corvino:

The following article is the next step in this approach. The mental gymnastics are more convoluted and the writing is intellectually inspired, but the purpose is still the same. Instead of love the sinner, hate the sin, it's that sexuality shouldn't really be that important to an individual (and that individual's identity) and therefore there shouldn't really be any fuss about the church's doctrine declaring homosexuality a sin.

From Patheos:

No Longer Anonymous: Why I Decided to Come Out as a Gay Priest

Bravely facing the applause of a world in love with labels, and just in time for the release of a second edition of his new book “Hidden Voices, Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest,” Fr. Gary M. Meier came out today and declared himself openly gay to the notoriously unsympathetic Huffington Post.

Bless the man, may the Lord keep him, let His face shine upon him and give him His peace. He’ll be attacked by idiotic Catholics, whose quotes will undoubtedly be used in his up-and-coming “This Has Been Difficult” op-ed. But the sins of hatred will hardly puncture his popularity. I am attacking — with trident and with fire  – his philosophy and his easy critique of Church teaching that will win the blank-eyed nods of every other person who doesn’t give a damn about reading what the Church actually teaches.  He says:

…that’s precisely the message our Church is sharing. LGBT youth are hearing that they are disordered, diseased, defective, damaged goods, wrong when they should be right.

If they are being give this message, it is not by the Church. The message the Church has been consistently giving to LGBTQ youth is the same message she gives to heterosexual youth — you are not your genitals. Stop introducing yourself with your penises.

We take offense at the Church when she says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (CCC 2357) but only because we put her words through the mind-numbing blender of reductionist thought which defines people as being their sexuality, as being heterosexual, being homosexual, being a lesbian, being pansexual, etc. The LGBTQ movement is so concerned with developing and refining their plethora of scientific labels by which to reduce human beings to a word describing their genital behavior that they — and the culture they own — have forgotten a very simple fact. You are not what gives you a boner.

[...]

No, homosexuality is not a gift from God, and neither is heterosexuality, metrosexuality, omnisexuality, asexuality, or any of the spreading, metastasizing barcodes by which we categorize unique human beings into sections and subsections and sliding-scales until we can finally sleep at night, comfortable that there is a place for everything and everything in its place, and that we, accurately labeled heterosexuals or homosexuals, belong. I’d sooner set myself on fire than be so comfortably placed, for these “sexualities” don’t exist. Sexuality has no existence apart from people. Sexuality is eminently, beautifully, and incredibly personal, a radical adventure in becoming the self that we are, a self that is neither ghost nor corpse but a synthesis of body and soul, an inseparable union we call the human person. It is not a label, it is a challenge, but we’re so frightened of living as the body and soul that we are — and thus becoming Saints — that we’d much prefer to reduce ourselves into the dust from whence we came, to drift as ghosts inhabiting bodies we can hardly stand to live in.

So Meier will misrepresent Church teaching, The Huffington Post will applaud, Macklemore will write a few more songs, and the labels will multiply like loaves under the hands of Christs. But you, reader, defy. Abolish within yourself the inhuman effort of reduction that would have you cowering like a slave. Take up your cross with that joy that castrates fear and become the embodied self who you are.

Read the rest here.