Day of Silence Redeux

See my first post on this here.

Last week, the LGBT group at our school held the annual Day of Silence. For those that aren’t aware, the Day of Silence (D.O.S) is a day where gays  and lesbians, in addition to many straight students, protest harrassment and anti-gay bullying by taking a vow of silence for the day.  The protesters wear large decorated cards around their necks saying, “ask me why I’m silent today.”  If someone asks, they hand them a flyer that describes the point of the DOS.

Bullying in any form is out of line.  No teacher worth his/her salt actually wants a student to be called names and pushed around.  High school can be a cruel place for anyone, gay or straight, and that needs to change.

Seems to me, though, that  the DOS goes farther than that.  Why do I say that?

Go up to almost anyone who helped put on the DOS and ask them this question:

“What would you say to a person who harbors no ill will or hatred against gay people, but has moral objections to homosexuality?”

That is a crucial distinction that often gets lost in the fray.  Morally objecting to a desire/act/lifestyle isn’t hatred.  People object to what I hold dear all the time; it doesn’t bother me.  Why should it?

If someone says, “I have a sexual attraction to people of the same gender, and this condition is good and is part of who I am,” I cannot affirm or encourage that.  I deeply disagree with them,  but that doesn’t mean I hate the person, and it doesn’t mean I advocate hatred and violence.  If that is hatred, then A.A hates alcoholics.

I hold that a person’s desire is not his destiny.  Therefore, I disagree when a gay person equates his inclinations with his identity.  But that is not bigotry.  Again, if it were, then Alcoholics Anonymous would be a bunch of bigots.

Most likely, their response to that question will reveal an agenda that goes past just silencing bullying to silencing any disagreement with a lifestyle.  Most gays (as well as what are called “allies.”  I am using the term “gay” to denote not all who have same-sex attractions, but those who affirm such attractions as normal and good parts of their identity.) I have talked to can’t make the distinction that’s embedded in the question.  If I don’t affirm and encourage homosexual behavior and desire, then I automatically hate gay people.   As the years go by, I see a greater and greater effort on the part of many to stigmatize any and  all disagreement as hateful and bigoted.  This is an exercise in stereotyping and broadbrushing, which, ironically, is what gays and lesbians object to conservatives doing (and, admittedly, in many instances this accusation does stick.).

I asked a fellow teacher that question Friday, and she said, “they can think that, as long as they keep it to themselves.  They should keep quiet.  It could hurt people.”

Ah, I see.  Everyone can speak their mind but conservatives.  You, teach, can speak your mind, but I’ve gotta “keep quiet.”  How is it that when you voice disagreement (as you just did with me), you are being tolerant and truthful, but when I voice my disagreement, I’m just hateful?

There are many other questions that need to be asked as well:

Does ‘love’ mean you must encourage everything the beloved does or desires?

Short answer: no.  I’m glad my parents didn’t think so.  Whenever they saw me doing something that was destructive to me and others, they steadfastly stood against it.  This was an expression of their love, because they desired what was best for me.  Even if they were wrong that what I was doing was destructive, they were just wrong on the facts; this didn’t make them hateful.

Why think that gays are “born this way”?

Also: what does “born this way” mean, really?  What reputable scientific research shows that same-sex attraction is meaningfully genetically pre-determined?

I’m aware of Levay, Hamer, Bailey, Pillard, and others.  What, exactly, do those studies show? Hint: not what folks think they show.  Most, though, when they talk of gays  being “born this way,” the only justification they have for that is that of a strong felt inclination/desire for the same gender.  Is that a good reason to say someone was “born that way”?

If there is a genetic component to same-sex attraction (this is a much less controversial and appropriate way of phrasing it), does that mean we must surrender our moral concerns about same-sex relationships?

If so, then what does that say about our moral concerns about a myriad of other inclinations that have a genetic component to them (alcoholism, for example)?

Are all consensual relationships equal?

Most would say no.  Why?

While we’re at it:

Define equality…as well as homophobia, bigotry, rights, tolerance, discrimination, and other loaded words.

Those are incredibly emotionally laden words that are rarely defined.  The way those words are used by gay activists are sketchy at best.  Just say the words, and that’s enough to sound persuasive.  They function as sound bite bludgeons to marginalize any and all objections.  Those who use these terms in such undefined ways need to be called out on it, because name calling is not an argument.

The way “equality” is being used, if I say that certain inclinations are unhealthy or if I don’t affirm all relationships as normal, I’m guilty of profound prejudice.  How does that follow?

The same goes for all the other words.  If I think homosexual behavior is destructive and goes against the way we are designed, I’m a bigot.  If I hold to a traditional  view of marriage, I’m a bigot…somehow.  How is that?  As philosopher Doug Geivett points out, calling someone names like that might work as an intimidation strategy, but not much else.

If I hold to a traditional view of marriage, I’m somehow denying gays  their rights.  For gays to say they have a right to such and such means they have a just claim to something, for that is exactly what a right is.  Forget all the talk about benefits and hospital visits.  In California, gays already have that in their relationships.  This debate is about approval and affirmation.  Gays understand that legalizing same-sex marriage confers societal approval on their relationships.  That might be desirable, and, hypothetically, good, but why is it a right?  Since when is affirmation and approval of a relationship a right?  How is “being in love” (another popular justification for the right to same-sex marriage) a sufficient basis for granting the “right” to same-sex marriage?  If it is, then why should a right to SSM be any more legit than a “right” to enter into any number of other unions?

Tolerance…since when has tolerance come to mean that one has to agree with everything?  Classically, tolerance refers to people but not ideas and desires.  That distinction, however, is lost today.

I’d say there could be just a little more room carved out for tolerance in the classic sense.  Asking these questions, I think, will make that point.

Check out my other related posts on education, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

17 responses to “Day of Silence Redeux

  1. Great post Rich!

  2. Thanks Peter! Good to see you stopping by.

  3. Thanks for saying this Rich! When the runner up for Miss America said what she believed, she was flamed and called names like ‘bigot’ and ‘stupid’. However, like you said, she was merely stating her beliefs and there was nothing bigoted about her views. I don’t personally hate homosexuals but I do have a problem with their lifestyles and their choice but oh of course, I’m bigoted to think that way. Whenever I voice my opinion about the nature of the lifestyle, people would gasp in horror and look at me in a weird way and immediately label me a ‘conservative’ and ‘fundamentalist’. Looks like freedom of speech doesn’t apply to people who still hold on the to the teachings of the Bible/conservative people.

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  5. Great job. I hope I can remember some of your points.

  6. Just to throw my kudos in there also – OUTSTANDING post!

  7. Lori (Sharp) Elliott

    We will always be outlaws to those who live “in the world” as we know it. Believing in the Bible will someday not be a right, but being a homosexual will. These are the truths that we are seeing as our world falls apart. The Devil is very persuasive. Gays are not really “in love” but are eluted to believe so. Just because you are “in love” doesn’t mean it is morally or biblic right to be with that person. People are not tolerant of followers of Jesus. In any case we are to be tolerant of thing we don’t agree with and are called names and looked down upon if we don’t. Jesus certainly was not tolerant of injustice.

  8. So what is your response to this video from Tony Campolo?

    My biggest concern is how do we show Christian love to a person who is gay? As Christians are we to love people or be critical of them and hope they change their attitudes we perceive as wrong?

    And Lori, you are correct, Jesus was not tolerant of injustice.

  9. David,

    I share your concern that we need to show Christian love. Part of robust love includes staunchly standing against things that harm the beloved. 1 Cor 13 shows that. Also, robust love includes making the key distinctions I make above.

    One’s desires are not his destiny….we need to communicate that with passion.

    There’s lots more to say, of course…but anything less than this is a cheap substitute.

  10. I guess my concern is that when we staunchly stand against things that harm the beloved are we risking the opportunity to share Christ with another? When you consistantly and with passion share your dissaproval of a persons lifestyle, whether they are gay, conservative, pro-life etc., we risk alienating people. Somewhere along the way I think we have lost the distinction between our being right and our capacity to just love another regardless of their choices.

    Wish you would elaborate a bit more on the 1 Corinthians 13 reference. I am not getting the connection to your statements.

    So many more questions…… perhaps we can talk about this in person sometime when you come for a visit with mom and dad.

  11. Firstly, Tony Campolo is not anyone a Christian should be listening too for biblical teachings. I addressed this issue here:

    Also, he is an advocate for the homosexual movement as I demonstrate here:

    The main thing is this: should we be treating gays any differently than we’d treat the adulterer, the fornicator, the prostitute or any other sexually immoral person? The answer is a resounding “NO!” We approach them in love the same way we do any other sinner but we DO NOT affirm the sin. We lead them to see the need for a savior and show them who that Savior is. And we also let them know that they can leave the sin behind.

    I have discussions with gays on a weekly basis and have never had a problem alienating them while maintaining what God says about their sin.

  12. David,

    I can certainly agree with you on some things. Love should be paramount, and when talking with almost anyone, sharing the gospel takes precedence over pointing out a specific sin.

    However, I sense a bit of a stereotype in your concern about someone standing against a certain behavior (homosexuality in particular). Someone can do that lovingly, without picketing or angrily shouting at someone. I can’t tell for sure with you, David, but in my experience, most concerns about speaking against homosexuality have that stereotype lurking somewhere. I hope you avoid pidgeonholing folks like me with that broad brush (to mix a few metaphors).

    For a good look at what it means to love and stand against certain behaviors, look at 12 step programs…I actually belonged to one for about 5 years. If I was getting into sticky stuff, guys would call me out on it, because they cared. If we do not do that for gays and lesbians because we don’t want to alienate them, we do them an incredible disservice.

    Also, though I’m not one of those guys that believes all sin is equal, I try not to treat sins differently. That is, if I would stand against adultery, or pride, or anger, why should I fail to stand against homosexuality? By staying silent, we are opening the sheep and the lost up to undue manipulation.

    Say I have a friend hooked on cocaine. I know that if I speak to him about this, I’ll make him angry. Do I say nothing? Why should it be any different with a friend who identifies as gay?

    I sympathize with the need to not needlessly alienate people. Sometimes alienation is necessary, though…when its my manner and approach, that’s bad…but when it’s the counsel of God, it’s ok. The counsel of God is offensive enough…don’t add any offense to it, but don’t take any offense away (this includes being silent when one should speak up). It is up to us to stay faithful to God’s Word and leave the results up to Him. Unduly alienating is a concern, but it should not be the paramount thing that determines what we do and what we say/don’t say.

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that we can’t stop with a “stand.” Many struggling with same-sex attraction are looking to see if we offer more: hope for change. Do we really believe that one’s desires are not his destiny? If we don’t offer that hope–that’s real alienation.

    I can give a nod to Glenn’s comment that this need not alienate people. I lived with a gay man for a year in college. He knew where I stood, and we got along just fine. While some have tended to be extremely sensitive, I’ve known quite a few who don’t fit this mold, *just like with people who are in all other sins.*

    Lastly, on 1 Cor 13, look at verses 6 and 7 (6 especially).

  13. Lori sharp elliott

    I agree with what Richie is trying to say. I love the gay person, I hate the sin because it is destroying my friend whom I love. I will stand strong to my beliefs. I show my friend I love him, but do not agree with is lifestyle. God made him a perfect man. God does not make mistakes.

  14. Lori sharp elliott


    I am certainly not perfect and have made quite a few mistakes in my life. I am just thankful God can forgive me.

  15. Ok, we disgaree. :)

  16. Ian Clotworthy

    Why can’t you show solidarity with a bunch of people who are making a stand against bullying and harrassment? It sounds like you’re trying to pick a fight with people who you really should join sides with on the issue of bullying.

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