Tolerance or Tyranny?
The standard line from gay activists for the past couple decades has been that gays just want “tolerance,” which is a justified expectation for any law-abiding group in the United States. A reasonable person would interpret the word “tolerance” to mean a baseline level of civility and respect, as well as the inclusion of gays in anti-discrimination laws and regulations. That’s all fine and good, but is that really all that’s being demanded of us?
I’m starting to think it isn’t. For one thing, I often hear gay people—including my friends sometimes, I’m sad to say—refer to traditional Christian beliefs as “hate,” or brand all conservative Christians as theocrats. Not only is this incredibly lazy, it’s wrong and fairly hateful considering the presence of real theocrats in the world. I don’t appreciate being compared to Islamists who execute rape victims and homosexuals and otherwise brutally oppress everyone they can get their hands on. But as ridiculous and offensive as this language is, I would never dream of using the law to stop someone from speaking their mind.
The big controversy that gets everyone so worked up involves the very clear Biblical definition of homosexual sex as sinful (as opposed to having a unacted-upon homosexual orientation or urges). Christians who are loathe to tinker with or erase Scriptural teachings from their religious understanding believe that the Bible is correct, just as it is correct in identifying the myriad other sins all humans commit every single day. On the other side, many gay people do not agree and feel their sexual orientation is natural and morally equivalent to heterosexual relations.
Obviously, there’s a big disagreement on this point, and people on both sides are very outspoken. But if “tolerance” and “diversity” are really the goal in our society, should anyone (gay or straight, Christian or not) support the State-sponsored banning of terms like “marriage”, “natural family”, or “family values” on the grounds that they were simply uttered by the Wrong People (i.e., conservative Christians? I’m not surprised that hard-core gay activists have no problem throwing out the First Amendment if it shuts up their opponents, because the hard-core activists on either side of any public debate tend to be overly extreme and oppressive. What I’m curious about is what reasonable, regular gay people think about this. Are they seriously willing to argue that a Christian group mildly expressing its beliefs in a supposedly open forum is “hate” and “discrimination”? Do we now have a Constitutional right to have everyone approve of everything we do and are? What if the shoe were on the other foot? Would it be acceptable for straight people/conservative Christians to forbid gay people from dressing or speaking as they wish? Of course not.
My personal approach has always been to vigorously defend the civil rights of gay people and to respect each person’s decision as to what they believe. If a gay person thinks the Biblical prohibition of gay sex is bogus, they’re free to believe that and I don’t think any less of them. I certainly have never felt hated or harassed when a gay person has argued with me about the validity of Scriptures, or even when they have come right out and called my religion a lie, hoax, superstition, or—on one memorable occasion—“a bunch of dumb fairytales for stupid people so they can be fascists.” For tolerance to truly be tolerance, it has to flow both ways. Anyone who supports the suppression of free speech to protect hurt feelings is not seeking tolerance: they’re advocating tyranny.