There is a microcosm of our popular culture today that is spread and spewed on a daily basis by many members of the Body of Christ, and this is the fact that “gay jokes” are socially and spiritually accepted within the Church. That is tragic, disturbing, and damaging. Most Christians know that you shouldn’t tell dirty or sexual jokes and if you confronted a man telling a coarse joke, more often than not he’ll become embarrassed, self-conscious, and acknowledge that he probably shouldn’t be saying them. There is no such stigma for “gay jokes.”
Congregation members, especially teens and young men, have made this a part of their daily repertoire of insults and wit, specifically using the term “gay” as a disparaging epitaph. Innuendos and insinuations of effeminacy and queerness come naturally and quick. They do this based on perceived character defects, personal mannerisms, speech patterns, clothing style, affectations, interests and oftentimes for no reason whatsoever. It doesn’t really matter what the impetus is, if there is an opportunity to burn another soul [usually in jest] it’s rare that someone would think twice before saying “that’s pretty gay” in order to frame them as a homosexual and demean and marginalize them. That’s part of it. The other part is when people thoughtlessly define “gay” and make it a synonym for stupid, lame, week and boring. They might say “that restaurant was pretty gay” or that band is so gay”. Its very, very common, and Church kids love saying it.
Church kids are being bombarded by one of the worst dimensions of Christian culture which says it’s either alright to make fun of homosexuals, or as is far more prominent and is usually the case, that they don’t care when you make fun of homosexuals. It doesn’t register. They are lethargic and apathetic, and they need to be woken. It is inexcusable. It is an immature, uncaring and unloving practice. Our culture does it all the time, and instead of making this a dividing line where we draw a distinction between the hateful rhetoric of our culture and the loving, welcoming, nurturing character of the Church’s soul towards homosexuals, our young men have joined the party and have become indistinguishable in this regard. The pastors and leaders need to take them to task and correct them when they say things like that. They need to be told that what they are doing is a sin and that it has no place in that community of faith. The pastors need to rebuke, shame and discipline them. Call them out on it and take them aside and help them develop it as an issue of personal sanctification.
It is a shame in every sense of the word, and it needs to be seriously dealt with. It’s not funny and it demeans the name of Christ when they are being allowed to profligate it with impunity through careless and crass words. Their joking may not all be overt, but they implicitly bleed superiority and condescension when they take a facet of a person spirit that they’ve wept and trembled over and use it as a dismissive disparagement- when they reduce such an important, raw part of gay person’s identity to a punchline to score points.
A while ago I was in discussions with some people about what I would say if I were apologizing on behalf of the Church for how they’ve treated the homosexual community. I think what I wrote then has some relevance to the topic at hand and I figured would share part of it to close out the post;
“I would not apologize for the theology, but rather how we have presented it. I would apologize that we haven’t been more accepting of homosexuals in the congregation and have not aggressively been evangelizing them. I would apologize that we have related to them as lepers, instead of as image bearers needing Christ- and that we are less “leprous” than they. I would apologize that we have not denounced the young men in our congregations who have made a habit of telling “gay-jokes” and other shameful humor. I would apologize that we have been ambivalent and have not paid attention to the men and women in our congregation who have been struggling with same sex attraction. I would apologize for not ministering to them enough, and for not supporting them enough in their desire to be free from this. I would apologize for the tactlessness that certain ministers have exhibited in public forums and for the lack of loving tone with outsiders and unbelievers. Last of all, I would apologize that we have not been clear, intellectual, concise and consistent in our theology of marriage. We have let people who have no theology of marriage hijack the conversation and speak for us. We have let ignorant people with loveless rhetoric and billboards saying “Adam and eve, not Adam and Steve” represent us, instead of thoughtful, wise and well spoken men and women of God who are able to intelligently lay out a loving, clear presentation of why and what we believe marriage and sexuality to be and how that relates to the homosexual and heterosexual.”
*note. the title of this blog point is deliberately provocative and ironically tongue-in-cheek. When contrasted with the content and thesis, I believe it serves its purpose well.