In the wake of the Indiana donnybrook over religious liberty, which somehow was transformed overnight into a question of gay rights, it couldn’t be long before the New York Times weighed in against Christians.
Yet who could have expected the draconian measures the Times would propose? Either Christians fully embrace the gay lifestyle, or you will be coerced into doing so.
Op-ed writer Frank Bruni, onetime Times restaurant critic and a gay activist, has written that Christians who hold on to “ossified,” biblically-based beliefs regarding sexual morality have no place at America’s table and are deserving of no particular regard.
In one fell swoop, Bruni trashes all believing Christians as “bigots,” saying that Christians’ negative moral assessment of homosexual relations is “a choice” that “prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.”
In other words, if you still cling to your benighted views and your “ancient texts,” you are living in the past and your views merit no respect.
Bruni’s solution to the impasse is not some sort of goodwill compromise or a treaty of mutual respect, but a take-no-prisoners ultimatum to Christians to abandon their beliefs or else. When Bruni says that Christians’ understanding of sexual morality is “a choice,” what he means is that there is a way out without completely losing face: just embrace the new morality preached by mainstream liberal churches that see nothing wrong with any sexual arrangement you are comfortable with. Then we will accept you.
As a food critic, NY Times writer Frank Bruni was entertaining and occasionally informative. As an op-ed columnist he is adolescent and often repetitive. But as a theologian, he is simply abysmal.
Bruni takes it upon himself to explain how the Bible can be interpreted to read that God is really fine with sodomy and that all that antiquated stuff against adultery, fornication, and “men lying with other men” is a quaint vestige of an archaic worldview that went out definitively with Freud.
The scary part about Bruni’s essay is not his awkward attempt at playing the biblical scholar, but the undertone of evident disdain for Christians and his proposal that those who resist should be forcibly reeducated.
In Christians’ refusal to bend with the times, Bruni sees not faithfulness to God but willful obstinacy that must be broken.
“So our debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity,” Bruni writes.
But what if Christians don’t want to change? What if they don’t want to “bow to the enlightenments of modernity”? What if they are convinced that the modern worldview is not necessarily the most enlightened path when it comes to the ultimate meaning of life and death, time and eternity?
“Religion,” writes Bruni, “is going to be the final holdout and most stubborn refuge for homophobia. It will give license to discrimination.”
And thus it must be stamped out.
Bruni cites fellow gay activist Mitchell Gold, founder of the advocacy group Faith in America, as saying that church leaders must be made to take homosexuality off the sin list. “His commandment is worthy — and warranted,” writes Bruni.
So now government should be dictating belief to churches and enforcing theological orthodoxy? Now politicians and courts will be telling Christians what they are allowed to consider as sinful? Isn’t this what America was founded to escape from?
People are already talking about forcing churches to perform same-sex weddings, whether they like it or not, or get out of the marriage business. Christians founded America and yet now the minority gay lobby is trying to tell them they are personae non gratae and their beliefs are no longer welcome.
America has a grand tradition of tolerance and religious freedom, respect for a diversity of beliefs, and an honest engagement with ideas of all sorts. It seems that some would like to force all Americans to walk in lockstep, marching to the same drummer.
Sincere Christians have no problem accepting other people with all their sins, inclinations, and struggles, fully understanding that they are in no way superior to the next guy and no better in God’s eyes.
But attempts to force them to abandon their ethical standards and their principles reveal not open-mindedness or fairness, but intolerance, chauvinism, and hate.
These are the attitudes that have no place in America.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome