In response to my post "'It's no sin to be gay.' See how easy that is, Andrew Marin?" folks have made the point that Andrew's work is valuable, because he is "building bridges" -- because he is, as one reader put it, "creating stepping stones from one end of the spectrum to the other." They appreciate Marin establishing a neutral, non-judgmental, values-free middle ground where parties on either side of the gay-Christian debate can meet to together discuss and explore the issue.
And I'll be the first to admit that sounds great.
The problem, though, is that when it comes to the issue of LGBT equality, there is no such thing as a values-free middle ground. There can't be, because that is a moral issue. And that means it's about a very definite right and wrong.
And it's a moral issue of no small consequence. There couldn't possibly be more at stake. The people on one side of this debate -- the majority, which wields all the power -- are claiming that, in the eyes of God, those on the other side are less than human.
Whoosh. Good-bye middle ground. On a matter of such magnitude -- not to mention such immediacy -- morality of consciousness demands, at the very least, choosing a side.
No matter how strenuously he or she might deny it, the fact is that any Christian who does not forthrightly and unambiguously assert that there is nothing whatsoever inherently immoral about same-sex relationships has chosen a side in this conflict. To a starving man, the person who can't decide if they want to share their food is no better than the person who refuses to.
I'm all for conversations that are about exploring critical moral issues. And of course I in every last way encourage people on opposite sides of this issue to reach out to one another; it feels like about a fourth of my life is spent carefully and thoughtfully engaging with Christians whose theology is different from mine. (For over four years I've blogged on ultra-conservative Crosswalk.com, for goodness' sake.) But in order for such conversations to be of any genuine value, they must be intentional. They must explicitly have resolution as their purpose. A bridge that goes nowhere or stepping stones that quickly circle back to their starting point are useless.
When it comes to weighty moral issues, there's nothing wrong with traveling across the middle ground. But it's at best folly and at worse a harmful lie to maintain that it's morally feasible to remain in that middle ground. No one wanders the desert forever.
It's true that on the issue of LGBT and Christian relations I am impatient. But I'm impatient for a good reason. Christian leaders on the right do not hesitate to loudly and boldly claim their moral certitude. From the left-hand channel of that stereo, though, we too rarely hear anything but silence, or the static that almost sounds like words or music, but isn't. It's time to dial that station in, hit the button from "mono" to "stereo," turn up the volume, and start broadcasting the message that it's perfectly okay to be gay.
Christian leaders who persist in doing nothing more than "elevating the conversation" succeed in doing nothing more than alleviating the pangs of conscience that Christians on the right should be encouraged to feel for clinging to their convictions that same-sex relationships are an abomination before God. Instead of evading their moral responsibility, they need to once and for all, forthrightly and unequivocally, proclaim their full and unconditional acceptance of same-sex relationships. They need to do that for the sake of gay people, and for the sake of the millions who have lost their faith in God because they cannot reconcile the gross disparity between a clear moral precept and the only thing they ever hear Christian leaders say.