The conciliation of Christianity and sexualities


By Alex Swanson

Tuesday night, I went to church for the first time in a year or so to see a documentary: For The Bible Tells Me So, a film that focuses on the intersection of the LGBTQ community and American Christianity.

Director Daniel Karslake and Executive Producer Michael A. Leppen both attended the The First Presbyterian Church in Champaign screening to introduce the film and participate in a question and answer session.

I’m not sure that I can effectively describe the aesthetic value of sitting in a church pew, under a big wooden cross, and watching a film advocating for LGBTQ acceptance when I have sat in many other church pews and listened to the preacher say that anything apart from heteronormativity is a sin. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t been to church in a while.

I am, by no means, asserting that Christianity is synonymous with intolerance or that it is directly responsible for American homophobia, in fact, just the opposite. But when discussing American sexualities, one has to consider the influence of Christian America.

As recently as 2012, Christians made up 77 percent of the national population, and it’s no secret that many Americans have used the Bible as justification for perpetuating homophobic ideology.

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This documentary centers on the crucial distinction between a religion and its fundamentalists. For the Bible Tells Me So essentially remarks that much of the Bible-believing nation is misinterpreting the book in a dangerous way.

The film painstakingly remarks that, for Christians, the Bible is the word of God through the word of humans and is therefore subject to the constraints of any other historical text. When reading, one has to consider context and etymology.

The hypocritical nature of fundamentalists is considerable: If a Christian were to criticize homosexuality under the guise of religion, so too would they have to refrain from eating pork, getting tattoos or remarrying following a divorce. Yet, those societal happenings have somehow remained relatively uncriticized on a religious basis.

This film, therefore, serves to remove the filter of extremism from the manner in which we often perceive the core values of American Christianity. The film notes that some Christian fundamentalists have been using the Bible as a way to violently denounce sociological groups throughout history including black Americans, women and now the LGBTQ community. This extremism, however, is not unique to Christianity.

Particularly in light of the Islamic State-sponsored violence in France, Lebanon and Turkey over the past few days, it is imperative as ever that we recognize that extremism and fundamentalism are not representative of their respective religion in any greater sense.

We must take care not to resist prejudice with prejudice. Indeed, discussions centered on love and acceptance are essential now as we look out onto a frightening and chaotic global scene.

This documentary is, appropriately, hyper focused on love, both in a spiritual and interpersonal sense. It firstly and importantly dispels the myth that being gay is a choice or changeable.

It then ultimately asserts that, despite current tensions, the conciliation of American Christian Churches and LGBTQ, Christian individuals can eventually become normalized throughout the nation.

That hope is critical for the eventual eradication of homophobia. American Christianity has forever held immense influence on our social politics. It has continually guided our conception of national morality.

Anti-gay churches are not Christian. That serves to show that Christianity is not biblical fundamentalism. It also shows that one of the greatest anti-LGBTQ societal pressures in America is groundless.

It, therefore, holds the agency necessary to alter prevailing public opinion on sexuality. For that reason, I can only recommend that anyone reading this article take the time to watch the documentary.

Alex is a senior in LAS.

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