It seems to happen almost every day. I’m strolling through my regular online trails, looking here and there for a conversation which catches my interest and when I find one I dive in, only to find myself shaking my head or even grumbling aloud at the screen. You might well suppose, unless you have deciphered the inference of my title tonight, that my irritation arises from the comments of those I disagree with. But no, you’d be wrong in that supposition.
What provokes me, rather, is the words and tone of some of those who are nominally on my side. As a rough mental calculation, it seems to me that almost half of the LGB/T folks who participate in online discussions have decided to give up the task of persuasion in favor of vitriol. Sometimes it manifests in raging anger, sometimes in snark (some of it quite clever, much of it….not) sometimes it’s juvenile name-calling and sometimes dripping contempt.
But it’s wrong.
I don’t mean morally wrong, I mean strategically wrong. Far too often these internet warriors fail to understand the culture of their opponents. Having BEEN one of those in my former life (an opponent) – let me give you some insight.
Traditionalists (who may or may not be active Christians but who are indoctrinated in the cultural traditions which arise from those long-standing religious traditions) have been acculturated to believe many things about themselves and about LGB/T people. Space prevents me from even scratching the surface but in brief, when members of the LGB/T community behave thus, they are confirming PRECISELY the stereotypes that Traditionalists have been led to believe.
They think that if they are faithful, they ARE going to be attacked by unbelievers. It’s part of the job description. The more they are attacked, the more their worldview is re-enforced. You think they have a persecution complex? Being the oppressed righteous remnant is their whole identity. I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve heard which pull out a couple of proof-texts to build the case that “they” (unrighteous lovers of sin) are out to wipe “us” (the anointed of God) out, and “we” should EXPECT persecution.
This is not, of course, all Christianity or even all evangelicalism but it’s a sizable part of the whole. You will NEVER make this culture even one TINY bit better for the rising generation off LGB/T youth with such attacks. Want to vent? Great, you vented. And in venting you made the task 20 times harder for those of us who practice persuasion instead of venting. How much are you willing to pay to have your few minutes of catharsis?
But wait, there’s more. You’ve also just confirmed the stereotypical view they hold of LGB/T people. I promise you they walk away from such a discussion completely forgetting the four rational and respectful equality advocates while reliving ever word of the three who ranted. They will chat about it amongst themselves, how they stood up to the mean and angry frothing at the mouth gay liberal hatemongers. Doesn’t matter AT ALL that THEY were being hateful, they were just defending ‘Murica against you perverts.
DON’T be part of the problem. Play nice! Even if it kills you. Do NOT be the one who confirms the stereotypes and feeds the persecution complex, and when you see others do it speak up and call them on it. It’s harder for them to call ALL LGB/T people hateful if we police our own. At the end of the day, here’s the choice: do you want a better culture, or do you just want to fight?
Photo by: David Robert Bliwas