The problem with the middle ground on LGBT rights

I’ve recently come across stories (for example, here and here) of Christians trying to stake out a middle ground, or pursue a third way, or agree to disagree on LGBT rights issues. They see that these issues are tearing their churches apart and they want to pursue unity and peace. Those are admirable goals, but the middle ground is problematic.

Christians seeking a middle ground are usually uninterested in the hard-line, culture warrior position that comes across as homophobic. Some want to take the “pot calling the kettle black” position which refuses to judge another’s “sin” on the basis that we’re all sinners. Some want to emphasize love as the main duty of Christians and refuse to engage in culture wars. Some want to change the subject altogether and focus on whatever they perceive as the real mission of the church. All of them want to progress away from the hardline position into a middle position that still maintains fidelity to their interpretation of the Bible.

Which reminds me of this famous line from Malcolm X:

Straight Christians can attempt to stake out a middle ground precisely because it’s not a fundamental aspect of their humanity that’s being called into question. Their stake in the issue is low relative to LGBT Christians. Middle ground Christians say they want peace, but don’t realize that their peace comes at a price paid by LGBT Christians suffering from biblically sanctioned spiritual, emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical violence.

Furthermore, those who occupy a middle ground are advocating a position in favor of the status quo. Only the affirming position actually takes the knife from the back of LGBT Christians and attempts to heal the wounds we inflicted.

I don’t want to give the impression that people of different opinions cannot live together peaceably. They can and they must. And I’m thankful for everyone who has backed off the hardline position. But we have to be honest about what the middle position does: it preserves institutions but does not heal wounds.

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