Loneliness is a choice. I like to be alone; I’m more comfortable alone. But I do recognize that I take it too far sometimes and so I try to force myself to keep up with being sociable. I just am a bit of a lone ranger; I always have been. But I don’t believe that necessarily has to translate to being lonely. You can be lonely in a crowd of a thousand people. I can be in a hotel room on my own and not feel lonely. It all comes down to how comfortable you are with who you are in the silence.
While disgust is arguably the primary motivation behind most homophobia when you get down to it, I think there are two more important reasons why conservative evangelicals in particular are so unwilling to change their minds about The Gay Issue™ no matter how obvious it is that they’re wrong.
Firstly, while atheists and secularists often contrast secular humanist morality (which is centrally concerned with human wellbeing/flourishing and harm reduction) with religious morality (which they describe in terms of something like divine command theory), evangelicals are, at least ostensibly, concerned with human wellbeing/flourishing as well.
Since they understand God to be loving, they usually won’t just say, “God said it so that settles it,” but rather that God “wants what’s best for us” and that the Bible is “God’s instruction book for a good/happy life” (barf).
But the thing is…wellbeing and harm are objective things that can be measured. And, well,
“If same-sex relationships are really sinful, then why do they so often produce good fruit—loving families, open homes, self-sacrifice, commitment, faithfulness, joy? And if conservative Christians are really right in their response to same-sex relationships, then why does that response often produce bad fruit—secrets, shame, depression, loneliness, broken families, and fear?”
—Rachel Held Evans, “God and the Gay Christian Discussion, Week 1” (The Rachel Held Evans Blog)
“[T]he idea that [gay relationships] ‘could never bring about happiness’ simply flies in the face of overwhelming evidence. I know that [the evangelicals] would say that, even though the growing number of out-and-proud same-sex couples in this country seem happy, deep down they’re really not. [The evangelicals] would say it, but fewer and fewer Americans would believe it, and rightly so. It’s not just because they defer to individuals as the experts on their own happiness. (People can delude themselves, after all.) It’s because they see the positive fruits such relationships bear.”
—John Corvino, “Against Obsessive Celibacy: Debating Social Constructions and Sexual Orientation” (Commonweal)
Gay relationships can bear good fruit and they aren’t inherently harmful in any way, and there’s no good reason to think that there’s anything wrong with gay people or their orientation. That statement isn’t an emotional wish or ideological assertion—it’s an empirical statement of fact that’s based on observation. Evangelicals are just factually, objectively wrong on this issue.
But they can’t just admit that they’re wrong, change their minds about the issue, and become more liberal christians or whatever. Why? Well, because they’ve built up a narrative over the years which says that their version of christianity is the only “true” one and that any christian who doesn’t agree with them on absolutely every little thing is a “fake” christian who’d might as well be an atheist. To the evangelicals, it’s black and white, all or nothing.
They can’t become those wishy-washy liberal (read: not dogmatic fundamentalist) christians who they’ve spent so many years trashing.
And they obviously aren’t going to become atheists, which in their mind is the only other option.
There is a kind of logic to it. If you describe God as both all-loving (that is: perfectly concerned with our wellbeing/happiness) AND morally opposed to gay relationships, but then you acknowledge that gay relationships are good for people and not harmful, then you have to face the fact that that God either 1.) doesn’t exist or 2.) does exist but is cruel—and is, either way, undeserving of worship.
Put plainly, if evangelicals entertain the thought that they might be wrong about this one issue, they’ll have to question everything that they believe in. And they don’t want to do that.
The second reason why evangelicals are so unwilling to acknowledge the evidence and change their minds on the issue is that if they did, they’d have to acknowledge that they’ve been cruel, oppressive, and often violent toward gay people for no good reason.
They’d have to sit and think about all the pain, torture, discrimination, loneliness, misery and death that they and their ideology have put gay people through…and realize that it was all for nothing. That there was no end to justify those means. That it was just random, senseless cruelty that they inflicted on others.
They wouldn’t be able to say, “I know I seem mean, but I have nothing against you. It’s just that God says…” They wouldn’t be able to say, “I know this is hard, but it’s for your spiritual wellbeing in the long-run!”
They’d have to acknowledge that it wasn’t God, but themselves.
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) — “The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.” (Altalang.com)
Dragons had always been a problem for those who lived in Middle-Earth. No matter where you lived or who you were, you most likely had a dragon story or two to tell.
Bilbo Baggins had more than enough for his lifetime, thank you very much.
He’d lost his father to dragons while adventuring outside the Shire and later became a parent to his orphaned nephew after a dragon attack. With the sudden appearance of dragons just north of the Shire, dwarves have been called to help protect them. One dwarf in particular takes an interest in Bilbo and young Frodo - and maybe now Bilbo has at least one thing to thank the dragons for.
“Bilbo’s told us what is happening with the dragons. They all want to scatter and go collect help from others, but it’s mad. This whole thing is mad. A dragon army?” Dwalin frowned at Thorin.