Monday, June 11, 2012

John Shore VS. Andrew Marin

While I was away this past weekend, Christian writer/blogger John Shore released his inaugural podcast. It discussed, among other things, a column that he guest wrote on Dan Savage's website and digressed into a lengthy criticism of my friend Andrew Marin and his group, the Marin Foundation. Saturday evening, I noticed some back-and-forth tweets between Shore and Marin, which was vaguely upsetting given that I like both men (Shore through his writing and Marin through our interactions as well as his work. Shore then posted the following article, "It's no sin to be gay." See how easy that was, Andrew Marin?", which said (among other stuff):
Like so many of today’s “progressive” Christian “leaders” who have mastered the fine art of making Happy Christian Sounds whilst never actually articulating—let alone committing to—anything that might in any way alienate anyone, Andrew Marin makes his living dancing around in the middle ground between pretending to say and actually saying that it’s okay to be gay. Like others of his ilk who have discovered the benefits to be had by essentially exploiting the gay issue (and even if your readers don’t yet, you “progressive” Christian bloggers know who you are), Marin trades in the fuzzy, non-committal language that allows Christians to feel better about maintaining their conviction that homosexuality is a sin...

As of this writing Andrew has yet to respond. I’m confident that when/if he does, he won’t say anything beyond how important it is to continue the dialogue, to keep building bridges, to live in hope, to reach out in love, fuzzy, fuzzy, blah, blah, tastes great, less filling.
Shore ended his post with a simple challenge for Marin: Admit that being gay isn't a sin.

Of course, Marin can't. One of the principles behind the Marin Foundation is their avoidance of yes/no questions, including whether or not being gay is sinful. But that misses the point of the group. The point of the Marin Foundation is getting people to stop insisting of absolute agreement on these culture war issues and instead develop and nurture relationships despite differences.

The sad truth is that most Christians do believe that being gay is a sin. The GLBT communities will never move forward on any of our legal and political rights if we insist that others believe the way we do. I don't need the majority of Christians to believe that homosexuality isn't a sin. I need them to recognize that they are part of a larger culture where others' legal and political rights are not dependent on their belief about the nature of my family.

Additionally, Christians who believe that being gay is a sin may never have the opportunity to decide differently if they never meet, greet, and learn to love the GLBT people around them.

I feel very comfortable as a married gay Christian dad supporting Andrew Marin and the folks at the Marin Foundation. I've met many of the people involved with the group on multiple occasions and I'm hoping to run into them again in a couple months. I was proud to support Andrew at his surprise 30th birthday party and I was glad to host him and his wife Brenda at our wedding ceremony back in 2010. I trust my substantial gut (as well as my suspicious husband) and both affirm my belief that he is a supportive friend to GLBT people of all stripes.

Personally, I think that Marin should let the subject drop. Every year, critics from the GLBT communities rise up for a while against him and then critics from the conservative Christian communities rise up for a while against him. I'm sure that gets frustrating, but it's to be expected given his organization's mission. Plus, the damage control efforts rarely pacify his critics.


Daniel said...

It just seems to me as though Marin isn't really building bridges so much as treading water midway between two conflicting ideologies, unwilling to endorse one or the other. I don't really see what can be gained from that.

It would be like me telling someone who was racist "Hey, I'm not going to tell you it's wrong to be's not for me to judge!", when in fact I am *completely* convinced that it *is* wrong to be racist, and would have no problem saying so.

After all, what is the point of believing in equality if one is afraid to say so?

Jon said...

Thanks for commenting, Daniel.

Personally, I think the Marin Foundation is more for people on the conservative Christian side of the equation. Those who believe that homosexuality is sinful, but have GLBT friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, etc. and don't know how to deal. But there are also GLBTs who have either been chased from the Church or who want to reach out to other Christians for whatever reasons too.

Basically, TMF is a different approach to the culture war. We've tried yelling at each other and name-calling for decades. The results of that are limited.

What's helping us (GLBT people and our families) more than abstract arguments of equality (thought that has its place) is telling our stories. We all know that people become less anti-gay when they find out there are people they know who are gay. When they personalize this beyond an issue and into an actual person.

I think the thing to know about the Marin Foundation is that it's a relational ministry. I wrote earlier that lots of people believe that homosexuality is inherently sinful. My mother-in-law fits that description. My dad certainly did. I think my mom is conflicted. Do we cut them off until they change their belief system? Or do we maintain relationship with them? TMF is about the latter and often acts as a resource for those who struggle to do that.

Frank D. Myers said...

I agree here with Daniel in the sense that I believe any conversation that does not begin with honesty is unlikely to have a useful outcome. That in no sense means I have any wish to cut anyone off, or yell. I expect whoever I'm talking with to be honest, too, however; and am up to carrying on a conversation with someone I disagree with without yelling or name-calling.

I prefer Justin Lee's approach, stating clearly who he is and what he believes, then talking respectfully with both "Side A" and "Side B" Christians. I find that far more honorable and to have more potential.

I'm considerably older than you are (sorry about playing the age card). As a rule, LGBT people have engaged in relatively little yelling or name-calling when compared with the Christian right. We've come of of our closets and told our stories, survived the AIDS pandemic and fought hard and continue to do so. Please don't tell me the results are "limited." We've come an amazing distance, but still of course have a ways to go.