HATE THE HYPOCRISY, NOT THE GAY SENATOR (Palm Beach Post Sept. 7, 2007, page 3E)

by Stephen H. Gushee

Hypocrisy is the great sin that haunts recently exposed gay public figures. They often rail against the very lifestyle they practice.

The greater sin may be rooted in a culture that self-righteously uses the Bible to condemn homosexuality; that drives gay men and women to personal dishonesty, marital distress, public embarrassment and perceived hypocrisy.

Such men are often married with children. They appear vehemently anti-gay, conservative advocates of family values. Their life becomes an elaborate, painful charade designed to keep their true sexuality hidden, from themselves as well as from the public. When ex posed, they invariably appear hypocritical.

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, who resigned his seat Saturday, is but the latest prominent socially          . conservative married man to be caught in a homosexual encounter. The Rev. Ted Haggard was a married pastor, founder of a 14,000-member church and president of the National Evangelical Association. He resigned in November last year after a gay tryst became known.

James McGreevy, married and father of two, resigned as governor of New Jersey in 2004, when his homosexuality became public. Haggard and McGreevy have each said they - struggled for years to suppress their sexuality.

Many gay men marry to convince themselves they are not gay, so damning is that label in our Christian culture. A church I once served hosted a support group that helped such men wrestle with their sexuality, social pressures, cultural bias and religious prejudice. Many participants gave the group credit for saving their marriages and, indeed, saving their sanity, even though they had to maintain the fiction that they were heterosexual.

A society that recognized gay people as human beings with human rights would have few closeted public figures. A Christian society that embraced the outcast as Jesus taught would support the effort of a responsible sexual minority to be part of mainstream American life. Instead, the American version of a Christian society drives gay men and women to live fraudulent lives.

Jesus roundly condemned adultery between heterosexuals, though our society winks at the practice, even among presidential candidates. He never uttered a word about homosexuality. To be sure, Paul condemned it. He also supported slavery, discouraged marriage and suggested those who married live celibate lives.

Less hypocrisy in our religious life would lead to less among our public officials.

 

The Reverend Stephen H. Gushee, an Episcopal priest, is a former religion editor for The Palm Beach Post. His column appears twice a month.

 

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