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How I (Didn't) Destroy a Fundamentalist Christian

06/11/2015 03:57 pm ET | Updated Jun 10, 2016

The following story is true. The repartee has been polished to make both participants sound more clever than in real life.

Our PFLAG chapter recently sponsored a session on the so-called "clobber verses" in the Bible. These aptly named verses are the pretext Christians use to oppose GLBT rights. A twenty-something woman came to the session, and afterwards, she had a question for the speaker.

"How is it even possible for a man to like another man?"

I sought her out as the meeting broke up.

"I think perhaps your question got short shrift. You want to know how it is possible for one man to be attracted to another?"

"Absolutely. I love gays, just as Jesus commands us to love everybody. But how can a person be attracted to someone of their own gender?"

"It just seems to happen. My son is gay. He has never liked girls, has never had a crush on a girl, and he likes boys. All his crushes have been on boys. It's just the way he is."

"How can that happen?"

"Well," I shrugged, "I like pickles. My wife doesn't care for them."

"There are," she mused, "no commandments in the Bible regarding pickles. Being gay is different. I am not impressed by the argument that the Bible contains few verses on the subject. We don't assay scripture by volume."

"Ah!" I exclaimed. "You know the answer to my question! I am anxious to discover why this topic is so important to Christians."

She looked inquiringly at me, with a hint of concern, as if pondering the wisdom of conversing with a man unable to comprehend the importance of scripture.

"Does it offend you," I asked, "that my shirt is made of 50% cotton?"

"I'm not offended, no."

"Does it upset you that women wear jeans and t-shirts? Are you at all tempted to start a campaign against it in your church?"

"No, why?"

"Because garments of mixed cloth are forbidden in Leviticus 19:19, and women who dress like men are an abomination, according to Deuteronomy 22:5. My question is this: what makes homosexuality so attractive as a moral issue, rather than, say, clothes?"

I genuinely want to know this. For example, those who interpret omens or attempt to contact the dead are abominations, according to Deuteronomy 18:10-12. Why is there no church campaign to deny spiritualists legal rights? Why do I never hear about a Catholic school firing a teacher who said, "I think it's a sign" during inclement weather? Why focus on gays? I don't want to presume that it is hatred.

The young lady pondered my query.

"Does your church ask women with short hair not to pray during services?" I asked.

"We do not."

"Why devote so much energy to Paul's remarks on gay men in Romans 1, and so little to his writings about women's hair in I Corinthians 11?"

I doubt that I helped her, and she did not answer my question. Nonetheless, by finding Christian homophobes inexplicable rather than despicable, I learn something, and open the door for them to discover something about themselves. Having been raised on a steady diet of misconceptions about sexual identity and sexual orientation, they find condemnation easy.

How do I know? I was once a committed evangelical Christian. Their journey is mine; I have traversed the path I would have them trod. I am here to help them lay down those prejudices, every step of the way.