A highlight reel of an episode of the Christian program, Way of the Master, has surfaced recently. Intrigued, I sought out the full half-hour episode titled How To Witness To Someone Who Is Gay. I want to share my findings with you.
The "Masters," Kirk Cameron and his straight pal Ray Comfort, approach the pesky problem of homosexuality in a non-condescending manner. They are non-condescending because they continually remind us of this fact throughout the episode.
Kirk and Ray travel to San Francisco in search of its sinner citizens. Watching Kirk and Ray in San Francisco is like watching Jane Goodall or Dian Fossey in Africa. Kirk and Ray study gays, while Jane and Dian studied chimpanzees and gorillas, and their approaches are surprisingly similar. Kirk and Ray, like Jane and Dian, know that it is the tone of voice when conversing with the exotic creatures which is key to communicating effectively. If one speaks to the wild gays of San Francisco in a calm, even, reassuring manner, the gays will fight the primal urge to rip your face off with their bare hands.
Kirk and Ray do not merely talk to gay people. They witness to gay people. I am not sure what the difference is. No matter. They are kind and loving. And not condescending at all. A message at the beginning warns parents about the graphic nature of the program. Apparently, Kirk and Ray do not want children to know anything about gay people. That is not condescending, just prudent.
Kirk talks -- er, I mean, witnesses -- to a gay man who does not believe in his god. He goads the man into admitting that, by Kirk's god's standards, he is a sinner. Then Kirk tells the man he must repent. Kirk is convinced he has done some good, and manages to shove a New Testament into the amused man's hands before they part.
Kirk has a philosophy that, to witness to gay people, you must first point out their sins and then make them aware of the eternal hell they are facing. In the episode, he and Ray talk to a number of gay people, all of whom have their own strong beliefs and are not the least bit altered by the proselytizing. Kirk and Ray seem blissfully unaware that their approach is ineffective.
As a bonus, Ray talks to a trans woman. As she tells Ray of pain and prejudice and multiple suicide attempts, Ray lovingly asks, "Why don't you just dress as a man and then your problems will be over?" and calls her "sir." This woman must have missed the part where Ray states that he is not condescending because she storms away in a huff. Maybe she will understand better when Ray releases How To Witness To Someone Who Is Transsexual.
Kirk and Ray tell us repeatedly that homosexuality is one particular branch on the deep-rooted tree of the sinful nature and it is a disservice to gay people not to point out the sinfulness. This is so kind. Ray is named Comfort for a reason! To return the favor, I, a gay person, would like to reach out to them. I realize that I do not have the same anthropological credentials as a Kirk Cameron because I was not a child star on a 1980s situation comedy, but I will do my best.
Warning: Due to the graphic nature of the rest of this blog post, parental discretion is advised.
Let me start by saying that what I am about to write is not condescending. And is meant in the true spirit of love.
To witness in a gay way to people like Kirk and Ray, it is important for the gay person to simplify or "dumb down" comments. Kirk and Ray do not like complexities. These people are not comfortable with contemporary truths so, when making a point, try to use examples that are at least two thousand years old.
The use of metaphors is highly recommended. Trees, paths, footsteps in the sand, bridges -- that kind of thing. If you can illustrate with bad graphics, that might make it even easier for them to understand your message.
Speak in reassuring, dulcet tones. Paste a smile on your face at all times.
And, most importantly, keep reminding yourself and everyone who will listen that you are not condescending or arrogant.