Evangelical Christians are really upset. To almost no one’s surprise this last week, Tony Campolo officially changed his stance from non-affirming to affirming of LGBT relationships in the church. (Sidenote: how does one “officially” change a stance? Is there a Ministry of Official Stances where you get this stuff notarized?). Shortly following that, David Neff, former editor of the cornerstone evangelical organization, Christianity Today, spoke on Facebook about how he has come around to a position of affirmation.
And the current editor of Christianity Today had what can only be described as a tantrum in the pages of his own magazine. Both Neff and Campolo are wrong, he writes, because 2 billion Christians hold the “orthodox” view and 2,000 years of Christian history support him – I mean, the stance.
Fascinating reaches there, considering it is virtually impossible to poll all 2 billion of Christians on earth and ask them their views of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. There’s a large part of me that laughs and cannot possibly take the argument seriously. And yet, the academic side of me, the activist side of me, recoils at the conscription of black and brown bodies into a battle between their colonizers.
Christianity is the religion of colonialism. When our forefathers came over to this country and found Natives practicing their own faiths, the response was to violently force conversion. Those who would not convert were either killed or forced to move from their homelands. Similarly, in Africa and Asia, white bodies brought with them a white religion, bent into a patriarchal shape, carrying orthodoxy at the tip of a sword and in the sights of a gun. To use colonized bodies in a fight amongst the colonizers is to treat those bodies as mercenaries of war, as unwilling soldiers in a war they did not start and do not invest in.
No doubt homophobia exists in all culture, just as affirmation exists in all cultures. To flatten a colonized people in order to conscript them into our battles is to commit oneself to a legacy of violent colonialism, to repeat history. Many of these Christians now namelessly and wordlessly pulled into a petty fight between white men only identify as Christians because the religion was introduced by violent white colonizers who forced conversion under penalty of death. Their “orthodoxy” only exists because of the violent orthodoxy of our white ancestors.
What Christianity Today is doing in arguing that 2 billion Christians equals 2 billion votes against same-sex marriage is reenacting the colonist efforts we should be disowning. It is using the bodies of brown and black peoples, still suffering under a legacy of colonialism, in its white-oriented battles.
The American version of bigoted orthodoxy is losing out. It knows this. And so it tries, in its final death rolls, to assure itself that its colonized people, the victims of its ancestors, are somehow willing participants in a white battle about which they do not care. For generations, white Christians have used black bodies as human shields for battles they do not want to fight. So it comes as no surprise that they would continue to do so now.