Open Letter to Kirk Cameron: Think About Compassion

If you have not read the introduction to this piece, do so here, then come back:

Piers vs. Kirk – Why They’re Both Wrong

Dear Kirk,

You had roughly two minutes to tackle some of the most emotionally, spiritually, politically and culturally charged topics of our time and, as an evangelical conservative Christian, it’s near impossible to knock it out of the park unless you’ve spent a stunning amount of time thinking about it.  You really do seem sincere.  You aren’t attacking or intentionally rude in this interview.  In fact, quite the opposite.  You seem to be very well aware of the minefield you are walking and with that knowledge, you seem reticent to offend yet still steadfast in your beliefs.

No matter what you had said in those two minutes, you’d be blasted by someone.  In fact, at this very moment, I’m sure you are already being blasted on all sides.  So let me be one who says, “job well done” for attempting to bravely engage an aggressive disagreement.” You took on a hard question, and you did it with boldness. I can respect how incredibly awkward it must have been to be put on the spot, knowing that you were instantly in the cross-hairs of every single Christian and every single LGBT(QQIA) person watching.  How incredibly intimidating.

The next thing I’ll say to you is less affirming though and I won’t beat around the bush.  Some of the things you said deserve to get blasted.  You were wrong, flat out wrong, about some of it, and the way you framed some of your argument was particularly offensive.  My intent here isn’t to cut you down to size and I don’t sense any bad intent on your part.  All in all, this is a conversation I’d love to have with you over a cup of coffee, because I sense you actually are a well-intentioned man of God. But let’s face it – you’re a celebrity, so this forum will have to do.  From your body language, as well as your tone of voice, it seems as if your attempt was to deal as respectfully and kindly as you could while not budging an inch on topics about which you feel convinced. I would like to unpack a few things you said however, because I wonder if you really understand what you were implying at times.
Kirk, if your goal was to make a stand against gay marriage, you achieved it.  But if your goal was to engage the question faithfully (both as a Christian, and as someone who is considering the social and political issues involved), I think you missed the mark.  Here are some of the things you said, and my response.

  1. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman – shown by Adam and Eve in the garden at the beginning of time.  I won’t dispute your position because it is yours to hold, but I will dispute your reasoning. Though I think you seem well intentioned, your arguments about why marriage should be between one man and one woman do not show an adequate thoughtfulness to the matter.  God did make one man and one woman and place them in the garden.  When he put them together, he did say that it was good.  But this narrative alone does not give an adequate defense for what God thinks about same-sex relationships.  In fact, it does not even address same-sex relationships.  If you want to make a Christian argument which asserts that same-sex relationships are sinful, you have to provide a much more thoughtful answer, rooted in the whole of Scripture and what it tells us about the nature of God and the nature of man in particular.  God’s word is important to me, as it seems to be to you.  Using one passage alone minimizes what Scripture as a whole tells us about the nature of God, and what he may think about homosexuality.
  2.  Homosexuality is unnatural.  First, what does “unnatural” mean?  Does it mean uncommon?  That’s true – it is somewhat uncommon, in the sense that it is the minority of people who experience and/or act on same-sex attraction (somewhere between 3-6% most likely).  This argument does not, however, delegitimize, in any sense, the dignity or legal rights owed to those who experience or engage any type of “unnaturalness”.  There are plenty of things, both moral and amoral, that could be characterized as “unnatural” in the sense that they are either uncommon or not preferable morally (moral example – some instances of divorce, amoral example – disabilities).  You’ll note, however, that we don’t legislate against these things for reasons of them being “unnatural.”  This is wise, because “unnaturalness” should not be made to become the standard for a legal code.  Otherwise, minorities of all sorts would suffer and instead of having a legal code, we’d only have a moral code.  There are also plenty of things that we could call “unnatural” that don’t make them morally lesser (because they are amoral).  For instance, being double-jointed is definitely an “unnatural” thing (in the sense that it’s uncommon).  This doesn’t mean that people with double-joints should hide them, be ashamed of them, or be excluded from say, sports, just because there’s something “unnatural” about the way their fingers bend.  The bigger question here is, even if you hold that homosexual relationships are morally lesser, does that mean they should be legislated against?   Not necessarily.  There are plenty of Christians that hold moral values that they wouldn’t legislate.  Finally, if what you mean when you say “uncommon” is that it makes you feel uncomfortable, then you should probably move past it.  We’re always going to feel uncomfortable with things we’re not well acquainted with, but it doesn’t mean the problem is with the “other”.  It means the problem is with us.  I could go on with this point, but I’ll stop here – unless you actually want to take me up on that offer to buy you a cup of coffee and have a real conversation about it
  3. Homosexuality is detrimental.  I honestly can’t respond to this one because it’s too vague.  How is it detrimental?  To whom?  Do you mean to society at large?  To a person specifically?  To you personally?  I’d like to hear more about why you made this remark specifically because without knowing, I can’t determine how to respond.  This makes me sad, to be honest, because it feels like a sweeping generality that only serves as a condemnation of people I love.  Sexual attraction is never detrimental.  Sexual sin is detrimental (this includes lust).  What you said though, is that “homosexuality is detrimental” which makes no more sense than if you had said “heterosexuality is detrimental.”  If I choose to sexually sin, thatis detrimental – to me, to the person I’ve sinned with/against, to my relationship with God, and maybe (it could even be argued) to society as a whole.  But behavior and attraction are two different things.  Some would argue that homosexual sexual acts are detrimental (to self, others, and God).  Others would say they are not.  In my opinion, we can disagree about this, but we can’t say that sexual attraction, in and of itself, is detrimental.  That’s not Biblical in the least.
  4.  Homosexuality is destructive to some of the foundations of civilization.  Years ago, I actually made a statement very similar to yours to one of my good friends who was gay.  He looked at me like I was an idiot, and it’s because I was.  If you can make an argument for how exactly someone experiencing attraction to a member of their own sex destroys the foundations of civilization, I would love to hear it.  I’ve yet to hear one that actually makes any sense.  You could make a moral argument here that embracing a traditionally orthodox understanding of the Biblical sexual ethic (i.e., that God mandates sexual acts to be engaged only within the bounds of heterosexual, monogamous marriage) is the best choice for society at large. Some people, even Christians, would disagree with you and point to other evidence to support a different perspective.  However, your statement sounds much more like an assertion that being gay or, more crassly, having gay sex, will weaken the strength of our social and political system.  That just doesn’t make sense.
Lastly Kirk, I wonder if you might consider something for the future.  I’d appeal to you to take stock of how hurtful it is to call someone “unnatural”, or to say that who they are (or at very least, who they experience themselves to be), is destroying civilization.  It’s mean.  It’s dehumanizing.  There’s no two ways about it.  Could you ever imagine looking at someone you love, perhaps your wife, or your child, and saying “You are unnatural.”  Even if you are right (in the sense that what they experience is uncommon), even if it’s true, it’s not helpful or productive.  It certainly isn’t loving.  Words matter, and they matter deeply to my LGBT brothers and sisters who have been abused in the name of Christ for decades.  Please be sensitive to that.
I will say, your best argument came towards the end of the interview when you mentioned the moral framework within which we each operate.  You called into question how any one of us actually determine what is moral in the first place.  This was the beginning of a very good dialogue which was blithely ignored by Piers (perhaps merely due to the time constraints of the interview but, nevertheless, it was dismissed and it shouldn’t have been).  It recalled for me, in fact, some compelling arguments that C.S. Lewis has made in Mere Christianity, regarding our sense of “right” and “wrong” pointing us to the one who has created such a moral compass within us.  You were beginning to make a good point with a solid apologetics backing from one of the best Christian minds out there.
Finally Kirk, you should know, many of my LGBT friends have already written you off as stupid, ignorant, or morally depraved, just because of the tone you took in this conversation.  I wish they hadn’t.  It’s their fault if they write you off, but it’s also yours.  As a Christian, you did what you should have, voicing your convictions with boldness and courage.  But you should have done more, because Christians are called to more.  Jesus says that the world will know we are Christians by our love.Love cannot exist with conviction and boldness and courage.  But neither can conviction, boldness, or courage exist without love. I wonder what could have happened if you had dropped your agenda to make a political or religious statement, and replaced it with true compassion for those who have been mistreated in the LGBT community, and a greater understanding of what you were saying.  Maybe some of our LGBT brothers and sisters would be able to drop their defenses as well, and maybe we’d all be able to deal more compassionately, faithfully, and productively with one another. Maybe my LGBT friends could understand, believe, and feel (some of them for the first time in their lives) that God truly loves them. Maybe gay teenagers would stop taking their lives because of the ways they get bullied and abused and treated as less than God’s favorite. Maybe some hearts and lives would be transformed by God’s saving and sanctifying grace if we stood for people’s hearts and lives instead of dehumanizing them with poor theology and irrational judgment based on our own sense of discomfort. Maybe it could happen, in time.  I’m just naive enough and optimistic enough to believe it’s possible.
I want to thank you for speaking passionately about the God I love and expressing with conviction that he calls us into lives of holiness that reflect Him.  In the same breath, I’ll say this: Don’t make the LGBTQQIA community engage their fight or flight in these conversations.  Help them to feel your love and care, listening to their concerns and fears, speaking their language, and holding out the truth of God’s love in the midst of all the tension.  That’s when great things will happen.  I hope you’ll be a part of it.(Now that you’ve read my response to Kirk, click here if you’d like to read my response to Piers).

4 thoughts on “Open Letter to Kirk Cameron: Think About Compassion

  1. Kirk Cameron did a great job in the 2 minutes or whatever he had to address such a heavy topic. I understand this is an issue close to your heart, but he never called any ONE unnatural. He only addressed the sin of acting on homosexual feelings, termed homosexuality. If you don't act on those feelings of attraction, you aren't a "homosexual". And homosexuality is not a race or minority so it really can't be treated as one or argued for as one. If that were the case, then we could term adulterers and alcoholics and sex addicts as minorities that deserve our pity for their inability to control their urges.I praise God that he loves each and everyone of us, regardless of our faults or imperfections and forgives us every time we fail. I don't look to judge, I only go by what I know to be true from God's word. Everyone needs love and support, but we also need accountability, to be loved enough not to be left the same. God loves me enough not to let me remain in my sin, but desires that I continue to better myself and grow in Him. I want friends and loved ones in my life who will challenge me to do just that.

  2. Zopp,I think the confusion setting in here is due mostly to the language that is used. Kirk said that "homosexuality is unnatural" The LGBT community (and society at large, outside the Christian community) would interpret this to mean that the actual experience of homosexual attractions is unnatural. Since many take their sexuality to be an inseparable part of their identity (much the same way that heterosexuality is a part of my identity), this language is interpreted to mean that the person is in fact unnatural.Perhaps this was not what Kirk intended to communicate. However, since he was speaking to the broader community that defines these terms differently than the Christian community has in the past, it would be important for him to bear that in mind as he makes statements such as he did.If in fact he meant what you assert he meant, what he should have said to communicate that is "I believe that homosexual sexual activity is a sin." Instead, by saying "homosexuality" is a sin, what he communicated was that the actual sexual attraction in and of itself is sinful.I know this gets confusing, but I think there is a line to be drawn between sexual attraction (or orientation), sexual identity (how we label ourselves) and sexual behavior. I just wish he had been a bit more careful in drawing that line because as it was, he was either unkind/unthoughtful, or he was truly just miscommunicating.I wonder if that's where the disagreement is occurring for you as well. You say that "homosexuality is not a race or minority" and so cannot be treated as one. I strongly disagree. Homosexual sexual activity is chosen, but orientation towards one own gender is not something that is chosen. I'd encourage you to read the "Did They Choose It" post on the blog here and I'd invite your thoughts in response.Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm enjoying the dialogue!

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