'Hey Margaret, go to Hell'

Christophobia is an equal evil to homophobia, writes David Bennett

Yesterday, campaigners protested outside the Athenaeum Club in Melbourne, Victoria, where Margaret Court, Australia’s foremost female tennis player, was invited to speak by the Liberal Party of Australia.

Certain embittered activists shouted, “Homophobia’s got to go” and “gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right.”

However, most media outlets did not include a part of the protest where “Hey, Margaret, go to hell” was shouted. But Australian Christian Lobby Managing Director Lyle Shelton posted the footage on social media:

I am now writing to challenge the gay lobby to stop the hate. As a celibate gay Christian who agrees with the orthodox Christian view on marriage, and as someone who became a Christian as an agnostic gay rights activist when I was 19, this vilification of orthodox Christians is something I stand against as strongly as I do the vilification of gay people.

I experience the unique, double-wedged effect of being someone who identifies in both camps, is often treated horribly by both sides and who experiences the pain of both sides.

Vilification and slander of any group is not to be tolerated.

I recently wrote an article challenging Margaret to preach the message of God’s love in Christ for the gay community and not just a moral position on marriage. The love and grace of God for all people, as in my story, must come first. The greater sin is not to love our neighbour, gay or straight, Christian, or not, liberal or orthodox.

‘Christophobia’ or discrimination against people who hold an orthodox perspective on marriage, is an equal evil to homophobia. The video above reveals that this evil exists on both sides.

In a democracy like Australia, protests are welcome for all views of marriage. However, vilification and slander of any group is not to be tolerated. This should be held for both sides, and I am glad many in the Liberal Party who disagree with Court’s views, invited her to speak.

What we are seeing is the backlash that says the ends justify the means. We are seeing the full force of a tragic culture of victimhood that has developed through the polarising media establishment. We as a nation and media sphere have promoted mutual ignorance between orthodox Christians and the gay community and are all largely to blame. We must turn from this way of behaving in Australian society, which will only increase the fear, hatred, hurt and pain.

We need to see a civil exchange where we do not attack each other out of pain, hurt and victimhood…

Here, we see the destruction of a healthy left of the spectrum, that represents the minority voice fairly and prides itself on peaceful and non-vilifying protest. Instead, we are seeing the illiberal ideology of victimhood install itself, which commits the sin of Christophobia.

We need to see a civil exchange where we do not attack each other out of pain, hurt and victimhood, but learn to live in respect and love of neighbour, turning the other cheek and learning to love our enemies.

As Martin Luther King – himself a Baptist pastor and the vanguard of the US Civil Rights movement – said in response to others using violent and slanderous ends to fight for their cause: “[Violent protest] is impractical because it is a descending spiral, ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win her understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert.”

“[Violent protest] is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

UK politician Tim Farron stood for a spirit we desperately need across the West – of being able to disagree agreeably.

In recent weeks, this siloed ‘Christophobia’ has caused the leader of the UK’s Liberal Democrats party, Tim Farron (an orthodox Christian) to step down from the leadership of his party. Farron supported gay marriage rights and yet privately, held different views. He stood for a spirit we desperately need across the West – of being able to disagree agreeably.

As a Christian, I stand in mournful apology to the gay community for how horrifically the Church has treated us in the past. As a gay celibate man, I stand in apology to Margaret Court and many orthodox Christians who have been victimised and bullied by some in the gay rights movement.

Both of these communities live in me and both of them are worthy of love and respect. As Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”

We must “not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In this picture, both the gay community and the Christian community desperately need the grace, truth and love of God. Let us all be peacemakers like Christ who brought peace between God and man by dying on a cross and rising again, not using violence and slander.

As the apostlePaul states in the second letter to the Corinthians: “God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)

We must return to a culture of honour and dignity, not the spiral of hatred and victimhood. We must “not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.”

David Bennett has recently completed his postgraduate studies in theology at the University of Oxford and works as an adjunct speaker for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is currently completing his first book, “A War of Loves: A Gay Rights Activists Encounters Jesus Christ,” that will be published by HarperCollins mid-next year. 

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