Pushback Against “Critical Conversations” Book? No, Just Stereotyping


At first I was going to say here that my book Critical Conversations had received its first pushback today, in an article Debra Pasquella wrote a titled “Christians Who Primarily Focus on Homosexuality Based on Fear.”” It wasn’t. She hadn’t read the book. She was stereotyping me instead.

She did hear me do an interview (more on that below). But if she had read the book, she might not have said so blithely,

Intolerance and hate are first taught at home. They pick up on what their parents detest and use it as ammunition once they get into a tickle with someone in the schoolyard. Teaching your children that homosexuality is wrong is very destructive and I even want to say, cruel. I wonder if some of these parents even think about the consequences of bullying, like self-harm and suicide statistics.

She would have known that I dealt with all that in some detail. Maybe she would have disagreed with me, but she could at least have engaged with what I said rather than what she assumes I feel, believe, or do. (“Assumed,” you say? Yes. See below.)

If she’d read the book she wouldn’t have acted as if she were informing me for the first time, “New Testament: Speaks about the promiscuity of all homosexuals as well as heterosexuals.” I knew that.  But what’s really interesting is that if she’d read the book she would have known that I teach precisely the opposite of what she accuses in her sentence following that one: “They have taken the meaning of reckless sex and threw it upon all gay people.” I haven’t done that. I’ve done the opposite. I spend considerable time in the book detailing how heterosexual immorality led straight to today’s opinions about same-sex physical intimacy and marriage.

If she’d read the book she wouldn’t have associated me with Christians who “will cherry pick [the Sodom and Gomorrah account] and twist the story around to condemn those who are homosexual.” I don’t use that account at all; I don’t think it’s clearly about homosexuality.

If she’d read the book she wouldn’t have said, “They never seem to focus on the 100 plus verses on slavery.” I devote a section to that.

NewImageIf she’d read the book she wouldn’t have put this hateful image —with which I thoroughly disagree! — right next to her description of why she thinks I wrote it.

If she’d read the book she would have known that my disagreement with the term “homophobia” isn’t based on a feeling. (She wrote, “Christians feel that most liberals … use the word ‘homophobia’ in an incorrect way.”) My disagreement is based on the fact that there is a proper definition for “phobia,” and that the disagreement many of us have toward homosexuality doesn’t fit that definition.

Ms. Pasquella did not read my book, but she did listen to an interview. She says,

Mr. Gilson used a term that I sort of chuckled at while being interviewed the other night. He said that gays and lesbians base their relationships on “excessive lust”. He primarily focused on the sexual aspects of gay and lesbian relationships.

I don’t know which interview she heard, but I haven’t had one yet in which I primarily focused on sexual aspects. There was one (I forget which) in which I made a reference to “excessive lust.” But at the time I was describing a view held by pro-LGBT writer Matthew Vines, with whom I disagree on many things, including his view that the New Testament’s condemnation of homosexuality only applied to cases of excessive lust or unequal relationships. In other words I was speaking about someone else’s view, not my own, and I was disagreeing.

So what’s going on here, really? There’s more than a hint of an explanation where she says,

Mr. Gilson wrote a whole book based upon his fear of his children being gay, and your children being gay and perhaps his own fear that he’s gay himself. I can make all types of assumptions based on their “homophobia” (which by the way, many Christians hate that term).

She doesn’t know me, but she’s labeling me and drawing assumptions out of her opinion of the group she has so labeled. That’s classic stereotyping. So is most of the above.

I wonder whether Ms. Pasquella actually believes in stereotyping.

Speaking of stereotyping, she goes on to say,

Antigay Christian conservatives mostly focus on tearing apart the LGBT community due to fear alone. In my opinion, this has a great deal to do with their own sexual repression. Most homophobic Christians are homosexuals. They’ve done hundreds of studies regarding this all proving it to be true.

“Hundreds” is a very large number; and the best such studies I found said something different. They didn’t say that most “homophobic Christians” are repressing same-sex desires. They said that repressing same-sex desires could lead to more pronounced anti-gay behaviors. There is a significant difference. Yes, repressed sexual conflicts can lead to certain behaviors, but it’s an error of logic and science to conclude that all persons having a certain opinion have it for the same reason. That article also says,

Across all the studies, participants with supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, while participants from authoritarian homes revealed the most discrepancy between explicit and implicit attraction.

The whole point of my book is for parents to have thoughtful, respectful conversations with their teens about sexuality, which is the opposite of taking an authoritarian stance.

I don’t know if she was still speaking specifically about me, or about the stereotyped group I represent in her mind, when she wrote, “When you encourage homophobia…. You’re displaying your own fear of homosexuality, your own fear of being gay yourself.” Notwithstanding that I don’t agree that I encourage homophobia, there’s also the fact that I’m not afraid of being gay myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m fine with who I am. I’m not afraid. But she’s stereotyping.

She closes the article,

My point is: so many knowledgeable Christians are wasting their teaching platforms to instill their own fear upon society. Fear is not of God. The only thing to conquer your fear is through love. Why aren’t we showing more of that?

Why didn’t she read the book?