MANN TALK: An Answer to a Homophobic Pastor's Letter

by Perry Mann
Perry Mann
Perry Mann
The following is a letter verbatim that appeared in the September 4th edition of the Charleston  Gazette: “Editor: California’s assembly recently passed four bills designed to prohibit or punish anyone who promotes traditional views on marriage and family in the state school system.

“Homosexual activists are undermining First Amendment guarantees of free speech by seeking to forbid any view that disagrees with or identifies the danger of homosexual lifestyle.

 “Moreover, these activists would require California textbooks, which will be produced for many states beyond the huge California market, to make positive references to homosexual perversion.

“Is free speech hate speech? Do not Christians, who believe such behavior to be aberrant and condemned by God, have the right to voice their opinion? After all, the term homosexual defines what a person does---now [sic] what a person is.

“Could it be that homosexuals are wracked with guilt because the conscience created by God and given to each person has condemned such behavior? But instead of choosing to change their view, they choose to silence any voice or opinion that would lend support to the message their own conscience has already given. Pastor Terry Hagedorn, Calvary Baptist Church Reedsville.” 

 Since I have a son who is gay, I will base my answer to the pastor’s letter on experience, on common sense, on education and on conscience. I will deal with each paragraph as it appears in his letter.

 I suspect that what the assembly did was not “to prohibit or punish anyone who promotes traditional views on marriage and family in the state school system” but to prohibit or punish anyone who promotes homophobic views in the school system; that is, to forbid words that incite bigots to beat the hell out of a fag for fun.

 Free speech does not allow a person to yell fire in a crowded theatre. And free speech does not allow one to speak in a manner that would lead another to discriminate against a class or to feel justified in doing violence to a member of it. When the pastor writes and preaches that God condemns homosexuals, then bigots and homophobes feel that God is on their side and that He approves when they kill or maim a gay or treat a gay scornfully or in any manner other than as one would treat a heterosexual. The chief danger of the homosexual lifestyle is bigots and those who inspire bigots, namely, homophobic pastors.  

 Homosexuality is not a perversion. The perversion is the warped mind of the pastor. One doesn’t choose homosexuality just as one does not choose heterosexuality. Why, pray tell me, would a person who has a choice of his sexual orientation choose to be homosexual in a society that has pastors nationwide preaching that God condemns homosexuality?  And that has ruffians everywhere aching to pound senseless any gay that crosses their paths? Further, homosexuality does not define what a person does as a gay. The term for the act, with which the pastor should be familiar, is sodomy, derived from the city of sin that God allegedly destroyed. The word homosexuality is defined as a person having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex. A person’s sexual orientation is a characteristic of the person not what the person does.

The conscience of a homosexual is not wracked by guilt but is wracked by fear of people like the pastor and those who listen to him from childhood and come to believe that gay behavior is aberrant and is an affront to Jehovah. I say Jehovah because the Father of Christ did not teach His child to hate gays. Where in the Gospels does the pastor read that Christ condemned gays? What he reads is St Paul; and  Paul wasn’t a god, nor very saintly in some matters. He too was a homophobe.

 My son’s conscience is clear with regard to his sexual orientation. He didn’t choose to be gay. He became gay in the same manner that the pastor became straight. He was born gay. His conscience is clear because he expresses his sexuality in accordance with his sexual orientation.

 The pastor seems to think that all a gay has to do is change his view and become straight. What a simplistic and ignorant presumption! A gay can no more change his sexual orientation than can a heterosexual change his sexual orientation. Homosexuals are ten percent of the population around the world and have been from time out of mind. They are as much God’s creation or nature’s as are heterosexuals.

 Like most preachers, Pastor Hagedorn premises his arguments against homosexuality on the existence of a God.  How does he know that there is a God and how does he know that his God condemns gays? He presumes that there is a God who is an entity separate from His creation, that He is male and is heterosexual and thus hates homosexuals. To believe and condemn on such tenuous and improbable presumptions exhibits a cerebrum of low wattage.    

Of course, he turns to the Bible. Where in the Bible does he turn? Why, where else but to Leviticus, a book of horrors and death sentences for acts Christians do daily. And where else? To St. Paul. Why doesn’t a Christian pastor read the Sermon on the Mount and quote Christ on homosexuality? The answer is that Christ will not help him in his crusade against gays. But Christ will make him ashamed of himself and wrack his conscience with his message of forgiveness, love and mercy.

Preachers who preach against homosexuality know the congregation is entirely heterosexual and that they will get merits for their hate. To hate the sin and love the sinner does not absolve them from the sin of hating. Christ’s Father knows the phrase is a subterfuge. Every sin is the result of an act and an act is the result of a person’s action. The hate finally roosts on a gay person’s shoulder. And that person is someone who has awakened to know that he is a homosexual in a world mostly of heterosexuals, who mostly hate homosexuals. Even the least sensitive of heterosexuals must in a moment of contemplation realize the nightmarish world he has helped to  create for gay people. Pastor Hegedorn should consider the consequences of his hate and his preaching of it lest on Judgment Day he has to answer for it.            
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Perry Mann is a former teacher, a lawyer, a former prosecuting attorney of Summers County and a columnist for Huntington News Network. He lives in Hinton, WV. He was born in Charleston, WV in 1921.
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