A recent interaction I had on Facebook:
Ultimately, I think this interaction with “A” represents the only sort of conversation I’m able to have with many Catholics when it comes to homosexuality. I write on something touching on Catholicism and homosexuality, and because I’ve chosen to “date,” my views are immediately dismissed as bad faith justifications for my “sinful” lifestyle.
Honestly, this doesn’t bother me all that much. If you’re going to write publicly on controversial issues, you have to understand that some people are going to respond in ways that don’t actually consider what you have to say, but immediately box you in to some oversimplified category and then dismiss you and whatever you have to say based on that box. This is just what happens on Facebook and other social media forums, and you shouldn’t be overly surprised or frustrated when it does.
Of course, not all criticisms are over-simplified placements into boxes. I have many friends who actually consider what I have to say and then give thoughtful comments and criticisms. Not all criticisms are failures of empathy. And not all objectors lack compassion.
But “conscientious objectors” who do nothing more than repeat the same objection again and again can become tiring for writers. And thus, I have a proposition for Christians who may talk about being gay on social media and who have Facebook “friends” who repeatedly respond with a simple dismissal:
Perhaps consider creating a GoogleDoc for all your “conscientious objectors” (those who say, over and over again, “I uphold your dignity as a person, but object to your use of the word “gay,” or your decision to date, or your hypothetical same-sex marriage, etc.). I’d recommend linking to this document in a comment on your post, with a message along the lines of, “I know that some of you repeatedly object to X, and instead of having you voice your objection to me over and over again, you are welcome to add your name to this list of objectors to my lifestyle/language/opinions. I’ll take this as a blanket objection, so that you don’t have to repeat your objection every time I post something.” (You can find templates for the GoogleDoc here.)
I certainly don’t mind new engagements, objections, questions, etc. to my writing. But I tire of hearing the same old objections repeated over and over again. This might just help to ease the objection process.
I hope this also helps to expose the utter failure of many Christians to really delve into the depths of Christian teaching. If a Christian’s response to another’s personal life can be simply inserted simply into canned answer on a spreadsheet…
This was not a typical post for me, and perhaps I should clarify something. When I recommend the GoogleDoc thing, I’m not really kidding. I’m being serious. It actually would be a less exhausting way of dealing with these sorts of objections. Sort of like signing a petition. And, in many ways, it would be more honest. It pulls away the facade of engagement and shows that these sorts of responses aren’t really responses at all, but knee-jerk reactions.