What’s the difference between homophobia and standing up for “Christian values?” The answer lies in a postage stamp.
Angered by the recent release of a postage stamp honoring gay-rights activist Harvey Milk, the American Family Association has asked its members not only to avoid purchasing the stamp, but to refuse to accept or open any letter or package postmarked with one. In a recent email from AFA, the following was recommended:
1. Refuse to accept the Harvey Milk stamp if offered by your local post office. Instead, ask for a stamp of the United States flag.
2. Refuse to accept mail at your home or business if it is postmarked with the Harvey Milk stamp. Simply write ‘Return to Sender” on the envelope and tell your postman you won’t accept it.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m tired of Christians acting homophobic. Of course, I don’t believe every Christian is homophobic. (Full disclosure: I am a Christian.) There are plenty of Christians who choose to adhere to their own moral code without imposing it onto the lives or rights of other citizens, recognizing that imposing religious beliefs on others is a dangerous thing. And there are other Christians who take a different interpretation and affirm gay relationships. I’m not talking about those Christians today. I’m talking about the Christians who are making homosexuality the issue that dwarfs all others in the Christian moral code. I’m talking about the Christians who seem relatively quiet about other behaviors with biblical mentions (divorce, gluttony, greed, for example) but who rally with furor over gay rights. I’m talking about the trend of Christian homophobia . . . especially the brand of homophobia coming from organizations like the American Family Association or Focus on the Family. Every time I’ve hinted at this, it’s been met with much protestation. But we’re just stating our beliefs! We’re speaking the truth! We are trying to hold to our own values! We’re standing for biblical truth!” Okay. Sure. Let’s have a look at the list of individuals who have appeared on US stamps. There are some colorful personalities on them. Buddy Holly, Jimmy Hendrix, John Barrymore, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, James Dean . . .and hundreds and hundreds of other folks. And now, let’s compile a list of all of the times Christians have organized a boycott in which they refused to accept mail from someone on this list because that person did not align with their own moral code of Christian behavior. Go ahead. Make a list in the comment section. Again, we’re looking for people on a postage stamp who behaved in ways outside of the Christian code, and then corresponding mail boycotts. Be my guest in proving to me that this is not about homophobia but just about standing up for truth because someone who is perceived as a sinner is depicted on a stamp. I’ll wait.