Yet, if the left calls everyone who disagrees with them on homosexuality "haters" (about half of America, according to surveys), the loss of credibility is substantial. If news writers and pundits are happy to label those who support traditional marriage as "anti-gay," and label organizations that speak consistently for traditional marriage as "hate groups," it seems almost a given that someone eventually will decide to put down the "haters."
On the flip side, if those who support a traditional view of marriage remain silent as gay teenagers are bullied into suicide or suffer physical violence and act as if nothing is happening, they should not expect to be taken seriously when they decry violence against one of their own.
It goes both ways -- when we demonize others, someone may feel empowered to commit an act of violence. Perhaps the pundits will shout it this time as well. I hope they will shout accurately, should they decide to shout at all.
A collective of pro-LGBT groups released a statement saying they "utterly reject and condemn such violence." This is an appropriate response, and one that must remain consistent from both sides of the debate. However, if LGBT groups want to "reject and condemn such violence," part of the key will be in the language we use -- and it is time to stop demonizing people who believe they are living out their faith by believing and teaching its values with regards to morality and marriage.
Respectful and civil discussion of the issues is essential. We must be able to disagree without demonizing or labeling as "haters" those with whom we disagree. My hope is that we will all learn this (Christians, conservatives, liberals, atheists, LGBT, and more) before more violence occurs.
Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research. This column first appeared on his blog, Ed Stetzer.com. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp). Read other resources about the gay marriage debate:
FIRST-PERSON (Daniel Akin): Is it true Jesus never addressed same-sex marriage?
FIRST-PERSON (Glenn Stanton): Why not legalize gay 'marriage'?
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