The more we come to understand the world around us, the more terrible we realize it has always been, and the more ashamed we are that we allowed it go on unchecked for so long. But that’s how growth comes about. We learn more from mistakes than successes. The most bleeding heart liberal of thirty years ago would look like a neo-Nazi today, such is the nature of progress. It’s fast, it sweeps you up, and it leaves you feeling confused.
It’s no wonder that the older generation is prone to say “It was a different time.” It really was. When we, as millenials, accuse Generation X of being transphobic, they stare back with their mouth agape, because they quite honestly didn’t know transgender identity even existed. They never MEANT to be transphobic, they were just ignorant. And the thing is, hurling insults at the older generation, calling them bigots, that’s bound to put them on the defensive. No one wants to be thought to be a bigot. There are two kinds of bigotry: there is the conscious bigotry of someone who learns new information and then chooses to ignore it or chooses to continue to marginalize and discriminate, and their is the unconscious bigotry of a well-meaning but uninformed person who doesn’t realize they’re bigoted.
Throughout most of modern history, Christianity has treated homosexuality with a disdain suitable only for death row inmates. We’re treated with utmost disgust and quite often violently attacked or mudered, whether for religious reasons or not. But there have been those Christians who compassionately wanted to “help” gay people by helping them to “overcome” their homosexuality. Gay conversion therapy is abominable and horrific, but it was probably created with good intentions. The Christians who sought to “cure” their gay children or other loved ones probably really thought they were doing their best to “help” someone “afflicted” with the “disease” of homosexuality, they probably thought that they could help the unfortunate “victim” to overcome their urges and lead what they considered a wholesome, Christian life, and allow them into Heaven.
But we’ve reached a point where as a society we can understand what homosexuality is from a biological and sociological standpoint, and we don’t have to treat it as a mental disorder anymore, because we understand that it isn’t. Soon the same thing will happen with transgender identity. As we grow and learn, we come to understand how wrong we were, but as always, we learn from our mistakes. It doesn’t make those mistakes any less heinous, by the way, but it is still how we as a society grow.
Christians today who attempt to “turn” their gay children straight should know better. Christians today should be held to account for their bigotry, because they no longer have the aegis of ignorance to hind behind.