I agree with you wholeheartedly that anyone -- and not just leaders -- who brings a chair to the table of public dialogue on important social issues must be honest and transparent.Now here's a quandary, and it's one I've run into in my own past as a writer and activist: can a gay man (or woman) oppose certain pro-gay issues? Absolutely. And their own sexuality may have nothing to do with what informs their opinions on such social, political or economic matters.In Jonathan's case, his foremost commitments in life are obviously rooted in his sense of faith, and not his sexuality (whatever it may be; that is something only he can work out for himself, in spite of the experience you two shared; one moment in time does not define the wholeness of one's identity). Both are in conflict, as he himself recently confessed to. But his choice, so far, has been to yield to his spiritual drive rather than his sexual impulse.As to whether any transparency on his part where his sexuality is concerned is required in order for him to be a valid and valuable voice in the dialogue on gay issues . . . well, I'm not sure how true that is. Your momentary experience with him a couple years ago gives you a brief snapshot, but does not afford you a broader and deeper insight into what ultimately motivates him and compels his life choices.As to why you outed him . . . I can only repeat (in part) what I already wrote in my comment to you yesterday on the originating post where you outed JM . . .You could have found a more creative alternative to expressing your issues about JM without sharing so publicly a moment of intimacy that you and he shared privately. Sadly, what is done is done. You unfortunately can't un-ring this bell.Not one statement in JM's piece in The Atlantic expressed a single iota of anti-gay sentiment, and it cannot be inferred that he is anti-gay just because he decries boycotting Chick-fil-A. As such, outting him because of his piece in The Atlantic makes no sense at all. Which then begs a question: is JM a leader? How? And says who?It is necessary to consider whether it was right and/or justifiable for you to assume responsibility for revealing another person's deeply private issue. If JM struggles with the gay issue, it is his struggle. His intimate moment with you would then be part of that struggle. You know (as I also know) how terrifying it is to be conflicted with faith identity and gay identity, especially when your life is very public and the implications of "coming out" are extraordinary. Some of us work out the conflict early. As you did. As I did. For others, it takes much, much longer. And for many different reasons. As MAY be the case with JM. Or may not be. Only JM knows.
Right... there's absolutely nothing "anti-gay" about Merritt's Atlantic article...well, except that his entire aim was to make a litany of despicable apologies for a corporate CEO who's proudly poured millions into preventing equal treatment under the law for gay Americans, while at the same time dismissing our efforts to inform the public about the situation, so they can make their own decisions about how they spend their money.Despite all his "Why can't we just get along?" whining, Merritt CLEARLY chose a side in the argument, yet he seems to think no one else should have that opportunity: We should just go buy a "perfectly fried chicken sandwich" and forget about our irrelevant struggle for civil rights.
Yes, it is correct that there is nothing anti-gay in JM's piece in The Atlantic. Just because JM seeks to promote balance and conflict resolution by positing alternatives that some in the gay community may not like, that doesn't make him anti-gay. Nor does it make JM anti-gay to point out some of the good things Chick-fil-A has done.Having said that, I personally have chosen not give my money to Chick-fil-A. I made that choice because I am gay, and because I refuse to knowingly give a single penny to any group which forwards even the tiniest portion of its proceeds to anti-gay organizations.At the same time, you won't see me picketing Chick-fil-A stores or engaging in any kind of activism against the food chain.Many gays who are predisposed to hyper-activism have a tendency to overreact to certain matters, and then over-magnify the significance and impact of particular entities whose actual significance and impact are at best inconsequential in the long term (a characterization which I believe applies to Chick-fil-A). Such gay men and women think every "shot" is a declaration of all-out war, and so launch into needless and sometimes counterproductive crusade. I believe this is what has actually happened with the Chick-fil-A matter (which was not really news; it was nearly a year ago that we learned who they were giving money to).In 2009 Jonathan wrote a piece in USA Today titled "An Evangelical's Plea: 'Love The Sinner'" (link here: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090420/column20_st.art.htm). In fact, if I am correct, I believe this was the piece that precipitated contact between JM and Azariah. Anyway, a good review of that piece will reveal that JM is not in any way anti-gay. He seeks to encourage authentic love and equality for gay men and women, and does so within the boundaries of his admittedly progressive Christian faith. Moreover, he does so with an appreciable sense of compromise that is woefully absent in most evangelical circles today.JM deserves applause, not ridicule. And how dare any of us in the gay community bid him walk on water when we ourselves can hardly swim.
First, if it weren't for "hyper-activism", my state, Massachusetts, would not have been the first to extend marriage rights to gay couples. It was ONLY through the tenacious efforts of "hyper-activists" that we brought the Goodridge case through the court system, won it, and went on to the much tougher challenge of fighting a proposed ballot question that would have undone the court's ruling and enshrined discrimination in our state constitution. We organized, we raised money, we made phone calls, we blogged, we created networks, we demonstrated, we lobbied, we won. That's what hyper-activism looks like, and it's nothing i'll ever be ashamed of having participated in. Jonathan Merritt has made it abundantly clear that he does not support marriage rights -or even civil unions- for gay and lesbian couples. So, sorry, but I don't offer "applause" to someone who cashes in by calling me a "sinner", an individual who would deny me my civil rights because of the inane rantings of religious lunatics from the Stone and Bronze ages... and then try to wrap it all up with a pretty bow of alleged 'tolerance' and 'civility' ... because in a free society, there is nothing "tolerant' or 'civil' about blatant discrimination and exclusion.I can swim quite well. It appears the Merritt is the one who is struggling to stay afloat within an ocean of hypocrisy and religiously acquired self-loathing.
Your words against Jonathan (who, by the way, considers himself equally a "sinner" as me or you) would hold some weight were you not hiding behind the comfortable cloak of anonymity. Perhaps you missed Azariah's point about transparency when sitting at the table of open discussion on issues of consequence. How easy it is to spit blind anger free of accountability.So much for your so-called pride in being an activist, a role which, in its own right, can easily be considered one of "leadership."For me, no more responding to anonymous posters, especially those who would cheer Jonathan's "outing" and yet fail to identify themselves in an open forum. I find such behavior both disingenuous and cowardly.
The very notion of 'sin' is as childish and unproductive as arguing with someone like you, who nervously retreats to ad hominem when cornered by the simple facts. Zeus bless you and have a nice life.
Azariah's video points out the overriding value of "speech" vs blogging...wherein, although not face to face, a person communicates viz a vi all the other needed components of communication: facial expression, tone, body language, demeanor. Having said that, his sincerity - whether one accepts it or not, rings through. His position for outing is more clearly stated: not outing for the sake of outing but outing a person who represents an organization which preaches un-Christlike stances towards gays..persons they SHOULD be reaching out to with Christlike love, compassion, understanding - regardless of their beliefs. THAT is the message of Christianity - not Bible thumping. Additionally his statements concerning the effect on less confident members of society - gay youth who struggle with the many issues of being gay and accept it: familial, religious, peer group, societal negativity. Since Jonathan Merritt chose to have whatever liason he had with Azariah, it is certainly hypocritical of him to apologize (for what - being gay ? a part of his God gifted creation or being a liar to the Evangelical group to save his job...and speaking of God's "business" rather work or mission) certainly casts a pall of doubt over his sincerity. If you can not live the "truth" of who you are, then you are not a trustworthy person - and not Christian in your heart. Chuck d u c k m a n 4 4 6 2 5 at y a h o o dot c o m
Constantly looking away from camera (avoiding eye contact) is basic body language for 'lies' - as is touching your nose when saying "I myself am very conflicted about it [outing Jonathan]"
TO dave446 . . .Just a couple things from your remarks that I wanted to touch on specifically, as follows:[Azariah's] sincerity - whether one accepts it or not, rings through.I agree that Azariah was clearly sincere, where sincerity is defined as the quality of being unpretentious and genuine, and not being deceptive or manipulative in one's words and demeanor. He deserves great credit for this. But I also saw that it was clear he was sincerely conflicted about his decision to out Jonathan, a fact which he voiced in the video, as well as wrote about more than once.The kind of conflict Azariah is wrestling with is almost always accompanied by a sense of guilt and regret. And people always deal with such guilt and regret in one of two ways: (1) apology, or (2) intensified justification for their actions. The first is driven by conscience and a desire to resolve conflict. The second is driven by ego and a desire to escape shame and accountability. Which one Azariah has chosen . . . well, I suppose time will tell. Though if his postings here and on his Twitter account are any indicator, it would seem the second is holding sway, sadly, over the first. But again, only time will tell how things will progress, evolve, etc.Since Jonathan Merritt chose to have whatever liason he had with Azariah, it is certainly hypocritical of him to apologize (for what - being gay ? a part of his God gifted creation or being a liar to the Evangelical group to save his job...and speaking of God's "business" rather work or mission) certainly casts a pall of doubt over his sincerity.I completely disagree with this. What all of us have (Azariah included) is a single brief snapshot in time, from three years ago, of Jonathan's life. It is utterly improper and unfair to frame that snapshot as the sole model of who Jonathan is as a whole, how his mind operates, what motivates him, and the quality of who he is. It is then doubly unfair to cast aspersions upon his character based solely on that snapshot.You then question if Jonathan is apologizing because he is gay, or for "lying" to his church because he just wants to safeguard his income. You present only those two options. The "if/or" approach, as if the entire matter is merely two-dimensional in its scope. Clearly it isn't. For Jonathan, as it would be for any of us, this situation is extremely complex, multi-dimensional, and fraught with numerous implications to his life (emotional, familial, professional, spiritual, sexual, etc.).Finally, you judge Jonathan because he does not believe as you do (the irony of which I hope is not lost on you). You believe being gay is part of Jonathan's "God gifted creation." He may not see it this way. And he cannot be faulted for not seeing it as you do. Related to this, ultimately, is your belief that he is gay but denies it, and then lives a faith which insists on being anti-gay. You don't know that he is gay (human sexuality being complex as it is), nor can it be said that Jonathan is "anti-gay" (whatever that means). He may very well be a gay man. But that is uniquely for him alone to decide, which at the moment he has clearly decided he is not. And it is not for us to demand that he be "true to himself" simply because who he is today, and what he says today, does not square with the snapshot of one day in his life from three years ago.The real shame in all of this is not any lack of transparency in Jonathan's personal and private life, but the perverse intellectual dishonesty of those who have chosen to unfairly target and criticize Jonathan.
No, Azariah, hands down if you did not want to hurt Jonathan you would not have outed him.He is not so widely influential that it will change anything. You are aware of that, because you are not completely stupid. He is published. He is a blogger. Yes, he has a sphere of influence. But you make him out as the leader of the Christian right -- he is not even forming his own opinions, which you should be WELL aware of if you know him so well.Furthermore, it's not like this is the first time someone from the Christian right has been outed -- and sometimes they have a great deal more influence. It inevitably leads to suicide, ex-gay camp, reparative therapy, or just general more lying and denial. It has never once ever caused someone to actually admit that they're gay. It has never once ever caused someone to become an ally of the gay community. It has never once ever led to anything good or productive.This accomplished nothing. This had no potential to accomplish anything, except to stir up a controversy surrounding *you*. And I can tell from your blog that you are not so stupid or short-sighted that you couldn't see that.
TO Graham . . .None of us walks on water. Not Azariah. Not Jonathan. Not you. Not me.There's no un-ringing the bell here. Azariah has written what he has written, and has done what he has done. I, for one, see no further purpose in brow-beating him. For doing so would accomplish equally less purpose as Jonathan's outing.We can either escalate the anger and frustration, or we can all take a deep breath, regroup, and let more creative and less destructive intentions motivate us.I had the opportunity to talk to Azariah yesterday. It was an eye-opening and refreshing conversation. And I am convinced Azariah had NO intention of hurting Jonathan. Furthermore, I know he struggles with this entire mess, his role in it, and the implications it has for Jonathan and himself, and others.But at the end of it all, whether for good or for bad, our common burden is now to create some good out of this. To restore. To learn. To grow.If we choose to do so, all blessings our way.If we choose not to, then shame on us.Let's move forward.
TO Graham . . .One thing I absolutely must call you out on. It is where you stated the following:it's not like this is the first time someone from the Christian right has been outed -- and sometimes they have a great deal more influence. [...] It has never once ever caused someone to become an ally of the gay community. It has never once ever led to anything good or productive.Wrong. Absolutely, entirely wrong.There is my friend Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle. I'm sure I don't have to remind you, or any of the millions of American evangelicals, who they are, and what they went through in 2006.I recommend you do some reading on their experience. In fact, you should read Gayle's 2010 book "Why I Stayed." It's powerful.Ted and Gayle still cling to some traditional theological views. However, their gracious and abounding love for gay Americans has increased and evolved in ways none of us would have imagined six years ago.Ted's "outing," and how he and Gayle responded to it, most definitely led to something "good and productive."Amen.
You're right -- I DID forget about the Haggards.That's one. One example -- although not a perfect example, either. Ted and his wife all but vanished from the public eye for THREE YEARS. The fact that he's managed to get 10,000 members to his new church is a remarkable success (oh, that's right -- he had to found a new church because he no longer had any influence within the evangelical Christians). But compare 10,000 to almost any other Christian denomination -- save maybe the Westboro Baptist Church. It is a piddling, insignificant number.As for Ted himself? Being outed basically ripped him out of his life -- his wife is an incredible and heroic woman for standing by him. But if you think that he didn't suffer? If you think it was a harmful thing to do to him? You're kidding yourself.So, again, what exactly did outing Ted Haggard change in the world at large? This is it: there is one more Christian denomination getting undue hate from the LGBT community even though they don't deserve it. I wouldn't call that good and productive.So, no, I don't think we should be moving forward. I think, since Azariah has gotten so much attention for this, he needs to do what he can to make sure we as an LGBT community realize this is NOT a good thing to do. Eyes and ears are on him now -- so while, yes, Azariah is a human being to and does make mistakes he can also do a very human thing and admit when he has made one. If he does feel so distraught, he can apologize -- no, it won't undo the damage but we have no idea how many other conservative Christians are in the closet. We have no idea how many out-of-the-closet people they've interacted with. And we have no idea how many of those people may consider outing them.When you're friends with someone in the closet, there is a correct -- as a good human being and as someone who cares about them -- way of handling it. Support them. Be there for them. Encourage them. Help them. Without pushing them. Without forcing them. Without outing them.Azariah has a blog. Azariah has a lot of eyes on him right now. If there's anyone to talk about this, to help us talk about how we can bring closeted Christians out of the closet of their own accord, it's him. That's the good that can come out of this -- but it will have to come from an acknowledgement that this was wrong.
Jonathan I love you just the way you are. God will also always love you.People are complex and loyalty to a religious faith can sometimes be extremely difficult.For people that believe the Bible says that homosexual sex is a sin and they are attracted to the same sex the options are all difficult.If you are brought up in a religious tradition you usually think it is true and right.But even if the Bible is to be understood that way, most fundamentalists would not condemn homosexual orientation per-se.All mental health groups and almost all Christian mental health therapists agree that orientation is not something you can change if you want to. Behaviors can be changed.In America there should be room for both Evangelical fundamentalists and gays.Many people have evolved on their view of gays, not just Obama. Exodus International has repented from their anti-gay political agenda and has promised to try to protect gay peoplefrom violence. (While Cathy is donating $1000 to those who advocate the death penalty).Your church, the Baptist Church, has been the leading obstacle to human rights for gays.This includes not only the issue of marriage protections for gays and their families, but job discrimination, hate crimes legislation, anti-bullying for gay children or those that are perceived to be gay, and visitation rights for a dying partner at a hospital.You have been a voice for moderation in your church and I hope some day your church will recognize that gays need protection from all the hate this church has fomented.I appreciate people like you that are advocating for a small change. They are not advocating for gay marriage but they are understanding that since their orientation is not changing they have a connection to gay people.For the overwhelming majority of gay people,however, celibacy is not an option that they would consider. Those that are religious tend to believe that God gave them the gift of sexuality and that denying it is like waving a fist at God and saying I know better.
Azariah, there may be some who condemn you for what you have done, but I cannot. You experienced a deep connection, although somewhat brief, with someone who is aiding those that seek not merely to "heal" the LGBT community, but to destroy us...utterly. You did what you felt was the only real course of action left to you - confront him in a public forum where Jonathan could not run away. So, what is really the worst that can happen to him - lose his job, his position and prestige, or perhaps create a distance between him and his family. Is any of these truly worse than living a lie every moment of every day? You and I and countless other gay men and women of faith have all walked that road and know the taste of freedom born from God's grace. The truth; God's truth, does indeed set us free. Perhaps not quickly and not easily, but ultimately Jonathan will be free. Truly, not everyone on the Christianist right seeks our destruction, but there are enough of them with high influence that the dangers are very, very real. We've seen far too many young GLBT people kill themselves, too often overwhelmed by a shame that is not theirs to carry. To often we have seen our sisters and brothers beaten, or robbed or cheated or even murdered in the name of some twisted idea of religious purity. The truth is we are in a war for our lives and the lives of all that come after us. And even as some brothers and sisters in Christ spread lies about us and seek to force us into the closet again or are afraid of us because they have been so taught, we must be more visible and more vocal, speaking a language that they can and will eventually understand - if not all, then most. A simple perspective is that Jonathan has been a collaborator with an enemy. Yes, he has tried to moderate some of the more harsh diatribe, but to what end? His integrity was compromised from the beginning. He has lied to all of "his people" and he has lied to himself. Such a lie would have destroyed him eventually - you provided a means to healing. It may not look like that, or feel like that, but that is what you have done. God bless you and keep you, Azariah. We hold you in our heart as we do Jonathan and the countless Jonathans in the world.
I am mystified as to why Mr. Southworth's lack of intent to hurt Mr. Merritt is relevant to anything. It is absurd to think that Mr. Southworth did not know, or have reason to know, that his public statements would cause Mr. Merritt considerable pain and anguish. Mr. Southworth DELIBERATELY CHOSE to make the statements, notwithstanding the obvious consequences for Mr. Merritt. He simply made the calculation that the benefits to be obtained from the revelation (obtained by whom I shall leave to others to debate) exceeded the cost to Mr. Southworth, and that the revelation therefore was morally defensible. Whether or not Mr. Southworth's intended to cause pain and anguish is inconsequential. He meant to do precisely what he did, and I have seen nothing, on the blog or elsewhere, indicating that regrets pushing that "publish" button. In other words, he is apologetic for the pain Mr. Merritt feels, but completely unrepentant for his role in causing it. He would do well to man-up, stop whinging, and own up to that fact.
TO B V T . . .Sometimes after performing a deliberate act, people do rethink the original wisdom of what they did; they reevaluate their decision. And sometimes they end up wishing they had done things differently, if at all.Though perhaps you're the one human being who's never rethought a decision originally made with great certainty but later determined to be not so wise.King David is the best Biblical example. The apostle Peter is another good example. Both men seriously erred, and Kind David with astonishing deliberateness.Yet they experienced guilt. Reevaluated what they did. And were restored.This isn't saying Azariah is either King David or the apostle Peter. He isn't. Nor do the circumstances of his outing Jonathan Merritt even come close to the magnitude OR character of what King David or Peter did.But we must consider Jonathan's role in this matter.Granting that Azariah's account of his sexual encounter with Jonathan in Chicago is a true account, it seems Jonathan planned the meeting with Azariah to be an intimate encounter. Not a meeting to discuss spiritual or faith matters, as would be expected of an up-and-coming young Christian voice (who, by the way, was AT a faith conference when he met with Azariah). Instead, Jonathan's sole intent was for sexual relief.What does that say of Jonathan? Was that meeting some kind of error in judgment on Jonathan's part? No. It was deliberate. It was a deliberate plan to meet Azariah for purposes of sexual intimacy. Period.Which means Jonathan deliberately used Azariah to secretly scratch his private, "sinful" itch. Or, to put it less delicately, to masturbate his guilty hardon.In the end, Jonathan violated Christian morality, not when he gave in to his sexual desires, but because in using Azariah to do so he diminished Azariah's humanity.THAT was Jonathan's sin.Jonathan cast his bread upon the waters. He reaped what he sowed.His "sin" came back to him.And if you think Azariah is an ass for doing what he did, well . . . it wouldn't be the first time God used an ass to bring about someone's redirection. (see Numbers 22:21-41)
I do not think Mr. Southworth made a wise decision in this matter. That, however, was not my point. My point was that it is not obvious either from what he has written or he said in the above interview that he repents his original decision to state the offending words. He is, by all accounts, remorseful to some degree about the consequences. Regretting the consequences, however, is not the same as repenting of the underlying action. That is a key distinction between the case of Mr. Southworth and the case of King David. Everything you say is true: men every day make decisions, see the consequences, or simply think better of it on a second or third thought, and then repent of the decision. Simply being sorry for the consequences, however, does not a repentant and contrite man make. No doubt King David profoundly regretted the consequences of his deliberate sin--the death of his and Bathsheba's child--but his repentance preceded and existed independent of the consequence.My comments had nothing to do with Mr. Merritt. Mr. Merritt answers for his conduct; Mr. Southworth for his. At all events, your rather tawdry scenario ("to masturbate his guilty hardon") is a commentary on Mr. Merritt's character and conduct. I agree that it grieves the Almighty when one of his children uses another as a mere object of carnal gratification. It is not right, and cannot be made so simply because the objectified willingly consents to such use. I am at a loss, however, as to how Mr. Merritt's failures justify Mr. Southworth's subsequent actions. Each man's conduct must be evaluated in its own right.Finally, you appear to close by suggesting that Mr. Merritt received just desserts. Maybe so. I do not know the mind of Almighty in this matter. The whole of it, however, strikes me as more resembling the rather predictable machinations of fallen men and not retributive justice from the Father.
Point of further clarification: I think Mr. Southworth's decision to post the details of his encounter with Mr. Merritt was the wrong one, whatever his rationale. I do not, however, begrudge him his right to publish truthful statements regarding the encounter. I insist, though, that he accept his role in creating the consequences suffered by Mr. Merritt. It is rather pusillanimous of him to now take to the blogs and print and proclaim that he did not mean to cause Mr. Merritt pain and anguish when it was patently obvious that pain and anguish for Mr. Merritt was an inevitable consequence. One is presumed to intend the inevitable consequences of his actions. Have the fortitude to simply admit that yes, I knew it would cause pain, but I did it anyway because I judged the benefits of the revelation to outweigh the pain. Then defend your judgment.
TO B V T . . .You stated: I am at a loss, however, as to how Mr. Merritt's failures justify Mr. Southworth's subsequent actions. Each man's conduct must be evaluated in its own right.Because Jonathan's failures ended up adversely impacting Azariah personally, as I've already mentioned.But the adverse impact on Azariah did not stop at the sexual encounter. It was furthered by Jonathan's support (albeit tenuous) for a company that gives proceeds to groups whose purpose is to lobby against the enactment of civil rights for gay Americans. Having then entered the fray over economic forces that affect national policy, Jonathan's position contributed to a sociopolitical injury on Azariah, and all other gay Americans, myself included.And so recognizing the reprehensible and damaging dichotomy in Jonathan's behavior, Azariah exposed him. Call it discipline. Call it balance. Call it both. But those are valid reasons for what Azariah did.We can certainly evaluate both Jonathan's and Azariah's individual conduct in their own right, as you mentioned. But the consequences attending the conduct of both are directly related where this matter is concerned.And so as such, that is how Jonathan's failures justify Azariah's subsequent actions.
We now have two separate conversations ongoing. The first is my insistence that Mr. Southworth's post-publication assertions that he did not intend to cause Mr. Merritt harm are irrelevant. He knew that harm was the inevitable result, and he chose to publish anyway. He cannot now disclaim responsibility because he did not specifically intend the harm. He's stuck with it and should own it. Rather than pleading that he didn't really mean to inflict the costs, it behooves Mr. Southworth to square his shoulders and explain why he concluded that the benefits of the revelation justified the cost to Mr. Merritt. Justification is a separate issue. I tried to avoid that conversation and to confine myself to clarifying my point regarding the irrelevance of Mr. Southworth's intent, or lack thereof, to cause harm. Your second reply focuses on possible justifications.I am operating on the following understandings:1. Mr. Merritt and Mr. Southworth were acquainted and corresponded.2. Mr. Merritt and Mr. Southworth had an assignation in Chicago in the spring or summer of 2010, one apparently initiated by Mr. Merritt, but willingly participated in by Mr. Southworth (by his own account he was not intoxicated and Mr. Merritt was).3. They remained in cordial contact for a time thereafter, but did not meet in person again.4. Before and after the 2010 Chicago tryst, Mr. Merritt was opposed to gay marriage, and had stated his opposition publicly (this I assume to be true, but do not know to be true).5. On July 20, 2012, Mr. Merritt published a column in the Atlantic in which he criticized "the ineffective boycott culture that's springing up across America" and said he would continue to eat at Chick-fil-a. He stated his decision "has nothing to do with my views on gay marriage." In fact, nowhere in the article does Mr. Merritt state his own views and confines himself to arguing that the decision of whether or not to patronize a business should be made on the basis of the business, not on the moral convictions of the business owner.6. Three days later, Mr. Southworth outed Mr. Merritt on this blog.In your first response, you suggested that No. 2 offered justification for No. 6. You've now switched grounds, asserting No. 5 instead of, or in addition to. The assertion of a "sociopolitical injury" is just silly. By your logic, Dan Cathy suffers an equally grave socio-political injury when Jeff Bezos donates $2.5m for marriage equality in Washington. Are all people who oppose gay marriage supposed to stop using Amazon.com now? The Atlantic article did not take a position on the rightness or wrongness of gay marriage; rather, it points out that there is a distinction to be drawn between the business and the man that owns the business. Chick-fil-a the business harms gay people no more than Amazon the business harms conservative Christians. Mr. Merritt's Atlantic essay did not cause you or Mr. Southworth any harm. It was not directed at you, did not mention you, and had nothing to do with either of you, or gay people generally. To the extent that there is "reprehensible and damaging dichotomy" between Mr. Merritt's doings with Mr. Southworth and his Atlantic essay (and opposition to gay marriage), the damage is suffered entirely within Mr. Merritt's own soul. Moreover, there was NOTHING NEW about that dichotomy on July 20, 2012.
As a legal matter, Mr. Southworth has every right to publish a truthful account of his encounter with Mr. Merritt, and he is under no obligation to give his reasons for doing so. Legal, however, is not equivalent to morally correct. Mr. Southworth's challenge is to explain why in his outing of Mr. Merritt, he did not simply turn the tables and use Mr. Merritt as a means to some end, as you accuse Mr. Merritt of doing in Chicago. The Salon article fails to take into account that Merritt believes what he says, and applies it to himself as well as others. The premise of Mr. Southworth's reasoning--that Merritt is a hypocrite living a false identity--is faulty. Southworth has made his judgment based on a two-year old event. He seemingly thinks that identity, character, and moral substance all can be determined as fixed based on one meeting and a few months of texting and skyping. The upshot is that I cannot find where Mr. Southworth has offered a reasoned defense of his decision to act in a way that he knew would cause great pain and anguish to another. His stated reasons stumble, especially given (1) the two-year gap between the event which forms the basis of his conclusions and (2) the fact that Mr. Merritt was not a prominent leader in the opposition to gay marriage. I won't speculate as to Mr. Southworth's motivation, but his current reasons of record do not, by my lights, outweigh the harm he's inflicted.
As far as I am concerned a person has the right to be gay, in the closet, and evangelical Christian, and to that we can add any other ingredient in the recipe for a conflicted life. And to go hunt down such people and out them would be wrong; it would simply make their own journey more difficult. As they have (presumably) hurt nobody but themselves. nobody is being protected, other than someone who might fall in love with them and then be dragged along on for the bumpy ride.However as we have seen in so many other such cases, be they religious personalities or politicians, it rarely stops there. Conflict and guilt have a way of expressing themselves in actions, because thought and action are inseparable. Trying to convince themselves that they'll change and that this is the "last time," or out of a feeling of guilt for their "failure," or as simply a way to prove they're not really "that way" themselves, they begin engaging in speech an actions that hurt others struggling with the issue. They do this by preaching that a gay person is somehow inferior, or not what he or should be in the eyes of God, or voting against equality measures, or supporting people and institutions that cause harm to other gay people.At the point where they seek to inflict their conflicts upon others, they have taken the first shot. A gay person who presents himself as heterosexual while having gay affairs is annoying, but one who then preaches against gay people, and publicly supports institutions that promote discrimination against them, is a menace. Causing others harm for being what he himself is, he relinquishes his right to "privacy" on that issue.
TO B V T . . .You're waxing excessive rhetoric in what appears to be an attempt to two-dimensionalize a matter which is complex on multiple levels. You cannot filter these complexities with oversimplification, gnat-straining word-parsing, or technical categorization of the events into tidy bullet points.Your main issue is this: the irrelevance of Azariah's intent, or lack thereof, to cause harm in regards to his decision to out Jonathan. You want him to repent of the very act of outing Jonathan, rather than merely show remorse for the consequences.What you seem not to realize is that Azariah does not have any problem with having deliberately chosen to out Jonathan. What Azariah revealed in his Salon.com article is that he now wishes he would've gone about the outing in a different manner.Furthermore, in situations like this which are complex and bathed in all manner of humanity, one can commit to an action that he or she knows will bring pain to someone, and yet still grieve over the very pain that will be caused. That grief, tied to the collateral effects, need not be tied to the key intent or the deliberative action. And such grief is overall a sign of conscience. The alternative would be indifference. And to Azariah's credit, he has not shown that.Criticing Azariah in the way you have, then, is like criticizing an ER surgeon for regretting the pain he caused a patient on the operating table (and which he knew he would cause, though did not intend to) and yet not repenting of performing the actual emergency surgery.And the surgery analogy is apropos. What Azariah did was disciplinary in its scope; corrective, if you will. Like surgery, he knew it would cause pain, though it was not his intention. Instead, the intention was to reform, which was exactly his point in the very original post by which he outed Jonathan. But in the end, in Azariah's eyes, the benefits sought justify the discomfort caused. But he nonetheless took no joy in the collateral effect of the pain that would ensue for Jonathan.In this way, and for the reasons I've just detailed, it is ENTIRELY RELEVANT that Azariah expresses that he did not intend to hurt Jonathan. Why? Because it clarifies the moral context of his act of outing Jonathan.
I agree that Azariah appears not to regret outing Jonathon, and regrets only the process and the pain. I don't criticize his regrets; rather, I take the position that his regrets are irrelevant to the question of whether the outing was justified. My goal (in responding to your posts) isn't necessarily to persuade Azariah to repent of the outing, but to get him (and now you) to think hard and critically of the proffered reasons. Azariah's stated reasons in Salon were to expose the lying and end the hypocrisy. But whose lies and hypocrisy? If he means Jonathon's, he's a bit late--Chicago happened in 2010, two years earlier. Why is Jonathon now a hypocrite and a liar because of his two-year old dalliance with Azariah? Is he a hypocrite and a liar because he may have same-sex desires? What if he never in his life acted on those desires because he believes God proscribes it? Would he still be a hypocrite and a liar? Is he a hypocrite and a liar because of a single failure of morality and character? If so, then the labels carry no stigma, because they are applied with equal force to every living person. What happened in that two-year interim? So far as we know, Jonathon has led a chaste life. Is it so easy to forget the Christ's command to the harlot, as told by St. John: "go and sin no more." What if Jonathon sinned (in relevant respect) no more after Chicago? Is he still a liar and a hypocrite? And by the way, God promises that he forgets our wrongs once we have repented them. Who are we--you, me, Azariah--to remember what God has forgotten? Your surgery analogy is even less persuasive that your "socioplitical injury" A surgeon heals the ill. What empowers Azariah to diagnose Jonathon? The assumption underpinning the analogy is that Jonathon needs healing. Healing from what? From his belief that same-sex attractions are morally disordered? Why is that belief an illness to him? Perhaps it's an illness to you, or to Azariah, but it does not follow that it's an illness to Jonathon. And even if it were, do you really believe that outing is the cure? If so, why?There are very good reasons why outing someone is controversial. A major tenet of the gay rights movement is the demand that the autonomy, dignity, and privacy of ones sexual person be respected. Outing someone is a rather obvious violation of that tenet, and one needs exceptionally compelling reasons to do it. Do you really believe that there were exceptionally compelling reasons for Azariah to out Jonathon?One final note. Azariah, if you happen to read this series of posts, please accept that my goal is to provoke further careful thought. I do not know you and do not judge you; I do, however, criticize your actions, such criticism necessarily arising from limited knowledge. Please forgive if the limits of my knowledge have produced unwarranted and unfounded criticism. Mr. Pearson, I had the benefit of the opening post, and will leave to you the parting shot. But let us part amicably after what, for me, has been an interesting and civil discussion.
Azariah, you ultimately did a favor for everyone. It is water under the bridge how you should have confronted Jonathan Merritt. Certainly you would have done things differently if you had to do it over again, and this is the decent way to feel about what must have been very difficult. The bottom line is that no ethical person likes hypocrisy, no matter which side of the cultural divide. You did the right thing.
Don't lump myself, or any of my allies in that 'everyone'.We're all pretty much disgusted by what you did. It's pretty clear that you've already justified the whole of this ignorant, hateful action you've taken.Your only justification is that he worked against you politically, and for safety and community, he lied to himself and others about religion and homosexuality.Seriously... fuck you. I know I'm very free with foul language, but I hope that's getting the impact I hope for. Fuck you.