by Charles S. Garabedian
I would like to address a common fundie code language sentence that is often heard in public. That sentence is as follows:
I am sick and tired of LGBTQ people shoving their nasty, abominable sin down the throats of good conservative Christians like me.
LGBTQ Americans encountered this sentence numerous times during their fight for the right to same-sex marriage. Many scratched their heads in puzzlement, wondering what was meant by this sentence. LGBTQ Americans did not see anyone shoving anything down the throats of straight people. They were simply requesting the right to marry their same sex partner. No straight couple’s marriage was to be diminished by this request. No gay person was to be legally required to marry or have sex with a straight person? It all seemed very strange and curious to the LGBTQ community. Quite frankly, I do not recall ever hearing or reading a formal fundie explanation of this popular sentence or assorted slight variations of it. Therefore, I am going to offer you one, but first, you need to understand something basic.
Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals look and sound powerful, confident, haughty, and filled to the brim with unassailable righteousness—on the outside. Certainly, this is the public image they try to project to the world. I believe it is a false image—a mere mask. Why?
Today the driving force at the center of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism is FEAR. It is a two-pronged fear. On the one hand, the fundies are scared to death of a God they see—deep inside themselves—as being profoundly unreasonable, incessantly angry, violence prone, and constantly seeking vengeance because of their sins. On the other hand, again deep inside themselves, they are utterly consumed by an incessant fear that their fundie belief system (and its unique subculture) is an endangered species that stands on the brink of ANNIHILATION. The ironic and paradoxical difference between the mask they wear and the trembling child deep inside themselves sets up an enormous cognitive dissonance that gets acted out in all sorts of strange ways on the American stage. For example, this is the reason they can so easily say that they love their LGBTQ neighbors, and then turn right around and treat them with hostility, hatred, and cruelty.
Look again (above) at the standard fundie code language sentence in italics, the one about having LGBTQ matters shoved down their throats. I will then play the role of an imaginary fundie and decode it for you in standard English. After this, you will no longer have to scratch your heads in total bewilderment. Here goes:
No. When we say you are trying to shove your LGBTQ rights agenda down our throats, we are not talking about you diminishing our own marriages. We know that will not happen. We know you cannot force any of us straight people to marry a gay person. This is not really about statutes, regulations, and court rulings. It goes far deeper than just that.
You are trying to change our traditional fundie culture. As all cultural anthropologists know, a man’s culture is the most important thing a man has. It is his key mechanism for adapting to the natural and social world that surrounds him. It is the human being’s equivalent of the canine tooth, claws, or talons in the animal world. Without a commonly accepted culture or subculture to order his world and give it firm anchoring, consistency, stability, and meaning, a human being becomes totally lost like a piece of tossed driftwood on the ocean during a hurricane. Without a stable and dependable culture or subculture, a man is exposed to the elements and will soon die. His whole life depends on the culture or subculture being there for him to order his life and world—and give it meaning.
Now here is why we are so afraid of you LGBTQ people. Say you do get the right to same sex marriage? If that happens, a lot of cultural things in everyone’s lives will change—and not all for the better from our fundie perspective. For example, two married lesbians are sitting on a park bench doing a big-time public display of affection (PDA). They are deep kissing each other—on the lips no less. Well, I am out with my 7-year-old son walking in the park, and our trail goes right by that park bench. In order to walk on that trail, we have to pass that park bench and see the PDA. To use that trail we love so much means we are forced to walk by and witness the homosexual PDA. In that sense, the PDA is being shoved down our throats because we are forced to watch it as our price for walking past that park bench.
Two young women deep kissing each other is going to look really strange to my young son. He is going to stare at it and say: “Shazam!!” The next thing you know, I am having to explain homosexuality—something nasty that I hate—to my son in detail—something no fundie Christian should ever have to explain to his small child. My son is going to have 100 questions about it, and he will expect truthful answers from me. I do not want my child to learn such things about gay people, and I object to being forced to deal with answering questions like those.
Worst of all to us, that PDA and other disgusting aspects of everyday homosexual life will soon be normalized in the general society and culture. There will be no way for us fundie Christians to avoid it. Every time we turn a public street corner, some aspect of gay subculture will slam straight into our faces—and we will be forced to deal with it—to adapt to it. Homosexual culture is anathema to the way we fundies understand and order our cultural world—our worldview, so we can understand human life in a consistent and stable way that is meaningful to us. The fully open presence of gay ideas and customs in American culture will turn our fundie personal worlds upside down. We fundies will feel like a people stripped from our moorings and dropped into the middle of a raging hurricane—swept by the waves and wind—with control over our own cultural lives all gone.
You LGBTQ people are creating an American cultural environment that will be impossible for us fundies and our children to live in without us having to change too. We do not want to change our fundie culture. The Bible has laid out a narrow pathway for our lives, and we are happy with the way our lives are right now. Our lives have real meaning, and we have a stable fundie subcultural worldview and a holy cultural adaptation that works for us. We would like to keep it that way, but this open homosexual agenda of yours will force so very many changes in American culture—and unavoidably in our own lives. We fundies already feel marginalized in an American culture that seems to be increasingly hostile to us with each passing day.
It all began going downhill for us fundies with the Scopes Monkey trial in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925—and this precious, insular, stable fundie cultural world of ours has been marginalized a little bit more with each passing year since that time. With the onset of so many new technologies, the pace of social and cultural change has been accelerating like a merry-go-round spinning ever faster and more out of control. We not only feel marginalized. We feel lost in our own country. We feel left behind by the rest of humanity.
(Falling to her knees in tears): Can’t you LGBTQ people understand—please? Please? I am begging you. You are creating a brave, new, and frightening American cultural world that we fundies can no longer live in—no longer have a place in—no longer have peace in—no longer feel safe in—and soon we will no longer be able to keep the customs, faith, and beliefs that give anchoring, understanding, meaning, and stability to our very lives. How can you LGBTQ people do this to us?
The foregoing is what the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are actually trying to tell LGBTQ people, but they are not very good at articulating it and transmitting it. Beats me why? Maybe they cannot translate their own code language into modern English for the rest of the American people. I did the translation for my readers above. However, that does not necessarily mean that I agree with the content of it. So, please—try not to shoot the messenger.