I was taken aback by the campaign urging people to pray that Prince George, the 4-year-old who is third in line to the British throne, turns out to be gay.
At first glance, it was a puzzler — after all, the Brits already have one gay Boy George, so why stir up a crying game to get another one?
It also seemed to be a cruel twisting of prayer to stir homophobia, at the expense of the eldest child of Prince William and Catherine Middleton — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
But the source of the prayer petition — the Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, a prominent Anglican cleric and gay rights advocate known for attention-grabbing stunts — indicated that it was neither frivolous nor calculated to ramp up homophobia.
It intended no harm toward Prince George — other than to use him as a high-profile pawn to push for approval of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom.
On its surface, the campaign is rooted in the assumption of many people that homosexuality is a matter of choice — and an evil one at that. Below the surface, it preys on people’s fear — hoping that they would flip their prejudices if a member of the royal family were gay.
Believers could “pray in the privacy of their hearts (or in public if they dare) for the Lord to bless Prince George with a love, when he grows up, of a fine young gentleman,” Holdsworth wrote in a blog last week.
“To pray for Prince George to grow up in that way” is to “pray in a way that would disable and undermine his constitutional and personal role,” Ashenden told the online news provider Christian Today.
“It is an unkind and destabilizing prayer,” Ashenden said. “It is the theological equivalent of the curse of the wicked fairy in one of the fairy tales.”
The clashing viewpoints of the ministers — one, who sees homosexuals as human beings and the other as wicked “fairies” — underscores the continuing, polarizing effect of homosexuality, despite gargantuan steps forward in understanding and accepting the LGBTQ community.
It’s a crying shame that society has so reviled gay people that a religious leader feels it is necessary to stand the purpose of prayer on its head in an attempt to gain respect instead of dismissing them as somehow inferior.
I try not to be judgmental of others, although I often fail. On this issue, however, I find it easy not to judge, because other people’s lives and actions are none of my business — unless, of course, they imperil others’ lives.
Jesus Christ himself advises as much in Matthew 7:1-2, in which he said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Judgment is a funny thing — not humorous in a ha-ha way, but rather, in a serious fashion, frequently based on prejudices rather than facts.
This is especially true in the area of homosexuality.
The best example I have experienced is the attitudinal evolution of a woman I once knew — one who professed to be an unwavering Christian and who roundly condemned homosexuality.
Whenever she saw a gay person portrayed positively in a TV program, in a movie, in a news story — wherever it occurred — she dismissed it as “the liberal attempt to promote the gay agenda.”
In her own life, she never acknowledged the possibility that any of her own actions might be considered less than Christian. A frequent Bible quoter in her assessments of others, she sees how Matthew 7:5 applied to her, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Then, something funny happened — and not funny in a ha-ha way.
Her attraction to her favorite nephew is such that she once said that she would like to date him — if he weren’t her nephew and 20 years her junior. (That was before Donald Trump said, in a lecherous tone, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her.”)
With the nephew unmarried and approaching his 40s, people asked in whispered tones whether he might be gay. His aunt observed, “Well, if he is gay, I might have to change my mind about gays.”
Well, I suppose that indicated she could rise above her prejudices, especially if they fit her own carnal tendencies.
One thing I learned a long time ago is never to make untoward remarks of any kind about other people’s kids — partly to avoid being judgmental when I don’t know details of their lives and partly because you never know for sure about your own kids.
That proved true when this woman, who had been highly critical of friends’ children who happened to be gay. Then, lo and behold, her own son came out as a bisexual.
Suddenly, she really had to walk in others’ shoes, and her prejudices against gays went poof — again.
At the root of the Anglican priest’s odd application of prayer is his hope that a gay member of Britain’s royal family would erase people’s prejudices.
That’s funny — not funny in a ha-ha way, but in a sad one. Why can’t we just follow Jesus’ admonition not to judge other people, instead of basing our opinions on knee-jerk, ancient, irrelevant and harsh stereotypes?
In other words, accept and respect all people — of all colors, sizes, sexual orientations, faiths, etc., from the get-go, without judgment.