On the drive to Niagara Falls last Saturday, Jen, Morgan, and I had been talking about gender, sexuality, and religion, as we sometimes have when we've been together. Jen is an avid atheist and social worker with a grad degree in gender studies, and Morgan would describe himself as an "atheist-leaning agnostic." I love talking with them, because they're both so intelligent. I told her about my coming out, and then my brother's; she's curious about how two boys from a devout Evangelical family end up coming out, one then becoming atheist. I told her it's difficult to answer people's questions of, "How are your parents dealing with it?" The assumed response will be one of two: "We don't talk to each other anymore," or "They're really great. They actually just joined a local PFLAG group and are coming with us to Pride this year."
But neither one is true. My parents certainly aren't PFLAG members and I can't imagine they ever would be, and they certainly wouldn't attend a pride festival with us, not Fort Wayne's, and certainly not in Chicago, where my brother lives. On the other hand, they've never given us any indication that we'd be disowned. The best way I can describe it is that we're all kind of learning together, in our own ways. We operate in a precarious space, as any loving family with traditionally Christian roots in our situation would.
"We lucked out," I told Jen. "My parents never threw either of us out of the house."
"That's really sad," she said, as we continued down the highway.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"It's sad that that's lucky."
I thought about other non-straight friends I have who came from religious families. Some don't have good relationships with their parents, and some don't have relationships with them at all. One in particular stands to be disowned and forgotten if his parents ever found out. I still remember the two girls in my youth group who were a couple for a short time, and hearing about the meeting they had with their parents and the youth pastor, and the other youth group members enlisted as spies to make sure they never did anything.
Side note, I remember a night when that same youth pastor had us split into groups and write down ideas for Wednesday nights on calendars. I wrote down "America's Love Affair with the Gay Man" as a suggestion, thinking about the recent debut of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and other representations of queer people beginning to show up in the media. When it actually came to that night, the youth pastor told us that we probably didn't know much about homosexuality, so he wasn't going to invite a discussion. Instead, he'd just talk. I don't remember the specifics of what he said, just that it was what you'd expect from a conservative Evangelical church leader, but I do remember his tone. It wasn't quite angry, though there was a hard edge to it. A kind of aggressive calling out of something he was frustrated with, the way he might be frustrated with any other sin or injustice.
I realized that Jen meant it was sad that my brother and I maintaining good ties with our family in spite of our comings out would be considered lucky, and not just the standard.
Many stories I could tell, so many stories. And what I want you to understand about the stories is that most of them were not black-and-white, overtly what-an-injustice experiences when they happened. In fact, I'm sure I've mentioned before on this blog that I'd forgotten some of them happened for years, until they crept back into my view and asked me what I'd do with them. I still don't know, because what I see isn't easy for me to classify. I don't have memories of physical abuse from people who thought I or anyone else was an abomination, and I was never told that I, specifically, was going to hell.
Maybe covert damage is the thing we should really worried about, now that so much discussion of bullying and discrimination is going on. We can see when one student punches another, and if we don't see that, we can see the bruises. We can see scratch marks from a razor blade and sores from one's pinching fingers. But it's more difficult to interrogate and understand the parts of our cultures that have created a larger mythology around the abomination of queer sexuality.
It's been difficult for me to understand the formation of the mythology in me, and I can imagine it'd be even more difficult to call it out if I were more firmly on the side of traditional Biblical sexuality. I can tell you what I've told you before, about the youth pastor's lesson on homosexuality, or my other teachers in school, the proctology reports and sex partner averages in their lessons (in religion classes, no less), the links between queer sex and demonic possession I've heard more recently in my parents' church, the destruction of the ELCA church steeple in Minnesota, Hurricane Katrina... and the small things too, my friend joking and saying to me in high school, "Did you hear they're going to expel all the gay students?", to which I responded, "Oh no, Ben, but where will you go to school?", because the best way to fight against 'gay' as an insult is to throw it back, because 'gay' is the worst insult, because to be gay is to be an insult. The small things, the gay slurs I heard starting in third grade, the jeers and accusations of which male students I'd slept with when I was in fifth grade even though I didn't know how gay sex worked back then, and my own queer sexuality growing concurrently like a weed, something I couldn't identify and couldn't stop, all those small things, and--
--and Jesus led me like a lamb to the slaughter, I thought, asking me to lie down, my back to the cool stone of the altar, my jugular vein exposed to the priest's blade, just like Him.
--andI was implicit in my own oppression because that was the way I learned to view the world too.
I can tell you these things, and many people who read this will sympathize. They'll have their own stories, or stories from friends and family members, or they'll at least be able to read what I write and acknowledge right off the bat that yes, this is a problem. But some of my readers will rest on their idea that Christians have a responsibility to keep each other from sin. They'll certainly feel sorry about what has happened, but that won't change their opinion that each queer person is called to lay down their torches, leave their lives of sin, and follow Jesus into celibacy or heterosexual marriage. They may even imagine that they themselves have been asked to carry similar burdens, having gone through celibate periods of their own and not allowed to cheat in their marriages, because to them, queer sexuality is only physical, though heterosexuality has been framed as holistic, affecting one's body, emotions, mind and spirit. They may read this, feel some sympathy for me and other queer people, but they will not accede to this heavy mythology, this covert damage. I don't think their Jesus ever asked them to do that.
This is the sad reality of that low standard of treatment of queer people, that I can count myself lucky, after all the things I've been through, that I still have a family. I can still view myself as lucky, even unresolved as I am about whether I'm worthy of the love people in heterosexual relationships give each other freely, or whether I'm just being stubborn and will some day be judged and punished because I was unable or unwilling to erase myself, eradicate myself, obey to the point of destruction, all things for Jesus and His kingdom and His glory, poured out like a drink offering, evaporating in the desert.
I'm lucky because my damage is covert.
Have you or someone you've known been hurt by the battle between homosexuals and Christians? What can we as Christians do to love our brothers and sisters in Christ who are gay? What does scripture tell us to do?
Don't be the judge of someone else, love and let love. Hate hasn't ever helped anyone, and don't impose YOUR Christian position, who gave you the mandate to rule someone elses life? Be humble enough to understand that you should live according to your beliefs, but at the end of the day someone else might have a deeper understanding than you and might have come to another view on life. Or is it unimaginable that someone else would know better?
You can disagree with someone's beliefs without treating them like they're a horrible person. I'm not religious but I have many religious friends and it simply doesn't bother me. We either avoid the topic or debate, but agree to disagree. I thought Christianity was supposed to be about love? Since when does loving your children involve ignoring them, victimising them and throwing them out of your house just because they have a different belief to you?
I'd say if they're followers of Christ, if they're unaware of biblical teachings on the matter, is to talk to them about it. It might not be easy and they might be offended, but love cares more about the long term.
Remember when the Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus and Jesus said 'one thing you lack, go sell all your possessions and follow me." The bible says he went away sad, because he was very wealthy. I wonder what would have happened if he just hung around and continued to follow Jesus but didn't sell his things. I wonder what Jesus would have said or done. Because I feel like that's what a lot of homosexual Christians are doing. The biblical teaching on the matter is clear. It's not a lifestyle compatible with following Jesus. Yet despite those teachings, so many continue to try to follow Jesus even while disobeying the scriptures.
@PrisonerxOfxLove@xanga - The So called "Christian" position on gays is what the so called "bible" instructs ...not what you define it. The Christian God told Christians how to treat gays.... And that will get you the death penalty in secular America.
@PrisonerxOfxLove@xanga - You cannot put words in Gods mouth --- let me give you a lesson on Christianity. Here is what God himself say's about Homosexuality! :
Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."1Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them" 1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God." Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."
And what I am saying in the Cult of Christianity has no place in American society nor should it be allowed to preach hate against people who they define as sinners by Gods own words. The first step is to limiting this cult is to DENY their tax exempt status. Tax exemption makes them a partner with the US government and a quasi extension of official support for religion - no matter HOW corrupt and evil in it's teachings!
@Theophilus166@xanga - "I'd say if they're followers of Christ, if they're unaware of biblical teachings on the matter, is to talk to them about it. It might not be easy and they might be offended, but love cares more about the long term."
This is good and gets to the heart of misunderstanding! It seems to me that love cares about the relationship and relationship happens in the present moment....'long term' takes care of itself. If that's clear than my choice in the moment of relationship is clear. "Remember when the Rich Young Ruler"Some believe that Mark was the rich young man, b/c notice how in Mark it says Jesus looked at him with love and different language is used in Matthew...how would one know that one looks with love unless one was the receiver of it. So its possible the rich young man did come back in a later season...and that it seems to me is important to consider. I don't need to 'convert' my friends to my beliefs and distance myself from them if they don't...all I need to do is love them and live out my own beliefs for myself. If there is a living God and He has power than He will do His own work in the other...just as He continues to work in my own life.
@PrisonerxOfxLove@xanga - Hi. I'm sorry that you've had bad experiences in the past, but I hope you realize that it doesn't make sense to extrapolate those experiences to *all* gay people. I'm gay, and I'm totally respectful of religion.
In particular, I respect your belief that having gay sex is a sin, though I would challenge claims that just *being* gay is a sin because I don't think that belief is supported by scripture. If you're interested in talking more about this, I'd be happy to follow up.
I'm not your enemy. I'm not trying to take anything from you; neither your religious freedom, your reputation, nor the sanctity of your marriage. All I'm asking for is mutual respect.
Yes, there are some shitty gay people. But there are some shitty Christians, too. We would both be guilty of fallacy (not to mention gross misunderstanding of statistics!) if you assumed that all gays were bullies and and I assumed that all Christians were. There are tons of wonderful, beautiful, altruistic gays, Christians, and gay Christians just waiting to befriend us, as long as we are open to receiving their friendship.
Please don't talk about me as if I'm a bully who heaps abuse on others. (At least, not until after you've had the chance to get to know me!) Yeah, I'm gay. I'm also a pretty nice person who wants good things for his family, friends, community, and even strangers.
@jim_the_american@xanga - I am a certified Confirmed Lutheran. I went to Lutheran school and to define me as an atheist is a little disingenuous as you clearly know nothing about me or my background. In my view YOU are the troll and prone to defining people in some sort of label that is misunderstood by Christians to be EVIL and then trying to make the label stick and discredit the writer.
My motivation is to point out the errors in thinking of people who subscribe to the Christian faith - no mater which denomination. And to make the fully substantiated and historical fact that Christians CHANGE their teachings and beliefs to match societies norms and laws so as to maintain credibility in SPITE of what by their own book God told them to do.
@PrisonerxOfxLove@xanga - So... I'm a gay rights activist. I participated in campaign activities for the No On 8 and No On 1 campaigns in CA and ME and I donate money to pro-equality groups. Not all gay rights activists are bullies. Just sayin'. (Also, just FYI, I volunteered as faculty about 10 hrs/wk with a Protestant community college that runs an all-volunteer campus inside a local prison, so my activism isn't limited to gay rights.)
I guess the point I'm trying to make is this: We can't draw conclusions about a whole group of people based on our limited experiences with a few members of that group, especially when our experiences are so heavily biased.
In your case, the bias is due to the fact that your interactions have been online. Discussion forums and comment threads eliminate body language, facial expression, and intonation, hampering productive conversations--much of communication is nonverbal. Worse, online conversations eliminate accountability, so people are more likely to escalate disagreements into full-blown (and immature) fights. Finally, bloggers are typically young, and young people are notoriously hot-headed.
I caution against drawing conclusions about me and other gay people from these interactions. And again, I'm sorry that your experiences have been negative.
I'm a little disappointed that you were so quick to dismiss my previous comment as "a whimper." It was no such thing; it was an olive branch, offered diplomatically. It was also an invitation to start a mature, level-headed conversation about the conflict between religious beliefs and gay rights, an issue that I think is important to both of us.
The only way to be an advocate of any kind, whether gay or christian (mutually exlusive according to some, not to others), meat eaters or vegans, democrat, republican, is to be immoral - to by all effective means push a singular cause and thought. These people are those who wage the battles and therefore, the resulting hatred is a given. Battle of ideology is a battle nonetheless no swords and bombs are used. You are acting in the same abusive manner with which you claim that others are as well.
Being Christian does not mean strictly accepting others as they are. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" - 2 Timothy 3:16
Identifying a person who needs to be taught in Christian love about repentance is not judging although when they refuse a relationship with Christ then it is okay as a Christian to let it go. Those who seek a relationship with Christ yet succumb to desires of the flesh are as fit for everlasting life as any any Christian. On a further note, some people perceive and respond to National interests in a manner fitting to their own point of view. When they are also Christian it can be viewed as in keeping in abeyance to responsibilities to the nation and its laws which Christians abide by because Romans 13:1 says, "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." If a person believes emboldening homosexual behaviour by redefining marriage to allow for same sex marriage will result in increased rates of HIV and lend children to homosexual foster parents and a less comfortable upbringing then there is a Christian duty to appose such a thing while doing the work of God. This is my interpretation of what scripture tells us to do and hate has nothing to do with it.
Lastly, the author of this article sounds like a thoughtful and caring individual capable of walking worthy of the love of Christ and I wish them the best.
Live and let live. Be yourself. Whether you are Gay, Straight, Male, Female, Black, Native, Asian, White, Christian, Pagan, Buddhist, Agnostic, Gothic, Emo, or just plan Crazy. Respect those you meet, even if you do not agree with them, or what they believe in. Respect them for having the courage and the self confidence to be proud of who they are. For choosing to be themselves despite pressure to change.
Everyone in the world is different, we come from different cultures, different religions, different beliefs. But we all are human, we bleed, we hope, we dream, we love, we cry, we laugh, and eventually we die. Life is short and we can spend all our time trying to change others into our version of a perfect utopian society, or we can accept that we each are unique like snowflakes and should be equally respected for our own inner beauty.
I may not agree with the beliefs of another, But in the end I will respect them for having those beliefs. And in some cases I will defend their right to those beliefs. Because I would hope they'd do the same for me.
This conservative Christian does appreciate this discussion and the video in hopes that it helps my brothers and sisters in Christ re-evaluate how we react to such issues. Improvements can definitely be made. Yet, in so many ways it still doesn't change my mind that homosexual sex is a sin or in accepting gay marriage.
When God gave his commandments of do's and don'ts... He wasn't doing it to be a bully. I trust that His wisdom saw tragedies such as this in our futures. If we as parents tell our children not to play in a dangerous street, how much more will our Heavenly Father tell us to stay away from that which endangers us? And if we as parents, "live and let live" all the time, allowing our kids to play in the street because the child thinks they will be happy doing so... it isn't exactly "love". They would be considered unloving and neglectful. So some of the comments defining "love" or how they would "live and let live" can be dangerous too. Sadly, Satan set out to destroy Tom and he succeeded... and the stumbling block that started it all was a desire that God warned us to stay away from.
I wonder... if we Christians were truly kind, respectful and loving in how we reached out to help a homosexual walk away from their desires... would it be acceptable to many on this post? Or would that still be twisted into being hateful? Because some will not relent until they can act as sinful as they want and until all discussion of sin is silenced.
About Me: I am: a techno remix of Wagner's "Ring Cycle"; a subterranean seed-pod epidemiac; a citizen of Neon Chinatown; a Rivergreenway Conquistador; a blooming depression junkie and language lover; too wild, too rude, and bold of voice; an emergency flare; a mess of blood and water; Venus as a boy.