This has been building within me for some time. Some of it has come out in bits and pieces through various outlets. It is time, however, to put it out there in one place, in one voice, so that my thoughts and opinions on the matter are known and the grounds upon which those thoughts and opinions are based are understood.
We are in the midst of the civil rights movement of my generation. I will not bore you with parallels to civil rights movements of the past such as those of African-Americans (which continues still), women (which continues still), American Indians (which continues still), immigrants (mainly non-European,which, by the way, continues still), or any other group of people or ethnicity that is, or has been, disenfranchised by American society (which continues still…).
The movement in the headlines nowadays concerns the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community/communities (LGBTQ). Like many that will read this post, or few as it were, I am acquainted with people that are part of that community as well as people that oppose the rights of that community as well as people that sit on the fence between the LGBTQ community and those that oppose the rights it desires and deserves as well as those that just do not give a shit one way or the other. This is one of the most difficult posts I have ever set out to write and complete for that reason. There are family members and friends that may not like what is written here. There are family members and friends that may like what is written here. I can only say to take it all as you will, because most of you know where I stand on this issue anyway.
Making the headlines in this movement most recently are a series of laws known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, most recently in the state of Indiana. Plainly spoken, behind the euphemism of “religious freedom” is the less appetizing phrase, the right to use one’s faith as a cover for bigotry and an excuse to discriminate against those with whom they disapprove. Bigotry. Discrimination. It really is as simple as that. (I fully expect that those in support of these laws and the bigotry they support will stop reading now, but I hope they don’t.)
For years I have tried to understand and appreciate the evangelical approach to this issue, but I cannot get there. Well, that is not entirely true. I understand the approach, but in no way can I ever appreciate it. I understand that the same faith that I work so diligently with to try to love and appreciate those around me, even those with whom I disagree or disapprove, is used as a bully pulpit to oppress our neighbors. I struggle with “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matt. 7:12 NIV). I struggle with it daily. I am the most impatient person there has probably ever been. I make hasty judgements of others at first glance. I do not suffer fools lightly. These are flaws in my character that will likely haunt me until I am put in the ground. I admit it freely. This is probably my biggest and heaviest cross to bear, so to speak.
I have other crosses I bear on the same continual basis. Some of those are more well hidden than others. If you know me or have seen pictures, you can safely assume that I enjoy eating and being somewhat gluttonous on occasion. That’s a cross I bear. It is something with which I struggle. I can also be envious of those around me for their positions in life or stations. I’m not immune to the desire to covet, I mean, who is? I may even bear the smallest, whitest false witness. See, all of those, except for the gluttony, are stowed away harmlessly. People do not see them. I do not talk about them, and that is that. I am not perfect, have never claimed to be and never will be.
Before I continue further, let’s rehash the basis for the denial of certain civil rights for those within the LGBTQ community. Long story short (because the whole story boils down to this anyway) is that these people, these human beings, live in sin, according to various verses in the Bible, and sin is destructive to society. However (there is always a however, isn’t there?), their sin is apparently much different and worse than regular sin committed by everyday, hardworking, churchgoing folk, because it is an abomination. An ABOMINATION. A big. scary. fucking. word.
Why is that sin a big scary word?
Why is that sin targeted?
There is one reason, and one reason alone. It is an easy target. It has a clear dividing line. It is easy to separate the partakers from those who do not partake, or is it?
Let’s talk sodomy. As defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary, sodomy is “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.” So blowjobs, cunnilingus, and anal sex/penetration of any kind is sodomy, and sodomy, according to various verses in the Bible, especially Leviticus, is a sin. Now, we all know, but do not speak about, that there are some…well…kinky people out there. There are women who will willingly sodomize a man who has consented to it. Odd behavior? Yes. Sinful? Yes. It happens, but I bet anything that no one can confidently tell such a woman or a man just by seeing them hold hands or kiss. There are women that will provide consensual oral sex to their male partner and men that will provide the same for their female partner. Can you tell who those sinners are just by seeing them showing one another affection in public? There are men that have consensual anal sex with their female partners. Can you tell who those sinners are?
Can you tell who the sinners are?
I cannot, and, truthfully, neither can you.
Do you know why you cannot?
It probably has something to do with the fact that what those couples do in their private moments is nobody else’s fucking business. Their perceived sins are between them and their God. Their perceived sins have not one f’ing thing to do with the state. They have nothing to do with the business they wish to do. Their perceived sins have nothing to do with you, just like your perceived sins have nothing to do with anyone but yourself. Their perceived sins are their crosses to bear.
Probably like most of the straight people that read this, I have never had an in-depth conversation with anyone I know that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer concerning their sexual experiences, preferences, or appetites. It is none of my business, just like my sexual experiences, preferences, or appetites are none of their business.
Since I, and I am assuming most of the straight people that read this, have not had an in-depth, candid conversation concerning personal sexual behavior or sexual acts with a member of the LGBTQ community, all of my ideas concerning those behaviors and acts are assumptions. All of your thoughts and ideas concerning those behaviors and acts are assumptions, unless, like I said, you have first hand knowledge from a primary source within that community. So, how easy a target is it? How easy is it to spot someone that has committed the perceived sin of sodomy?
The sin of homosexuality is, as its name states, unique to the homosexual community, though never specifically recorded as such in the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John as being specifically said by Jesus, but only in terms of “sexual immorality” as stated here for example:
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, magic, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean,’” (Mark 7: 21-23 NIV).
Sexual immorality is grouped with other sins such as adultery, envy, slander, and arrogance.
A few questions.
Do those that wish to discriminate against the LGBTQ community wish to show the same force of will toward known adulterers? Known thieves? Known liars? Or, is it only against homosexuals and other sexual “deviants” you wish to treat in a bigoted manner?
In essence, what supporters of this backlash against the LGBTQ community’s civil rights movement are saying is that they are smart enough to distinguish sin from sin and apply degrees of severity of sin which do not exist in the New Testament. They are saying that they know, without a doubt, that God places sexual immorality above all other sin, except that which is unforgivable.
How utterly callous, pompous, and arrogant are these people?
Then there is the argument that homosexual acts are unnatural. They go against the laws of nature and the purpose for our creation which is to go forth and multiply, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,” (Gen. 1:28 NIV). What about those good, faithful, obedient, believing Christians that practice any manner of contraception when engaging in consensual, traditional intercourse with their partner? Is this not a sin of equal bearing with homosexuality? Is it not just as unnatural? Does it not restrict the ability of a couple to multiply as commanded in Genesis? Are men that get vasectomies or wear condoms not as sinful as homosexuals? Are women that tie their tubes or use contraceptive devices or medications not sinful? Do these people not deserve the same discriminatory treatment as homosexuals?
What about the teenage boy or girl that wakes up after nocturnal emission (wet dreams)? Are they not privy to the same discrimination? Were their orgasms achieved in a manner other than multiplying their seed?
There is a reason why Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor. It is a simple reason, especially if one humbles themselves enough to see it.
We are not pure enough or smart enough to judge and punish sin. That is not the job or responsibility of a Christian. Our responsibility is to witness, to show, and to love. When we attempt to provide God’s judgement on others with whom we disapprove, we do absolutely nothing more than fill ourselves with pride and self-righteousness.
We do not tear people down for who they are. We love them and we build them up. We show them the way. We show them the narrow path. We do not use the power of the state to force the path upon them. Christianity and the values expressed within are a matter of free-will. One can choose to accept it or reject it. The reasons for acceptance or rejection are personal. The decision is between the individual and God, not the individual and you or between the individual and the state.
I am sick, literally sick to my stomach as I write this, because I know it will fall on deaf ears, so to speak.
I am sick of people using my faith, using what I believe to be the standard for love and peace to bring pain and tears and sorrow others.
Please do not try to witness to me. I do not want to hear the same song or see the same dance I have seen and heard to justify bigotry. Those tunes are old and the moves are worn out. They are the same tunes and moves that have been used for generations to justify placing one group of people over another for one reason and one reason alone. Pride. And “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs, 16:18 NIV).
I will close with one final question.
What would Jesus do?
I do not know for certain, but can assume through His example of love and acceptance. He would not support these laws, not in the least.
Oh, and do not forget about the unclean language I have used in a place or two within this writing. If you are going to discriminate against homosexuals, then feel free to discriminate against me. Chances are I do not need what you are selling.