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More issues ...
My Excellent Cyberspace Adventure
(Or, How NOT to Win Friends and Influence People)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
will be called children of God."
Since I found a church home, at long last, a
little over a year ago, God has been doing a work of spiritual healing
in me. It has been good for me to be in a place where everyone -- gay
and straight, black and white, young and old, liberal and conservative
-- is not only welcomed, but cherished. It has helped me to become a more
tolerant, less angry person. I now realize that many who disagree with
me do so not because they are monsters, but because they don't understand
me. And even, sometimes, because they are right.
Spiritual growth can, however, bring about yet another roadblock to
our progress. It can make us overly pleased with ourselves. I've been
pretty proud, lately, of what a good, kind, understanding Christian I'm
becoming. So God just had to take me down a few pegs.
As a relatively-new blogger, I frequently post comments on the blogs
of others. This is the only way I know of to generate recognition for
my own blog, and it helps to keep me honest and my writing sharp. I've
learned a lot about how to write a blog from visiting those of others.
And I thought I was up for any challenge -- until I ran across the sort
of lying, homophobic garbage that always makes my blood boil. Suddenly,
I was right back in the ring with my gloves on.
On one of my favorite blogs, a commenter made the claim that in countries
where same-sex unions are legally recognized, there are higher numbers
of children being raised in single-parent homes. Now, this may or may
not be true, and it is not my purpose here either to prove or disprove
it. But what this individual was trying to say (or at least darkly hint)
was that the single-parent homes were the fault of same-sex couples.
As the overwhelming majority of parents are heterosexual, this claim is
so ludicrous on its face that it could not go unchallenged.
I still think I was absolutely right to issue that challenge. My mistake
was in having done so when I was angry. I can't help being sick and tired
of listening to lies about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people,
especially when such groaning whoppers come from self-proclaimed good,
moral Christian folks. But I should definitely have taken a chill pill
before taking anybody on.
Boy, howdy, I was attacked on nearly every side! As far as I can tell,
all my assailants were straight people, thought there was one of the inevitable
"some-of-my- best-friends-are-gay" types, who -- as usual for this sort
-- leaves you wondering why the hell any self-respecting gay person would
give him or her the time of day. The most interesting (and relentlessly
vicious) assault came from someone very, very angry because I --
as lesbian -- dared to think I am a Christian. Was this guy a raving fundamentalist?
No, he was a dogmatically-vehement atheist!
I wish I could say this was the first time I have had this seemingly-bizarre
experience, but it has happened more times than I can count. Many of those
who reject religious belief seem to need their Christians to be as narrow-minded,
bigoted, hateful and legalistic as possible. I guess this is how they
justify the decision they have made. Did I say "decision," rather than
somehow-inevitable reaction? You bet I did -- because a decision is exactly
what it is.
The choice to believe or not to believe is, for each of us, always and
entirely our own. Nobody else can make that choice for us, nor can anybody
un-make it for us. We can no more credibly blame the choice we make on
others than they can blame theirs on us (and the fact that "they're letting
gay people be Christians these days" did, indeed, seem to be my atheist
assailant's excuse for why he wanted no part of the Christian faith).
Whatever choice we ultimately make, regardless of whatever excuses we
may offer for it, is based upon our own priorities. He chose to be an
atheist, and I chose to be a Christian -- and the fact that I am gay left
me no less free to make my decision than his apparent heterosexuality
Divorced heterosexuals raising children by themselves, as well as those
who have walked away from their parental responsibilities, need to stop
blaming their problems on gays and lesbians. I am tired of whiny, childish,
irresponsible people of every orientation. We are the adults, and whether
we have kids of our own or not, we have a younger generation to raise.
Some people need to climb out of their playpens and get over it. And trying
to make statistics say something they do not does nothing but slander
the innocent -- most of whom, thank you very much, have been slandered
quite enough already.
My donnybrook with those other blog commenters was not my finest moment.
It showed how far I have yet to go in channeling my anger -- well-justified
as it is -- in a positive direction instead of a negative one. I had much
to say that deserved a hearing, but throughout that entire thread, nobody
was willing to listen to a thing besides my all-too-obvious rage. They
very well may not have listened to me, no matter how calm and clear-headed
I had been, but I was my own worst enemy, handing them an easy-as-pie
excuse to pooh-pooh me. All I heard, in response to that I said to them,
was how "irrational," "hysterical," "hostile" and "self-indulgent" I was,
and unfortunately, about at least that much, they were right.
I missed a golden opportunity to witness to some obviously-very-ignorant
people about my faith. Who knows when (if ever) they will get another
chance to hear the viewpoint of a lesbian Christian? The experience was
so embarrassing, I struggled against the idea of writing about it for
Whosoever. But as it highlights what, it seems to me, has become a common
struggle for us all, I knew I had to share it here. God allowed it to
happen for a reason.
The real division, in our society, is not between "Left" and "Right,"
but between those who will communicate civilly and maturely with others
and those who will not. Those on the fringes -- be they Left or Right
-- will never sit down, break bread in peace and calmly listen to one
another. They are invested not in peace, but in war. Their problem is
the same as that of the leaders of our military-industrial-complex State:
they need enemies, they need to be at war, and they need to hate. If the
rest of us don't wake up very soon, and realize that they are playing
us -- like pawns in a gigantic and deadly chess-game -- then they will
destroy our very civilization itself.
Nobody gets "played" more cynically and callously, in our culture-war-torn
society, than gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. Few on either
"side" give a rat's ass about us, one way or another. But there are some
(and a growing number) on both sides who do. They are our heroes, our
real champions, and we should encourage them by thanking them every chance
we get. Truth be told, and human nature being what it is, that's the only
way we'll ever get more of them.
Not everybody on the Religious Right is bad. Many are very good folks
who sincerely want to live godly lives. It is criminal, the way the Religious
Right corrupts and exploits them. But we must never forget that it plays
upon some very real fears. If those fears are not justified (and of course,
most of us think they are not), then we need to stop screaming nasty names
at them, accusing every one of them of being one-dimensionally evil, and
either ignoring or making fun of their fears.
There is nothing wrong with not wanting a very divisive issue (ours
or any other) to split the Church. I don't believe other Christians are
horrible fiends because they are concerned about this. If we can't see
things, even once in a while, from their point of view, then why on earth
should they bother trying to see ours? It defies logic that we should
expect to receive consideration unless we are willing to give it in exchange.
In the course of her own histrionics about gay marriage, single-parent
households and the supposed decline of western civilization (she got quite
as emotional as I did, though for some reason only my emotions seemed
"self-indulgent" to her), my fact-fudging adversary bemoaned the rapid
societal change of the Sixties and Seventies. Now, a lot of good things
happened during that period, as well, but I am old enough to remember
it firsthand, and I can tell you, it was a scary time to be a kid. My
parents had a lot of the same concerns that she does, and they certainly
weren't devils from Hell. It must have been a scary time to be a parent,
too. I can hardly fault many people for being suspicious of further, seemingly-rapid
societal change -- especially when they don't understand how it might
also benefit themselves.
I don't remember whether it was the lady herself or someone else commenting
on that thread, but the possibility was raised that the reason there are
more single- parent households in countries tolerant toward same-sex unions
(if, indeed, there are) could be that people in those societies generally
tend to be more permissive. In which case, perhaps it is that overall,
indiscriminate permissiveness itself that is the cause of the high divorce
rate. This makes sense to me. And though I wish more people supported
our rights because it is simply the right thing to do, instead of
because so many seem to find all conventional morality irksome and out-of-date,
it's hardly our fault so few of the champions of conventional morality bother
to be real Christians and respect us as human beings.
Absolutely nothing is stopping these self-appointed guardians of morality
from actually living the morality in which they claim to believe. Whosoever
is a prophetic voice, calling them to account for their hypocrisy. If
all those dastardly, permissive countries are really pulling the pillars
of civilization down around our ears, that hardly justifies the way their
detractors parade around behind the Banner of the Cross, yet show no willingness
to do anything but crucify Christ all over again every chance they get.
Truly Christian civilization is a balance of personal duty and compassion
toward others. Whosoever performs a valuable service in calling our society
back to that sense of balance.
There are also those who fear that full GLBT inclusion in the Church
will lead to a greater general laxity in the way the Bible is interpreted.
Of course GLBT Christians are no more likely to all agree with one another
on religious doctrine than are their straight counterparts, nor should
we be expected to toe a single line. But it harms the cause of full inclusion
when we ignore or antagonize gay Christians more conservative than ourselves
-- and I hear people in our community do this all the time. It puts forth
the very same erroneous and counterproductive message they so often hear
from the Right-Wing churches that have rejected them, which is that gay
Christians cannot be (as they understand it) "real" Christians.
Who, exactly, is a "real" Christian and who isn't is a common argument
in the GLBT Christian community -- and it is a tiresome one. We need to
stop letting straight Christians set us against each other like that.
We're ALL real Christians, and Whosoever is one place we can all meet
and exchange ideas (at least in cyberspace) and have a really excellent
adventure together as we grow in faith. I'm not afraid to share my foibles
and follies with you here, because many of you have done the same with
me. I trust you, and our ability to be community together, wherever in
this big, wide world we are.
Some people are simply never going to change their minds about the reality
of the Virgin Birth, the divinity of Christ, the doctrine of the Trinity,
the bodily Resurrection, the atonement or the existence of an eternal
Heaven and Hell. I know, because in all likelihood, I am one of them.
I came out as a lesbian, and gave up trying to make myself straight, because
I found out I could be a traditional, Bible- believing Christian AND be
self-affirmingly gay. Had I made no such discovery, I would still be in
that closet, doggedly trying to make myself straight. I don't mind if
you make fun of me, but please don't go making it more difficult for me
to minister to those still wrestling with this issue by furthering the
impression that gay Christians have no choice but to interpret
the entire Bible as liberally as possible.
Make whatever choice seems right to you, but don't forget that it is
a choice. The number of options open to us grows greater every day. Hip-hip-hooray
-- go us! If we expect others to become more tolerant of us, we must learn
not only to return the favor to them, but also to be more tolerant of
Dogmatic, rigidly anti-gay Christians have become so twisted, so spiritually
sick, that they would rather see us in Hell than in church. Think about
it. It's enough to chill your blood. These are sorry, petty, pathetic
little people, and the fact that they have the gall to call themselves
Christians is a disgrace to Jesus and to everything He ever stood for.
When we take upon ourselves the limitations they would impose on us, we
only sabotage our own freedom.
Whosoever stands in a unique position, perhaps in all of Christian history.
We can help rescue the Christian faith from the Religious Right, and to
bring true renewal to the Church. But we can only accomplish these things
if we are careful to see our adversaries as individuals, most of whom
are trying to live the Christian life the best they can. They are not
evil, merely misguided. The irony is that they think they need to rescue
us, when they are really the ones in need of rescue.
We must remain genuine and faithful Christians, even when our adversaries
refuse to be. As time goes by, the contrast between us will become increasingly
clear to all honest people of goodwill. Whosoever can be a forum to help
broker a lasting and healing peace in the Body of Christ. God does not
take sides; God is interested only in justice and the truth. And we must
We will never reach those whose hearts are closed and whose minds are
already made up. But only God knows for sure just whose mind is made up
and whose remains, at least a tiny crack, open. May I never again behave
in such a way that I disgrace the very people whose cause I'm trying to
advocate. May I try harder -- much harder -- to make a distinction between
the Religious Right and the many good people who rally behind it because
they have fears I have done nothing to help assuage. And may I always
strive to be one of the peacemakers Christ extolled in His beatitudes.
All believers and seekers, of every orientation, are welcome
here at Whosoever. We advocate the full and unconditional inclusion in
the Church of everyone who wants to be there. On other issues, we explore
many points of view, but we do not take sides. We realize that GLBT Christians
exist, as do straight ones, on ALL points of the spectrum, both theologically
and politically. And we are here to serve every one of you, without exception.
Please be patient with us. We have a daunting task ahead. It is always
"safer" on the dry land of an island, while under the feet of those of
us on the bridge rush troubled waters, indeed. But we are determined to
reach all we can with the hope of peace and reconciliation. The only way
to stay, truly, above those troubled waters is to remain balanced between
both sides of the shore.
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