The Beast Within

By: Lori Heine

Our words reveal who we are. They show forth what is in our heart-of-hearts. Jesus Himself makes this clear. He also says that we will be called to account for every careless word we've ever spoken.

Do people often pause to reflect on what their words say - not necessarily about whom or what they're speaking, but about themselves? Do they ever truly realize that what they say reveals more about themselves than it possibly could about anyone else?

The very preoccupation many seem to have with other people's lives, behaviors (real or imagined) or "lifestyles" betrays a wealth of information about themselves. And one gets the definite impression that they rarely realize they are betraying it.

If we understood that our words represent us - that in a very real sense, they are us - we would be much more careful what we chose to say. This understanding would do more than anything else to tame our tongues.

Whenever somebody makes a disapproving inquiry about my sexuality - where I put my body parts, what I "do" in bed and with whom I do it - I invariably turn the question back on him or her. I ask such people why they want to know. Usually, they have revealed something quite interesting about themselves. They've laid bare their own inner preoccupations, perhaps even their fascinations. Inside each of them, leering out, is a filthy little beast that won't mind its own business.

Truth be told, from what they reveal about themselves in their own words, anti-gay religious conservatives are among the most filthy-minded, sex-obsessed people I've ever met. Some of them claim they must protect their children from people like me. But based upon the sorts of things they regularly say, I would be afraid to let my own children anywhere near them.

Your words, as it were, strip you naked. They show not your body, but your soul. Many people brandish them like weapons, or try to hide behind them as if they were armor. But if others are perceptive, they will recognize that those who speak these words are putting themselves out there in ways that leave them very vulnerable. When assaulted by an onslaught of hostile words from our self-appointed enemies, we would be wise to realize that.

They would be much more careful, more judicious about what they said if they knew we knew how to read them. When teenage boys brag too much about beating up "fags," it's easy enough to see that they're afraid they might be gay, themselves. And it isn't hard for lesbians to tell when a "straight" woman is attracted to us; she's the one who imagines we're all lusting after her when we've hardly bothered to notice she exists. But even our most holier-than-thou, hate-the-sin-but-love-the-sinner antagonists seem to think a lot more about sex than we do. They seem, moreover, to imagine things so lurid that even the most jaded of us are shocked.

The opponents of gay rights are the ones preventing our society from having a real debate about morality. And they are doing so because a great many of them are deeply entangled with sexual-morality issues of their own. Issues they refuse to deal with, because it's more convenient to project them onto lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Who represent probably no more than two to five percent of the total population. Even if all the straight people (who are so impressed with their own morality that they don't even want it to come up for discussion) were to transform us into saints, the vast majority of sexually immoral behavior in our society would scarcely be affected.

Our words may be used to arrive at the truth, or they may be used to obscure it. And what we don't talk about reveals as much about us as what we do. That the overwhelming majority refuses to talk about its own behavior - preferring, instead, to hash over and over an endless debate about ours - speaks volumes in and of itself. As the only behavior any human being can truly change is his or her own, this effectively guarantees that as long as the anti-gay heteros' obsession with gay sex continues, our society will not become any more moral.

Let's review what anti-gay crusaders reveal about themselves, in what they regularly say and in what they persistently avoid saying. That they are obsessed with sex, seeing all loving relationships only in terms of sex and seeing all sex in terms of promiscuity, depravity and degradation. That they consider it not only beastly but bestial, readily linking it with animals. That they see human beings themselves as livestock whose breeding must be rigidly regulated. And that when they think of sex, the exploitation of children springs so readily into their minds.

Interesting. A psychiatrist would indeed find them an absorbing study. As would any theologian not as feverishly sex-obsessed as they are. That statistics show the vast majority of bestialists and child-predators to be heterosexual might well be explained by such an honest study. If the heterosexual majority wanted to arrive at the truth - which its choice of words makes clear it doesn't.

My mother had a saying that always made me stop and think when I was speaking rashly. She'd scowl at me and say, "You should hear yourself." When we are faced with those who project their own lurid fears and fantasies onto us, I can think of no better response.

I do not advocate, however, merely deflecting the sicko words of anti-gay straight people back at them. As LGBT Christians, we must take care that our own speech shows forth a more positive example of what non-straight people can be. And, when our antagonists (as so many so often do) try to pretend we don't exist, we must stand up and call attention to this lie-by-omission. They know very well, by now, that we do exist - and the fact that so many refuse to acknowledge that speaks volumes about them, as well. They must be called out on their dishonesty in pretending that moral and godly gays are nonexistent.

All we need to do, if we want the truth to prevail, is to speak it. And to call our foes' lies exactly what they are. More careful attention to speech on our part may help show the way to greater honesty on the part of those who oppose us. That would be a victory for Christ. It would also be a victory for all of us who wish to be known as Christians.

Lori Heine serves on Whosoever's board of directors. She maintains a blog called Born on 911 and also contributes to the Whosoever News Blog.

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