It is common for the religious right to complain that the left demonizes their “legitimately” held religious views on homosexuality. And I grant, that there is some efficacy to their argument. After all, one can be supportive of gay rights from an economic sense, and from a personal sense, and still believe that they must adhere to a biblical understanding that they are convinced (however much I might disagree) prohibits such unions, involving marriage or otherwise.
And, no doubt there are plenty, maybe even many such conservative Christians out that that react in this manner. But I have to say, some things give me pause–causing me to think that in reality religious objectives are a convenient excuse that supports an already personally held belief that the GLTB community is an “abomination.”
A couple of things have happened recently that suggest that my concerns have some “legs.” One is the recent Daily Kos poll of self-identifying Republicans.
An outrageous 73% of all Rethugs answering, claimed that gays should not be allowed to teach school. This in a nutshell, belies the argument that one’s opposition is strictly biblically based and that one has no personal fear or animosity of the gay community per se.
Such a response suggests that the holder of such an opinion is mired in the usual anti-gay pseudo science that suggests that somehow gays are predatory and take every opportunity to “recruit” new members into their club, especially children. This horrifically wrong and well documented fallacy points rather to a personal homophobic fear that is illogical and not at all based in real world facts.
It falls directly into that very old and very warn out cliche, that gays “choose” this lifestyle. It denies any genetic component, except insofar as one might have “a predisposition” much as a person has a predisposition to be alcoholic or a drug abuser. Along with the predisposition, they would argue, comes all the tools (God given of course) to withstand the “urges” and to live aright.
I truly understand their reasoning, because they in the end, must admit that they believe that there would be no gay community, if God did not desire it. God creates directly, from their prospective, thus God created the gay world. For reasons that are inexplicable, gays are placed in a trap not of their making, and with no way out. They cannot “choose” to be celibate, they must be, to remain in good stead with God. Or so the theory goes. They are no different than singles or priests who are also called to celibacy. However, of course, singles and priests can choose to marry or leave the priesthood to get out from under their celibate hardship.
What they finally must admit to is that God created gays and then leaves them with a life long prohibition to have families and intimate love like the rest of humanity. This is a permanent condition, end of story. That in a nutshell is why most religious right anti-gay adherents, will never agree that gayness is a matter of genetics with some environmental aspects. They do not agree that people are “born that way” except insofar as God by his mysterious ways, so designs them.
My second concern is with the uptick in the discussion on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here again, we see the fallacies run amok. We are told by Senators that openly gay men and women will destroy morale and unity within the armed services, and this dangerous change will harm our fighting objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq. Plenty of time down the road, when we are at peace (whatever century that might happen) to carefully work through these issues.
However, I have as yet to see ONE single piece of research analysis that says that being truthful about ones sexuality has anything to do with morale or unity. Are not most of us sophisticated enough these days to identify the sexual preference of others after a short time? In fact, one of those who is most vocal, a young West Pointer, drummed out for coming forth with his orientation, says that the Honor Code he learned at West Point was the REASON he cannot maintain the lie. It is abhorrent to him as a graduate of the institution.
Worse yet is the flagrant and ugly turn about of John S. McCain on this issue. Faced with a crazy extreme right attack against his Senate seat at home, Johnny has thrown all sense of right and decency out the window in now making it clear he will try to block any legislation that would overturn the policy. His swaggery mewling makes one shrink in revulsion.
Only a few short years ago, McCain claimed that he would be guided by the military brass on this issue. Only they, he argued were in a position to actually judge whether a change in policy would harm the morale and unity of our military forces. Their expertise on this issue should be controlling.
That opinion has been given.
Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, agree, that the time of “DADT” has passed and that it is right both morally and practically to end this sick practice.
But McCain, apparently like many Rethugs, is unable to comprehend that we actually keep video footage and written records of what people say. He ignores his previous stance, and is “disappointed” in the military for their position.
How can we forgive this unmitigated assault on decency and morality all in the name of one’s personal political ambitions? We simply cannot, and one John S. McCain needs to be openly vilified in the strongest terms possible. We understand that he puts John first. He did that when he was willing to put forth a complete moronic idiot as a Vice Presidential candidate, hoping that it would shore up his failing candidacy. So we are not surprised.
So excuse me if I’m just a tad skeptical of those that protest that their opposition to gay rights/marriage/military service is honestly the result of a deep adherence to religious principles. That works, until you open your mouth–then we see your true colors. Shame on you all.
Sherry, excellent post, very well said.
Your point “What they finally must admit to is that God created gays and then leaves them with a life long prohibition to have families and intimate love like the rest of humanity” pretty much sums up why I can’t believe a loving God would have done such a thing, so can only believe that He (or She of course), if He exists, would not expect our gay brothers and sisters to have to live without love for their whole lives.
This attitude to gays is why I left the church I had joined briefly back in the 70s when i tried out “born again Christianity” for a short time. The whole Anita Bryant thing where she was campaigning to have gay teachers not be allowed to teach was going on at the time and the church prayed for her success! I left and never went back. I went with my deepseated feeling of right and wrong – and knew this was wrong.
The insidious thing about some of these evangelical churches is, one of their tenets is “Don’t trust your feelings. You must just trust the Word of God.” They practically tell you to ignore your own conscience!
Maui, I so totally agree. It was a serious reason why I left the Roman Catholic church. And I have had a goodly number of RCatholics tell me that there is no such thing as a personal conscience that is in opposition to what the church teaches. Such a conscience, is ill formed they claim by definition. That’s rather convenient, and I would argue not even correct doctrine. I am blessed to be in a church now that does not feel this way and I will be forever grateful to the Episcopal church for its stand on behalf of the GLTB community.
Sherry, you pinpoint the dilemma from both sides excellently. Fundies are trapped by their own fears that defying their leaders’ atavistic reading of Scripture (which they use to mask their own fears and ignorance) will land them in Hell. It’s somehow safer to declare gay people are Hellbound than risking eternal fire themselves. Yet if an honest, reliable poll were taken among conservative Christians I have every confidence the percentage of them who have close gay friends and relatives whom they love, trust, and admire would be off the charts. They are living double lives.
Sad as that is, it’s not nearly as tragic as the tens of thousands of gay people who succumb to their church’s party lines and also lead double lives. Bishop Yvette Flunder, one of the leading ex-Pentecostal advocates of radical inclusion calls this “living in the shadows.” And your tying the church’s oppression of its gay members to the government’s hypocritical contentment with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is spot on, because both policies are identical.
Gay believers have always been a major creative and economic force in these congregations. (Growing up, we used to giggle about the choir being the next best place to gay clubs in terms of meeting prospective partners.) Many of these shadowed Christians remain in their churches simply because they’re committed to serve. It’s no different for the thousands of military personnel who choose the closet because that’s their only door to serve their country.
All the rhetoric whipping around in conservative straight circles ultimately won’t keep gays out of homophobic churches and off military bases. It just trusses them from doing an honest job. And forcing people to lie about who they are so they can serve their fellow Christians and Americans is grievously immoral. It’s learned behavior of the worst kind–because surely no one is “born” to think such thoughts and believe such notions are fair and correct.
Tim, I’m so very glad you weighed in on this. Your prospective is most enlightening. I have no doubt that what you say about conservatives leading a “double” life is correct.
I wonder though if they think how deadly cruel their stance ends up being. I can not imagine being “talked” about such as we have in congress with the DADT policy. It is akin no doubt to discussions held decades ago about women and the vote. Nothing is so humanity corrosive as to be talked about as if one were not a human with feelings.
I’ve talk to a person here and there who just says, they are just fed up with being talked about all the time. From gay marriage discussions on and on…they are just tired of being in the spotlight. There is so much more to every person than their sexuality, and often this seems the crowning and only element–are you gay or straight?
Such a sadness, and so many other more important issues to address. This is a no brainer.
I truly understand “gay fatigue syndrome” and empathize with those who suffer worse from it than others. In many ways it is dehumanizing. But once again we’re stuck in a double bind. Not keeping the issue of gay equality alive in the national conversation runs the risk of allowing it to go gently into that good night. On the other hand, it also reinforces labeling and stereotypes that reduce people into two-dimensional tokens.
As you point out, the phenomenon is not new or unique. I know plenty of feminists who bristle at being seen as “women” in the categorical sense rather than female individuals. And as someone who lives with an African-American man, I’m all too well acquainted at how enervating and hollow-sounding “some of my best friends are…” can be. But this is part of the climb out of the margins for all of us who belong to minorities. The only way to shake categorization is to deal with it honestly and gradually.
It is a no-brainer. Yet since we live in a world where brains are few and far between we’re stuck with instilling consciousness first before we can raise it. In Walt’s and my case, we learned long ago that we’re more successful by not leading with orientation or race–accepting it as one of our least remarkable aspects in order to broaden the minds of people around us. And over time the less we make of these traits, the easier it becomes for those intimidated by them to accept them.
So we live with ignorance in order to defeat it, I guess….
Tim, such a great analysis. I think you are so very right, that its better to lead with other issues, and it’s impossible to get away from the fact that we must all be radically and ever on guard to continue pushing forward. There is in the end too much at stake for the future generations. They will have no doubt enough worries and troubles of their own. Let us help to eradicate this one at least.
Ruth Hull Chatlien said:
Great analysis, Sherry. As always, you analyze viewpoints to their extreme logical conclusion.
Thank you Ruth…alas I have few answers…mostly a lot of griping….Even I get tired of myself! lol
Supa Folda Dontay said:
You are not born gay it is ridiculous that people say that YOU CHOOSE TO BE GAY YOU ARE NOT BORN GAY
You of course make my point. To admit that the medical literature suggests most strongly that sexual orientation is not a choice and that reparative therapy is both harmful and ineffective would leave you with no argument for retaining your homophobia. Thus you wish to believe that it is a choice. Sad for you.
Supa Folda Dontay said:
please explain how to be “born gay” ya sure some guys end up having feelings from a women’s feelings for a boy but you are not born that way something causes you to become gay like family guy’s character Stewie he became gay when he walked in on his parent’s while they were having sex