Advice Column Thursday: Leslie Takes on the Fundies

How do you deal with family members whose belief in God is one where they disagree with gay marriage? How do you say to someone who says “my God would not allow that to happen and believes because I am gay or a non believer that I will go to hell and ‘thus they choose to believe.’” On a side note wouldn’t it be ironic if they arrived at God’s gate to be told, “you perpetuated hate in my name when I love all.”

Nutmeg

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

-Maya Angelou

Too many people spend too much time wondering what’s going to happen in their afterlife without opening their eyes to the hell that’s already here. They live in a comfort zone about thisbig, because the fear of going to actual hell keeps them in a very straight and narrow line. I am sure that in some respects, it makes life easier, because there are black and white solutions with clear answers to almost every question if you believe that there is no translation needed between a desert-based nomadic set of tribes two to five thousand years ago (eh, I’m estimating) and modern day. Holy crap. Seriously. Can you imagine what Moses, et al would have thought when they saw, say, New York City? Can you imagine Paul walking through modern-day NoPo?

Reading the Bible this way, though, is comforting. You can take everything at face value. You can trust your preacher that he’s not going to fill your head with conflicting views on anything and say, “make up your own mind.”

Your pastor is supposed to know (so you don’t have to) the basic tenets of the faith. Most lay people don’t know what to even call the tenets of Christianity, like “transubstantiation” and “substitutionary atonement.”

Editor’s Note:

Transubstantiation is a Catholic idea that translates to “when you put the communion wafer into your mouth, it literally becomes the body of Christ. When you lift the communion chalice to your lips, when the wine enters your mouth, it literally becomes Christ’s blood (which to me means that I need to write a book paraphrasing Bertrand Russell- “Why I Am Not a Catholic”).

Substitutionary atonement took place when Jesus died on the cross for all our sins so that we ourselves could die with our sins forgiven. (I really like this part, because for all its flaws, the doctrine says “I accept you for who you really are, because your sins are forgiven… not forgotten.”)

It is astounding to me that people who say they are Christian have not studied the doctrines enough to know what they are actually called. It’s because they don’t have to look up anything. It’s fine the way it is. How literalists can preach without opposing commentary is beyond me, because how do you decide what you believe if you only hear one side of the story? Besides, the Disciples themselves didn’t understand Jesus, even when he spoke slowly and didn’t use big words. How could you possibly work through the jigsaw of everything that happened without wanting to know everything you could get your hands on about the topic? THIS IS YOUR FAITH. YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO WITH IT.

You get to choose whether you are the type Christian that believes you have the right to discriminate against others, because “God will back you up.” You know who won’t? Jesus Christ. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so, as Jim Rigby points out, it cannot be essential to his teaching.

According to most mainstream theologians, when “God” (in quotes because the actual writers were human) absolutely damned “homosexuals,” God did not mean to trample on a loving same-sex couple with matching small dogs and stylish glasses. In the Old Testament (Genesis 19:1-25), the literal interpretation is that God destroyed the city of Sodom because of the homos.

The serious-but-not-literal translation is that when the angels appeared, the rest of the people in Sodom wanted to rape them. Abraham was so desperate to protect the angels that he offered up his teenage daughters instead. Then, as now, rape was about control, not sexual orientation. In fact, some scholars say that males raping males was quite common in the day because it was a very effective path to adding a humiliating insult to injury.

As for Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, it has been used as “proof” that God hates gays for so many years that it has hair on it… which is ironic because Christians are not bound to Talmudic law in the first place. If you want to use the Old Testament to damn homosexuals, then you’re also going to have to accept the idea that you can never get a haircut or a tattoo. Ever.

Checkmate.

The last point I’ll make, and believe me, it is not the last point I could have made… I just don’t want your eyes to glaze over before you get to the end… Perhaps this will become a series on “Stories” where I just take all the Fundamentalist ideas about homosexuality and destroy them on international television (which is what I call the Fanagans while I’m waiting to post).

But I digress.

Abomination. (You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.)

Throughout the Old Testament, the word abomination is translated from the Hebrew word toevah– and means something found detestable by God because it is unclean, disloyal, or unjust. The word is used to mean acts committed by both homo- and heterosexual couples because most of the time, it refers to cult prostitution- a Canaanite religious practice.

So that’s it. That’s my Fundamentalist lecture. This is my go-to answer for any question that involves why I am eternally damned just because I wear comfortable shoes. I am giving you all the ammunition you need to start an intelligent debate about why Biblical restrictions on homosexuality are no longer useful to us, just like we decided it was ok to touch pig skin even though the Bible says not to because hey, football.

I don’t see Northeast Texas giving up their religion that damn easily, okay? In fact, let’s solve this problem right now. Say to every Fundamentalist in the nation that starting today, all equipment for all sports is now going to be made from pigskin, so that if you decide to call someone a fag, you’re immediately off the team… because if you believe in one Talmudic law, you have to believe in them all.

And just in case you’re wondering why I started talking about football, it’s because Fundamentalists tend to write me off as an elitist jerk. I can’t use facts to change anyone’s opinion, because it seems that Christian fundamentalists do not get the concept that cultural attitudes change toward myths explained by science. Homosexuality is neither a mental or physical disease. Homosexuality is not the same thing as pedophilia, even though Fundamentalists thrive on telling you that it is. I can’t appeal to Fundamentalists through science, so I just have to ask them a few questions:

  • How would you react if you were a gay kid growing up in a church whose message is a relentless false claim that he or she is a child molester?
  • What if that kid was yours?
  • What if your church isn’t saying that your kid is a pedophile, but you are?
  • What does it feel like to intentionally choose your church over your child?
  • If you have a gay son or lesbian daughter and you are trying to urge them to be straight, at what point do you just give up?
  • At what point do you have to concede that you can either love your kids or you can’t? I know that sounds incredibly harsh, and in a way, it’s meant to sting. But you’re the one that has to look in the mirror every morning and know that you’ve destroyed any chance of relationship with your child beyond Christmas and Mother’s Day. It’s not that gay people hate their parents; it’s that when they visit and the entire stay is filled with what a piece of shit they are, the obligation to spend time with you ceases.

And that’s what the reality of not letting time pass creates. You can’t see a future with no discrimination because you can’t move past what someone said long before it was written down and can’t concede the point that there may have been a little “Lost in Translation” going on so you take it out on the people that love you the most by twisting a knife in their hearts and telling them that they’ll never be worthy of your love but they just keep trying for it, anyway. Say it all in one breath just like I did because by the time you get to decades of this, you can’t breathe all the way down, either.

These are the stories of my gay and lesbian friends who grew up in a fundamentalist environment. They have been kicked in the gut emotionally and, when they realize how much it hurts, they will run to someone else.

How does it feel to have your child sharing life moments with someone else?

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how we do that.

3 thoughts on “Advice Column Thursday: Leslie Takes on the Fundies

  1. Thanks for letting me know about this post. It is really interesting to hear your perspective as a liberal Christian — I don’t often interact with people of faith, being in the science community. You might find a response from my favorite journalist relevant to this topic. I copied and pasted it in a comment on last year’s passage of Amendment One in North Carolina. See what you think: http://thenestlog.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/some-things-you-must-never-stop-refusing-to-bear/

    Like

  2. As someone who is straight, but has dealt with fundamentalism from her family on a myriad of other issues, including discussions of how her family feels about gay people, this comment hit home: “when they visit and the entire stay is filled with what a piece of shit they are, the obligation to spend time with you ceases.” I did not have to go through that because of my orientation, but it was prevalent in so many other ways. I moved 3,000 miles away from my family and do not talk to them often. I cannot empathize on the same sex orientation front, but boy can I sympathize. Powerful and articulate argument!

    Like

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