"Gay people already have the right to marry, they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex like heterosexuals have to."
By this logic, miscegenation laws were totally fair because everyone could marry, they just had to pick someone of their own race. See? Equality! Pay no attention to the emotional and social costs paid by lovers made strangers under law, or the societal costs of the racism and heterosexism these unequal marriage laws engender, and let's not question the compelling state interest in keeping a civil contract of mutual obligation between consenting adults gender-dependent, because we've got our Constitutional mint and rue nicely weighed out.
I always want to ask people who use this argument if they want to be the straight guy married to a lesbian, or the straight woman married to a gay man (assuming the lost cause straight guy in question doesn't retort "Hur hur, I'd marry a lesbian if I could watch!"). A variation on this one for the married heteros is "did you marry your husband/wife because they had a penis/vagina, or because you loved them and wanted to spend your life with them?"
Of course, this is rarely if ever a real argument. It's a "gotcha" argument made by people who are so entranced by their own cleverness that they can't be arsed to actually address the issues, like the "you're intolerant of my intolerance LOL!" schtick. And it can be logically countered with "Yes, and after sex-irrelevant marriage is law you'll have the right to marry someone you are constitutionally incapable of being sexually attracted to, just like I do now. Congratulations."
"Oh noes, bad timing! This is going to hurt more important political causes!"
Like there's ever a GOOD time. There will always be some bigger issue or more important thing that gays, or women, or transfolk, or people of color will have to take a back burner to.
The women's suffrage movement grew out of women in abolition movements who were angry at being barred from speaking at conferences about issues they were giving their hard work and money to. The second-wave feminist movement likewise grew out of women in antiwar and antiracist groups being relegated to making coffee and getting no credit for the work they did do.
For that matter, why are we trying to get progressive politicians elected in the first place? So we can DO something about this shit. If we can get it done sooner rather than later, then that's a GOOD thing. Bitching about how Middle America "isn't ready" isn't going to help anyone.
So one of my friends, a writer, occasionally sends out missives with essays about topics of faith, and the latest one was about taking care of his strawberry patch and weeding and pruning and whatnot, the gist being that sin is like weeds-- it spreads fast, hides well, and only pretends to produce delicious fruit.
This reminded me not only that I should probably reply to Dave's emails one of these days, but also that our strawberry patch needed picking.
In our strawberry patch I noticed that for every one perfectly conical red supermarket-ready strawberry, there were a dozen mutant berries-- the ones that are blobular masses of berry flesh, often resembling a Star Wars character.
I, personally, think that this provides a much more trenchant spiritual analysis, since as we all know, Christians, like all people, are imperfect, like mutant berries, and often we're envious of the shiny happy supermarket berries we think surround us, like the family in the other pew that you always run into at the grocery store when they're wearing chinos and perfect hair and you're in your pajamas buying zucchini and KY Jelly.
But me? I prefer the mutant berries, perhaps because I hold in my heart an abiding love for imperfection and uniqueness, or perhaps because I'm a big Star Wars nerd and can decide whether one looks more like Greedo or Admiral Ackbar before I gleefully bite it in half.
So I wrote a song!
[we all know the tune for this one]
Jesus loves the mutant ber-ries
All the weirdoes of the world
Big and lumpy,
short and squat,
Resembles Jabba the Hutt--
Jesus loves the mutant berries of the world!
But I couldn't stop there. It needed a second verse!
Delving deeper into my spiritual analysis of gardening, and opting to skip over the question of what the patch of ants I stuck my hand in chasing a berry signified, I wondered what the symbolic value of the rotten, bug-eaten berries was. Given that in this metaphor I was, theoretically, the Christ figure, and I was throwing the reject berries against the fence so they would make interesting splat shapes, I decided maybe a second verse about how Jesus likes to make damaged berries explode wasn't the best idea, and I wasn't sure if I could make it rhyme, either. So I stuck a (2x) on the end of the song and called it a day.
And this, kids, is why God didn't send me to seminary.
"I reached the realization sometime this year that Christianity is about 90 percent bullshit -- and that the 10 percent that isn't bullshit just won't let go of me." -- Marauder, from comments to this entry
Which, I think, is pretty much the long and short of why I haven't already packed up my theological toys and found a different playground. Christianity has a lot of bullies, a lot of potholes, poison ivy everywhere... and a set of truly kickass tire swings with really cool people in one corner if you stick around long enough to find it.
Logically speaking, when the way I thought about my relationship with my religion started to sound similar to a battered spouse ("I know that s/he still loves me DEEP DOWN, maybe we can still work things out once s/he stops beating me over the head!") I had to wonder if there's much left to debate, and I'm just clinging to the last shreds of my faith as a philosophical security blanket. Which very well probably is some of it. I was born and raised in this religion, and it would be painful to uproot my entire worldview.
But generally speaking, it's not really been the principles on which my orthodoxy was based that have changed as it has been a rethinking of the orthopraxis I was taught. I still believe in the power of the Bible, but I tend to locate that specialness in terms of its metaphors and narratives instead of its rules and prophecies. It's lost the sort of talismanic properties it held growing up; a Bible is just a Bible, but The Bible is something more than the sum of its parts.
For that matter, a lot of my progressive tendencies are rooted IN my religion. If everyone is at base a child of God, what with Galatians 3:28 and all that, why should society play favorites when God doesn't? What should the kingdom of Heaven on Earth look like, if not a place where everyone is treated with equal dignity and consideration? Was Jesus not, after all, the original dirty hippie radical?
I have a lot of sympathy for why many GLBT folks feel the need to leave religious institutions for atheism or more welcoming traditions, but at the same time I don't feel like I can abandon the same faith that's gotten me through a lot of the pain that resulted from how those hierarchies treat us. It's made a big difference to me to separate the church institutional from the church universal, to draw strength from the one while I end up in opposition to the other. I doubt I could ever quite convince myself of the nonexistence of God even if I frequently doubt God's existence, because there will always be the fact that the God I think of has only the most tenuous connection to the actual God that is, given that I'm constrained to think inside human limits. So even if it came to that, I'd still be a Christian agnostic at heart, and that same agnosticism would be more of a refusal to keep asking "if."
I suppose I feel like I do more good, ultimately, by sticking around to fuck up some paradigms than I would by leaving and accepting their definition of Christianity as the "correct" one.
I have no idea how many of the forumites read this. I have to admit, at this point I don't care.
I keep trying to make the point that The Issue of Gay Rights has a name and a face, and in the case of this forum it's the same sister in faith they've all known since she was fourteen. I've known these people for more than a third of my life. They had a front-row seat to the disaster that was my coming out to my parents because I trusted them enough to post about it, and knowing they were out there praying for me made a real difference in surviving that event.
Yet some of them still apparently see nothing wrong with talking about "protecting" traditional marriage and "the Christian view" of homosexuality.
If seeing what religious homophobia has done to me and my family, inasmuch as text can ever convey that, if that hasn't changed their mind, or at least their vocabulary, what the fuck would have to happen to me to drive the point home?
Some of them get it. I just don't know why all of them can't. It's not that difficult an intellectual exercise, and these are not stupid people. At this rate I sincerely don't give a shit what they believe about the relative morality of my "lifestyle," because they're so resistant to recognizing what a luxury it is to view "the issue of homosexuality" as something remote from one's own life that I'm running out of patience with their carefully considered, logical, ever-so-rational, doctrinally-supported bigotry.
I know that some of these people will go to the polls and vote against whatever bullshit "traditional marriage initiative" is up because they are so keen to "protect" their marriage from scary people like me, they will actively work to deny me the same rights they have. Because I am a threat, a disease, a problem. That these people who will in one breath call me "friend" will in the next disparage my humanity, or use my inability to get legally married in a throwaway punchline in a snarky letter to the editor.
Bitter? Probably. I have to live with this crap every day, from my country, my family, and my own damn religion, and it would be nice not to get it from the people I'd like to call my friends. There has to be a sanctuary somewhere.