April 01, 2006

Debunking Stereotypes

I was reviewing some of my previous posts to this blog and noticed a trend. A lot of what I write is meant to point out examples of bigotry and/or hatred toward the GLBT community by supposed Christians. I only hope I do not come across as too negative. I don’t want this blog to become merely a forum to bash the religious right. I also want to offer affirmations of how GLBTs can be in harmony with Christ while not feeling forced to hide or renounce their homosexuality.

When I began writing “Straight, Not Narrow” in June, it served primarily as an outlet for me to vent frustration and anger about the way GLBT people, including some who are now among my dearest friends, are treated. I continue to be amazed how age-old stereotypes are put out there and used against the GLBT community. For example:

“They have a very transient lifestyle. They don’t commit, they just sleep around.” If that was the case, why is there such a push for same-sex marriage? If this stereotype was actually true, wouldn’t the GLBT community be happy with the status quo? Sure, some gays and lesbians bed-hop. So do some straight men and women, but there is a small fraction of the outrage over that than the perceived “homosexual lifestyle.”

“They have serious emotional issues.” Let me ask this question; if you had been taught since you were a child that your natural sexual orientation made you a sinner and that you would not be allowed in God’s kingdom unless you renounced it, wouldn’t that cause YOU some emotional issues? If you were taught that it was evil to express yourself in the way God made you, wouldn’t that knock you a tad off center? I know it would work that way with me, anyway.

“Homosexuality is a choice.” Since science can not prove with 100% infallibility that this is a genetic condition, the “fundamentalists” insist that it must not be. If it was genetic, that would be troubling because they would have to answer why God would make someone a certain way and not want them to follow their nature. It’s like backing into the logic—the religious right wants to consider homosexuality sinful, so they claim that it is a conscious choice. Of course, many gays who have been “cured” soon relapse. This situation, which you can read more about on Ex-Gay Watch, has made the leadership at Love In Action somewhat unstable.

“The Bible Clearly Says Homosexuality is Sinful.” I would recommend reading two books that helped me understand why that statement is not true; “The Children are Free” by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley and “The New Testament and Homosexuality” by Robin Scroggs. Briefly, I learned from these and other sources how the focus of many scriptures “fundamentalists” use to support this statement applied to promiscuity, not specifically homosexuality.

I believe with all my heart and have had the feeling validated by the Holy Spirit that the GLBT community is welcome in the kingdom of God as long as they accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Every person ever born of a human mother and father has sinned, and every single one has the opportunity to receive eternal life through Christ, even if they are a practicing homosexual. God did not give us a gift, and I have learned how homosexuality can be a gift, for us not to be able to use it for His glory.

I got fired up about things today because I have been involved in a message board debate over a column written in Charisma Magazine titled “To Be Gay…..And Christian?” This column, and most of the posts on this message board thread, leaves no possibility open that GLBTs (and me for accepting them) are anything but deeply troubled sinners.

It turns out I’ve received a few visitors from that web site. While no one has posted about anything in this blog, I hope at least one of them read something that made them stop, think, and consider that there are two sides to the debate about the place of GLBT’s in Christ’s church.

Jesus wants us to think and he wants us to understand. Most importantly, he wants to guide us in that process. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we just won’t get it.

If we allow our prejudices and prior teaching get in the way, we won’t get it either. It’s those people that are adamant they DO get it who are among the biggest roadblocks to the GLBT community being a fully respected, accepted part of our society and the church.

I don’t want bigotry and ignorance to win out. That’s why I’m here, and I’m glad you are visiting.

March 31, 2006

Practicing What They Preach

A post on author Wayne Besen's website by Chris Lamparello points out the difficulties that christians have living by their own rules.

As an example, Lamparello cites a study conducted at Baylor University, a school that is affiliated with the very conservative Southern Baptist Convention. The results of the study showed that 62% of the males and 65% of the females had premarital sex.

Lamparello quotes another study that reports the highest divorce rate in America belongs to born again Christians.

When people hear "fundamentalists" scream about "maintaining the sanctity of marriage," it can be pretty tough to swallow when you realize that trend. It makes non-christians look at christians like hypocrites.

You may have heared the phrase "clean up your own back yard." That certainly applies here. Could the right-wing be using the tactic of "the best defense is a good offense?" Could they be trying to take attention off the failures of "fundamentalits" to live by their own fundamentals by pointing out the preceived flaws of others, expecially homosexuals?

It's effective politics but not very effective godly living.

March 30, 2006

More on the Infamous Rep. Maggart

I recently wrote about Tennessee State Representative Debra Maggart's comments regarding her views on homosexuals as potential adoptive parents. To briefly summarize, she is opposed because of all the issues she feels GLBT people have, making them unfit in her view to adopt and raise a child.

Just in case there was any question about Rep. Maggart's statements being taken out of context or misunderstood, this article in Nashville's Tennessean newspaper should clear that up. She told the paper, "I don't wish to discriminate against anyone.....but (gays) have issues."

Yeah, and so do some legislators. In this case, ignorance and bigotry are two of them.

I address this issue again because I wanted to link a letter that fellow blogger Bill Ware, a Tennessee resident, wrote to Rep. Maggart. He makes some excellent points and it is well worth reading.

Hopefully Rep. Maggart can gain some understanding from Bill's words.

March 29, 2006

It's Cool To Be Oppressed

That was the theme as I saw it coming from the conference "The War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006." That title just stops me in my tracks, implying that voters who don't agree with this group's political positions do not have appropriate values.

Have you noticed how cool it is these days to be a victim and for your group to be oppressed? Everyone seems to be trying to position themselves or their group to be viewed in that light. I suppose it ties in with the old "everyone loves an underdog" axiom.

A pertinent quote in this piece was from Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council:

'We believe what makes a family is one man and one woman uniting in marriage for a lifetime and bearing children from that union," Sprigg stated. "We are against anything that threatens the traditional family or undermines that idea," including pre-marital sex, pornography, adultery and prostitution." And yes, we are also against the practice of homosexuality," he added.

I'm sure glad he cleared up where they stood on homosexuality. Sprigg also ranted about the "gay agenda," which he said "demands full acceptance of the practice of homosexuality -- morally, socially, legally, religiously, politically and financially. Indeed, it calls for not only acceptance, but affirmation and celebration of this behavior as normal and even desirable."

Can you imagine the nerve of those homosexuals! Actually wanting to be treated like full-fledged members of the human race! Certainly Jesus wouldn't tolerate that, would he?

Actually, what he wouldn't tolerate is the hatred and demeaning organizations like the FRC propigate toward the GLBT community.

Sprigg added, "We believe what makes a family is one man and one woman uniting in marriage for a lifetime and bearing children from that union. We are against anything that threatens the traditional family or undermines that idea."

Okay, so to be consistent, they are also outraged at the rampant divorce and adultery among the hetrosexual community, right?

No, because that doesn't draw headlines and, more importantly, have people donating money to combat it. Slap the gays around for awhile, though, and the money rolls in.

Not quite a higher calling is it?

March 28, 2006

GLBT People and Their Straight Spouses

I understand that one of the more difficult and painful situations a GLBT individual can find themselves is coming out to their straight spouse.

For my straight readers, just think about how you would feel if your spouse sat you down one day and told you their were gay or lesbian. It would have to be difficult knowing what to feel, but there would most certainly be a great deal of pain and confusion in the mix.

BOTH people in this situation would be paying the price for the GLBT spouse either not addressing their sexuality over many years or denying it and trying to live what they have been told is a "normal" life. Many of us have been through a divorce and there is never a good way to do it, but this has to be one of the tougher paths.

Essentially, the GLBT spouse is telling their straight spouse that the person who entered into the marriage was not an accurate reflection of who they truly are. This could have been self-deception, lack of self-awareness, or outright deception for reasons far too involved to address in this forum.

This is a lose-lose situation. True, the GLBT spouse might wind up with children that they love and find a true blessing out of this relationship. Ultimately, though, any individual can not maximize the gifts God gives them and fully realize His plan for their lives if they are not true to how He made them. It is also unfair to the straight spouse because it stands to reason there has to be something missing in this type of relationship. Of course there can be love and committment, but if one person in a couple is not being true to who they really are, I can't imagine their partner is receiving all they could out of a relationship either.

When the GLBT spouse becomes aware of who they truly are, or already knows it and summons the courage to move down that path, it is a difficult situation for everyone involved. There is an organization I ran across through a note in one of the Yahoo groups I belong to that can help. It is called the Straight Spouse Network. They offer information and support across the United States and beyond to help people work through these situations. If you or someone you know is facing this, I suggest checking out their website.

Just as importantly, we need to encourage anyone we know; friend, family, church member, whoever, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives to lead them toward the path God wants them to take. With GLBT people, that doesn't mean acting straight or trying to "change" and become straight. However God made us, that's how He wanted it and he can use us AS WE ARE to serve him and bring glory to Him and a life of fulfillment and peace to ourselves.