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Speaking Against the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day

Let me start out by saying that I hope whoever reads this will understand that this is written with a genuine caring for the friends and family who will read it. I am not in any way pointing out individuals but rather the expressions of the culture as a whole.

I am frankly embarrassed and appalled by the volume of Chick-Fil-A postings I saw yesterday and the message that this sends. I understand, Chick-Fil-A president Cathy is an Evangelical Christian and his small comment (which is part of a larger part the restaurant’s giving has played in the debate) sparked a media frenzy. I also understand that many of you reading this agree wholeheartedly with his belief that one man one woman is the traditional form of marriage and the only way ordained by God.

Here is where I am confused: I am told that yesterday’s Chick-Fil-A rally was about free speech. Was Cathy arrested for his views? Is he in prison? Is Cathy rallying lawyers to come to his aid? Forgive my ignorance, but he is in no way in a position to lose his right to free speech! No one is taking this away from him. I’m sure some would wish they could, but that isn’t even an option.

People who disagree with Cathy have come out in support against his position. People, who in exercising their right to free speech, have publicly disagreed with him. People don’t feel and think that he should have said what he did; just like people (myself included) don’t think a corporation should support a public discussion in one way or another.

Should they have the right to publicly disagree with Cathy? Shouldn’t they have a right to their opinion? Do they have a right to believe that his statements reflect a wrong in society?

Please hear me on this and really think about what I’m saying: Christianity in America has become convinced of its own martyrdom while forgetting that we are the majority! Christians are 76-80% of the population. Christians occupy 86% of congress, 85% of the senate. You can’t, so far, win a presidential election without a confession of Christian beliefs!

But I still hear so much about persecution and rights being taken away. It’s a myth perpetuated through crazy media that wants nothing better than to cause trouble because THAT brings in revenue.

Sure, things change. That is how life works. That is literally how it has always been. 40 years ago we had separate water fountains for people who were black. When this changed it made people uncomfortable (sadly there are still places in the US where this still makes people uncomfortable).

What does this have to do with Chick-Fil-A? Where is the love and compassion that is the foundation of Jesus’ work? Where is the caring about the welfare of people different than you? How are you fulfilling your beliefs by buying a chicken sandwich? Is Cathy’s stance even reflective of the love of Christ that is  so quick to be thrown around as a rallying cry?

This was not an act of love or compassion. Freedom of speech and religion are not on the chopping block. The only rights in this conversation that are up for grabs would be that of option for two consenting adults to choose to unify their lives because they are of the same gender.

Hear me out. Your family is not at risk from an outside source. If gay people get married it will not change your marriage. It will not cheapen your marriage. If the church is really worried about that, why not try to have marriage legally restricted to only Christians? If it is truly a sacrament given by God to you why not keep Muslims or Jews or secular humanists or atheists from participating? And I don’t mean keep them from marrying in a church. I mean why not keep them from marrying legally? This is fear backed up by scripture just as racism and even slavery was many years ago. I see a mentality of division (us vs them), not the actions of a group that was told to care for those who made them uncomfortable.

Even if you do not change your position realize that the message people are hearing is one of hate and bigotry and disdain. If you really want to help and save people, if this is really your goal, realize that something has to change. Supporting a fast food chain and pushing legislation to make the union between two consenting adults illegal is not going to change hearts and minds to your cause, nor is it in any way a fulfillment of Jesus’ call to love your neighbor or even the great commission.

Without doubt to some my writing this will come across as the ramblings of a liberal bias or that of someone trying to justify sin or something. Right now there is little to no room for discussion or disagreement in the Evangelical community on this or many other issues. I have seen the word heretic used for far more minor disagreements than this. I’m just asking that my friends and family who are actively participating in this discussion through their actions and conversations reflect on whether the Christian community is in fact reflecting the love that is so actively preached.

If you do disagree I am not suggesting you say nothing. But just think about the message that you send and whom it is directed. As of right now the message that is received is smug and rude and  self-righteous.

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The Other (/)/(_) Neighbor and the Acceptable Hatred

In a popular video currently circulating online channels, a young boy no more than 3 or 4 years old singing a song ending in the line “ain’t no homo gonna get into heaven”. For many this is a simple statement of fact. It is a reflection of Christian theology and belief. In fact, when the young boy makes this statement the crown in the church explodes with excitement. The entire church, it seems is standing and cheering the boy on. They are standing in solidarity with the boy and praising his words.

But let’s begin to breakdown this statement and the crowd’s reaction into its key components:

First, the boy is much too young to be formulating a stance on the eternal judgement of those who are homosexual. This is a learned and enculturated value. More than this, as the boy surely has no real opinions on such concepts as sexual attraction, the final state of souls in heaven or hell, or what theology as a whole has to say about any of these issues. The boy learned this song from parents who, so believing in the message of this song, taught their child to sing and perform these words, probably knowing the reaction the crowd would have.

Second, the word “homo”, as is used in this statement, is not a simple reduction of the word “homosexual”. Homo is slang and a slur. The word carries a negative connotation but is not fully an overtly offensive statement in the way the “n” word is for blacks. The word still means something other than a statement of fact – it is meant to conjure negative feelings and sentiments.

Third, the song makes a simple theological statement that a homosexual will not get into heaven. This, as I believe most Evangelical denominations  would agree, is contrary to accepted theology, which states that someone is saved despite the sin that is believed to affect the salvation of the individual. For example, a drunkard/alcoholic, if repentant and accepting of the belief espoused by the community, would achieve salvation. Regardless  of whether he is still technically an alcoholic, he is still fine. The same could be said of thieves or any other culturally established group that practices a belief contrary to the accepted values of the community.

But this boy is positing that homosexuals will simply not get into heaven. It is a statement of fact. It is a belief that is contrary to normal groupings of what is seen as sinful behavior and lifestyle choices.

Fourth, the crowd absolutely loves the experience. As a whole they cheer, laugh, and clap. The man on the stage, whom one might believe to be the pastor, grins and laughs as he experiences the lyric.

What is wrong with this picture?

To start, the boy is claiming that homosexuals will not make their way into heaven. In this system, the only other option is hell. When the crowd cheers the boy on with that statement, they are showing their happiness with the idea that someone who is gay will suffer for eternity in a place of unimaginable suffering. When this is stated the crowd is delighted. How does this in anyway align with the values espoused by Jesus? How is one to love their neighbor but rejoice in their eternal damnation and suffering? You’re not.

In psychoanalysis and postcolonial philosophy, the theory of the Other is a means for understanding the differentiation between ourselves and the outside world. The Other is a means for understanding who we are: we are who we are by knowing what we are not. The Other is unknowable, untrustable, and wholly different than ourselves. This separation is what allows us to form trusting bonds within our communities. It is also what allows us to perform horrible acts upon groups that are not who we see as ourselves.

For the Christians in the audience, their world is insular and accepted. They are around those who are like them. Their world is populated with replications of the kind of values and lifestyle choices that they see in themselves. The Other is a monstrosity. The homosexual represents the difference between themselves and who they are not. They see themselves as good and the Other as evil, wicked, detestable.

When Jesus made the statement to love your neighbor as yourself, it is this Other that can be articulated in understanding. The neighbor is the object from whom you keep your distance. The neighbor is not the community member but the difference than you. It is the neighbor who is not your family member in the house next door but rather the individual who’s excessive proximity is an offense to one’s happiness and satisfaction. The neighbor is the pedophile on the block, the family of a convicted felon.

If Christians are charged with loving their neighbor as themselves, could we take the boy’s lyric and flip it on its head to see if the reaction is the same? To take this statement literally one must put themselves in the place of the “homo”: Ain’t no me gonna get in heaven. Would the reaction be the same? Could they in fact celebrate this association in the same way as what was shown in the video?

This cheering is more than simply a sign of solidarity with a Biblical belief, this is the articulation of a cultural prejudice against a minority. The lyric should be offensive to not just homosexuals, but Christians who believe in a similar theology as the group represented in the video. There should be no situation in which a Christian should celebrate the idea that an individual must suffer for all eternity.

I believe the Evangelical Church needs to take a second look at how they treat their neighbor and the fairness and love with which their language, and most importantly, their lifestyle reflects the beliefs and theology they represent. Here I am not even referring to the heaven/hell issue, but simply their response to the challenge to love their neighbors as their selves.

Are we ever permitted to hate what we are not? Not if we are to love that which is not like ourselves.

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