Open letter Christian webcomic artist Adam Ford

[Content Note: Homophobia, transphobia, mentions of anti-gay and anti-trans violence, mentions of suicide]

My niece posted a link to this webcomic earlier today. I decided the webcomic artist deserved a response.

Dear random Christian dude who wants to reassure me he doesn’t hate me by writing a lengthy and completely impersonal webcomic,

Look, I get it. Your uncomfortable with the fact that many LGBT people think of socially conservative Christians as hateful. The thing you need to understand is that A LOT of your fellow Christians do indeed act terribly hateful. Some of them may even be people that you and your church support and revere.

Plus, the other thing you need to understand is that you don’t have to be screaming obscenities or anything equally obvious to act in ways that are hurtful and even come across as hateful. So let me do you a favor and go through your webcomic and point a few things out to you that you get terribly wrong.

I am a Christian who believes the Bible is the Word of God, any homosexual practice is sinful, and marriage will only ever be the life-long union between one man and one woman.

But I promise you, I don’t hate you.

You know, it’s hard to believe you don’t hate me — or at least that you have my best interests in mind — when your first volley in your “reassurance” is to state unequivocally that you will never consider any emotionally and sexually intimate relationship that I might build with someone to be anything other than irredeemably sinful and illegitimate. I mean, you could have started demonstrating your commitment to loving LGBT people by talking about what you are trying to get the church to do about the fact that many states still allow employers to fire  people simply for being LGBT. Or you could have talked about what you’re trying to get the church to do about anti-LGBT violence — especially violence against transgender people who are most often targeted. Or you could have talked about what you want to do about the problem of increased instances of homelessness and suicide rates among LGBT youth.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. There are a lot of very real problems that LGBT people face, and you could be doing something right now to help alleviate and address those problems. But instead, you decided to start by drawing your line in the sand. Or let’s call it what it really is, your chosen battle line. Try and understand just how false that makes the rest of your claims sound.

The world sets us up as polar opposites, though. It says we’re bitter enemies in a “culture war,” lobbing Molotov cocktails at each other on the front lawn of the White House.

Do you know who actually uses the phrase “culture war” regularly, and insists they’re fighting one. Many of your fellow Christians. People at the AFA. People at the FRC. People at Focus on the Family. Pat Robertson. These are extremely visible and powerful Christians. They’re the ones pushing the “culture war” framing. And that’s when they’re not comparing LGBT people to sexual predators, calling us mentally ill, or saying God sent AIDS to punish us. There are a lot of other terrible things they say, too. I encourage you to do some research.

So my question to you is what are you doing to real in your fellow Christians who are pushing this “culture war” frame? Are you pushing back and telling them to shut up? Are you making sure that neither you nor your church supports the Christian organizations that are actually promoting and acting as aggressors in the culture war? Or are you just remaining silent and hoping that I and every of LGBT person will magically know you don’t agree with them and “aren’t like those Christians” (or believe it just because you say so)?

If you are gay, your fallen heart tells you to lust after people of the same sex.

God calls that sin.

My fallen heart tells me to lust after people of the opposite sex who are not my wife.

God calls that sin.

Did you notice the major difference between those two statements. You see, according to you, God offers you a context in which you’re allowed to embrace and explore your sexual desires. But according to you, God offers LGBT people no such context. Any such exploration we may consider is sinful. Full stop. End of story. Try to understand how cruel that makes your vision of God in my eyes.

Also, stop to consider how you’ve just implicitly reduced all same-sex relationships to nothing more than sexual gratification. You’ve completely ignored and invalidated the fact that many same sex relationships also involve deep emotional intimacy, mutual care, nurturing, and many other qualities that I’m sure you value in your own marriage. Again, when you start trying to caricature our relationships to fit your “sin” narrative, it’s rather difficult to accept that you’re as hate-free as you claim.

The liberal “churches” which are now saying, “Oh hey! God changed his mind and is totes cool with the gay stuff now 4 real!” do not really love you. They want your approval.

Sounds to me like you need to write a follow-up comic to let liberal churches know you don’t hate them, too. Though I’m not sure they’ll believe you any more than I believe you. But on a more serious note, I think it’s entirely condescending of you to claim you know the hearts and motives of others. Also, I’ll note that many of those liberal churches have actively backed their claims of love by actively doing things to address all of those serious issues facing LGBT people that I mentioned earlier. You haven’t done that yet. I trust you’re familiar with he phrase “action speaks louder than words.”

Not because I say so; because God says so. (See: entire Bible)

There’s a problem with that claim — and it’s really relevant to your rather disparaging comments that liberal churches say God “changed his mind” by the way. People have been saying “God says so/the Bible says so” for centuries, only to later decide that maybe the Bible doesn’t actually say that after all. I mean, there was once a time when many Christians insisted that the Bible said that it was okay to own slaves. In fact, at least one denomination (hint: it’s the largest and most well-known Baptist denomination in the United States of America) was founded on the principle that the Bible clearly states that slave-owners are allowed to own slaves. I don’t know any Christian who would insist that the Bible says that anymore. I doubt that you or any of your fellow Christians today would phrase that change in belief or interpretation of the Bible as “Oh hey! God changed his mind!”

Truth of the matter is, the Bible is hugely open to interpretation and always has been. There have been huge arguments over what the Bible allegedly says, and people on both sides of many of those arguments have insisted that the Bible “clearly says” whatever position they happen to hold. So please, accept that liberal Christians might actually legitimately come to a different interpretation of the Bible, lest you fall into the hubris of thinking you are the authority of what the Bible says. Trust me, history is rife of examples of why that may not end so well for you.

Repent and believe that gospel.

The word “gospel” means “good news.” I ask you, what “good news” are you offering to LGBT people. Quite frankly, I don’t find “you have to live your entire life without any sort of sexual or emotional fulfillment or intimate companionship” to be all that good of news. Can you do it? Why not? After all, the Bible also makes it clear that it would be better for you to remain unmarried. And yet, you mentioned having a wife. Why are you trying to place burdens on other people that you have not accepted for yourself?

We love you, so we must tell you the truth.

Okay. You’ve told me. You’re at least the 100th person to tell me this. (Seriously, do you really think LGBT people have never heard all of this before? You might want to check your facts.) I’m telling you, I don’t buy it and it stinks like yesterdays garbage after it’s sat in the sun all afternoon.

But while we’re on the topic of how much you allegedly love me, let me ask you something: What good is love without relationship. You don’t know me. You haven’t taken a single moment to get to know me. You haven’t listened to my story or shared in my joys or my woes. To be frank, all you’ve done is preach at me, possibly hoping that the cutesie webcomic format will make it more tolerable. If your love is that impersonal and impersonal, then I think I’ll still with the “vote seekers” and “approval seekers.” Once again, at least they seem to understand some of the real and serious problems I and many like me face and are actively trying to do something. They’ve shown real, tangible acts of love.

So thanks, random dude who knows nothing about me and likely will do absolutely nothing to change that. I hope that your webcomic gave you that sense of “being loving” you were trying to create for yourself. It did absolutely nothing for me.

Best wishes,

Jarred.

A gay man who just doesn’t quite believe you.

Moderation Note: This is a no proselytizing thread. Comments trying to convince me that I need to “repent” will be deleted. Commenters that repeatedly ignore this rule will be banned. But don’t worry, there’s no need for you to tell me the truth. Adam Ford has already taken care of it. You can even see the proof for yourself.

 

Personal Update: Seeing my cardiologist a year later

[Content Note: Health Issues, Heart Disease, Heart Failure, Needles]

Before yesterday, my last appointment with my cardiologist was last May. I’ve seen my GP a few times since then, as well as urgent care doctors when I’ve had a cold that lingered just a little too long for my tastes. So when my cardiologist reviewed my chart at the beginning of this week and saw that the doctors in internal medicine had been playing with my diuretics, He decided it was time to see me again now rather than waiting to the appointment I had scheduled for May.

I showed up at his office a few minutes after my appointment time, a bit frazzled. (A nasty accident on Elmwood turned what should have been a half hour drive to nearly an hour drive.) Needless to say, the stress of being late had my blood pressure up — even more than it normally is due to my penchant for white lab coat hypertension.

After the technician took all my vitals and got me seated comfortably in the exam room, my doctor came in less than five minutes later (the advantage of scheduling the early morning appointments is that they’re usually neither busy nor falling behind schedule yet). He asked me what was going on and I gave him a brief run-down, then gave me a brief exam. We talked a bit more and said I probably need to go for an echocardiogram since my last one was over a year ago. Also he noted the same symptoms they were seeing in internal medicine, so he said he was going to change my diuretic and double the dosage. Then he went to talk to the supervising doctor in the cardiology department.

The supervising doctor came back in the room — as is common — and talked to me some more, then asked me to hop back up on the exam table so he could take a look too. He checked me out and found the same symptoms every other doctor has found. However, he wasn’t eager to blame them on my heart. He noticed other signs that suggest that my heart may just be fine and pointed out that the symptoms I am exhibiting can be caused by other factors1. As such, he said he didn’t want to throw more diuretics at me without a definitive answer. So in addition to the echocardiogram — which he managed to get scheduled immediately after my visit in cardiology — he recommended a chest X-Ray (to determine if there actually is any fluid in my lungs) and some blood work. Which meant spending an hour or two hopping from department to department in the hospital.

Since it was right next door and is the only thing that had to be scheduled, I immediately went over to get the echocardiogram. That’s always a fun procedure, and this was my third time at it.  Basically, you take off your shirt, lie on a bed and let the technician run an ultrasound probe all over your chest while fiddling with the controls. This time, though, the tech also took shots of my abdomen and throat, which was a new experience. I look forward to finding out what that was all about.

The hardest part of the echocardiogram is the contrast dye. They inject it into a vein to get better contrast in the images, which helps them take more accurate measurements. The put it in through an IV port. That means that — unless you have other tests scheduled that also require an IV port — they put one in, take about ten minutes to do that part of the procedure, and take it right back out.

After that, it was off to the outpatient lab to get blood drawn. They needed three vials this time. I joked about that to the phlebotomist and she responded, “Yeah, we only take as much as they need.” I told her that was good, as I kind of like my blood.  I was also pretty impressed with the this phlebotomist. Not only did she manage to get blood with only one try, but I think it was the closest I’ve come to having blood drawn completely painlessly. (Well, other than the time in the hospital when I’m pretty sure I slept through the whole thing.) I barely even felt the needle.

After that, it was off to radiology for chest X-Rays. I was a bit concerned about how long that would take. When I had a chest X-Ray back in October, they were packed and it took them about half an hour to call me.  Even then, they actually took me to a different part of the hospital because they were so backlogged. (I”m guessing this is probably why the radiology department validates parking for their patients.)

However, they were pretty slow yesterday morning. They called me in less than five minutes. After that, it was just a matter of posing for the nice woman, praying that the radiation would give me superpowers instead of cancer, and going on my merry way.

Now the hard part is waiting for my cardiologist to look over the results and call me back with answers. Fortunately, I’m able to see all my results (except for the echocardiogram) this morning. What I can see looks pretty good:

  • My calcium and platelets are both low, but otherwise my blood work looks great.
  • My A1c (I was totally surprised when my cardiologist — who usually doesn’t care about my diabetes — ordered one) is a mere 6.0.
  • The report from the chest X-Ray indicates that both my central airways and my lungs are normal. No mention of fluid, so I’m guessing that means there isn’t any. Sadly, it also doesn’t give any indication as to what’s causing the crackling sound in my lungs, which is what everyone panicking that my heart might be getting worse again.

So unless the echo shows something to be concerned about, this is probably a good indication that my heart is happy. Hopefully the cardiologist will be able to shed some more light on things whenever he calls.

And hopefully we can figure out what really is causing my symptoms so everyone will quit throwing diuretics at me until they’re actually necessary.


1This seems to be the problem with getting a diagnosis of something like congestive heart failure. If a symptom can be attributed to that diagnosis, most doctors are inclined to assume that’s what’s going on and act accordingly. That’s great if they’re right. If they’re wrong, you end up wasting a lot of time treating the wrong thing.

 

Pat Robertson’s world is a scary place

Tuesday, Right Wing Watch reported that Pat Robertson warned pregnant women against putting pictures of their ultrasounds on Facebook.  His reasoning, according to the report, is rather interesting:

“I don’t think there is any harm in it,” he said. “But I tell you, there are demons and there are evil people in the world, and you post a picture like that and some cultist gets hold of it or a coven and they begin muttering curses against an unborn child. You never know what somebody’s going to do.”

This is yet another glimpse into the dark, horrible world that Pat Robertson believes he’s living in. He believes that there are “Satanic witches” who have nothing better to do than scour the Facebook to find random ultrasound pictures from people they don’t know and curse them. In Pat Robertson’s fantasy world, people unlike him run around looking to commit evil for evil’s sake. It leaves one wondering if he also imagines us laughing maniacally and twirling over-waxed mustaches or cackling around cauldrons1.

The thing is, most witches don’t work curses at all. Those who do are really unlikely to curse random strangers for a number of reasons2. If a witch is actually going to work that kind of magic, said witch is going to work it against someone they have a personal investment in hurting.

So why on earth does Pat Robertson imagine evil figures doing all kinds of evil that makes no sense? Does he enjoy the way that it ties his followers to him with fear and terror? Is his desire to paint himself and those like him as the soul heroes of the world so great that he needs to paint everyone else in the world as evil as he can?

Or is he actually trapped in his own fear? Has he warning about evils for so long that he actually sees and fears them wherever he looks? If so, I have to say, that’s a horrible way to live.


1Okay, I’ll confess. The cackling around cauldrons thing actually happens. I mean, every now and then you’re in the middle of a solemn ritual and someone flubs a chant or sends one of the ritual tools skittering across the room due to clumsiness. That’s bound to crack up anyone with a sense of humor.

2The two major reasons are “trying to curse someone you don’t have a connection to is nearly impossible” and “no one in their right mind is going to work with and connect themselves to the kinds of energies a curse entails unless there’s a deeply personal reason to do so.”

 

Spam for Entitled Heterosexual Men

[Content Note: Rape Culture, Misogyny, Male Entitlement, Sexually Explicit Language]

On a lark, I went through my email’s trash folder the other day. For Saturday (Valentine’s Day) alone, I found four pieces of spam with a common theme: Get the woman (or women) of your dreams. See them for yourself (separated by lines of asterisks):

This shocking video is going to blow your mind and let you discover:

-Magic innocent phrases to make her horny in seconds;

-Simple questions to make any pussy wet;

-Couple of gestures to instantly take her down!

And much more for a full makeover of your life.

No practice, no efforts, no hard work!

***********

Tired of being in a friend zone and constantly feeling unable to put her to your bed? Your life needs a makeover!

It’s the very lucky day when you may learn the genius way to make any girl want you without any efforts!

Tested on thousands of them! And they still want more…

***********

I hardly believe it myself but I’ve tried more than 20 sex positions last week with 5 different girls.

This technique is a huge sex cake that has changed my life the way I had never even dreamt of.

You may carry on being just a jerk for hot babes or watch this video and let the science do the best for you!

Good luck!

***********

You know I feel like a love boner king lately!
And it seems I almost forgot how I pleased myself with a night porn and relationship with a girl I didn’t like very much…

Today the situation is 100% different.
I can swear this technique is the most useful finding for an average man like me.

If you want to take the lead and be the one to choose, not be chosen by them, this great video is a must-see for you!

There’s a lot of wrong that I could cover in this. I doubt I’ll manage to spot everything, but I want to list some of the assumptions that these messages continue to support and encourage men to hold:

Women are there for their needs, especially their sexual needs.

The way to get any woman they want is simply to say or do the right things.

Women’s sexuality and sexuality exists solely to aid the men in getting the sex they want.

Getting the woman they want can and should be effortless.

There is nothing worse than having a woman decide a man is good enough to be a friend, but not good enough to be a sexual partner.*

What a woman wants and who she wants it with doesn’t matter.

These are just four examples of this kind of mentality that landed in my email on one day out of the year.  These same messages are pushed explicitly by books an websites every day. They are pushed implicitly in other forms of media. (Think of all the “hero gets the girl” themes in just about every genre of movie.)

It’s these kinds of messages that deny the humanity and agency of women. It’s these kinds of messages that encourage and enable men to think that they deserve the attentions and sexual favors of women — and not just any women, but the specific women they want — sometimes to the extreme point that they react like Elliot Rodger or Ben Moynihan (just to pick two examples).

These messages are toxic and they need to stop. They need to be challenged and discussed. They cannot be ignored. They cannot be shrugged off as something “no one really believes or listens too” because the evidence to the contrary is stark.

Further Reading: A Culture of Violent Entitlement, and the Culture of Silence Surrounding It via Shakesville

Note: I am indebted to Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, whose extensive blogging about men like Rodgers and Moynihan provided me with the links to news articles about them.

Think having a huge penis is a huge selling point? It’s not. In fact, it may be the opposite.

[Content Note: Frank sex talk.]

[Additional Note: Family may want to skip this one, as I’m about to get extremely personal. If you decide to go ahead and read this anyway, I don’t want to hear about it.]

I remember a while back, some guy was trying to entice me to hook up with him. Circumstances indicated that at best, it would be one night stand. The guy indicated he had absolutely no prior experience with another man. I turned him down. He tried to talk me into it. He promised that I would absolutely love sex with him because he “had a cock as long as my arm.” I’ve found that this is a common theme among guys. Many of them assume that because they (allegedly) have a massive penis, that automatically makes them awesome in bed.

It does not. In fact, I’ve found that in many cases — especially in cases where the guy has little or no experience — having a partner who is well-endowed can be a liability.

Let me spell it out for any guys who may be reading with incredulity. The bigger you are, the more likely it is that you could end up hurting me. That means that it’s even more important than it is with average or even slightly smaller guys — and it’s still pretty damn important with those guys — to make sure that I am perfectly relaxed and sufficiently in the mood before anything too serious happens. And that usually requires an attentive, considerate, and usually experience partner. (If not experienced, he at least has to be willing to follow directions and I have to be in the mood to actually guide him through what I normally prefer him to know on his own already.)

So a well-endowed guy who is inexperienced is a pretty unappealing partner, to be frank. (Especially for something that’s only going to be  a one night stand, since saying yes makes a lot of work for me with a very short-term benefit at best.) A well-endowed partner who can’t demonstrate that he knows how to be a good and attentive lover — or worse, demonstrates that he has absolutely no interest in being one — is an immediate hell-no.  And to be frank, if all you can say about your skills as sexual partner is that you have a big dick, you’ve pretty much relayed the fact that you fall into that category of man.

So guys, do yourself and your prospective partners a favor. Quit leading with the fact that you are (allegedly) well endowed. In fact, quit mentioning it at all. Instead, focus on saying and doing things that demonstrate that you are attentive, caring, and invested in making any experience with you mutually pleasurable for the other person, too.

Movie Review: Impossible Choice

[Content Note: Homophobia]

Last night, as I scoured both Netflix And Amazon Instant Video for gay-themed movies to watch, I came across Impossible Choice, an extremely-low budget film that came out in 2012. The brief description on Amazon caught my eye:

For the minister’s son, Brandon, this is a summer of awakening and acceptance of his homosexuality. For his father, this is a challenge to his roots in the bible.

In many ways, that description reminded me of the movie Rock Haven, which I love (and still wish I could find my copy of). I decided to watch it.

After watching it, I skimmed through the customer reviews on Amazon. This is a movie where it seemed like either reviewers loved it or hated it. In many ways, I agree with the negative reviews, as they all brought up great points. This was an extremely low-budget film. The writing was awful. The story — actually at least two different plots that were only related by the fact that they happened at the same time and in the same place — jumped all over the place. And there were several questions the story left unanswered. (Like whatever happened to the criminal charges that were brought against Lance? You get the sense that they were trumped up, but it’s never shown that the police learn this fact.) Or there was the sudden shift of Captain Dan from being totally opposed to the idea of running a gay cruise (in the first scene or two, he throws around the word “fag” quite liberally) to being entirely in favor of it and defending the idea in front of the people of Palmyra. In fact, I had to go back and verify that the virulent homophobe I remembered from the first few scenes really was Captain Dan, because they seemed like completely different characters.

The best part of the movie — as many of the negative critics noted — was the ten minute “play within,” a play created by some of the movie characters for a college drama class. In the “play within,” Matthew Shepard and Tyler Clementi meet up in the afterlife and tell each other about the events leading up their eventual deaths. It was well acted, moving, and possibly the only truly memorable part of the entire movie. It also really didn’t seem to have any bearing on the rest of the movie, which made it odd in context.

I will admit that despite all its technical flaws, I do have some warm feelings toward this movie. This is partly because its setting is local to me, as the gay cruise that serves as subject matter of one of the plotlines and the setting for the climax of the other takes place on the Erie Canal and starts from the nearby town of Palmyra New York. There’s something about seeing shots of local geography — and having it recognized in the film as such — that’s just touching to me.

Also, the themes of the movie, while poorly executed, are near and dear to my heart. Granted, in many ways, that makes the poor execution of the movie all the more sad. In the long run, I think it would have been better if those who made it would have focused either on the work to get the gay cruise approved or on the story about Brandon’s relationships with his father and his love interest, Lance.

Would I recommend watching it? If you have a couple hours to spare and access to Amazon Prime, sure. Especially if you live in or around Monroe County New York. Especially if you’re also gay.

But if you have access to a movie like Latter Days or Rock Haven (and haven’t already watched it to death), you may want to check one of them out instead.

 

NOM’s “scary study results” are only scary if you lack nuance

Alvin McEwen blogged on Monday about NOM pushing a new Regnerus “study.”  McEwen rightfully points out how dishonest it is for NOM to continue pushing Regnerus’s work despite the fact that he and his work have been heavily discredited over the past several months.

What I find interesting is how NOM presents and interprets this new “study”:

Activists trying to force a redefinition of marriage on America have constantly evaded the question, “what is marriage?” Meanwhile, they have insisted that gays and lesbians simply want access to the same sacred institution of marriage and that they don’t intend to change anything about that institution.

But the survey responses from gay men and lesbians themselves don’t support these claims.

The institution envisioned by those who want to redefine marriage isn’t faithful… it isn’t exclusive… it isn’t permanent… put bluntly, it isn’t marriage.

So basically, Regnerus polls a bunch of people about a number of views and NOM tries to interpret the answers to those views as people’s understanding of what marriage is.  That’s problematic at best.

So let’s take a look at some of those views from the poll.

Viewing pornography is OK.  This one has absolutely nothing to do with marriage.  Some people look at porn.  Others don’t.  Some married people watch porn.  (Some even watch it with their married partner!)  Some don’t.  Some single people watch porn.  Some single people don’t.  Saying that viewing pornography is acceptable doesn’t really reveal much — if anything — about one’s views of marriage.

I’d also like to note that saying that viewing pornography is okay is not that same as saying that viewing pornography is never problematic.  Yes, if viewing pornography is interfering with one’s relationship(s) (by say, changing your attitudes toward the people in your life, especially your romantic partner), that’s a huge problem.  However, that does not mean that viewing pornography in general is a horrible thing.  NOM is effectively trying to use this one statement to cast everything in a black and white argument where there is much more nuance to be considered.

Premarital cohabitation is good.  Again, this statement really doesn’t tell you anything about a person’s views on marriage.  A person may think that living together before marriage is good and important and yet still consider their wedding vows of great importance when the take them.  In fact, some people promote living together before marriage because they take their wedding vows seriously and want to have a sense of how living together will work out before making the final commitment.

No-strings-attached sex is OK.  It seems to me that this one goes off the rails in various ways.  Most notably, I think it demonstrates that NOM is projecting it’s own belief that every person (excepting possibly clergy) should get married onto everyone else.  I don’t believe that every should get married.  What I believe is that LGBT people who want to get married should be allowed to do so.  If LGBT people who prefer not to get married would rather engage in no-strings sex with each other, I say more power to them.  It doesn’t change how I feel about marriage.  NOM fails to understand that the facts that I think I should be allowed to get married and that other people should be allowed to pursue other relationship and sexual choices for themselves are not contradictory.

Also, I’ll note that it’s possible to enjoy no-strings sex while single and still look forward to a more committed relationship in the future.  NOM doesn’t seem to understand that, either.  (Not surprising, as I suspect there’s a lot of ideological overlap between NOM and purity culture, which tends to at least imply that any sex outside of marriage “ruins” you for marriage.)

Couples with kids should stay married except for abuse.  You know what?  I don’t believe in auditing other people’s lives.  I think that individual families need to consider their own circumstances and work out what the best choices for themselves are.  I do not feel qualified nor do I feel I have or deserve the authority to tell them under what circumstances they are allowed to make which choices.  If NOM thinks that this means that I don’t take marriage seriously, then NOM doesn’t know me at all.  I know what my goals are for marriage.  I just realize that (1) those goals may not work for everyone and (2) they ultimately may not work out for me either.  I’m simply open to that possibility.

Marital infidelity is sometimes OK.  Okay, this is a position that I tend not to hold.  I tend to believe that if you’ve made a commitment to be in a monogamous relationship with someone, you should keep that commitment.  If you find you can’t keep that commitment, then you should either seek to renegotiate the relationship or honestly seek to end it.  Yes, I do consider ending a relationship acceptable.  So I will acknowledge that while I see marriage as ideally permanent, I accept the reality that it doesn’t always work out that way in practical terms.  But I don’t see the benefit in denying reality, so I don’t see this as some huge admittance of defeat on my part.

It is OK for 3+ adults to live in a sexual relationship.  I’m totally on board with this one, and unapologetically so.  So no, I don’t see marriage as necessarily exclusive.  I think that’s for the people involved to determine for their own relationship(s).

I just don’t see that as a horrible thing.  Truth be told, I find the idea that Christians — especially Christians who scream about “taking the Bible literally” — being anti-polyamory rather odd, anyway.  The Old Testament is full of men — men deemed Godly by the text and tradition — taking multiple wives (and concubines, no less).  And there are only two explicit prohibitions against polygamy in the Bible, both of which limit the prohibition to specific groups of people.  (That’d be the kings of Israel in t Old Testament and pastors/bishops in the New Testament.)

But setting all that aside, does the fact that I’m unwilling to condemn or criticize people who choose a polyamorous relationship really destroy my own right to enter into a legally recognized monogamous marriage?

Ultimately, it seems to me that NOM’s argument is that they only want to let people into their marriage club if those people are willing to go on policing the choices of others.  I’m not okay with that.

 

Real friends don’t do boundaries?

Fake Friends vs. Real Friends
Fake Friends vs. Real Friends

The above image is something an acquaintance shared on Facebook today.  The text reads as follows:

Fake Friends – Never ask for food..

Real Friends – Are the reason you have NO food.

Fake Friends – Call your parents Mr/Mrs.

Real Friends – Call your parents DAD/MOM.

Fake Friends – Have never sen you cry.

Real Friends – Cry with you.

Fake Friends – Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.

Real Friends – Keep your stuff so long they forget it’s yours.

Fake Friends – Know about you…..

Real Friends – Could write a book about you.

FAKE FRIENDS – Would knock on your front door..

Real Friends – Walk right in and say “I’m home”.

Fake Friends – Will help you when you fall over.

Real Friends – Will jump on top of you and shout “DOG_PILE”.

Fake Friends – Are around for a while..

Real Friends – Are for life.

Fake Friends – Say “Love you.” in a joking manner.

Real Friends – Say “I love you” and they mean it.

Fake Friends – Will read this.

Real Friends – Will steal this.

I get that it’s trying to explain how real friends are people who are close to you, but some of the items in the list just creep me out.  It’s as if the image’s creators think there’s no such thing as boundaries between good friends.

To be frank, no one who is not living with me is entitled to walk into my home (in which case it would be our home) without knocking.  In fact, everyone is encouraged to call me and let me know they’re coming.  I may not be in.  Or I may not feel like having company.  Even my closest friends don’t get to override those times when I need or want my privacy.  (And fortunately, my friends understand this.)

And that whole thing about real friends being the reason one has no food?  That sounds more like a moocher than a friend to me.  Yes, I’m more than happy to share my food (and just about anything else) with my friends.  But I also expect my friends to understand there’s a limit to what I can share.  In the end, someone who eats me out of house and home isn’t a friend.

Same thing with that “keeping your stuff so long that they forget it’s yours” business.  A true friend respects me.  That includes respecting my property.

What this image describes isn’t friendship.  What it describes is a dangerous relationship with someone who doesn’t respect the other person.

 

When “Christian love” erases matters of justice (and the people affected by them)

A friend on Facebook posted a link to this blog post by Sheri Dacon.  Dacon’s position is that all the hullabaloo over the recent Hobby Lobby decision (and similar “controversies”) isn’t important.  She insists that what is important is love, which is about people:

When it comes to love for other human beings, it’s important to remember the human being part. Love is not a formula that can be defined or summed up in textbook fashion. Love involves people. And people are messed up, flawed and difficult to love. Me and you included.

She further says:

Love has much more to do with how you respond to that homeless woman outside of Hobby Lobby the store as you leave with your purchases. It has more to do with how you treat the people who are different than you, perhaps the ones who live a radically different lifestyle. Love has less to do with judging and much more to do with giving and accepting and welcoming and sympathizing.

You know, this all sounds beautiful.  To a degree, I even agree with her.  I have just one tiny, nagging question though.

What about the people the Hobby Lobby decision is hurting?

What about those who work for Hobby Lobby and may need Plan B, can’t afford it, and now can’t rely on their Hobby Lobby provided insurance plan to cover it?

What about the people who work for other corporations who now may refuse to cover all forms of contraception?

What about the people whose employers may even refuse to give them notice that their insurance plan won’t cover contraception?  What happens to them when they find this out the hard way — because they need it and now have no way to afford it?

What about the LGBT people who may face workplace discrimination by religious organizations seeking government contracts?

These are all people who stand to be adversely affected by the Hobby Lobby ruling and other actions and decisions that have stemmed from that decision.  These are people who Dacon seems either to be unaware of or has chosen to forget about.

That’s the problem with many “Love/People over Issues” approaches.  They forget that issues are also about and impact people.

 

Generous Spaciousness: Whose Space is It?

Earlier this week, i received my Kindle edition of Wendy VanderWal-Gritter’s book, Generous Spaciousness:  Responding to Gay Christians in the Church.  I’m about to start chapter 11 (which puts me a little over halfway through the book), and it’s so far been a pretty good read.  I haven’t decided whether I’m going to do a review of the book itself yet.  I’ll have to wait until I get finished with it and mull over if there’s anything that I want to say about it that other potential readers might find helpful when considering whether to pick up a copy.  (Generally speaking, I think people would do well to pick up a copy, but that statement alone is probably not very helpful to most potential readers.)

As I’ve been reading the book a number of thoughts have come up in my mind.  The one I want to blog about today is related to the question I put in the post’s title:  Whose “space” is it?

From reading the book so far and conversations I’ve had with Wendy1 in the past, generous spaciousness is a concept that is meant to be applied on the personal and institutional level.  On the personal level, it is an attitude of welcome and agreement to live in tension and even disagreement with others.  On an institutional level, it is a formal or informal policy that encourages leadership and members to embody that attitude in word and deed.  The latter, which I’m going to focus on, can be more fully seen in Wendy’s recent OnFaith article about how go engage gay Christian who attend one’s church.  Because the title of that article also points to the one nagging problem I see:  Whose church is it?

While I’m not arguing against the idea that churches need to consider how to be more welcoming of and how to minister to LGBT people, people who are questioning their gender and/or sexuality, or people who are simply wondering what God really says about sexuailty, gender, and same-sex sexual relationships, the very notion of “making space” for such people suggests that the church belongs to a different group of people and not those for whom such “space” is being made.

Ultimately, it becomes a question of how welcoming a space can truly be when the space is controlled by others who get to decide how welcoming to make that space.  Such a space still offers a great deal of comfort, safety, and privilege for those who control it and demands more risk and potential discomfort for those form whom “space is being made.”  Those who wish to truly be welcoming of LBGT people, their supporters, and those who are sorting through questions about LGBT lives and faith journeys need to wrestle with that injustice.  How does one make a space truly welcoming and generous to those who do not share “ownership” or control of a space?

Ultimately, I think that Christians also need to consider that rather than or in addition to “making space” for others in their space, they need to be prepared to completely give up their privilege, comfort, sense of control, and “home field advantage” by humbly2 seeking out those they wish to know in their own spaces, where they can feel safe and truly feel on equal ground or even at an advantage.  After all, trying to meet others only on one’s own terms is not an attempt to meet others at all.  Wendy talks about doing just that in her book when she talks about the first year she attended the Gay Christian Network’s annual conference.


1As an aside, I should point out that I have spoken with, met, broken bread with, drunken wine with, and gotten my butt kicked in a game of Stone Age by Wendy.  As such, my interactions with her do affect how I approach and engage with this book and the subject of generous spaciousness in general.

2As anyone who has maintained or or belonged to any space that caters to and seeks to be safe for marginalized people can tell you, there are different ways for privileged people to try entering and behaving in those spaces.  Some of those ways can disrupt such spaces and even make them unsafe.  Wendy exemplifies one of the better ways to go about this when she talks about how she approached seeking entry to her first GCN conference.

The thoughts of a gay witch living in upstate New York.

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