Confessions of a Former Conservative is one of my favorite blogs, as he critiques, challenges, and denounces some of the more spiteful things said by fundamentalist and other ultra-conservative Christians online. One of the blogs he regularly critiques is written by a woman named Gerie. He recently posted a critique on her condemnation of Christians who are pro-gay and reaffirmed her own certainty that being gay is a sin. As she quoted the Romans 1 "clobber passage," I offered the following commentary on Former Conservative's post:
You know what? That particular passage pisses me off. You know why? Because it suggests that the cause of homosexuality is idolatry. Well, guess what? I grew up a good little Christian. i said the sinner's prayer and meant it. I did everything I was supposed to. And I still turned out gay. I tried to convince myself it was a phase. I stayed gay. I prayed to God and begged with Him to turn me straight. I'm still gay.Apparently, Gerie read my statement, because it's a fairly that her Monday post is a direct response to what I said. As I read it, I was both amused and disgusted. I was amused because I found many of the things Gerie said in response to my comment to be quite predictable. I was disgusted for the same reasons. Gerie's response is a non-response. A response actually engages with what was said and seeks dialogue. Gerie's lengthy missive makes no such attempt. Instead, it is little more than a reiteration of her position and an attempt to make my own personal narrative fit into her preconceived ideas on the topic.
So you know what? Fuck Romans 1 (or at least Gerie's interpretation of it.) Because I did everything I was supposed to and I still ended up fucking gay. So obviously, either Romans 1 is bullshit or Gerie's interpretation of it is.
And I'm not the only person who had that experience. There's at least one website dedicated to people who did everything right and even tried to overcome their gayness and yet remained gay.
I understand that Gerie's the type that will continue to believe her whacked-out interpretation over reality, but come on. She can at least acknowledge that she's a reality-denier. It'd be the honest thing to do, and given how important the truth (supposedly) is to her.....
Gerie says the following of me and my comment in the introduction to her post:
But this heartfelt comment that I read, stood out from the others and I am sure, touched the heart of God. I know this because from the time I read it, the Lord had me on my knees, praying and interceding with many tears for this person. Who I don't know personally and have never met, but for a little while, as I prayed for him, I could feel the pain in his heart, and the inner conflict and turmoil that sin has caused in his life.To be frank, I find the above statements patronizing and sanctimonious. Gerie claims that my post had her in tears and she had this great emotional experience over me. However, note that her response is simply to pray and "know what I'm feeling." And yet she did not make any attempt to contact me. She did not join the open conversation on Former Conservative's blog. She did not try to find my email address in order to contact me directly. Instead, she decided to write a blog post about me (she couldn't even be bothered to address her comments to me) on a blog that doesn't allow comments.
These are not the actions of someone who wants dialogue. I will go so far as to say that this is not someone who even cares, despite her claims to the contrary. A person who cares about someone seeks to engage in conversation with that other person. Gerie is simply having another self-aggrandizing moment of (faux) piety.
I also find it curious that based on a single, 225-word (not counting the quoted passage) comment , Gerie is sure that she knows exactly what I am feeling and why. If Gerie thinks that such a short message can give her a complete insight into my numerous and complex feelings on the topic of my sexual, romantic, and emotional feelings and the fact that I was brought up to think those things made me evil (a position I have since long rejected both with good reason and for the better), she is sorely mistaken. And there's certainly no inner conflict. I've long made peace with my feelings and the Divine. So any "inner conflict" Gerie is sensing is an invention of her own imagination.
Gerie takes a pause in her discussion to offer the following aside to parents, which I find very telling:
Parents, take the time to talk to your children and pay attention to what's going on inside of their hearts. I am learning that Satan attacks our children mercilessly simply because he can get away with it and he is never suspected.I bolded the part that I find most interesting in a most disturbing way. Reread that and let it sink in. According to Gerie, Satan is allowed to attack children. By whom? Well, by Gerie's god, of course! Again, take a moment for that to really sink in. Gerie's god allows Satan to attack children. He does nothing to stop it. What's worse, if Satan's attacks on children works, Gerie's god sends those children to eternal torment as a punishment for not standing up to those attacks.
Am I the only one that thinks that makes Gerie's god a complete fucking bastard?
I'll also note that ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy "experts" have spewed all this "parents be careful or your children could go stray" stuff before. Some of the family members of former ex-gays will gladly tell you that it places an unbearable sense of guilt on them. Mom and Dad don't need any more shaming over my sexual, romantic, and emotional feelings than I do.
For instance whether a child accepts the belief that they are gay or not, and believing they were made that way or were born that way, because the feelings were there as far back as they can remember.People don't believe they're gay. People believe that there's a god who hears their prayers. People believe that humans are basically good. People believe that buying lotto tickets from the middle of the row increases their chances of winning. These are all intellectual ideas with a great deal of doubt, uncertainty, and unverifiability.
Romantic and sexual attractions are too concrete and too visceral to be considered mere belief. The boy who is left feeling cold at the thought of kissing Judy or Lilly, but whose heart flutters at the thought of kissing Ken or Roger has more than a "belief" that he is guy. The young girl who wakes up from her fifth dream about making out with a girl all sweaty and aroused has more than a "belief" that she is gay.
Sexual orientation is about feelings and attractions. These things are inherently involuntary. People don't plan to feel a certain way, and emotions tend to happen on their own. If those feelings tend to be towards members of the same sex and of a romantic and sexual nature, that person is gay. There's no "belief" involved.
The belief that a person is born gay is correctly identified as a belief. However, it is a belief that is based in a great deal of evidence and common sense. There has been a great deal of research that has demonstrated a high level of certainty that sexual orientation is biologically determined and most likely a matter of genetics combined with pre-natal conditions. Of course, this brings me to the next statement made by Gerie:
Common sense tells us that if God will judge homosexuality as sin that He would never intentionally plant those desires in our hearts, but that the source of those feeling had to originate from somewhere else.
Gerie is correct about what common sense tells us. However, I will argue that her conclusion is counter-intuitive and completely works the reasoning in the wrong direction.
You see, all the research and the experiences of actual gay people suggests very strongly -- to those who value empirical data above blindly following dogma -- that all those feelings and desires are inborn. As such, the reasonable conclusion is that no loving god would "make" us gay and then condemn us, so no loving god would be condemn those who are gay.
Instead, Gerie chooses to assume -- based on nothing other than a dogmatic acceptance of a "literal interpretation" of certain clobber passages that theologians have challenged repeatedly -- that God hates homosexuality. So instead of relying on scientific research and the experiences of countless gay people, she decides there must be another explanation for gayness. As I said in my original comment, Gerie is engaging in reality-denial here.
Of course, Gerie's explanation is still problematic. Her solution is to say that Satan gave people those feelings, even at a very young age. But as I noted earlier, Gerie's god still had to allow Satan to do this. I do not accept that a loving god would condemn people to eternal damnation for choosing to cope with the feelings He allowed Satan to give them the best way they know how any more than he'd condemn them if He had given those same people those same feelings Himself.
Gerie's god simply makes no sense to me unless that I accept that He stands for some things I consider morally abhorrent. If I accept that, then I have no desire to have anything to do with such a god.
After going on about Satan's evil ways of getting people to believe various things and God's abusive ways of sending people to eternal torment for falling for Satan's tricks, Gerie hits upon a rather ironic statement about the hard questions:
Never go to your Pastor or any man with the hard questions that he couldn't possibly know the answer to, go to God.I find this ironic because Gerie has effectively condemned herself. If you read through the post I'm critiquing and the rest of your blog, you will find that Gerie makes a regular practice of "answering the hard questions" herself. Does this mean that secretly, Gerie believes that she is God? It would certainly explain a number of things.
I'm sure that Gerie would defend herself by saying that she's going to the Bible and giving not her own answers, but God's answers. The problem with this claim, however, is that this is the same claim that just about every pastor I know would make (except that many pastors I know would honestly add that it's their understanding of God's answers "as it stands now" and that it may be inaccurate). There's nothing that actually demonstrates that Gerie has any more authority to make that claim than they do.
At any rate, Gerie suggests that the correct thing to do is to ultimately go to God with the hard questions:
So we should always try to understand things from Gods perspective. Get on your knees and go to God and ask for wisdom and understanding. Be persistent and never give up. We want everything to happen overnight and can I tell you that it just doesn't work that way. Not with the things that matter.This is sound advice, except that it assumes that people like me -- or people who disagree with Gerie's understanding of a wrathful god hell-bent on doing horrible things to people He disapproves of for reasons he has a hand in -- haven't done this already. If Gerie doesn't think I and tohers sought god earnestly and painfully, then her understanding of me is fatally flawed. To be blunt, she has no understanding of me. As I mentioned before, she is merely making assumptions about me and those like me to make our narratives fit her preconceived notions. Gerie is engaging in more reality-denial.
As for the comment that God doesn't answer questions over night, I will simply comment that I waited on God for eight years for an answer and only came to the answer I did when it nearly destroyed me. Between accepting that I'm gay and slitting my wrists -- something I seriously considered for over thirty minutes and in such detail that I can still picture the curve of the blade, the grain of the wood, and the exact color of the brass rivets of the knife I was going to use -- I decided that any truly Divine being would rather see me accept my feelings.
If Gerie and her god doesn't understand that...well I'd say my opinion of them would go down, but I'm not sure that's possible at this point.
Next, Gerie moves into one of her favorite subjects: how it's important to fear her god. Now quite frankly, considering all the horrible things Gerie's god allegedly does, I'd be apt to fear him if I believed in him at all, too. That's a god who should be feared, not loved.
To support her position, Gerie quotes Luke 12:5:
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!So there you have it. Even Jesus says we should fear god. But maybe we should see what Jesus had to say in the verses that bracket that one.
4 "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! 6 "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?[a] And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.So basically, Jesus isn't saying "fear God" so much as he's saying "if you're going to fear anyone, it should be God, but you shouldn't even fear him." This actually goes along with what the apostle John said about love casting out fear.
I'm going to jump over the section where Gerie goes on at length about how for heaven to work, God has to have perfect obedience in order. That in itself would make a great blog post. However, for now, I'm simply going to suggest that reading this part of Gerie's post about how God needs to be a tyrant for everybody's own good with Bob Altemyer's book "The Authoritarians" in mind.
The thing I will note, however, is that Gerie makes a switch in her argument about morality at this point. Up to this point, she has been calling for blind obedience to God's commands (or Gerie's interpretation of them) simply because He's God and if you don't, He'll torment you forever and ever. Now she's trying to claim that God only does this because it's the only way to keep things going smoothly, as if suddenly keeping things going smoothly is now the real reason for morality rather than avoiding God's wrath. Of course, she offers no proof that (her interpretation of) God's commands will actually make things go smoothly, so this comes off more like an abusive father who is claiming that beating his child until limbs break or a lung gets punctured is "for their own good." Both arguments are just as unsubstantiated.
Of course, it also implies a real flaw with Gerie's god. If the only way that God can make things to work is to give commands from on high and torment those who disobey, he's a terrible God. Hell, he's worse than some of the worst human leaders to have ever walked. If Gerie's god has no way of motivating people to follow him, then he needs to go back to god/management school.
Gerie eventually gets back to me and my comment, offering this rather condescending analysis:
The comment that I read, said that he did everything right, and he is still gay. He said the sinners prayer and begged God to take away his gay tendencies. What we have to understand is that saying the "sinners prayer" won't save anybody, despite what we have been taught by church people. And understand that all of your sinful desires don't go away automatically once you are saved.You know, I'm always amused by the number of conservative Christians who claim to know my heart. In this case, Gerie doubts the sincerity of my prayer of repentance. Other people simply think I didn't pray hard enough, have enough faith in God, or didn't give God enough time. I'd like to know what Divine Power these people think they possess to know what I did, where my heart was, or what I was really thinking for my childhood, teenage years, and even my early twenties.
I could give a lengthy story about my life, my choices, and my pains. I could talk about the horror the first time I woke up from a wet dream, horrified that the dream had involved not a girl, but a male classmate. I can talk about the nights I laid in bed for several minutes to an hour praying for forgiveness over every little perceived sin -- and things I wasn't sure really was a sin but asked for forgiveness for "just in case." I could talk about the time I spent in church praying, worshiping, and leading others in the same. I could talk about the time I spent in high school and college being just as obnoxiously "righteous" as Gerie.
But I won't, because I don't have to explain myself to Gerie. I don't have to explain myself to anyone. And i certainly won't bother trying to explain myself to someone who doesn't have the decency to ask me rather than just go off making whatever assumptions about me will prop up her preconceived notions. I deserve more respect than that and I have more respect for myself than that.
Gerie goes on to say the following:
What saves us is that after we turn to Jesus with a sorrow for the condition we have allowed ourselves to get into, that we firmly determine in our heart that we will never commit another sin.The problem with this is that Gerie is now trying to blame the person for being gay. However, Gerie has already conceded that someone else -- she believes it's Satan -- has planted these feelings in gay people. So basically, Gerie's trying to say that it's both not gay people's fault for being gay and is their fault. Gerie has just contradicted herself at this point, and it becomes apparent to me that Gerie will say whatever she has to in order to defend her position, even if it means contradicting herself. Logic, consistency, and reality be damned.
Gerie goes on to tell me (oh, it appears she does address me in the second person after all -- after a huge wall of text) that while my feelings may really, they are a lie. You know, while I understand that feelings are not always an accurate depiction of reality -- like I how I occasionally feel that no one loves me despite the fact that there are dozens of people who love me -- this idea of "feelings as a lie" as Gerie presents it makes no sense.
Being gay is all about feelings. If you have certain feelings towards members of the same sex and only members of the same sex, you are gay. That's the very definition of the word gay. So to acknowledge that I really have those exist and yet deny that I'm gay is a contradictions -- or an attempt to redefine what it means to be gay. I'm afraid Gerie will lose that battle every time.
Next, Gerie goes on to demonstrate her complete lack of comprehension of homosexuality:
Stop right now, believing in your heart that you are gay, its a lie! You are caught in a trap by believing the lie. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. Look at yourself. You are a MAN! You are not a woman. God Himself created you and He made you a man!In my thirty-seven years of life, I have never doubted I am a man. I have never thought of myself as a woman. Gerie seems to be conflating being trans* with being gay or bi. They are not the same thing. It is perfectly possible to see oneself as a man and still prefer the romantic and sexual companionship of another man.
Again, Gerie's inability to understand what it actually means to be gay and her willingness to uphold her incorrect assumptions about what it means to be gay rather than learning from the narratives of actual gay people shows a callousness and lack of caring in her that is inexcusable. Someone who will not even listen to what I have to say and consider my narrative as it is rather than what they want it to be is not someone who deserves my ear or my respect.
I'm going to end my commentary here, as I believe I've said everything that needs to be said. The rest of Gerie's post is a combination of exhortations to fight (displaying assumptions about what I have and haven't done and why I changed my point of view), making faulty analogies between other (alleged) sins that fail for reasons I can't be bothered to go into right now (hey, I'm allowed to get tired, and I've been working on this post for over two hours now), and threatening me with hell if I don't. That last makes her closing comment about hoping that she'll meet me some day (but making no real effort to enter into real dialogue or relationship with me at the present) all the more ludicrous.
 If you click my linked name next to the note on FC's blog, it takes you to my main site. On that page is a link to send me an email address. Apparently, clicking through two links to find my email address is too much effort for Gerie.
 I suspect she'd claim that God let her feel my pain, as I get the impression that Gerie is a Pentecostal/charismatic Christian as well. However, as I'll demonstrate as I continue through her post, she's either wrong or God sent her a "distorted picture."
 I cannot say whether this is universal or even common, but personally, I was almost more disturbed by my lack of attraction to girls as I was the presence of feelings for boys. I vividly remember laying in bed realizing that the thought of kissing a particular girl (one I had convinced myself I had feelings for) left me feeling cold and uncomfortable, and wondering, "What the hell is wrong with me????"
 And now we're back to one of my points in Monday's post.
 What's really messed up is that I was more disturbed that the sexual activity (non-penetrative, by the way) in the dream was with another man rather than the fact that it was non-consensual on my part.
 Granted, I have occasionally wondered what it would be like to be a woman. However, that is not the same as thinking that I am a woman or want to be one.
 Though I grant you that my understanding of what it means to be a man is far more fluid and far less riddled with stereotypes than Gerie's.