Religiocracy

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Your Catholic blues, your convent shoes,
Your stick-on tattoos now they’re making the news
Your holy war, your northern star
Your sermon on the mount from the boot of your car.
Please, please, please
Get up off your knees.

– U2

It’s not me; it’s the Bible.

I have had just about enough of the line of reasoning that, after admitting freely that same-sex marriage represents harm neither to the social fabric or the institution of marriage, still insists that same-sex relationships must be opposed, because scripture says so. Or the Vatican. Or whatever.

When I ask for your position on a given issue, I’m not looking for a quote from the catechism, or the Pauline letters, or the Baptist Faith and Message. I’m asking for your position. If you must resort to the aforementioned sources, then I would humbly suggest that in reality you have no position. You may have subscribed to someone else’s, but you don’t really have one of your own.

Furthermore, there is something fundamentally wrong with a religion that is, as the old cliché goes, so heavenly-minded that it is no earthly good. With a God who makes his bones by setting people against each other instead of making them one. Anybody can promise pie in the sky by and by; it takes a real “person” to effect change for the better in the lives of individuals right here and now. With the former, there is no burden of proof; with the latter, proof is the burden.

There is something even more fundamentally wrong with a religion that preaches love while practicing discrimination in the name of love. This is the “milk” of scripture on which we’re raised: we must ensure inequality now in order to guarantee equality in heaven. We must forsake the self-evident present to ensure the all but imaginary future. Not to put too fine a point on it, but what the Hell kind of sense does that make?

No less an historical figure than Augustine himself embodied perfectly the double standard upon which this approach to “freedom” is based: when we are persecuted by them, persecution is evil, but when we, given the upper hand, persecute them back, it is the essence of Christian charity.

If, therefore, we wish either to declare or to recognize the truth, there is a persecution of unrighteousness, which the impious inflict upon the Church of Christ; and there is a righteous persecution, which the Church of Christ inflicts upon the impious….Moreover, she persecutes in the spirit of love, they in the spirit of wrath; she that she may correct, they that they may overthrow; she that she may recall from error, they that they may drive headlong into error (The Correction of the Donatists).

In this spirit of self-important benevolence, we greet the world. Give us freedom, that we might give you less.

On the one hand, we follow a teacher who promises life in abundance (not then; now), while on the other we insist on a hermeneutics that takes it away. We are living a “faith” that subsists on inequality and division, in the hopes that one day, way beyond the blue, when the roll is called up yonder, we’ll still be around to care.

Why?

Because we believe. Or so we’re told…

Coming Out

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I have decided that it’s time for me to come out of the closet. I have been living in denial, dissimulation, and doubt for far too long, and I’m done. It’s time to be honest, with myself and with you. It’s time to embrace who I am and where I’m going, instead of letting others define me for me. It’s time I stood up and stated openly my real identity, without shame, without compromise, without guilt, without fear. It’s time for me to lay my cards on the table and be myself.

I am straight. Mom, Dad, I’m sorry, but I just can’t fight it any longer. I’m straight. All those years in the theater notwithstanding, I am straight. I apologize sincerely to all those I may shock with this revelation, but I have to stand up for who I am. I am a heterosexual. I love women. Well, woman, anyway. My wife. I tried to overcome this attraction, I tried to swallow the urge to marry a person of the opposite sex, but in the end, I had to be who I am. I am a straight, straight man.

There! I said it! It’s done.

And it’s ridiculous.

The idea that anyone should have to “confess” their sexual orientation to the world, as if asking permission to be who they are, is always ridiculous, no matter who the person, no matter what that orientation. If you found my version even slightly superfluous, possibly a bit redundant even, then the same should apply across the board, to all people, everywhere. We are who we are, and the only way that becomes perverted is when we’re forced (or force others) to pretend that we’re not. As Gay Activists Alliance leader Marty Robinson wrote in 1971, “the closet is built in fear, not shame.” And we shove people into it every day.

But (for those of you who panicked when you read the first paragraph of this post), here’s my real “confession”: I love gay men. I also love lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered. I am both amused and horrified by those who suggest that I have a choice in the matter. (Or, for that matter, that they do.) I love the fact that I have never met a homosexual who has tried to persuade me that I won’t be truly happy until I become one, too. I have a dear friend who, with his partner (his husband, actually, although they’re not legally entitled to use the term where they live), is preparing to adopt a child, and I love the fact that a man faced with such social revulsion is still capable of giving that much love. I love that they love, and I love that they love in spite of all the people trying to tell them that love is good…except for theirs.

So I’m out, I’m proud, and I refuse to be forced back in.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin,” you tell me. Don’t worry. I do. It’s just not the “sin” you’re thinking of…