To Pee or Not to Pee…

CAROLINA-sheneman

That is the question.

Okay, Christians, you asked for it:

Take your religious freedom and shove it! This is not freaking about YOU! And don’t give me this crap about how these anti-transgender laws provide a “baseline protection” for your religious freedom. There’s already a baseline protection for Christians in this country: being a Christian in this country. 501(c)3s, anyone? It’s on our money, it’s there every time we insist on political candidates “clarifying their views” on faith, and it pops out whenever anybody talking about anything anywhere in government “God blesses” America, as if it’s some sort of spiritual freaking punctuation mark.

In case you don’t get it (and probably haven’t thought about it), preventing the transgendered from using the restroom of their choice is equivalent to insisting that I, a straight male, use the ladies’ room. A transgender woman is a woman, not a man dressed like one; a transgender man is a man, not a woman in disguise. Simple as that. Kind of like a Christian who discriminates against others just because he can is an asshole, no matter how he dresses.

I am tired of wearing kid gloves on this issue. Religious freedom is not about pooping on others; it’s about freedom from getting pooped on by others. It’s about freedom from people like you. So, for the love of God (literally), keep your pooping to yourself. In the restroom of your choice. AS IT SHOULD BE!!!

I Now Pronounce You…

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Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.

– The Impressive Clergyman

If you glance at the sidebar of my blog, you’ll notice my “Credentials of Ministry.” A word on that…

Way, way, way back in 2003, before I absconded with an open(er) mind, the church I was working at in Missouri licensed me to “marry and bury,” as the saying goes. Between then and my departure from the ministry, I performed two extremely Christian weddings (cord of three strands, Proverbs 31 woman, husbands love/wives submit, and all that).

Then, having packed my clerical bags, I assumed that was all in the past…

…Until a friend asked me, quite recently, if I would be interested in conducting a secular wedding ceremony for his dad. To my surprise, I found myself actually considering it. And in one week and change, I will be doing it.

However, being unsure as to the continued validity of that first license, I decided to update my status by applying for ordination to the Universal Life Church, a process which took about three minutes and which is accepted, with certain exceptions, in most of the fifty states.

So, now, have license, will travel.

The online approach is unlike me. On one level, I feel like I just shopped for a term paper. On another, though, this feels…important. Formality doesn’t carry as much weight with me now as when I was “Pastor Vance”; after almost seven years of what our families would call “Godless marriage,” I find that two strands, tightly woven, don’t really need a third. If the online ordination offered by the ULC allows me legally to bring  two new strands together, then it’s good enough for me.

It feels important because there are people, like me, who believe that the parties involved are more significant than whatever religious legitimation might be brought to bear on the proceedings. A strong commitment between loving individuals, whatever their gender, trumps commitment to any particular theological or philosophical system. The latter is neither necessary nor sufficient to a long and happy marriage, and sometimes only gets in the way.

Also, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, it seems to me that someone needs to stand for the right–legalized, perhaps, but still not guaranteed–of all people to build a relationship with the person of their choice. I was once told that, if a same-sex couple looks hard enough, they’re sure to find a pastor willing to marry them. To which I reply: No one should have to “look hard” for permission to celebrate their desire for commitment, as if their love were any less valid than anyone else’s. So, look no further: here I am.

This is a feeble attempt to express my feelings on this matter. And I’m definitely not the A-Team. But if you’re looking for affirmation rather than approval; if you’re more interested in your commitment to one another than commitment to any particular faith; if the only legitimation you need is your love for each other; if any of this applies to you, then I’m your guy.

Now…let us eat cake!!!

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…

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

– Justice Anthony M. Kennedy