Thursday, March 09, 2006

On Gay Pride

Preface from the Blogger: this is a long post, but there was no way to say what I needed to say in any shorter form. I won't write anything over the weekend, so that if you're interested you can have time to read this at your leisure. The Last Debate will return next week.

*****

Consider the work of God: for who can make straight what He has made crooked?

Ecclesiastes 7:13

*****

On the day I realized I was gay, I threw up.

I was not an effeminate child, but I was different. I was chubby, I preferred books to sports, and I was extremely introverted. I didn’t relate well to other kids, and I only had one friend, faithful little Paul, who didn’t seem to mind the way I mercilessly bossed him around.

I was always teased. “Gayrod” was the usual epithet. I had to ask my mother what it meant. The kids at school liked to play a little game they called “smear the queer,” in which they would suddenly rush and tackle some unsuspecting unpopular kid. It was often me. In the polite suburbs of Portland, young kids just didn’t use dirty language. If you wanted to insult someone or something, you said he/she/it was “gay.” That was the derogatory adjective of choice. That was the worst thing you could say about someone.

Once I was dragged backwards through a pile of dogshit on the playground.

Puberty did me a huge favor: I entered seventh grade at 4’11” and 131 pounds. I left it at 5’6” and 116 pounds, and spent the summer before eighth grade two hours away from home at a camp in Eugene, Oregon, where there wasn’t a single other student from my school. I had a clean slate, and miraculously I fell in with the popular crowd.

They taught me all the stuff I had missed out on: it was like a cram session in popularity. I learned about popular music (I’d always listened to classical), I used hairspray and deodorant for the first time, and they sent me back to my mother at the end of the summer with a list of acceptable clothing labels: Bugle Boy, Generra, Guess, Swatch. I returned to school in the fall tall, skinny, with trendy long hair and a brand new wardrobe. Suddenly I was popular at home, too, sitting at the good table at lunch, going to the good parties on weekends.

My friends and I at camp had been inseparable. We did everything together. We often stayed up late talking in one person’s room and would all fall asleep together. We ate every meal together. And, we usually ended up showering in the locker room at the same time.

Sexually, I was a very innocent teenager. Though my parents had explained the birds and the bees to me (actually, they gave me a book and left it at that), I didn’t really understand much of the banter my friends tossed around. I thought a “blowjob” literally meant a girl blew air on your private parts, and that didn’t really sound all that exciting to me. (It never occurred to me that men could do it to each other.) I thought “buttfucking” was two people literally rubbing their butts together in a humping motion; I didn’t really see the appeal in that, either. (When it was explained to me, I nearly fainted from shock.)

That’s when my problems started. I would wake up in the middle of the night after having a dream – you know, one of those dreams that teenage boys get? – and realize I’d been dreaming about my friends. And it happened with my new friends in the popular crowd at school, too, who were beginning to experiment sexually. My best friend asked me if I’d ever masturbated, which I hadn’t. He explained to me how to do it, and recommended I use Vaseline. When I got home, I intended to think about girls, but ended up being more aroused by the thought of Matt smearing himself with jelly and the memories of my naked friends back at camp.

I felt guilty about all this, of course. I was very religious, attending services and Sunday school at a nearby evangelical Lutheran church every week – I was also a member of the handbell choir. Still, a few months went by before the concrete realization about my situation hit me with the force of a thunderbolt: I didn’t care about girls. Sexually, I was only interested in boys. Period. End of story. It was a sudden, awful flash of enlightenment: I ran to the bathroom and vomited repeatedly.

I sure as hell didn’t tell anyone. At school I was careful to comment about which girls I liked and I made a point of calling guys we didn’t like “fags.” (This is why all gay men suspect all rabid homophobes of being gay: we all tried that strategy.) Then I would race home after school and take out the Vaseline and massage my anxiety away with memories of stolen glimpses in the locker room. Afterward I would pray. I apologized regularly to God; I was sorry, I knew it was wrong, I begged for forgiveness, and promised to change. I asked for His help probably a thousand times a day. I did not want to be gay.

Three years later, the Lord answered my prayer.

Meantime, I had stopped going to church. I never gave up my faith, and while there was no specific incident, gradually I came to the realization that I was not welcome at my church: I felt like a fraud, a liar, an evil sinner in the midst of all these righteous people. I could not take the guilt anymore. Still, I prayed every day for help and guidance with my problem.

The stress meant I was having trouble sleeping, and a therapist I was seeing suggested that I take a walk at night. So every night I would disappear for an hour or so before bed, and walk around my quiet suburban neighborhood in the dark and talk to God. It was always the same: help me, God. Please, I’m sorry, God. Please. I want to be a good Christian. I don’t want to go to hell. I don’t want this, but I don’t feel I can help it.

The harder I tried, the harder I prayed, the more intense my same-sex attractions grew. Equally intense were my frequent fantasies about suicide. My dad had a couple of rifles in the closet. I knew where the bullets were. I used to go into the kitchen and take out the long, sharp knives and stare at them. And finally, I swallowed a bottle of extra-strength Tylenol.

I was living with my father at the time. My father the southern Baptist. My father who, upon seeing that I was reading The Scarlet Letter for school, commented, “They should make all homosexuals wear a big pink Q.” After I took the pills I panicked and called my mother, who came and picked me up in the middle of the night and took me to the hospital, leaving my bewildered father to wonder what was going on. When he showed up at the emergency room, frantic, his eyes brimming with tears, I refused to see him.

It was a year before I spoke to him again.

During that time, something happened I did not expect. I fell in love.

It was not requited; having endured a childhood similar to mine, my friend was not ready to admit that the bullies who used to beat him up after school had been right all along: he was a homo. Nothing physical ever happened between us, and that was the most important part of this life-saving lesson. I learned that homosexuality is not about sex. It’s about love. My feelings for him were so intense, so strong and, I swear, pure. Sixteen years later, I’m still waiting to feel that again. But the knowledge that it was even possible saved me.

I knew I did not choose to be gay. I felt and continue to feel it’s not something I have control over, any more than I could change the color of my eyes or grow to be eight feet tall by praying hard enough. I was born this way; why, I do not know.

I do know this: on Ash Wednesday, the prayer that opens the traditional Anglican rites begins, “Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made.” God does not hate fags.

Some people ask why we need “Gay Pride” since, after all, they like to point out, there’s no corresponding “Hetero Pride” celebration. Others, like a frequent contributor to the comments section on this blog, suggest that “Gay Pride” is merely “Anal Sex Pride.”

Ignoring for the moment that that doesn’t explain lesbian participation; ignoring for the moment that not all gay men have anal sex; ignoring for the moment that there are celibate gay people; ignoring for the moment that a LOT of heterosexuals practice and enjoy anal sex, I’ll tell you why we need “Gay Pride.”

I didn’t write this story for sympathy. My story is not remotely unusual. In fact, I’m one of the lucky ones. I had it easy. I mean that. For each gay person like me who didn’t have the guts to finish their suicide, there is one who did. I got smeared with dogshit, got called names, and was beaten up in the locker room in junior high; Matthew Shephard was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die.

We celebrate Gay Pride because we made it. We passed through the gantlet of torment that the heterosexual majority makes of our childhoods. Maybe a little bruised, maybe a little scarred, but alive. We escaped from the web of lies spun for us, lies that tell us there is something fundamentally wrong with us, that we are to blame for our own intrinsic qualities. We’re even sometimes blamed for hurricanes and failed heterosexual marriages. We’re taught that we are evil in the sight of God, that our only chance for redemption is a life spent rejecting the thing we want most, the thing that everyone else has: intimate companionship.

We celebrate Gay Pride because when millions of people around the world stand up and show they are not afraid of who they are, that they are happy, that they are healthy, that they are in love – and increasingly, when heterosexuals join us in these marches in solidarity – we make the world a safer place for ourselves and, hopefully, we spare gay kids the hell that we have endured for countless generations.

97 comments:

SailRacer said...

Andy, that is the best argument yet I've heard for pride. Perhaps my perception of pride stems from my polar opposite experience from yours. Difficult in other ways I suppose. I avoid pride at all costs. Never been. Maybe I do so because I've spent my life trying to not fit in to any sexual stereotype. Maybe I agree that for some it is just another circuit party. I dunno. Yet, you are compelling in your story my friend, not just how you tell it. For you, I will raise my glass on pride.

chiron said...

Hi Andy, great post. My experience differed only in the details. I grew up in a Sundown Town of southern Illinois during the 70s and 80s. Sundown towns are infamous for having had written ordinances banning blacks after dark and city sirens or bells that they rang before dusk to signal blacks to leave work and exit the city limits - or else. Eventually, black people left rural southern Illinois where they were unwanted and unprotected and moved to the cities: Decatur, East St. Louis, and Chicago. This is the untold story of the great northern migration - that it was partially the result of this form of ethnic cleansing. This applied unofficially to queers too. Queers who could leave did. Those who were impoverished remained, and those who were unfortunate - mentally or physically handicapped or otherwise dependent - remained. The most visible or the most unlucky became the town's pariahs. Pariahs' names were made famous by local folklore. <<< Now...as I relate the following stories, keep in mind that the blackest comedy could never invent this...it's X-treme oblivion. >>> So back to 1972 in my hometown. Young toddlers like myself learned the names of our town's pariah as synonymous of course with queer, but also with retarded, and this name functioned as ridicule among us. So one local mentally handicapped man was the first homosexual I ever learned of, and his name persisted in children's dialogue nearly into our teens as the worst imaginable insult. As for myself at age nine, I began to enter a long slow state of perpetual panic induced by any sign that I myself might be gay [there were a few signs]. When I was ten, the hometown media reported a murder among "homosexuals." Some men, engaging in what was reported as an "initiation ritual or ceremony," murdered another man in an abandoned house on Organ Street in Eldorado, Illinois. A man died in the [whatever-it-was-they-were-doing] and, in a panic, or as a cold-blooded act of sadism [I don't know why] the other men left him dead, or dying and alone, tied to a chair in that abandoned house to be discovered by neighbors. This crime rightfully horrified the entire population but of course became the new face for homosexuality in my home town. Again, it was woven into folklore. Songs about the murder surfaced to the tune of Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel..."I get so lonely baby / I get so lonely I could die / Down at the edge of Organ Street in Homo Hotel." So there I am 10 years old and the only "out gays" presented to me are pariahs, murderers, or their victims. Near the same time, my older brother and sister realize that I'm gay before I do [or before I'm ready to know] and call me queer and fairy in our own home in the most derogatory and demeaning ways they can muster. Outside the home, my situation was not unlike yours. I muddled through depression and confusion. Things improved in high school. Some people were good friends to me. I did survive the panic and confusion. I'm here today in Chicago having a great life. And this is the source of my pride too. Thanks Andy.

Jade said...

I think what kills me the most about your post is that I realize now how totally oblivious I was to what was going on. Of course, in jr. high I had a crush on you in Ashland, then you headed into high school a year ahead of me. Years later,just as I was mustering up enough courage to tell you about it... well....
specifically, the "crew" was hanging out at someone's house and you commented about your dad assuming one of the guys there was your gay lover. I turned to Tasha and said "why would his dad think that? Andy's not gay!"
Months, we'd been hanging out, and I had no clue. The look on Tasha's face... priceless.
What I remember most about you is how wonderful you were to watch on stage, and what a great time it was to hang out with you. The majority of people we went to school with sucked ass (not in a good way) and I'm glad you made it through to the other side. My greatest fear, having moved to a "nice, quiet, suburban neighborhood" is that my daughter will grow up surrounded by ignorant people, and I hope that as a parent I can get involved with my child's school and help prevent the kind of torment you had to endure.

DJRainDog said...

I'll share my reaction to this with you later, but for now, let me merely say that I'm proud to know you, too, Andy. *hugs*

Jeff said...

A-fucking-men.

Jere said...

That is a wonderful piece of writing. Thanks!

Robert Bayn said...

I'm probably in the minority as far as the gay community goes, because i really think Gay Pride Parades hurt the gay community, i think it's hard for the Straight world to ever take us seriously for Marriage and adoption, if we are still acting like sex craze juveniles.

kr pdx said...

hey u
sigh
The most telling description you ever told me was that you couldn't imagine kissing a face without wiskers.
(OHHHHH! Right ... got it.)
I can only be glad that I glared at (and sometimes yelled at) boys who called each other those names at my gradeschool--and since I was (believe it or not) the biggest crush-object in my class, sometimes it did some good. Teachers and parents were on them about it, too--at my Catholic school (same town). I didn't know what the names meant, but it was obvious they were supposed to mean "sub-human."
(We were otherwise abusive--but at least not so much that way.)

Steve S said...

First timer here. I like what you wrote. We do need gay pride, but I believe that we would make better progress with marches instead of parades.

I think that a lot of the condemnation we get for our parades are for the actions of a few flamboyant costumes and while it's wrong to condemn us overall for that, it is a parade after all and flamboyancy is what parades, any parades, are about. We should have pride at parades but we should have marches too, to show we are serious as well as proud.

One thing to remember is that the Right might condemn us for our parades, but if we had marches, we would be condemned for being too militant, so we cannot worry about what the Right says, because they will always have something to say.

Marches (ala Martin Luther King marches) are the best way to show pride in my opinion, it shows you care enough about yourself and your liberties to want to take a stand. And boy, does our community need that right now.

little-cicero said...

This may be the best post that you have ever written Andy, and you should waste no time in adding it to your "Best of Andy" section on the sidebar.

It did strike me in your absolutely touching story that you were so often ridiculed and outcast socially as a child. That is indeed one of the psychological factors to which I allude in pondering the reasons for homosexuality (not explaining, exploring).

That being said, I too have had an isolated childhood, with very few friends and a great deal of trouble identifying with peers, though I never went through a "popular phase", and have always stuck to buying clothes from K-Mart. Because of this, and the fact that I have never been able to approach girls, I have experienced confusion in my life, but I have always been attracted to women. While my childhood was not nearly as torrential as yours, the microcosmic paralells between our childhoods seems to give some validity to the concept of psychological factors playing even a primary role in homosexual development. Childhood being the most critical period of psychological development next to infancy in our lives (and as some Freudians indicate, the most critical psychosexual period of development), it would make sense that, while your adolescence was smooth sailing, it was the torrential childhood that played such a powerful role.

I am not saying that you are mentally ill in any way, nor that your chose to be homosexual (any more than I chose some of my more engrained personality traits), so I hope you do not take offense, but this is something that should be explored. It is something that I feel would be worth my becoming a psychologist.

Jean F. said...

L-C, I'm going to throw in a piece here which I think is of interest. As his mom I was reasonably sure when he was four years old that Andy was going to turn out to be gay. He exhibited certain behaviors in pre-school which were rather amusing at times, but to an insightful parent they could indicate what the future might hold. The childhood experiences he describes here began after early signs that he was gay. He was not an effeminate kid. I would guess most people were surprised that he was gay, but there were things a parent would notice. I believe that most gay people are born that way -- but I also believe that certain life experiences can influence sexual behavior in some people.

Anonymous said...

Andy, good post. I always wanted to ask... I hope your friends, who I'm pretty sure guessed your secret, were of at least some comfort to you then. High school sucks, and is generally made more so by ignorance and insensitivity of the students and the teachers. Mr. Palmer, the wrestling coach and physics teacher at a high school to remain unnamed, while lecturing to class one day, told us that he thought, "They should round up all the gays and put them in a spaceship with just enough food and water to live, and send them to the moon." Kind of him to include food and water in the spaceship, huh? At the time, my mother had been in a 15 year lesbian relationship, so I had two moms (and a secret not easily shared at Sunset HS). I can tell you Mr Palmer's comment pissed me off, I remember it to this day, and will never forgive that scum for using his power to insult my family. Perhaps he was "wrestling" with his own feelings, as Andy suggested.

Andy, you should be proud for having made it through in one piece, and for being a good friend to many of us at the same time.

To Andy's mom (Jean F.): As a parent myself, I'm curious what made you guess Andy might be gay when he was 4? I have a two-year old who loves pink sandals and to run around naked with cowboy boots on (no Brokeback Mountain jokes, he's two!), but I wouldn't infer that he will be gay. Of course, this might be too private, so feel free to take a pass on this one :) Just curious.

Jean F. said...

Anonymous,
I'll give you just one example of behavior at age four that caused me to wonder whether or not Andy might be gay. When I would pick him up at preschool he was never outside playing with the boys. He was usually in the "play kitchen" with the girls and he was the one in the apron... And I would say that throughout junior high and high school all his best friends were girls -- not necessarily typical of boys that age.

tim said...

Very nice and uplifting story. Despite my presence or absence from Pride festivities, I still believe we need them. We need them to show youths that they do matter and are welcome somewhere in the world.

As for the comments on abandoning the parades: no matter what we do, be it parades, marches, sit in's, there will always be those who will find fault or use a small part to bring down the overall purpose.

Does it make some of us cringe when the Rentboy.com float goes by? Yes. Should it? Sure. Should they not be proud? They should be very proud.

Think about this: we make fun of heterosexuals for behavior that does not represent them as a whole. Of course, it is only human nature to do so.

Andy, thanks again for the post.

little-cicero said...

Andy's mom, I can tell that you have done a fine job as a mother, but I do believe that I have scolded Andy for swearing more times than you have (resuming the work of a mother for you!)

I am curious as to what signs would be shown at such a young age as four years old.

I also am curious to hear your thoughts on this proposition: Could it be that the original quirks of his personality (excentricities if you will) caused the teasing, which in turn caused more alienation, which further resulted in homosexual development (so on and so forth).

In other words, did the internal and external feed into one another and snowball into the man we now know as little cicero's favorite homosexual (not to mention only!): Andy.

Jean F. said...

L-C, I don't think I want to say anything more about Andy at this time because he is very sensitive about his personal life and I try to respect that. I included the comment about nursery school because it was the first incident that made me begin to wonder if he might turn out to be gay. As other things occurred along the way my "mother's intuition" was at work.

"Could it be that the original quirks of his personality (excentricities if you will) caused the teasing, which in turn caused more alienation, which further resulted in homosexual development (so on and so forth)." I can't answer that question with respect to Andy. I can though accept the idea that the situation you pose might in fact be true for some people. I simply don't know.

Andy said...

I hope your friends, who I'm pretty sure guessed your secret, were of at least some comfort to you then.

Oh, Anonymous, you have no idea how lucky I was. By the time I got to high school, even though I was still closeted for most of it/to most people, I was a completely different person than I had been in elementary school. I was soooo active, doing sports, playing in the marching band, writing for the school paper, singing in the chorus and, if memory serves, I might even have been in a play or two. And I think it would be correct to say that I was generally well-liked and very well-known. Since my activities and interests were so diverse, I had friends in pretty much all the different "cliques." There were rumors about me, sure, but my popularity insulated me from any real threat. No one was going to touch me. Plus, as you might recall at the time, Lon Mabon and the Oregon Citizens' Alliance were going around making COMPLETE asses of themselves. They were so extreme and buffoonish, NO ONE wanted to be associated with them. Right about the time of our senior year, being pro-gay (or at least indifferent) became the default attitude. I lucked out on the timing.

But back to your main question, yes, I think my friends suspected, and I did start to come out to some of them. Not a single person, not one, ever stopped being my friend because of my sexuality. Lucky me! Off the top of my head, I can think of seven friends from high school who read my blog.

And that's really one of the other points that this post was too verbose to include, and that is that coming out makes life BETTER. None of the things the homophobes tell you will go wrong with your life do: everything turns around. More importantly, my relationship with God didn't disintegrate, it grew and I feel closer to Him now than I did when I was still a good little handbell-ringing Bible-thumper.

at a high school to remain unnamed...a secret not easily shared at Sunset HS D'oh!

Oh, how to tell about your child: well, at the risk of perpetuating stereotypes, if they show an unusual affinity for showtunes...

Andy said...

I am not saying that you are mentally ill in any way, nor that you chose to be homosexual

I see. You just don't think I'm entitled to equal rights under the law and that even though you acknowledge that homosexuality is, at least sometimes, not a "choice," you think people should be discouraged from it. Got it. ; )

I highly approve of your interest in becoming a psychologist. I think you'd learn a lot from it! : )

little-cicero said...

I want to avoid a tangent as much as possible, but I believe I've made it clear that I do want homosexuals to have all of the same civil rights as others. Heterosexuals have the same rights as you do- they too can NOT marry people of the same sex, only those of the opposite sex, and you too have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.

At early childhood, my amateur psychological sense tells me that the trend toward homosexualiy may even be easily reversed. Certainly as homosexual development moves forward in a person, it would be much harder to reverse. I would not try to convert you to heterosexuality, because it would be impossible unless if perhaps you had a strong will to do so, but if we aknowledge my hypothesis, wouldn't it be a good thing if we could reverse this condition while troubled children are still in a highly developmental stage? Would you not have preferred to have lived life as a homosexual? (Not rhetorical, please answer these questions if you don't mind)

Jeff said...

LC, please enter the real world and tell me how you think a gay person benefits from being able to marry someone he is no sense sexually attracted to. And tell me how his wife benefits from being married to a guy who's not attracted to her.

Andy said...

my amateur psychological sense tells me that the trend toward homosexualiy may even be easily reversed. Certainly as homosexual development moves forward in a person, it would be much harder to reverse. I would not try to convert you to heterosexuality, because it would be impossible unless if perhaps you had a strong will to do so

L-C, at the risk of coming down too hard on you, THIS IS WHY GAY PEOPLE KILL THEMSELVES. Straight people who don't understand because the choice to be "normal" was never theirs to make keep saying the choice is possible, even "easily reversed." It's not. People try and try and try and try and try, and they can't do it. Stop setting people up for an impossible task and compounding the psychological damage by telling them it's easy WHEN IT'S NOT EVEN POSSIBLE.

Jeff said...

At early childhood, my amateur psychological sense tells me that the trend toward homosexualiy may even be easily reversed.

Not to put it too rudeley, LC, but one's "amateur psychological sense" is worth shit.

Furthermore, whenever someone asks you "What do you base this on?" you have no response. I hope you're not planning to become a scientist, or even a sociologist, for that matter, because such professions would require you to deal with the real world.

Let me repeat what I said on Slacktivist's blog. You did not respond to it but I hope the message went through. Your ideas are based too much on theory and too little on the real world. You are obsessed with theory. You're too confident in your own ideas and theories and too unwilling to examine them empirically and critically.

You are obsessed with the idea that homosexuality is somehow psychological in nature. Actually, LC, you're obsessed with homosexuality, period, and I can't figure out why. I would like to know why.

Andy said...

Now now, Jeff, it sounds like you're engaging in some amateur psychoanalysis of your own.

I think LC should pursue a scientific career. Just because he hasn't yet learned how to think empirically/crticially doesn't mean he can't. I think perhaps psychology is exactly the route he should take.

Jeff said...

Heheh.

Anyway, I don't know. I would hate for LC to become one of those psychotherapists who tries to "cure" gay people and thereby fucks them up further. There are people who eventually learn, and people who don't. I hope LC is the former. He's young and inexperienced enough that anything is possible.

Whole worlds open up for people when they go away to college. For those who are open-minded, at least.

Quinn said...

Two comments: first, hi Jade! Another SHSer here.

Second, Andy has something else to be proud of... he may have been the turning point in my father's efforts to become aware of (and perhaps change) some of his prejudices and bigotry. Once when making some horrible statement about gays, I confronted him and asked did he think that about all gays? "I don't know any gay people."

I said, "you know Andy! He's gay." And it was like this little light went on his head -- gays ARE normal people! People he liked and admired, even. While I still wouldn't call him the most tolerant person in the world, he's never said another homophobic thing to me since.

Esther said...

Okay, I am not going to discuss any hypotheses on why homosexuals are as they/you are. I don't really have theories on that. I accept people as they are and I allow them to choose their own paths in life. I try to respect people as individuals and try not to look down on them for superficial reasons. Please remember that throughout what I say next. Nothing I am saying is meant to speak against homosexuality as an intrinsic part of you and every other homosexual out there.

I'm just going to say this and get it over with. I'm tired of listening to people whine about their bad childhoods. I had a bad childhood too, dammit. Kids can be horrible little barbarians and they do really mean things to other kids. That's a sad fact. I believe that there comes a time when you must realize that some of the things that happened to you were your own choice (not referring to homosexuality).

Okay, how does this relate to anything? Well, I see that your reasons for gay pride are real and I have every respect for them. But so much of the gay pride movement is based on the way others treated homosexuals. It's a reactionary movement (like, duh). I don't mean that in the simplest sense of the phrase. The reason I find the whole thing annoying is from a string of reasoning that goes something like this: If homosexuals took other people as seriously as they take themselves there might be some more room for agreements. I agree that many on the religious right are insensitive. However, it just bothers me that those on the right are blamed for all the insensitivities and those rooting for gay pride who can be just as in-your-face annoying as the right are not seen in such a way. I hate to put it this way, but sometimes I think that the gay pride movement has come a long way in acting like the ones who treated homosexuals wrong in the first place. A lack of respect often breeds another lack of respect and in the end what we have is complete failure to communicate. Communication goes both ways, it is talking and listening. In the end the failure to communicate comes from both sides of the argument. All are equally to blame.

Myackie said...

gonna have to think about this one for a while...

Andy said...

Esther's right. As of this moment, I call upon all gay people to stop bombing straight bars, to stop protesting military funerals with picket signs that accuse the deceased of being straight, to stop roving around in gangs and beating up hapless straight men that wander into our path, and most importantly, to rescind all the recent legislation we've passed denying heterosexuals full equality under the law.

Jeff said...

Esther: those on the right are not blamed for "insensitivities." They are blamed for trying to prevent us from adopting children, from marrying, and so forth. They're blamed for trying to prevent us from doing something that has no effect on them themselves. It's the substance of their arguments, not the form of their arguments, that is most blameworthy.

That said, I agree with you that some people who "root for gay pride" are "in-your-face annoying." There are different personality types in any sort of social movement. And I agree that there needs to be more communication, i.e. talking and listening. I go through different modes - sometimes I want to listen and empathize, and other times I just get tired of doing so, because one hears the same arguments over and over.

Andy said...

Hmm, I guess I also need to ask gay religious leaders to stop condemning heterosexuality from the pulpit, I need to get the military to lift its ban on heterosexuals who want to serve openly, I will object when school-age kids call other kids "breeders," I will get the media to stop complaining about the militant heterosexual agenda so plainly obvious in the amoral filth that Hollywood puts out, like "The Real Cancun" and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" and "Sleepless in Seattle" and all the other crap that promotes a view of sexuality we don't agree with, and well, yes, just in general, I will urge gay people to leave straight people the hell alone and let them lead their lives in the way they believe is right for them. It's only fair, right?

Esther said...

Andy, I've listened to you time and again and I have been nice about it too. I've even conceded a lot of points. Now I'm tired of that. I'm tired of being insulted by you.

Since you had no idea what I meant, as evidenced by your response, perhaps I should not waste anymore of your time. Thank you and good day.

Andy said...

Esther, I'm sorry if my sarcasm offended you. Yes, I understand, childhood sucks for everyone, we all come out of it with emotional baggage. It's not just gays who are beaten up and harassed, it's anyone who's judged to be "different" at all. Why should gay children have it any better?

I wholly concede that point. Except by the time we reach adulthood, most of us have matured enough to stop making fun of people for wearing glasses or being overweight or any number of the things that children like to be so cruel about; or, at least we don't say things to people's faces, and if we do, we come across very badly.

The problem with this analogy is that the harassment of gay people doesn't stop at adulthood; in fact in many parts of America, it gets worse. People's lives are in danger because of this prejudice. There is no other minority group in America today that is the subject of a widespread, vocal and well-financed campaign of discrimination. Even the back-and-forth between Republicans and Democrats which can get pretty nonsensical and hostile: no one is proposing laws that would limit the rights of partisans. There is a candidate for senate right now in Ohio who is running on a platform of being pro-death penalty for homosexuals. Your argument is premised on the idea that homosexuals are "just as guilty as everyone else." Uhhhh, no. Straight people just aren't suffering as a result of gay people, no matter what Jerry Falwell says.

And as for the argument that maybe some gays undermine their own arguments by being too flamboyant and "in your face" (an argument frequently leveled against gays by other gays), whatever squeamish discomfort straight people feel when confronted with a 6-foot tall hairy-chested drag queen in ruby red heels and a rainbow wig, it's really nothing compared to the terror many gay people live with on a daily basis. No straight person has to go around pretending to be gay just to stay alive or to keep their parents from disowning them. I see what you're saying, Esther, but the analogies just don't hold.

Jade said...

Esther - "Kids can be horrible little barbarians and they do really mean things to other kids. That's a sad fact. I believe that there comes a time when you must realize that some of the things that happened to you were your own choice."

Are you suggesting that kids should conform to some defacto standard to avoid ridicule, and it's their own fault if they don't?


L-C - "Heterosexuals have the same rights as you do- they too can NOT marry people of the same sex, only those of the opposite sex, and you too have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex."

Congratulations, that's the most moronic argument against gay marraige I've ever read. You get the blue ribbon, my friend. Geez... reading that makes me think I've just jumped back in time to the 40's... "Sure! You can marry anyone you want to, darlin', just so long as he's white!"

Jeff said...

Now I'm tired of that. I'm tired of being insulted by you.

Hmm. Esther, if you could point out where you think Andy has insulted you, that would be nice. I think his points (and my points) are dead on.

Andy said...

PS, I'm rather surprised no one has taken up my Biblical defense of homosexuality...

little-cicero said...

Andy, I honestly thought that your biblical verse was meant jokingly! It is isn't it? I really have no idea anymore.

Future Geek said...

Andy, great essay.

LC - don't you think that trying to "reverse homosexuality" in early childhood is more likely to screw kids up? Obviously you don't believe that homosexuals are born that way - but surely you can understand that if they are, you would be doing terrible harm to them by trying to force them into an unnatural role.

And really, I could never understand why someone would choose to be gay in America. It ain't easy, and there is a serious risk of getting beat up or killed, or losing a job, etc. etc.

Really. I was raised in a liberal household. I was taught that some people are born gay and others straight. I thought about being gay, wondered if I was gay, honestly asked myself if I was gay - and let me tell you: I have never been attracted to another man.

What I'm trying to say is,

1. with so many gay people out there whose sexuality brings them problems, and

2. having honestly explored my own sexuality and found myself not to be gay, it just seems utterly idiculous to me that being gay is purely psychological, or a choice, or some kind of "giving into lust without the threat of having a baby" which I've heard fundies say it is.

It really does make me wonder, all these folks who think that you can just flip a switch and not be gay, what kind of lusts are they harboring that make them think that gay people have just given in to lust? I mean, it would be damn near impossible for me to be attracted to a man. Knowing that I would be ostracized, insulted and otherwise discriminated against, why would I "choose" to become homosexual?

Esther - how did Andy insult you?

little-cicero said...

Put simply, there is no rational manner in which to make an argument for the idea that homosexuals "choose to be gay", but there is a lot of logic in what I am saying (If I do say so myself!)

Can depression be reversed in early stages? Just about all psychological irregularities can be reversed early on, so I don't see why having therapy as a child when picked on as was Andy, and thereby reversing homosexuality, would result in "messing up" anyone. I believe that I had OCD when I was a child, but I reversed it in its early stages so that it would not remain a problem later in life. Had I not resolved it years ago, it would be much more serious today.

kr pdx said...

Ah, Andy, but your readers are mostly on your side, why would they argue with you?

I have, while working through my two realities on this issue (the Andy/brain research one and Catholic/miracles/alternative thought one), developed a logical biblical counter to your stand. You will hate this part: it is based only on the Gospels. Cuts out all the easily objected-to stuff (OT, Paul, etc.).

I have not previously shared it but with three closed-mouth people, because who needs such a thing to become public, and then part of the Religious Right's harangue? Yech.

Hopefully not too many RR-ers read this blog.

Everyone else, I'm sorry. I recently posted a pro-life repsonse on the blog of another schoolchum who is a pro-choice feminist, when she ranted about arbitrary lines being drawn by an anti-abortion politico. That went ... poorly. (Blogs suck for collecting biased readers.) Please recognize that I KNOW you will all think I am an idiot for not falling in line with your thoughtset. I've been reading the blog for a while, you've told that me by implication. (And LC, you TOTALLY assume homosexuality is a problem-to-be-solved. Your arguments are therefore ontological, and will never be received well here, where the opposite assumption holds sway. Good for you for trying to listen. Perhaps talk less.) (Sez the kettle!)

I had a longer version of this argument in the works from last time Andy invited me to comment on this subject here on the blog (which invitation I did not take up then), but here's the short of it:
1) Jesus was a revolutionary. Challenged things left and right. Even made the Romans (the great assimilators) uncomfortable--Jews were notably less flexible in general. (I hope I don't have to support this proposition--it's generally accepted by anyone who actually studies the Gospels at all.)
2) Of ALLLLL the things in that culture Jesus turned on their head (the Samaritans, the women, the "eat my body or you will not have life within you," the blindness isn't caused by sin, etc. ... 30 CE Jews had lots of "unChristian" issues), two person heterosexual marriage was NOT one of them. When he addresses sex/marriage at all it is to suggest that more people should consider staying celibate, or to expound upon the man-grafts-to-woman Genisis-theme.
3) It is not like homosexuality wasn't a major feature of both Greek and Roman cultures (the two cultures Jesus had to compare Judaic culture to). If he had wanted to say something about it, it's not like the Jews had never heard of such a thing.
4) The gospel writers weren't bashful about portraying Jesus' crazy/backwards/uncomfortable pronouncements. In fact, that's why they wrote the books! So they are unlikely to have pussy-footed around this one subject (see #2).

SO. If Jesus, arguably the most revolutionary person to ever live, thought all that Old Testament anti-homosexual-activity stuff was hookum, why didn't he say anything suggesting that? And no, "Love everyone as yourself" doesn't count!

So, there, now every reader on two blogs hates me. Bonus. But, that was a very blatant gauntlet. Sorry, Andy.

And I'll come out of my own small closet, in which I have hidden to try to not hurt our realtionship: I don't know at what point homosexuality "happens" (might be conception--but then I get into pro-life stuff, and you and I already had that out ... sigh), but I don't think homosexual activity is ever the most healthy choice a person can make. (No, I have not always made the most healthy choices, sexually or other--and 'anonymous,' you can stop your dirty thoughts RIGHT THERE, thanks. Sex being so complicated is maybe why Jesus--and Paul, who I like less--encourage pledged virginity as easier and less distracting! I think being healthily married is harder than being a healthy nun would be.) Nor do I think that homosexual activity is intrinsically evil (otherwise Andy would have had one less friend after his coming out, and anonymous too, who didn't tell the HALF of his history!). We are each at our own stages of healing; last time I checked, I didn't know any "saints," only a bunch of people trying to do their best to be good people. Christian sexuality seems to be one of the Hard Teachings some Christian theologians are exploring nowadays, and obviously gets tied up in the mysteries of suffering and healing (among others). I do believe that as long as one is trying to get to God (even if one doesn't think of it that way) one will. (Which, believe it or not, is also the teaching of the Church--but it uses fancier language.) I guess the key thing is "mystery" ... a Christian conception that acknowledges that we will never fully understand some stuff about God that to us seems paradoxical or ridiculous.

So there ya go, Andy. I took issue with your biblical reading.

I love you. I do believe we are fighting the same fight. (Loving people where they are at is one tenet. Working our asses off to find our way to God is another.) Eventually we should end up at the same place. It will be interesting to see how both of us develop from here to there.

Always trying to learn,
K :).

Esther said...

My response to Andy and others who have disagreed with me here: When I first came to this blog I asked if you would welcome other points of view and you said yes. Since then I have tried to discuss my observation that the watershed tactic of most power movements, gay, women's etc., is to use the language of openness as a venere for shouting down any opposition. I would elcudate this point, but it would be repititious and your responses to my points have done a better job than I ever could. I regret to say that I find you have been intellecutally dishonest and request that the next time someone comes and asks if a differing opinion is welcome, you answer truthfully.

kr pdx said...

I would post this anonymously, butlike you all wouldn't assume it was me anyway ... this is something that came up after and spearately from my thinking on the previous post, though, so it was not a factor in that. I don't "own" this argument because male homosexuality is clearly not something I have any personal insight on, being a girl. But, there is this response, future geek:

There is a school of thought that says that male homosexuality is caused by the emotional unavailability of the father (or a father figure); the earlier said unavailability starts (babies are energetically receptive in the womb, in my experience) the more ingrained the utterly instinctual need for man-love (not man-sex, but sex and love are obviously intertwined as one grows older). This school of thought presents same sex attraction as something that can be worked out with intense psycho-therapy (same-sex sexual activity, if it has been engaged in, then needs a separate set of support, as it engages all sorts of biochemical reinforcement and is therefore attractive in its own ways separate from the deep emotional need).

If this is true, it would be enough of a drive to push people past social taboos.

Again, as a woman, I am leery to adhere to this. But before I heard this set of thought, I had essentially observed it of homosexually active or attracted women (it seems to be mother issues--or a reaction to abuse by a man). Women who are heterosexually avaricious are, I think, culturally accepted to be looking for missing man-love. (Again, can't speak to the male side on that one.)

So there is one explanation that partially responds to your questions. Wouldn't know how they respond to female-brain-males or all the other permutations suggested nowadays for inborn sexual preference, I didn't listen to them that long.

Anthony said...

Right, time for me to put in my two hap'orth (that's cents to you lot on the other side of the pond).

Starting off with Esther vs. nearly everyone else, neither side is in the right. I read Andy's string of anti-heterosexual remarks as typed in a fit of exceptionally bitter, sardonic pique brought about by the suggestion that the persecution of homosexuals had been overplayed. I could very easily be wrong, tone of voice being notoriously difficult to get across in this medium, but that's the interpretation I placed upon those two posts of his, before going on to read anyone else's reactions.

Esther (and, to a similar extent, Little Cicero), arguments presented in blogs tend to preach to the converted as a matter of course. The vast majority of us come here with a good deal of sympathy for Andy's views and I honestly believe it does us all good to have you pitch in with differing opinions. Just imagine how dull it would be if everyone here were in agreement ... Don't give up on Andy or the rest of us, but bear in mind that voicing an opinion which rocks the boat is fraught with the possibility of alienating the status quo. It's a difficult balance to strike, no doubt about that.

A good deal of valuable points have already been made with regards to Little Cicero's posts, so I will refrain from repeating them here.

I'll come back to the Biblical verse at a later stage (it's Sunday and I need to get myself reader for church) so I'll just finish by making a request to everyone here. Yes, a good deal of us may be in agreement with Andy's views, which is all the more reason for not letting this become a general love-in or some sort of mutual appreciation society. We should welcome differing views and not leap down the throat of anyone who dares present an opposing one. Extend the hand of friendship and don't let it wither ...

Andy said...

there is no rational manner in which to make an argument...but there is a lot of logic in what I am saying (If I do say so myself!) Logic without rational thought? Where's Dr. Spock when you need him?

Andy said...

D'oh! MR. Spock, not DR. Spock. Haven't had coffee yet.

Andy said...

Esther, I think Tony's post says it best, but I will second it. I'm curious what you think welcoming diverse thought means in practice. A lot of my friends ask me why I don't just ban Little Cicero, and I answer that I wouldn't because as much as I might disagree with him and as much as I find him flabbergasting, the open exchange of ideas in general is a process that moves us forward.

And I know you'd agree with that, but then it seems like when you come here with a dissenting view, you get upset if I don't just concede your point, which is rather difficult for me if I disagree. I know what you mean about political discourse being shut down -- and often by liberals! -- but usually they do so by exclaiming, "Gasp! that was politically incorrect, away with you!" and that's kind of it. I haven't said that. I have responded as to why I think you're incorrect, don't I have a right to that?

Am I too stubborn for you? But, what good would my blog be if I wrote an opinion piece and then had to backpedal every time there was disagreement? I don't see that happening on any other blogs, either.

Furthermore, though it may not happen on a daily basis, I can think of one really good discussion we had on here where my thoughts on a certain matter were significantly refined. I still hold my original position on Alito's Casey opinion, but I came to much greater understanding of and respect for the reasons people find that so threatening.

Furthermore, if you want a long-term process, go back over the summer and read my gazillion posts on Intelligent Design: I still believe the hand of God is very much actively at work in the evolutionary process, but through my readers comments I came to understand why the ID Movement in particular is seriously flawed and without intellectual merit. So I respectfully disagree that I don't tolerate differences of opinion (my closest friends, some of whom have commented here and many of whom are on my blogroll, agree to disagree about fundamental things), and I hope you'll come back and keep reading and commenting. Just please don't be surprised or offended if I disagree with your disagreement.

Andy said...

You will hate this part: it is based only on the Gospels. Cuts out all the easily objected-to stuff (OT, Paul, etc.)

I'm not hating that part. I just want to point out that the only places the Bible talks about homosexuality is in the Pauline epistles and the Old Testament.

Anthony said...

Right folks, I'm back from church, spiritually refreshed and in a frame of mind to tackle Biblical quotations.

I will admit that the verse you mentioned fell by the wayside after reading the opening of the collect for Ash Wednesday. Indeed, taken in conjunction with this prayer, it endorses the view that God, by virtue of loving all He has created, also loves everything He made crooked. In the context of this post (and with a mischievous glint in Andy's eye, I imagine), we flaming homosexuals are crooked, ergo He loves us.

I hope the irony was meant, Andy, 'cos otherwise your equating crookedness with being gay suggests all sorts of things I'll leave to Little Cicero to interpret ...

There is still a disturbing angle to the quotation, however, in that (to our 21st century minds) it evokes the dangers of playing God, from Shelley's Dr Frankenstein and his creature to the ethics surrounding genetic engineering, not forgetting numerous instances of ethnic cleansing over the course of history.

I have a problem with that word "crooked". Who are we to decide what, among God's creation, is straight or otherwise? It's not even a matter of interpretative translation, as only in the case of the New American Standard Bible is a different word used - "bent", and I don't really need to dwell on the connotations of that word!

This verse implies absolute faith in God's plan, almost suggesting that no matter how much someone may try to change something to suit their pleasure, it will revert to the form God gave it - which itself gives rise to the concept of predestination, which is perhaps a matter for another post altogether. We are here warned against querying God's intentions, or as Christ put it, quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, "thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God".

There are of course many more implications at play here than that of the place of homosexuality in human society, but within this particular context, I believe Ecclesiastes is telling us all to be proud of what we are, all of us crooked in our own particular way.

(I see Andy's posted something else in the meantime, which will doubtless provide more food for thought ... Good job I've got nothing else on this afternoon!)

Andy said...

It was meant slightly tongue-in-cheek. I don't recommend for people to quote that particular phrase of Scripture to Fundamentalists with the intention of defending gay rights.

And no, I don't equate "gay" with "crooked," especially in the pejorative manner in which it's likely to be taken. It was just a play on the word "straight" and its opposite.

Still, I think it's food for thought, because there are things in this world that have been set just so by God, and mankind lacks the power to undo them.

*Oh, and for the record, during my formative early-childhood years, I had an emotionally distant mother and a dominant father. So there.

Anthony said...

On a lighter note, I do believe we've smashed the record for the number of comments on any one of your posts. See, it's not always the most trivial matters that provoke your readers into responding!

Jean F. said...

Speaking as the "emotionally distant mother" here, I am confirming that Andy is absolutely right in describing his early childhood as he did. I had many "issues" (ahh, issues...)at that time and Andy's father was in the restaurant business, working mostly afternoons and evenings. I escaped to find time to myself as often as possible and his dad was home with him all the time, devoting every moment to Andy. There was never a time when Andy wanted his dad to do something with him that his dad said no. When Andy was two or so, his dad actually took Andy to work with him and Andy played with stuff in the office. I didn't really come back into Andy's life emotionally until I remarried when Andy was about eleven. So, I don't think we can say his father figure was in any way unavailable.

Nathan said...

Well, this is better than Sunday school. I'm rarely interested in what the bible has to say on matters, but this string provides a really interesting canvas upon which to view a couple of it's colors, same paint, different hues to different eyes.

I especially like KR's DBQ (document based question) essay. It's worth remembering that the bible is (to some of us anyway) just that, a historical document, albeit, an incredibly important one. In some ways, it's also a unique document, in that it has been subject to translation and editing along the way - so like our constitution, it is a living document. This relatively ignorant biblicist (Me!) bases this assumption on the fact that there are different "editions" of the bible, the word itself suggesting some "editing" has occurred.

KR PDX, do you think it's possible that somewhere along the way, someone may have edited the bible? Your arguements are predicated on everything in the bible remaining unammended over 2000 years. Have I read your arguement correctly? If you think the bible was edited or altered during translation, what suggests to you that any statements concerning homosexuality would have made it through the filter. This is a negative proof argument, so don't get too bogged down in trying to prove it hasn't been altered, but maybe suggest why it's alteration wouldn't change your arguement.

Any other's, feel free to pitch in! I can't say your wrong ;)

kr pdx said...

Nathan: I'll get back to you later. Want to post this first.

Andy:
You will hate this part: it is based only on the Gospels. Cuts out all the easily objected-to stuff (OT, Paul, etc.)

I'm not hating that part. I just want to point out that the only places the Bible talks about homosexuality is in the Pauline epistles and the Old Testament.

Yes, I know. When you originally invited my thoughts on the question, I knew I was underprepared, especially for presenting any opinion on the subject based, per radical left-wing Christian assertion that Christians are only responsible to Jesus (found in the Gospels, unless you are beyond radical and right into New Age). There is validity to the point, and in fact in a nuanced way it is also what the Catholic Church teaches. Christ is the center. But the OT and Paul provide cultural context. Frankly, I'm pretty disgusted with anyone who tries to read the Bible without cultural context. Although I have read many, my favorite piece of cultural context is When God Was a Woman, which does NOT (counter to both fundamentalist and feminist "reviews" I've read) at any point advocate a return to goddess worship. It is an incredible piece of hard work on the part of one historian, and it casts huge illumination (I use that word with all it's many connotations) on the world surrounding the OT--and the probable culture(s) the Israelites were formed out of/were fighting against (never too clear which!!). I recommend it to everyone.

Ignoring the OT, at least, is clearly and provably ignoring Jesus, who cites it, teaches from it, and (if you believe he is God) came on purpose to this people--a people that God had forcibly over several thousand years trained up so that SOME of them would be ready to hear Jesus.

Jesus ENTERED HISTORY. (Or, "ourstory," for the feminists in the crowd.) BECAME HUMAN.

When you invited me before, I went to the Gospels hoping (although I admit not expecting) to find the support you believe is there. It would have been easier for me--and obviously so much more so for you and yours. I WANTED to find that support. But a lack of specific condemnation is only "support" if you ignore the history and culture.

Tony:
There are of course many more implications at play here than that of the place of homosexuality in human society, but within this particular context, I believe Ecclesiastes is telling us all to be proud of what we are, all of us crooked in our own particular way.

Um, last I checked being "proud" of our crookedness wasn't really what the Bible encourages. Being at peace with it, maybe, and offering our frailties to God, who loves us always and forever. "Proud"? Isn't that the biggest cardinal sin?

I agree with your Frankenstein reply; I was going to mention that there are damn few things medical "science" doesn't think it can make straight nowadays--and lots of them it "can," although most of them it depends on how you define "straight": should Jewish noses be smaller? should depressed people be drug-dependent? should disabled or unwanted babies be aborted so adult lives can continue in their "straight" paths? It all depends on what is "straight." You all should be glad the Religious Right has staked it's whole existence on the abortion issue, so that if you are right and homosexuality is genetic there won't be a cleansing-run on abortion clinics in the next generation. (Yes, I think that would be clearly evil.) Lots of people think they can make straight what God has made crooked. (So, yes, Andy, I was also hoping your quote was facetious--and took up a more serious challenge.)

Andy/future geek/Jean:
*Oh, and for the record, during my formative early-childhood years, I had an emotionally distant mother and a dominant father. So there.

Well, there you go then. Glad I didn't jump up and espouse that one too loudly. (Jean and Andy--I met Andy in fourth grade and whatever else his father was he was somewhat domineering by that point, and then of course Andy has covered in his post some of his later ups and downs with him. But 22 years isn't as many as you both have had in his life, so you win. Obviously :). )

Andy said...

KR, by "pride" I don't think Tony meant "arrogance" so much as he meant the opposite of "shame," which is basically the point of the entire post.

kr pdx said...

Nathan:

1) I believe my cultural-context stuff above is a partial answer.
2) Yes, to some extent, the argument is predicated upon 2000 years of carried-over accuracy. (More later.)
3) Andy has, repeatedly over the years and like other left-wing Christians before him, used said document to support his points. I was arguing from the basis he proposes/accepts. Clearly, anyone who doesn't view the Bible as some-sort-of-inspired will not consider my discussion terribly pertinent to homosexuality, however interesting. I wasn't trying to present the Bible as True. I was countering the Gospels as Pro-Homosexual-Activity.

2a) An analogy: our government has lots of overlapping and occasionally competing law-agencies. Although incredibly expensive, "inefficient," and awkward, it does mean that if some person or agency starts in doing wrong (a DEA agent on the take), they will be caught at some point or other by some other agency or person (the FBI)--and the catcher doesn't necessarily even have to be a "goodguy," it or they just have to object to the particular point of law/ethics/morality the wrong-doer is crossing. Similar "editting" can be seen in the "Church Fathers" and various other writings of the early church.
2b) The Church does go to the early writings to compare its translations and theology (interpretations), which means the Catechism and most documents cite people most people have never heard of from the first three centuries of the Church (prior to the solidification of The Canon of the Bible), which are, yes, more reliable than many modern translations.
2c) Where possible, modern translators go to the original Greek and Hebraic texts (including comparative studies with the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Thomas, etc.). My Bible has all sorts of footnotes that say "this is believed to have been inserted by a later writer" (especially in the OT, which was very provably fluid; even the Dead Sea Scrolls had some variations as I recall). The Genisis "story" (actually two stories) is probably the most famous.
2d) The Catholic Church has obviously gone through unfortunate editting idiocies (Spanish Inquisition, most obviously). Luckily, the Church and its teachings spread rapidly (dare I say miraculously rapidly?), so there were other places to preserve the harder edges of the ongoing Christian Revolution.
2e) I am Catholic (as you well know). Catholics believe that only Divine Intervention can keep humans on the God track (we have to choose to walk it). And that God wants them to be there. Ergo, divine intervention keeps the Bible as pure as it needs to be. (Given that God also gave us brains and expects us to use them.)

Which brings us back to "taking it out of context."
-- K :).

kr pdx said...

I still say acceptance and peace are what we should aim for rather than anything resembling pride. Shame is, properly applied, a very healthy emotion. (Confession of sin being a concept I am personally familiar with and all that. Recently, "anger" and "swearing." Impressive healing on the "anger," but I backslid on the swearing.)

Pride is all about saying "I am great as I am" or even "I am good enough as I am." These imply "God has no place in this aspect of my life." The Bible (the whole thing) challenges us to move to "I am OK, but wow could I be better!"

Being "proud" of my mostly heterosexual leanings strikes me as weird, as does being "proud" of my occasional homosexual or asexual ones. They are part of where I'm at and who and how I am right now, and therefore something I need to accept as part of where I'm going (and where I've been). A constant effort to discern what is the Most Right and keep that is what my life is about.

Hence the reading and arguing.

little-cicero said...

"'there is no rational manner in which to make an argument...but there is a lot of logic in what I am saying (If I do say so myself!)'
Logic without rational thought? Where's Dr. Spock when you need him? "

This comment of Andy's might summarize for Esther the problem she is having with Andy. Here he "dot dot doted" a significant portion of my argument to make it look absolutely ridiculous, in a partially humorous manner the extent of which I do not really know. He is being dishonest when he does this, but also humorous.

It was Esther that introduced me to this blog, and I have found that there are a lot of well stated points on here. Since one of the mottos of my blog is "the Marketplace of Ideas" and it helps me to polish my arguments, I love to come here as much as possible, and am surprised that Andy's friends so dislike me. All I have to say to them is that they are completely welcome (within reason) to plug, pontificate and troll as much as they desire on my blog, and I will be happy to have them if they contribute with the same intentions as I do to this blog.

As for Andy, he is a homosexual, and cannot be expected to deal with these issues with the same emotionally distant attitude that you (Esther) tend to do. This has led him at times to be somewhat offensive to the heterosexual conservatives among us, but he has often defended me as well, and for that I am thankful, and I am confident that he is a good guy.

Esther, I just want to encourage you to keep on visiting, and thank you for pointing me in this direction, as it has made me a better rhetorician and a better thinker.

Andy said...

Um, LC, the use of an ellipsis (or "dot dot dot" in Little Cicero Land) is a pretty standard technique for indicating, as the dictionary puts it, "any omission that is intentional." Any serious reader knows that, and if I were trying to deliberately mislead or misrepresent you, the "..." would tip them off that I had left something out and, assuming that they cared, they could go back and look at your original comment.

What I left out was "for the idea that homosexuals 'choose to be gay". I leave it to the readers to decide whether my intentional omission has the effect of rendering your statement nonsensical. Frankly, LC, what you said is that even though your opinion is not rational, it is logical...which is, as Socrates might say, bullshit.

As for Andy, he is a homosexual, and cannot be expected to deal with these issues with the same emotionally distant attitude that you (Esther) tend to do. [editor's note: this quote is reprinted in its entirety.] You're right. I apologize for having a strong bias in favor of my own condition. I will try to be more objective in the future and consider more carefully the implications for the heterosexual community at large when I protest their unfair treatment of me.

kr pdx said...

I apologize, LC/anyone who cares, "ontological" apparently only refers to circular arguments about the existence of God and not to circular arguments in general (Webster's). My mistake. (And my OED doesn't even give me that much credit, insisting that it refers to discussions on The Nature of Things.)

LC, you assume homosexuality is, at least sometimes, changeable. Your base assumption directly threatens/conflicts with a base assumption on which Andy and many others have built large parts of their lives. You can hardly be surprised if defensive reactions occur, every time you post.

Which brings me to the difference between liberals and conservatives nowadays: Liberals thnk if you don't agree you are stupid. Conservatives think you are wrong. And both sides tend to think they are more gentle with their choice of castigation-category, when in fact both tend to be more offended. Hence, satire is generally not so good in responding to conservatives (Ester's reaction ... I found it a bit much also), and saying things like "you don't think well enough" (which you do, regularly) will raise the hackles of a liberal (especially when, as semi-conservative, I can tell you that YOU don't think things through well enough to be presenting them as authoritatively as you do--at least not as often as you do).

little-cicero said...

Put simply, there is no rational manner in which to make an argument for the idea that homosexuals "choose to be gay", but there is a lot of logic in what I am saying (If I do say so myself!)

The reason that I'm offended by your eclipsing part of this quote is that I was saying "the idea that homosexuals 'choose to be gay'" is not my own. If I was not clear on this, I apologize, but I don't see how one could read into my statements that I believe you "chose to be gay"

It is ludicrous to believe that anyone chooses to be gay, but what you are not understanding is that a psychological form of homosexual development in no way equates to the "choice" to be gay. This is obvious to me, but not to those who read that between the lines of my logic. To make myself perfectly clear:

HOMOSEXUALS PROBABLY DO NOT CHOOSE TO BE GAY, BUT PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS MAY CAUSE THEM TO BECOME GAY.

little-cicero said...

Oh, to kr pdx,

The thing about satire is that it can be appreciated by all sides of the political spectrum, but one must be careful when using them in written word because the tone of sarcasm is so crucial to its perception. Andy might say what he said to Esther in a very jokular fashion, but she would have no way to know (unless if emoticons are used) how he meant to say it.

For this reason, I generally avoid sarcasm to a greater extent than Andy, because it is so incomplete when written, and therefore has both a lesser affect and more of a possibility to offend others.

Andy said...

Okay, NOW we're getting somewhere. I don't happen to believe these ideas, but I also have no evidence to support an argument that pyschological factors play no role in determining sexual orientation. At the present time, my belief that sexual orientation is largely biological in nature is based on my own understanding of my own experience, supported by a few recent scientific studies that seem to indicate a biological origin.

Now, if you concede that homosexuality is (at least sometimes) not a choice, then what is your Constitutional argument against extending equal marriage and parenting rights to gay people?

2. Whether the idea that homosexuality is chosen is or is not your own idea or is or is not shared by other people, you still have not explained how something that cannot be rationally argued is a logical thought.

3. Jokular?

4. 60 comments, whoo!

Matthew said...

Great post, Andy.

Beth said...

A little late but this is a great blog that I'm happy I stumbled upon. Not to stir the pot anymore than it has been, but there was recently a report on 60 minutes on the issue of being gay, whether it's nature or nuture.

There are these twin boys, both 9, and one doesn't conform to the male gender. He plays with barbies, paints his nails, likes pink. His brother is a normal boy, he loves sports, plays with GI Joes. Both of these children were born in the same house and raised the same way and while it has yet to be seen if one is gay, it was a really interesting piece. If anyone's interested, here's the link:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/03/09/60minutes/main1385230.shtml

Once again, great blog!

little-cicero said...

In reverse order:

4. Whoo indeed

3. Jocular, not Jokular. That was a spelling error. Jocular of course as relating to "jocularity" (as in the term so often used by Father Mulhaly in MASH)

2. "Put simply, there is no rational manner in which to make an argument for the idea that homosexuals "choose to be gay", but there is a lot of logic in what I am saying (If I do say so myself!)"

In the first part of this sentence, I was saying that there is no rationality in proposing that homosexuals choose to be gay.

In the second part, I was saying that there WAS logic in saying that there are psychological factors, which was my argument.

I don't know if it's your reading skills or my writing skills, but somehow that was misunderstood grossly.

1. Marriage Rights: Once again, you have marriage rights, just not to the people with whom you want to marry because of the definition of marriage. Honestly, as far as the approach is concerned, I think it totally just to have a debate over the definition of marriage and maintain it or change it as the victors see fit, but there must be honesty in this debate.

To be honest, in that debate I would be opposing redefinition, the reasons being sociological and already stated in previous posts. If you would like them restated, say the word, but I would like to avoid such a tangent if at all possible, out of respect for this dynamite post.

Of course in the context of a Constitutional Rights debate, what I believe to be best for society is irrelevant.

Same-Sex Adoption: I believe one of our basic unalienable rights is the right to a mother and father. These parents have dramatically different roles, each of which is crucial to a childs development.

Thus, if there is a homosexual couple that is equally functional in terms of stability to a heterosexual couple, the latter couple should be given priority. If no more of such functional couples are available, the homosexual couple of that functionality should be given priority over less functional hetero couples.

Andy said...

Hi Beth, and welcome!

I saw that 60 Minutes segment, and I worry that they messed up bigtime on that twin issue. The more effeminate boy said he "wished" he was a girl; that's gender identity disorder, and transgender people are *not necessarily* homosexual. Gay men are not men who wish they were women. I enjoy being a guy! And gay men are not necessarily woman-like...I know some gay men who could kick pretty much any straight guy's ass.

Transgender people believe their genital status does not match their emotional gender identity, and that doesn't apply to any gay man I have ever met.

The Oracle said...

Wow, I didn't know jocular was even a word. I guess you learn something new every day.

Future Geek said...

I watched that 60 minutes - very interesting. The conclusion seems to be that it is hereditary to some extent, environmental to some extent - but a large part of that environmental influence happens in the mother's womb.

Anyway - LC:

Sorry, I was sort of talking about the "general right wing" attitude about homosexuals. I can see that you weren't taking that position.

However, I still take issue with the idea that you can "fix" gay people, at whatever age.

There is an underlying assumption there that it is wrong to be gay, and it is something that needs to be fixed.

Maybe society's attitudes need to be fixed, eh?

I mean, I see no harm in one man having sex with another. I do see harm in that desire being forced into secret places, denied, and hidden away.

kr pdx said...

I am very very impressed with you all, Andy's readers. You guys (and gals) have been very civil. I hope I have also been.

There is always more to be said, but I have said enough for now. I hope we (or the generations that follow, if we don't live that long) all meet at the Truth someday :).

Jade said...

LC - "HOMOSEXUALS PROBABLY DO NOT CHOOSE TO BE GAY, BUT PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS MAY CAUSE THEM TO BECOME GAY."
I think what you perceive to be confusion about your posts comes from your ongoing assumption that people aren't simply born gay. You believe people become gay due to circumstances in their lives - further, that if you catch it early enough and reverse what is happening, you can stop someone from becoming gay. You are equating "becoming gay" to psychological disorders (depression, OCD). Being gay is not a disorder, it's not a condition... it simply is. Just like being heterosexual simply is.

Anthony said...

If this post were about adoption rights, Little Cicero, I would be laying into you right now. I took a sharp intake of breath on reading your opinion that "if there is a homosexual couple that is equally functional in terms of stability to a heterosexual couple, the latter couple should be given priority."

I would write more if I weren't so damn angry at you. I abhor descents into name-calling (and believe me, it's taking a lot for me not to swear), but you are walking perilously close to that line. Hard though it is to restrain myself, I want to give you a chance to elaborate on your views on adoption by heterosexual and homosexual couples before I start jumping to conclusions.

little-cicero said...

I will not elaborate on my adoption/marriage position unless if Andy thinks it appropriate- he may be writing another post for that subject.

As for y'all, I appreciate your efforts to be civil and polite, especially considering my thoughts which may be understandably infuriating for homosexuals. I apologize if they are offensive, and am sorry that I haven't got any facts to support me right now, but there are also no facts to rebut my theories, since these are new issues on which few reputable studies have been conducted. I still love this blog.

little-cicero said...

Well, I've reread the comments between yourself and Esther, and I think that you were simply wrong. It's not that you were being obstinate, which you were, it is that you did not even take her comment seriously, and the fact that you don't even understand why she was offended shows a weakness of character in you. I love this blog, as well as the gauntlet of criticism, but try to keep in mind that sarcasm is not to be used to replace honest debate, rather it is to supplement it.

That being said, from what I have read, you have not really apologized to Esther, and it is best that you do so, lest you end up with only one conservative on this blog. Of course, without conservatives, this blog would cease to be the Last "Debate" and would simply be full of "Ameners". Also, she's simply a nice, intelligent person who deserves your respect and consideration.

Andy said...

Did you miss that part where I wrote, Esther, I'm sorry if my sarcasm offended you?

Anthony said...

Point taken, Little Cicero - though I'd be inclined to wonder why you brought up the matter of same-sex adoption in the first place. That said, I trust you found the article Andy emailed us of interest and hope it will not prevent you from commenting on it on your own blog, as I shall be doing (on mine, not in the form of an unsolicited comment on yours!) ere long.

little-cicero said...

Andy, I know you didn't mean to offend her, and you are sorry that this offended her, but saying that you're sorry that someone's perception was such that they found it offensive is not the same thing as being sorry for saying the thing that was offensive. Maybe that's just my definition of an apology, but I personally didn't think that was a real apology- it was more like something a politician would say.

Jeff said...

I apologize if they are offensive, and am sorry that I haven't got any facts to support me right now, but there are also no facts to rebut my theories

A theory without any facts to support it is just a person's random speculations. If you're going to state a theory, you have the burden of proving it. The burden is not on other people to disprove your speculation.

little-cicero said...

By facts I mean statistics/data/academic findings. Of course facts can include life observations and understandings, so in that sense, I do have "fact" to support my theorum, but as I've said, this is an area I need to work on. Tell me though, specifically where my facts are lacking and I'll be happy to rationalize on my own behalf!

Andy said...

After giving it much thought, I can say only that I apologize for the manner in which I responded, but I cannot in good conscience apologize for the content. The underlying premise of Esther's contribution was that gay people don't suffer any worse than anyone else. I beg to differ, and I have a right to do so. My right to say so does not infringe upon her right to disagree, which does not necessitate an apology from me.

kr pdx said...

ACK!!!!!! Please please please! LC, you are killing me!
I hope for your sake everyone else doesn't read down this far.

"Life observations and understandings" are NOT FACTS, they are perceptions. Your. Personal. Perceptions. You are welcome to present them as such, as corroborating or at least explanatory (but non-factual) evidence for your OPINIONS. You can even call them "theories," if you would just SUPPORT the damn things. (There's that swearing again--doh!) "Rationalizing on your own behalf" is NOT good enough. Offer your observations about real things that have really happened, recognizing that your interpretations, especially with this crowd, might be thrown back at you radically reworked to present how another (also subjective) viewer might have "seen" said real thing or event.

Example: "I saw (x), and I have friends who have told me (y) and (z) because they have (a,b,and c) pertinent experience. To me, this suggests (j random conclusion that this crowd will find offensive but at least it is not an offensive rhetorical soapbubble)."

"Tell you specifically where your facts are lacking"????? Have we seen any? I'm not going to go back and read all the posts, but I remember being irritated by every one of yours (as I have been for a while), so I'm pretty sure there weren't many. "Facts," that is. Nor even justifications. (Except in defense of Esther--see? Real world = pertinent! Yay! And substantive argument resulted! A miracle!)

You are a frequent countervailing voice on this blog (I have been back-reading some), and your insistence that your ideas are supportable without actually offering coherent supports stains other countervailing voices by association. GRRRRRR.

"It is logical" is NOT a rhetorical support, it is a rhetorical copout. If you feel the need to say that, I guarantee you'd better lay out the logic instead, or why the freakin-frabbitz (there, that wasn't swearing) should anyone read your stuff?!? It's frequently not substantive. It is (to many) almost always offensive. I appreciate that by the end of a string you usually manage to do something resembling supporting yourself because you have been badgered into it by other (extremely impatient) readers ... maybe try to add the defenses and justifications FIRST. Please? (And that "you have the same right to marry a person of the opposite sex" argument was the gorram stupidest(!) argument sallied forth by the anti-gay-marriage campaigners here in Oregon. It's so stupid it pushes people to the pro- side. That one just can't go by. Don't use it again PLEASE. "You have the right to marry any person of the same race as yourself, same as everyone else." "You have the right vote if you are a man over 21 who owns land--same as any other person has that right." See? Whether or not man-woman-2-person marriage is defensible or right, that "defense" is merely bigoted or mentally hopelessly weak. I'm about to take a liberal feminist columnist to task via email letter for the same intellectually insupportable construction re: abortion and comparative rights.)

And(!), I DO understand satire. I only use it when I have really given up on someone, though. (Please note that all of the above is dead serious, except the end of the Esther bit. Although over the last weeks I have been tempted to really take you down ... but Andy says you are younger, so I've refrained. If you were 30-something, though, boyfriend, you would be in a WORLD of verbal hurt and disrespect right now ... . Maybe I earned points in Heaven. More likely I just didn't earn Hell-points. And obviously, this is more specific criticism since the gentler stuff above in this string didn't "catch." I did try--hoping that another (partially-)conservative heterosexual might get through to you where crowds of liberal homosexuals have failed repeatedly. Really, they aren't just biting back, my young and defensive blogger. You actually don't reliably support your "arguments.")

And I _am_ more offended by being called stupid (or by blemished by association!) than wrong (which to me only means we don't agree: eh, so what, I have no friends who agree with me on the majority of my opinions, however well researched and thought out they are or aren't). I am not sure whether I will read Andy's comment-strings anymore, since Andy's posts are so well-written in the first place that positive comments don't add reams, and the negative ones ... well, then. I'll probably keep on, since I would like to see more of what Esther has to say. I hope your responses grow to measure up to Andy's writing. Watch how Esther marshals her contributions. And whatever school you have access to, please find an English or rhetoric teacher and get extra practice, so they can help you find where you go wrong, in person and line by line.

isval said...

hi i think that your argument is awesome i think that people is so afraid to recognize that homosexuality is a real thing and that we are real people living the same way that straight people do they just sign us and identiffy us like perverts or sinners we ain't sinners we are humans just like all of us theyre just afraid to see the truth i live in mexico and here if u come out is living hell for ya i also knew since i was a kid that i am what i am it was hard but its true u just have to accept urself i've been moved by ur argument i wish there could be more people like u who have the guts of sherin experience like this with the world... hope ya'll have a good day and week hugs and for people like u i would be proud of been gay.. thanks...

little-cicero said...

I have given up on you kr pdx, so instead of using sarcasm:

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW THEME SONG
(Music by Earle Hagen / Lyrics by Morey Amsterdam)

So you think that you've got troubles?
Well, trouble's a bubble,
So tell old Mr. Trouble to "Get lost!".

Why not hold your head up high and,
Stop cryin', start tryin',
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed.

When you find the joy of livin'
Is lovin' and givin'
You'll be there when the winning dice are tossed.

A smile is just a frown that's turned upside down,
So smile, and that frown will defrost.
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed!

Andy said...

Boy, Kirsten, he sure told you!

little-cicero said...

Is this not the greatest citcom in history?

I just have neither the time, energy nor the patience to respond intelligably tonight, so there it is! Not many people have heard the theme song with the words, so that might have been the greatest contribution I've ever made to this blog!

kr (er, kirsten--Andy!) pdx said...

Damn, I guess it didn't work.

Oh, well, let's give up on each other then. At least nobody will think I agree with you just because we both don't agree with them. Not that the regular readers of this blog were probably prone to that anyhow. Wasted my time on that one.

little-cicero said...

Thank you for not being excessively offensive in your comments. I usually don't give up on these things, and it hurts me to do so, but let me tackle one or two of your points.

1) On my "facts" statement, I was saying that I didn't have any statistics to support my conclusions in a sort of rhetorical apology. I was not saying that logical speculations WERE facts, but that they might be construed in the context of accusations that my conclusions are based on no facts whatever. Andy probably has not statistics to suggest that gay-bashers are primarily conservative, but he, as I, would assume such due to obvious circumstances. It is unlikely that such statistics exist, but you can still make logical progressions based on the "fact" that gay bashers are conservative.

As far as "putting me in a world of hurt" I am not hurt by words so much as by coming to the understanding through persuasion that my conclusions were faulty. I honestly don't see why you would want to offend me, but don't treat me differently based on my age- I'm sure that I've taken much worse.

Now that I have opened this option to you, you might take my advice and read the song I posted before doing so, just to put things in perspective! After all, a smile is just a frown that's turned upside-down!

kr pdx said...

I did read the words, the first time ... and I thought it was an interesting thing, and funny ... but then I got irritated again because it was interesting because it was substantive information, which reminded me of everything before.

Yes, there are assumed "facts." I'll go for that. You frequently treat your assumed facts as so universally assumed that we will all understand exactly which presumed "fact" or "facts" you mean to include simply by "obvious" implication with your conclusion(s). I can't usually guess them. It sounds like many others can't, historically. _State_ your "facts" and _build_ your argument and I will respect it.

I went to a liberal college; plenty of those liberals weren't comfortable with homosexuals, and, per all sorts of stuff on this string, people struggling with gender identity can be caught gay-bashing as a cover. A "fact" is not a Fact. It is a generalization or an assumption. OK to use, but use them openly and honestly. Just _stating_ them will help you sound less like a conservative campaign parrot when you then state your conclusions.

Sorry I was so cheesed off. Your post before my explosion was the epitome of everything I object to about your writing, though.

Anonymous said...

I find it sad that religious idealogy is so oppressive that a person would rather kill themselves than be rejected or hated by God, just for being the person God created them as.

Andy, did you want to kill yourself because you were gay, or because God would reject you?

God sent Jesus to die on the cross for all, for we are all sinners. And if God can forgive, what right do mortals have to judge others.

It seems Andy has come to beleive this and can now live in peace with his God.

Societies disapproval, parental rejection, vanishing friends; only help to push a person to a dangerous and wrong decision.

Sadly some reject God, live in mental pain, or kill themselves.

Judge yourself little cicero, let God judge others.

little-cicero said...

To kr pdx, I will try to make clear my ignorance in the future. True wisdom is acknowledging that we know nothing. That is not to say that I don't know anything, but I suppose that without solid stats and studies I am simply attempting to cut into this homosexual audience's audience with a dull knife- it hurts more but doesn't get the job done!

To Anon: I do not judge Andy, I simply believe that his actions are immoral. There is a difference- even if I were to actively discourage him from acting immorally, which I haven't the audacity to do, I would not be judging him- I would simply be preparing him for God's judgement. This is an act of love, not judgement.

Jarred said...

This was incredibly written. I can certainly see some of my own experiences (though I was never fortunate enough to fall into the popular crowd anywhere ;)) reflected in your story. It's always nice to be reminded that we've all "been there" in one way or another.

kr pdx said...

1) You do that.

2) Hey, wait, has Andy been getting Action lately? I'm pretty sure that's not been a topic for at least a little while ... .

Your underlying assumption that homosexuality is not necessary judges these folks by every implication I can think of. You are not judgng "actions"--or rather, you are judging every possible action that will ever occur to them as vaguely honest and desirable, you are impugning therefore their moral character. You are judging what they firmly believe to be their existence, you are judging their psyche; how much you may not believe homosexuality to be fundamental to their existence is really beside the point unless you get at least a few Facts (and I mean hard science ones) to back you up. Years of heterosexual disgust, argubly based primarily on the pre-Christian OT, are not admissible evidence on this one. (In fact, they tend to support the inevitability of homosexuality!)

I believe it is possible to judge actions and not the person. I DON'T think you've managed it.

And your "dull knife" _doesn't_ just cause pain and do no good. It _damages_. (This is a surgical metaphor--think about it!) Every time you put up an apparently bigotted statement without any support except your own intellectual-self-satisfaction (which is how you come accross), there is one less reason for homosexuals to listen to any related voices on the issues you claim to care about. (Which I largely disagree with, so far, but maybe I'm just so irritated at the delivery ... !) You _hurt_ your own cause. (Not that folks here can be too sad with that result.)

When I was 23 I worked with a high school junior who had been so browbeaten and abused by "Christians" that the sight of a cross was enough for him to almost vomit. (I wore my cross inside my shirt for him--a tiny tiny act of Christian mercy.)

His testimonies made me want to vomit too.

Yes, if one believes that homosexuality leads people to Hell, at some level it is theoretically "compassionate" to try to lead them (shove them? beat them? slice at them with a dull knife?) into Heaven, but it is an immature compassion. It would be wiser (and more compassionate) to let Jesus lead them. That's his job!

If indeed your entries are a "Christian" effort, please get with the program. God knows all. We don't. Nor do our elders-in-the-faith (whatever denomination), and the more vehmently they declaim, the more you should look into the accuracy of the declarations.

Jesus met people where they were at instead of Preaching From On High. He encouraged us to wash one another's feet; servant to all, and all that. Pride seems to me the deepest of the Cardinal Sins; homosexuality didn't even make the list. You have demonstrated that you clearly DO NOT KNOW ENOUGH to speak with the authority you assume. You can speak. Just be open about your frailties.

little-cicero said...

First of all, I hope that this reply does not offend you, as it is meant in the most dispassionate manner possible.

I did not say that homosexuality is not necessary, but for goodness sakes, no sexual activity that does not result in reproduction is unneccessary. That being said, in response to what I think you meant by that statement, that something is a psychological condition would not make it "unneccessary" any more than if it was genetically caused. At an adult stage, it would be just as irreversible, so I would not be so idiotic as to say "Oh, you're gay-just cure yourself and quit complaining!". Homosexuals are homosexuals, and should be allowed to engage in whatever activity they wish to engage in.

I have never set out to show Andy the err of his ways- that is what I said in the last comment. I was simply saying that, if I was pointing out the immorality of homosexuality, it would be out of love, not hate, though I believe it is insensitive to do so. Is that so hard to empathize with?

As far as the presumed immorality of homosexuality, Leviticus is a book of Moses for goodness sake! Whether or not there were faulty transliterations concerning the passages condemning homosexuality (I find it hard to believe that it is punishable by death) it is clear that God is telling Moses that it is immoral (abominable to use biblical language). There is a lot I do not and can not know on this subject as it pertains to God's will, but what I do know is that, as Leviticus is valid, it is immoral. I'm sorry, but I take the words of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 before yours or my own beliefs (which are disgusted by the prospect of capital punishment for homosexuals).

little-cicero said...

Oh, and this is the 92nd comment, so HOORAY FOR ANDY!!!

kr pdx said...

OK. Your language suggests that I am finally starting to hit home.

I assume Andy and others have tried running you through the sarcastic Leviticus mangle in the past.

I object to your Leviticus "defense" for the same reason I object to Andy's Gospels one. You are completely ignoring all of the textual, religious, and historical context. Which doesn't necessarily mean you are wrong. As I very uncomfortably stated, with caveats etc., in my first long post in this string, at this time I believe, with my Church, that homosexual activity is, at some level, inherently immoral. I don't know why it is. But it's not simply because the OT says, even clearly, that it is abomination. The OT, especially Leviticus, is pretty famous for a whole bunch of declarations of uncleanliness and evil. Being "a book of Moses for goodness sake" doesn't excuse it from the squeaky-clean charge of being pre-Jesus'-Revolution! (Mosaic uncleanliness, by the way, has some resonance with "holiness" that I have never managed to piece together--but the whole menstruating women thing is partly because the mystery of life/birth/creation was too holy for the Levites to touch, similar for sickness and death ... I've read this in a couple of different sources. Yes, pork being unclean seems more how we would use "unclean" ... . A nuance to keep in mind, though--interesting in its suggestion that to be ritually "clean" required conscious admission that they were lowly. The writers of the Gospels sure didn't see that attitude by their time!)

As we've seen before, Jesus chucks specific sections of OT "uncleanliness" teachings, as well as the concept of uncleanliness itself. Perhaps some of those teachings were in the nature of nation-wide, millennia-long fasts, to spiritually soften His people. Some were probably the result of overzealous theologians taking God's will to what they thought were logical extensions. My mom, who grew up on the coast and has a civil engineering degree, suggests that a ban on shoreline seafoods was, whether mortal or divine, a pretty smart disease-control measure before sewers. In any case, Jesus dumped some stuff. If you accept Acts and the letters, the Apostles chucked a bunch more. I'm pretty sure the Gentiles/circumcision question was really a bigger religious scandal to the Jewish Christians than the "(some? most? all?) Gentiles accept homosexuality" one, being a question of the very identity and dedication of God's People instead of a behavior of God's People. (Homosexuality is consistently portrayed in the Bible as a behavior and not as a state, other folks, so don't tweak me for portraying it as such in the thought-milieu of 33 BCE-100 CE). So something being "in Leviticus" doesn't theologically bind Christians just because it exists.

Also, the Bible is not one big monolithic work. Not only do different writers have different valuations on different sin-sets, but the entire thing is DEVELOPMENTAL. An example: the Mesopotamian culture out of which the Israelites were Chosen, as far as I know, was a blood-feud culture (you kill my son, I kill your cousin's family, our clans try to eradicate each other, etc.) ... the OT teaches "an eye for an eye," which must have seemed ridiculous and revolutionary ... Jesus teaches "turn the other cheek," which still today strikes most of us as ridiculous and revolutionary. (And, his "seventy times seven" suggests what many now sense--that really enlightened people would not even include striking back in their options. MLK Jr, Ghandi ... not me yet ... .)

So! Ignoring the plain speaking in Leviticus is not totally unjustifiable on the part of homosexuals. But basing a belief only on those passages is unjustifiable, if you are going to try to be a Thinking Christian. Which it appears you are determined to be. (YAY!)

I understand, but do not "empathize" with, your "love" assertion. My heart aches if you are hurt ... but my understanding of "love your neighbor" includes not letting a neighbor who clearly wants to be thought of as an intellectual make himself the laughingstock idiot of this blog, which is the function you seem unaware that you have fallen into. I have talked to two people today who stopped reading Andy's comment strings (or at least the ones in which you show up) because of you, as I had considered doing. Zillions of times other readers have called your arguments idiotic. It never before seemed to cross your mind that they were, at least sometimes, being accurate and not bigotted.

I am very very glad, and terribly relieved, you conceptually base what you argue on "love." It is a start. An important base. Now add more learning, and present more substantiation. If God exists, and God is Truth, and you are right, you will find support, because Truth will be consistent. But it might take years of listening and looking (and praying!). If God is Truth, and you are wrong, obviously you (and I) will run into an unclimbable wall. That might also take years of listening, looking, and praying!

Practically, though: if you now say unsupported things and I read them, I will just ask, "Why?" You will know how much demand for intellectual honesty, self examination, and breadth of inquiry is behind my query. If you start including your Becauses in your original posts, so I don't have to ask, I (and probably others who have bitched you out for your past posts) will be happy. Really truly in the sense of Joy and Satisfaction, happy, even if your Becauses aren't too solid to start with. Because then, my friend, substantive discussion can happen, and we all might learn something for our life-journeys. (Including how to be kinder, eh? Sorry for any hurt I've caused that was not necessary ... .)

This crowd should keep you challenged. Especially nice that there are folks at all levels of intellectual inquiry on Andy's side, too.

:)?

DJRainDog said...

kr pdx: You rock. In your last post, you've included many of the points that others (including myself) have tried to express to l-c, and you've done so in a far more gentle fashion than those of us who are frankly just sick of his uneducated babble are inclined to do. You obviously think often and well, and it's easy to see why Andy's fond of you. Brava!

kr pdx said...

DJRainDog: Thank you! I am trying.

I'd like to give LC some credit: it sounds like he is trying, too. This can't be the easiest time he's had on this blog ...

Anonymous said...

"I did not say that homosexuality is not necessary, but for goodness sakes, no sexual activity that does not result in reproduction is unneccessary."--LC

Are you asexual? That's the only conclusion I can come to after that statement.

Mark said...

A few thoughts:

First, great post. Very "eye-opening" in many respects.

People are right to be annoyed with LD for his unsupported assertions. However, do understand that both sides appear to be presuming. LD seems to be assuming that homosexuality is not innate without support. On the other hand, the opposing side assumes that homosexuality IS innate, is furious with LD for saying otherwise, and then gives no support except personal experience or the big "is." I'm not saying you're wrong or LD's right; what I am saying is that your personal experiences are no more empirical than his wild assertions. Neither side has presented any proof because I'm not sure there is convincing empirical proof either way.

Basically, I'd say there needs to be more consistency on both sides. Coming from a terribly conservative Christian family and environment, I've gotten to see how much conservatives bitch about liberals when it turns out that the conservatives are often guilty of the same things... We all have our own double standards, and we tend to get most annoyed by things present in our own lives as well...

I'd also like to caution using the genetic evidence discovered so far as support for the inherency of homosexuality. The problem is that all that has been *proven* at this point is a higher genetic **tendency** than others... I'd caution you to avoid that as a defense like the plague because, genetically, scientists believe some people have a higher genetic tendency for alcoholism, violence, drug addiction, etc. If you try to use the current gene findings as evidence, you will most likely have the Jerry Falwell's of the world throw that right back at you. It's a very dangerous support that I would suggest avoiding.

A note on judging: Paul demands that Christians judge those inside the Church while refraining from judging those outside. His basic opinion appears to be: "Who gives a shit what those outside the Church do? Kick the wicked people out of the Church!" (check out 1 Corinthians 5) Granted, if you don't hold Paul as a reliable source, that won't make any difference to you.

Lastly, the Ecclesiastes verse is taken out of context, of course. The next verse (Ecc 7:14) clarifies that the crooked/bent refers to times of adversity (versus times of prosperity), not to an inherencies in people. It has to do with what you face. The basic point seems to be: if you're facing adversity, trust God to pull you through since He's allowing you to go through it in the first place.