Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Tag: queer

Bathrooms: A Redundant Take

I didn’t want to write this. I really didn’t. Partly because it means reliving parts of growing up that are harmful, partly because it means saying what has been said before. But I have to, just to make some things clear.

Yesterday, Russell Moore published this startlingly simplistic blog post  was pretty much immediately ripped to pieces by Twitter, especially progressive (queer) Christians. Rightfully so. What Russell Moore says in this piece trickles down through the denomination he is a part of. Moore is the head of the Ethics commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. A Convention that this church is a part of. The pastor of this church in Georgia spoke at a town hall meeting and said that this situation was perverse. This situation refers to the simple idea of letting people piss where they feel comfortable. Moore’s theology has been rightly criticized and questioned, though I doubt he will change a thing. What’s disturbing to me is that on my Facebook feed images like this have been shared:

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What’s disturbing is that Moore’s theology masquerades as the loving side of biblical theology. His theology is predicated on the exact same assumptions as Kevin Swanson, Bill Jack, and others. The theology Bill Jack and Kevin Swanson share is one of violent behavior. Swanson advocates bringing back the death penalty for gay people (and presumably trans people). Bill Jack, on Swanson’s radio show, pretty much took time to rip on my college (Calvin College) for being LGBTQ friendly. I emailed him about that because for a while I considered him a mentor, a friend, a man I respected. I attended Worldview Academy (the religious organization he is affiliated with) for three years, I was on staff as an intern for a week, I thought he was a good man. Now I’m frightened by him. But I emailed him to correct some things and to make an appeal personally. I wrote (in part):

“I’m also a queer student. 
I’d like to write you and wonder about your radio broadcast about my school. How much do you know about Calvin College? You seem to have exhibited an inability to understand a few key things about the CRC and Calvin Chimes.”
To which Bill replied:

“…in response to your claim that Calvin College has drawn you closer to Jesus, who is this Jesus you say you worship?  Show me this Jesus who winks at sin, excuses vile behavior and fails to call one to repentance.  What truth and what beauty has Calvin taught you if it is outside of Scripture? In short, support your position from Scripture, not from feelings or from Calvin College statements, my young friend.  I fear you are in danger of God’s wrath and God’s discipline.”

Bill recently, along with my former debate coach from Colorado, decided to propagate fear, hate and mocked the plight of trans individuals on Kevin Swanson’s radio show.

All this to say, I don’t intend to say what Jesus would or would not do. Nor am I interested in decrying this as not “real Christianity” because it is very much real Christianity. It is very clearly based on an interpretation of sacred texts of Christianity. It’s very explicitly their way of following Jesus. And it is violent and evil. I didn’t want to write this post because the religious right has been castigated a lot (most times deservedly, others times not) but this was too much.

Trans people are being threatened with violence, being threatened by men who want to protect their daughters from sexual violence by threatening to assault (even shoot) trans persons. The issue is that this theology trickles down through families, through people. Moore’s theology is two steps too close to Swanson’s for comfort. And extending grace is becoming impossible and frankly less and less lie a valid option.

If your theology resembles Moore’s or Swanson’s or Jack’s you are willfully participating in violent theology. And if you’re okay with being complicit in that I might not be able to have a conversation in good faith with you. Nor should you expect any queer person to have a conversation in good faith with you.

Christianity is and has been violent. It has also been good and beautiful. Choose which form of it you want to partake in, because I know which side I’m on and it’s with the trans girl who just wants to piss, it’s the trans guy who just wants to shower, and it’s with then-binary person who simply wants to change after a sporting event.

As stated, this post is redundant, has been state more clearly by better people. But these men (Swanson, Jack, Moore) have a readership, audience, and have influenced hundreds (thousands) of people. They have an impact on people, their theology has an impact on people. And it’s worth calling them out and naming what they’re saying as evil. Because it is evil. But this is redundant, won’t change anyone’s minds, but it needed to be said because I grew up around these people and their theology. I saw it wreck me, watched it wreck others, and I’ve seen it lead to throwing people to the margins and mockery.

To anyone still in speech and debate in Colorado with Steve Vaughn: get the hell out.

To anyone tied to Worldview Academy or Bill Jack: get the hell out

To anyone tied to Kevin Swanson or Moore: get the hell out.

 

On Gay Marriage: There is No Contradiction

Gay marriage is legalized.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone who reads the news, is on social media, or has friends who do the former two. Gay marriage is legalized and I’m celebrating with my friends who are married, who want to marry, and who need to have their marriages recognized by law so that that they and their families can partake in the benefits everyone else can. But I have some other, more curmudgeonly thoughts. Thoughts directed primarily at Christians who hold a traditional ethic. But thoughts also directed at progressives.

A traditional ethic is fine. Hold dearly to what your conscience dictates, what you interpret the bible to be saying. That’s fine. But at some point maybe ask some questions. At what point does traditional marriage become an idol? At one point does fighting for heterosexual unions distract from other, more important issues? Where’s the outrage about Charleston, Ferguson, Beavercreek, McKinney, New York City, and any other place where Black bodies are under attack? Where’s the outrage about settler colonialism? Where’s the outrage and worry about the capitalist system that’s killing our economy and environment? Where’s the concern for nonhuman animals being slaughtered for our mass consumption by factory farms out to seek a profit? Care about any of those? Or just gay dudes making out? And maybe ask if your view actually is hurting queer folks?

Cause frankly you don’t need to like, support, endorse, or even give a single shit about gay marriage. Like stated, I don’t care if you change your views and in some ways I’d rather you not. But marriage seems to be the hard on of choice and it bugs me. I think Jesus cares a bit more about the Palestinian kid being murdered at the hands of Israeli soldiers than gay couples marrying. Could be wrong.

I’d like someone to tell me how gay people are impeding the bringing of the just kingdom to earth in all its fleshly glory?

But it’s okay. Hold to your traditional beliefs. But if you’re not coming out and fighting against the murder of trans persons, against the workplace discrimination of LGBTQ persons, against police brutality, against nationalistic terrorism done in the name of the red, white, and blue, please step off. Otherwise, I’m going to say you’re making marriage an idol, a bigger deal than St. Paul ever made it, than Jesus ever made it. And wondering why you don’t care about the actual least of these in society.

But this isn’t just anti-conservative Christians. I’m kind of pissed at the progressives too. At one point did we decide it was okay to be a part of a screwed up system? Why do we want equal rights to be in the military and government? It confuses me? I feel like honesty demands that any progressive worth her salt admits that the gay marriage movement isn’t a minority movement, not meaningfully. Sure, go off population stats but then you’re playing into the hands of the conservatives. When Apple, White House, Amazon, Starbucks and basically any other large company endorses you you’re not a minority movement anymore. Not really.

And that’s not always bad. Gay couples can marry and receive benefits, as they should. But it distracts from more pressing issues surrounding trans healthcare, murder, and assault. Big money isn’t gonna save you, it just makes gay marriage another privatized commodity in the capitalist machine.

What’s the point of this point? I’m just pissing on peoples joy and sorrow. Yep. That’s right. Mostly I’m registering publicly that the work is not done for progressives at all and that conservatives need to get their priorities in line.

I rejoice with the couple who drive me to church on Sundays in Michigan. They’re two of my heroes and I admire, love, cherish, and appreciate their friendship and for welcoming me into their lives. Appreciate all that more than they can know.

I love my conservative friends who challenge me and push me to do better. More than I have ever made clear or probably ever will.

But I can’t get behind either side full heartedly, not when queer people are being murdered and killing themselves, not when people are being killed by the police, not when sentient beings are being slaughtered for our pleasure and enjoyment.

I rejoice and mourn. Both are possible.

Conservatives: rejoice in your gay friends today and mourn the loss of a traditional ethic. There’s no contradiction.

Progressives: mourn with the conservative Christians and rejoice. There is no contradiction.

I rejoice with my progressive, gay, queer, friends and mourn the continued loss of life.

I mourn with the my conservative friends, because they feel attacked and regardless of whether they are or not they feel something and I mourn and suffer with them.

That’s being human. This isn’t just a piss party. It’s a post to try and get us to focus on bigger issues, on issues that are pressing still, demanding attention, and to move on from our victories and losses and use them as motivation to move forward, to learn to think the unthought and work from within difference.

Notes on Being Radical

We all want to be radical and many people my age (college aged millennials) claim the label. Something seems odd, though. It seems so oddly difficult to claim to be radical since no one really is. Not truly. We’re all inconsistent failures. Ironically, the most consistently radical are those conservative, right wingers who follow out their horrid beliefs to the logical end. Or the anarchists in Greece who bomb far right group meeting places and start fist fights. We all want to be radical. I want to be radical.

Somewhere along the line it seems we lost any sense of what it means to be radical. We say we’re radical but then when pressed we back down. Somehow being radical means holding fully formed and fleshed out beliefs about the world and the problem with the world we’ve been given. And I guess I’m not sure how to be radical. What follows are some brief thoughts on how to be radical, to do violence to the system and world we’ve been given, to imagine new ways in the break.

Maybe radical means standing in solidarity with black persons. Maybe it means shutting up and turning off the desire for “all of the facts” and actually trying to be there. Being radical in this case doesn’t seem too radical at all. But maybe that’s the point. Go to a protest. Protests the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott. Stand against Darren Wilson, Mike Slager and the murderers. As a white person I’m starting to think maybe I need to shut the hell up and just be there. I need to relearn and unlearn my history and my past and the current climate. I need to make the last first and be silent and listen and mourn with those who mourn. Maybe demonstrate that black lives do matter in a tangible way by centering those lives.

Maybe being radical is suffering with queer kids. Maybe it’s shutting your damn bible and listening to stories. Learn to step into the shoes of others.

Maybe being radical is actually going to protests, writing, expressing, and educating oneself about the issues that are important to do today.

I don’t know. These are just thoughts. I’m really struggling with these things lately, trying to know how to proceed and being too pragmatic for my own good.

 

Comments welcomed.

On Labels

This is going to be harsh.

But cisgendered, straight people like to tell LGBTQ people and society that if only we got rid of labels LGBTQ folks would be accepted more readily.

The argument goes as such: “If we didn’t have labels like “gay” then actualy gay folks would be accepted more readily. Like, I don’t have to come out as straight so why should they have to come out as something either? Like, I don’t get it.”

Problem: this works within a cis-heteronormative understanding of reality in which, of course, no labels need to exist. Because everyone is assumed to be cisgender or hetero labels are meaningless. If only those damn queers would use fewer labels then they’d be accepted.

But people don’t realize that saying this erases key differences and the necessity and power of self-definiton. It’s similar conceptually to colorblindness. Colorblindness functions as a seemingly poignant statement but fails by erasing difference. Additionally, by erasure it substitutes difference with a colorblind white washing. Same goes for LGBTQ people. Identities are straight and cis washed.

So, please, stop it.

 

Stop Being Nice

Kind words aren’t enough. They never are.

Being nice is not the answer. It never has been.

Wanting justice, demanding justice, demanding fairness, these are good and right. And I get that in some contexts peacefulness may be the better part of valor, but nothing significant has changed by being nice and saying kind words. Christianity is no different.

Christians, me included, are guilty of making the bible soft. And, no, I refuse to argue that we make the bible soft by cushioning its’ truths. We soften the bible’s demands for justice and love. We soften the God who has a preferential option for the marginalized. Christians are too nice.

We tell people they’re loved by God even though they’re gay.

We tell people all will be made well in the end and racism will die the death that death died.

We tell transgender/gender non-conforming folks that they are loved and we’ll pray for them to love their bodies.

We tell these marginalized groups in America all these nice, trite, gentle words. But we ignore the bible.

Let’s recap for a second what the bible states regarding the oppressed:

From Amos 5: “There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
    and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.”

From Acts 8 a gender minority says: “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

I need to listen to the voice of the prophets, demanding justice. I need to listen to a God who will cast down those in power because of God’s love for the oppressed. I need to listen to the God who sides with prostitutes, lepers, queers, ethnic minorities, and immigrants.

I need to listen for God’s voice in the cries of those the United States bombs.

I need to listen for God in the voice of trans women who are murdered for being women.

I need to listen for God in the voice of persons of colour who suffer violence against their bodies by the powers that be.

I need to listen.

And stop softening the bible.

If God loves trans folks: I need to  fight for them. Fight the misgendering, fight the violence, fight for their recognition.

If God loves ethnic minorities: I need to fight racism, fight the structures of racism in communities, in my church. And shut up.

If God loves those we bomb: I need to stop simply praying, do something. Write my senator. Protest. Change how I think, vote, if I vote at all.

If God loves gay people: I need to fight for their rights as citizens of a country. Fight for their acceptance.

I’m convinced heaven will be full of queers and persons of colour teaching us what grace and beauty looks like. Heaven isn’t just for white, straight, cisgender people. Remember this.

 

AIDS: An Ongoing Epidemic

I’m angry.

Angry at people, society, the past, the Church, and how people are silent today. And I’m angry for my friends, fellow members of humanity. My friends who have suffered, who know people who died and are suffering still and face the unbearable wall of silence from . . . everyone. Since the 1980’s, when, for America, AIDS hit home, it took the normal swell of social controversy. Up went the outrage (rightfully so) and after pills came out to help down the swell went. Privilege called and finally the epidemic seemed to recede. But it hasn’t. America and Canada and the Western world generally may have achieved equality for gays and lesbians but only at a cost, a cost which now rages onward, with little to nothing done on the matter.

I’m linking to a post by a friend who says everything much more aptly than I can. He’s opened my eyes to the singular vision that we have in the US, a vision too narrow to get past our own comfort and see how much there is in the world still needing to be done. Read. Listen.

(Side note: I think I’m gonna do a blog series about AIDS and probably post more about it on Facebook and social media. Something needs to be done even if all I’ve got is emotion, a computer, my privilege and social media and time.) Please read the linked article below after the jump.

If LGBTs are scapegoated abroad as the source of the spread of a pandemic that people in the west, in rich nations are blind and clueless to now.

If I express outrage at the horrors inflicted against my brothers and sisters in the news that I see, but not at its source and cause.

If that points right back to our own silence and inaction. If it points to teachings of lapses of morality that we’ve sown in foreign lands.

Then let me stay single and unmarried.  Silence the voice that only cares about my own narrow scope of rights. Silence the voice that has seen much and should know better.

(If I’ve Survived to Achieve it All by Kenny Pierce)

 

Needless Theologies

No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Deut. 23:1 

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Deut. 22:5

I have a problem with these passages.

No, I haven’t heard a sermon on either (and pray to God I never do) but I have a problem with the concepts listed here. Correction: I have a problem with the theologies of manhood/womanhood and sexuality within the Church. Too often the notion propagated in the Church is that men need to be men like those in the bible. Women need to meet the Proverbs 31 standard. But what about those in the Church who don’t fit either stereotypical means of outreach? What about the women in my church who don’t want to have a tea party? What about the men who don’t want to do “manly” things? I’ve gone to, been a part of, and tried to be active in the Church my entire life. And my entire life I have only seen the continued perpetuation of meaningless theologies of, well, crap.

The Church has so concerned itself with whether a guy wearing makeup or a dress is a problem, or a woman might end up being president, or how the West is losing its Christian values, so concerned itself with these trivialities we have ostracized, demonized, and harmed people.

The Church has taken abstract ideas – justice, manhood, womanhood, sexualities, etc. – and held them over people, attempting to fit people into a neat mold. So valued ideas over people that people no longer give two craps about our theologies.

But, this is not simply an angry rant. It’s Easter today. And Easter is the Church wide celebration of Jesus rising from the dead, kicking death’s ass, and putting us on pedestals. But it is more than this. Jesus rising from death to life is an affirmation of life. One of the key facets of Jesus’ earthly ministry was helping people live life to the full. Which implies to not live life to the full, which Jesus claims is why he came, is to live a dead life. As a friend put it: it’s Jesus vs. zombies.

But Jesus didn’t come bearing more rules that we have to follow. He wants bus to live fully. How, though? By loving God and our neighbor. All else, then, is secondary. If living fully, which includes your well being and happiness, involves dressing in a way which makes you happy, do it. If it means pursuing some other relationships, do it. The simple fact is, on Easter, needles theologies on trivialities need to go. Life is what Easter is about. We are no longer living dead, we are truly alive.