Colonial Fool: Part IV – The REAL war on Religion

Sam Rohrer, president of the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, stated that he was “stunned at [the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8] today to take a 360-degree turn away from the biblical definition of marriage.…we must continue to work to keep marriages and families intact, the way God intended them, and pray for a continued revival of the values upon which this country was founded,” said Rohrer.1

When I was 15 years old I created a 2 and a half foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe.  It was quite an engineering feat: there she was in all of her youthful voluptuousness striding forward supported on nothing more than two strappy sandal, stiletto high heels.  I determined that once dried and kilned, she would balance perfectly.  Her curves, her expression her pose evoked a totally different era for womanhood…both good and bad.  Tragically, she exploded in the kiln due to unseen air pockets throughout.  That’s what I think of as I watch Paula Deen’s demise and it is also what I think of when I watch some of the conservative Christian reaction to the demise of DOMA and Prop 8.

Poor Paula.  She doesn’t understand why people get upset when she uses the word ‘nigger’ when she is angry or threatened or why having it as a part of her personal vocabulary is seen as…uh, questionable.  But then this shouldn’t be surprising coming from a woman who was fully willing to recreate a “Gone With the Wind” era South, complete with black slave help, for someone’s wedding2.

But remember, Paula Deen has always been this way; we’re just finding out about it.  We still lapped up every dollop of butter she served and bought every book and laughed with her when she was brained by a ham.  So what’s so different now.  Well, now we know.

So what do Paula Deen and Conservative Christians against Marriage Equality have in common?  A lot more than meets the swollen ham eye.  Although statements like Sam Roher’s and pretty much anything Michelle Bachmann has ever said, are just plain offensive, they point to a deeper more restrictive concept of religion than the one they are touting as being solely for married heterosexual couples and couples in waiting (aka their offspring) in much the same way that Paula Deen’s claim that ‘nigger’ is a fun expression is a sign of a deeper set of flaws.  These limited religious factions have decided that there is only one God, and only one interpretation of God not to mention deciding for everyone that there IS a God.  Last time I checked, most Atheists didn’t quite run that way, Hindus are creeped out by that kind of limitation in the concept of existence, Pagans question “just one?”,and well, us Unitarian Universalists don’t accept anything that hasn’t been decided by committee.

Before MB makes a statement like:

Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted….For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman. Only since 2000 have we seen a redefinition of this foundational unit of society in various nations.3

She might want to consult a Rabbi:

RebJeff on “What does the Bible say about marriage”

If you didn’t navigate away and look at Reb Jeff’s article on marriage (from 2012 but effective nonetheless) he basically says that the Bible just doesn’t lay it out that clearly.  He also brings up American law that only in the last 100 years gave married women ANY rights at all to their own property…largely because they were property themselves.

And Lord knows Michelle might be pretty confused by some of the “ins and outs” of Kosher sex…particularly where it says that the woman may not withhold sex or it is grounds for divorce.4

If the conservative Christians are not willing to accept even the twisted and conflicting language of their own Bible, do we really believe that they are going to take the time to truly accept Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, Confucianists, Zoroastrians, Shinto or any tribal religions?  The framework that Roher, Bachmann et al are using is to declare Protestant Christianity the official national religion of the United States.  I will not argue that Protestant Christianity is what the dominant population who founded this country practiced.  But that same dominant population also practiced and perpetuated slavery, genocide, dowry rituals, marital rape, incest (first cousin marriage is still legal in 20 US states5) blood letting,  and more recently pre-frontal lobotomies, thalidomide, ‘hygenic’ circumcision, silicone breast implants and anti-miscegenation.  Not a great track record.

In the world of Bachmann, church is on Sunday, sex is in missionary position (appropriately named), marriage equals babies, people are either white or something else and God is God.  The terrifying part is that there are an awful lot of people in America who think this same way on some level, just like Paula Deen ignorantly accepts ‘nigger’ as a form of endearment (and she is definitely no rapper.)  The repulsion to same sex marriage is just the tip of the iceberg here.  This is a group of people that does not want to see beyond their limited view and gay marriage is the current whipping boy.  After 9/11 Muslims got their wrath (and still carry it.)  Next year, there will be a new ‘other’ for them to be afraid of.  Prior to 1967, it was interracial marriage and before that integration in general and throughout our history any kind of immigrants.  These are all assaults on diversity and our rights to seek independent truth.

I return to my ill fated Marilyn statue, beautiful in some ways though she was, she could never have survived…and that is a good thing; let her rest in peace with all the conflict of talent, honest womanhood and male objectification and victimization she has come to represent.  Similarly, we need to see the limited thinkers who invoke the US founding fathers to foist their beliefs on the rest of us just for what they are: perilously constructed statues of dead icons, waiting to self destruct in the kiln of modern justice.

Footnotes

1. Christians Stunned Disappointed in DOMA Prop 8 Decisions
2. Paula Deen uses the n-word: 8 Shocking Details from her Deposition
3. Michelle Bachmann Rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 Attack our Constitution
4.Kosher Sex
5.Wikipedia – Cousin Marriage

The Big Day

This is a big day…for those of us who grew up in shadows, hiding our desires and feeling like criminals for acting on them.  The shame of desire, the social orphan pariah…to have come out of the shadows, into the light of recognition and to have come even this far with the rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 is nothing short of a miracle.

But I point to this as being a big day not for the actual decisions, but for the direction in which it is now pointing us.  As far as I’ve been able to read the opinions of the court, there is still a lot of gray area.  In fact, I feel as if the court has squarely kicked the ball back to us the people and in particular to faith communities.  WE need to figure this out.  There is no amount of legislation or “legaleze” that will transform people’s hearts.

So the real work must begin.  Lay people, faith leaders, communities, must now come together and have real conversations about how to live peacefully and supportively of each other.  I encourage you to have the tough conversations with each other, but first have the conversation with yourself to ask, not just what you believe, but how do your beliefs play out in a world that is built on love and not fear.  How do you love someone…and I don’t mean love the person/hate the sin, because being LGBTQ is not a sin…I mean how do you genuinely love someone through their difference from you?

May it be so.

All of Me

When I look at all of the hubbub about next week’s impending ruling on Marriage Equality, I find myself aksing…does this matter to me?  I also find myself asking that question when we are engage in conversation about the economy and the real life impact surrounding Sequestration…again, does it matter to me?  When I hear about immigration reform, I also wonder…what does it matter to me?  And looking at the flurry of conversation out there about the newly elected Pope Francis, I wonder what do any of these issues have to do with me?

For the record, I am a single gay man.  I am also a graduate student in Seminary and I have steady well paid work with a non-profit.  I am a born US citizen who as the child of an immigrant, grew up with great respect for my born nationality.  I am also a Unitarian Universalist which means I am spiritually liberal to a fault.  My bills are paid, I have a nice circle of friends, I have paid for an expensive Ivy League education, I have a car and a roof over my head, good health…in short, an abundance of privilege.

I also however, have brown skin.  I also have, in the past been denied work, purchases and even housing for both my perceived sexual orientation and my race.  I lived with and loved and ultimately split from a relationship with someone who was undocumented here in the states.  I am also a Christian in a denomination that although it has Christian roots, has many members who are quite vocally anti-Christian. To that end, it does not serve me well to ask the question “what do these things matter to me” but rather, “what do these things matter to ALL of me?”

Next week when the Supreme Court hears cases on the un-Constitutionality of Proposition 8 and DOMA, they will be hearing cases that do not affect my current condition.  But rather, these cases and all of the issues I present in this post affect something much more precious than my immediate self.  These issues all affect my dreams.  I aspire to a committed and monogamous relationship with the person I love, who I know will also be male.  No government should be able to dictate or indicate the “validity” of that relationship.  If couples are being rewarded for steadfastly serving as pillars of their communities, either with or without children, but certainly by setting an example of fidelity and constancy, then I want to be able to garner that benefit as well.  I do not want to be singled out as a social pariah because of the gender of who I love.  I want to dream, dream big and know that somewhere, somehow, that my dream might just come true.

This goes for my economic stability as well.  I am not just someone who has had financial privilege, but I am also someone who has been intimately involved in navigating the social systems around aging parents; trying to dance between the goals of being a good son and the financial collapse of 2008 that took the value of our family home and a couple of family jobs with it.  All of me is disgusted by legislators who feel it is more important to spend 5 years posturing and avoiding solutions (while they continue to collect 6 figure salaries) as I bounce from job to job to pay for everything from bankruptcies to funerals and still try to eke out a weekend here and there to feel human.  I dream of security.

All of me feels the heartache of living with a partner who despite his love for me was paralyzed by the fear of being undocumented; someone who has made a good living since his arrival, never done anything dishonest and made a wonderful life for himself, but the system doesn’t work for him.  There is no clear path to resolving his issue and I have to live with the conflict and shame of leaving that relationship in part because of the anxiety and fear and limitations that this situation required we live under.  I dream of a place where two people who love are not asked to make a choice between their homeland and their life partner.

Lastly, all of me means that not only do I personally identify as a Unitarian Universalist and thereby embrace a strong sense of humanism and rational perception of life, but I identify as a Christian.  So within Unitarian Universalism I must always bring these two characters into balance.  Turning to the three legged stool of Episcopalianism (scripture, reason, tradition) I look at the Catholic church with both respect for its adherents and deep sorrow for some of its misguided leadership.  I dream of being able to embrace all of my religion without shame.

So although I am single, Marriage Equality matters to me.  Although I have money, resolving our national budget matters to me. Although I am a natural US citizen, Immigration Reform matters to me, and although I am a Unitarian Universalist, the Pope matters to me.  My challenge to you is this: ask yourself honestly as our world lurches toward important decisions this year and even as soon as next week, how does the world matter to you?  How does the world matter to ALL of you?