Thursday, August 2, 2012

#254-Not Gay Marriage (Partial Repost)

First let me tell you about Logan Miles. He is an online friend that I've never met. He has an opinion I admire. He wrote a piece about the whole Chic-Fil-A fiasco of yesterday with some interesting perspective. You should read it here.

Secondly, two days ago Chady had his own post here about Chic-Fil-A.... and he was taking prisoners. That said, he had some brilliant monologue towards the end that addressed common claims that some Christians use as a defense against gay marriage. He said it wasn't good enough to merit it's own post. But I thought it deserved it's own spotlight. Plus I have added a bit of commentary below that...

Odds and Ends: Here are a few untimely meditations that aren’t ARE DEFINITELY substantial enough to merit their own post,  (editor’s revisions noted by lines-through-words and any word that is in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE HIS WORDS ARE more IMPORTANT than the article’s author).

1. Pathetic Critiques of Gay Marriage: In the interest of full disclosure, I support the right of the GLBT community to get married and start families. My rationale is pretty simple, I’m not convinced enough by biblical evidence that homosexuality is any more a “sin” than interracial marriage/relations were one time sins according to widespread readings of the text (hey, wow, some Christians still can’t handle it, apparently! ), or that slavery and servitude were just fine, as long as you were nice (Ephesians 6:5-9).

2. Realistically, why would non-Christians and former Christians care what the Bible says about homosexuality? Do you care what the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Analects, or the numerous writings of Buddha have to say? Jesus used the scripture because He was speaking to an audience that believed in its cogency. Paul, on the other hand, became all things to all men, including, for example, engaging in Platonic discourse with Greeks and Romans who would have summarily dismissed a Judean subject ranting about their one God.

3. The more personal complaints about homosexuality strike me as objectively paradoxical, particularly in light of the political inclinations of the people who launch them. The pro-family lot is generally politically conservative, favoring a smaller, less intrusive government, American values (whatever that means), and policies in support of the “free market.” Well and good; so you basically want the government to stay out of your business, but not other people’s business. This emerges in some weird and predictably stupid ways:

Predictable Q1: “But what about my children/grandchildren? How am I supposed to explain two men kissing?!?”

A1. Why am I supposed to raise your kids? Do it yourself, that’s what ‘Murrica is about. Seriously, these are the same people who flip out about schools giving their children shots because of intrusive federal policy, but when it comes to homosexuality, it’s someone else's job to handle it or, better yet, make it go away. If your child/grandchild can’t handle the idea that adults can fall in love with someone of the same sex, but can learn on their own about the centuries of horrific torture and murder falsely committed in the name God or learn to subtly look over Brother Smith at church, who dresses flamboyantly, regularly quotes Barbara Streisand movies, found his "calling" in the music ministry, and has remained a bachelor because God just hasn't sent him the "right one" yet, then you’re a patently terrible parent/grandparent.

The anti-Gay marriage folks being the same people who picket and attend political rallies for Tea Partiers who threaten to slash funds for government programs that do some of the following for children: Food Stamps, low income area schools, education loans and after school programs for the at-risk, and medical insurance programs. Why should they have to pay for other people’s children to have basic services? I don’t know, because it makes you a decent person and a baseline Gospel living Christian? This is what people mean when they say Christians are hypocrites.

Predictable baseless statement1 : Gay homes are bad homes.

Truth1: It would be one thing if this has been proved sociologically, but it hasn’t and won’t be. I’ve never seen someone come out and say, “My parents were gay, it just ruined my life.” What I do see is, “My parents are gay. I had a childhood pretty much like everybody else. In fact, it was probably better, since unlike many a straight family, it wasn’t a forced marriage because they were too stupid not to use protection. They actually wanted me and were prepared for it.” (Paraphrasing, of course.)

       i. Even if the “Liberal Media” were doing a really great job at covering up these counter-narratives, there are how many Christian channels that these children of    broken gay homes could run to? Certainly enough to make millions of dollars in tithing and gift giving drives. Enough to keep Kirk Cameron in a job, making      terrible movies about bananas as God’s ultimate weapon or something.

       ii. Why does it blow people’s minds to imagine a gay couple as a family? Especially because families are already so problematic in the first place. Think about how weird it is to talk about your family life with others. I don’t mean just   the sort of genial stuff that normally pops up in chit-chat, like, “Yeah, my dad     always steals from everybody’s plate at dinner” or “I hate/love the appointed time  my family gets up on Christmas morning.” It’s the type of stuff that fuels bland conversation, while also humanizing you enough so that the other person thinks   you’re probably safe and well-adjusted. What I’m actually talking about is the private stuff, the things you’d never ever talk about with the majority of the people you meet for fear of ridicule or the chance that you’d never make meaningful friendships. 

       iii. As a child, your own family is really the only referent for what constitutes a “normal” family. It isn’t until you get older and start visiting other peoples’ families that you realize, to your eternal shame and mortifying embarrassment, that it’s only your dad that lounges around the house all day in his underwear,     scratching himself freely. Other families keep their ketchup in the refrigerator to keep it cold (disgusting), keep aside an hour per day for family prayer, don’t get   into semi-violent debates over the logical paradoxes of time travel (and its overall  merit as a plot device) in the Back to the Future franchise, or don’t have relatives  that maintain multiple virtual marriages over the Everquest Online servers. You     found yourself defensive, offering weak, “but, in our family we…”apologetics and coming to secretly loathe your friends and cousins for saying the  same. In other words, part of becoming an adult is understanding that everyone’s family is different and, in the process, learning to accept your own dysfunctional home.

My family is not typical. My dad left us when I was thirteen, it sucked, a lot. Before he left, he was an angry, abusive monster. After he left, my mother struggled to make ends meet and raise three kids. If you don’t think that it messes with your head that your family doesn’t look like other people’s normal families, then you’re wrong, it does. When you get older, when you can move past the hold that images and representations of families have on our minds and understand that a real family is much more than what it looks like, it becomes fairly obvious that if two men or two women can love and protect a child, it constitutes a good family.

(End Chady's Comments.... Please Applause)

My (Joel) Thoughts:
If you haven't heard... we here at SAL are committing emergent suicide these days.  The truth is we've been driving Left for a while now. As of now we're 106 miles outside of Chicago, have a full-tank of gas, a half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. For some reason Glen keeps telling us to "hit it" even though we're already moving pretty fast.1 We drove past the Emergent train about two years ago and waved and smiled and then hit the pedal even harder.... 

But we aren't doing this just because we do what we want and can't handle people telling us no. We aren't doing it because it's easy. But at some point you stop looking at yourself in the mirror on Sundays and you begin to look around at those you can see but have never heard from. You see your neighbor. Not just the neighbors that live down the block from you and certainly not the neighbor at the end of your pew.

The Neighbors I'm talking about are the hideously deformed neighbors. The malnourished. The malfunctioning. The weird neighbors. The one's your mother told you to watch out for growing up. I'm talking about the neighbors you only see on television who live in sad houses in crappy neighborhoods, who seem to be around a murder almost nightly. Sure you live only twenty minutes from those neighbors, but you only know them from TV. I'm talking about the sick neighbors whose smell is more of a stench. 

I'm talking about  the neighbor lady with the tired eyes who buses up 15 miles from the ghetto, leaving her two toddler kids behind for 16 hours a day just to put your groceries into a brown paper bag. Yes she's always cold and smells like cigarettes and doesn't say anything. But if you had to grow up watching your mother get beat half to death by your alcoholic father on a nightly basis and also find yourself having "playtime" with your auntie alone in a dark room on holidays, then maybe you'd be a little cold to the world too. 

When you start focusing on the people you never focused on, and start asking them about their story, be very careful. You'll hear your neighbor speaking and find out there's monstrous human beings out there way worse than backsliders or demons. Some of these monsters are hiding in your church too....just hope you don't hear about it for your own clean conscience.  But they're out there man and the worse part is that they may be evil in part because someone was evil to them when they themselves were children. 

What you see when you start paying attention to your neighbor and not those who you're comfortable around is a lot of fear. You see a lot of scared people. I'm scared myself. You realize quickly that the difference between an alcoholic, a workaholic, and an apostolic shopaholic is the way you fend off fear. And when you start paying attention, you begin to face a dark truth that you may have suspected was true your whole life, but you've been trying very hard to avoid ever sense:

"That God — unless you're Charlton Heston, or unhinged, or both — speaks and acts entirely through the vehicle of human beings."2

And this means it's up to us. God isn't picking up the tab for those neighbors you just didn't have the time to get around to helping and loving. This means stepping in when you aren't obligated to and speaking up when it's in your best personal interest not to speak up.... like addressing stuff like this video from an Apostolic preacher's church (non-Upc)....

And I saw many Christians say that this homophobic church is in the wrong here....and talk about a middle ground about being nice to gay people and to hate the sin, not the sinner, and that we should just not think being Gay is okay with God.... And my question to those people: You do realize a middle ground in such instances allows that "homophobic" Apostolic church to represent us to the rest of the world in all the media circuits? No one's listening to you speaking to yourself about everyone else being slightly right and also slightly wrong and therefore the middle is the right answer. 

Not to mention that when you say homosexuality is a sin but also think the church in the video was wrong it is received by everyone else as you saying: 

We are okay with the church's message. We just aren't okay with how loud the church said it's message. Nor the attitude the message was delivered in.

 The middle ground doesn't do us any good. Balance is for bad people too lazy to think about what may be actually right & wrong.

I said all of the above to say this: I'm truly sorry that I haven't spoken on the issue of gay marriage before any of this. Gay people are our neighbor. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I care like nobody else's business about this issue. I do think it's important. I don't think most gay people "have a choice" whether they want to be gay or not. I think some people are born gay. I think some others have terrible things happen to them growing up that kind of force the trajectory of their sexuality the rest of their life. I think gay people can go to heaven. I don't think the only solution is to tell a gay person to spend the rest of their life celibate like Paul. I think gay marriage should be legalized. And I have no problem with saying that most of my opinion about homosexuals and marriage is informed by Jesus on the cross. If I'm misrepresenting the cross when I say that, I pray by the love of God that he would strike me down as soon as possible. 

Goodnight all of you. And if you don't mind, I'm heading to the land of the weird, the hideously deformed, and the broken souls who have stories that'll make your jaw just about drop off....

2: From David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.


  1. I have my own thoughts and opinions but I'll refrain for just a bit.

    However, anyone who singles out the part where Joel said he believes people can be born gay and attempts to vilify that statement:
    Unless you have empirical, scientific evidence one way or the other please refrain from asserting that they weren't. As Joel said, we're taking a hard left, so if you state a fact be prepared to back it up, scientifically.

    That is all.

    1. Why be so diametrically opposed to someone stating an opinion contrary to his (aside from the fact that he started sal) ? He didn't state decisive, empirical facts, only opinions and observations.

      Aside from that, most evidence obtained from studies is non-conclusive and I'm sure you know that already.


    2. Hey man,

      Sorry, I wasn't trying to say don't comment with a dissenting opinion or anything like that. You seem like a reasonable cat, so any indignation I have, don't take it to be directed at yourself.

      My problem isn't with people who disagree or dissent, it's simply with the uninformed. If I choose to believe something is wrong or sinful then I am obligated to be informed on that issue. For instance, I don't think there's anything wrong with women wearing pants. Before I reached that conclusion I read Deuteronomy 22:5. Then I read Deuteronomy 22. Then I read Deuteronomy. I read about the history and sociological and religious conditions surrounding the area and time it was written. I looked up what the various words, in the original language, were and what they meant. I then drew my conclusion.
      If someone is opposed to gay rights/marriage and has done likewise I have respect for them. I wouldn't demean them, or call their opinion silly, or anything like that. It's a difference of informed opinion and the way we've chosen to interpret the scripture.
      The problem is that most of the people so violently opposed to these things don't do this. They say things like 'homosexuality is a sin, it's in the bible!'
      Ok, where in the bible? Do they know? Not that it isn't, it is. But you don't just get to say 'Its in the bible' and that be that. The words 'in the bible' and 'I believe' are thrown around like trump cards that carry so much weight they can't be challenged or questioned. I'm sorry but I don't accept that. If you 'believe' something you'd better be prepared to say exactly WHY you believe it, and simply saying 'the bible says so' does not prove anyones point or win the argument.
      You HAVE to take historical context, authorial intent, linguistics and vernacular into account.
      Unfortunately even those who have taken a little bit of time to find the scriptures in their King James Versions haven't done this. They put portions of Romans 1 on signs and believe their point is proven.
      Scripture was not meant to be isolated and singling out one scripture from Romans or one from Leviticus no more proves something is a sin than me saying Leviticus 12:7 means women are forbidden from having periods. Context, intent, language. They have to be considered.
      Please don't take my comment to be any form of condescending or aimed at you, Brian. I'm just explaining myself as best as possible.
      We had some comments on the initial post calling us out, saying we should pray through, etc, but not telling us, explicitly, why we're wrong? We are more than open to intellectual discourse, as long as it remains civil and operates within the bounds of academia and scientific method, and opinions are acknowledged as opinion. Chady's post is his opinion. I agree with his opinion. He explained why he has this opinion. He didn't say 'Gay people are fine and if you don't support gay rights you're a hate mongering homophobic bigot.'
      Thus, if people wish to engage us they're welcome to, but calling us emergent, liberal, backslidden, mud slinging hell bound reprobates isn't welcome and brings nothing to the table.
      Sorry to ramble, just thought about that comment for a while.

    3. Thank you for your clarification. Have you been able to find any solid biblical historical, authorial, lingustic, or vernacular premise to support or give credence to gay marriage?

      All I hear nowadays are how they deserve to be "happy" and those opposed to their viewpoints are somehow bigots.

      David and Jonathan & Naomi and Ruth are ambiguous.



  3. Joel, thank you for introducing the topic in a less polarizing way... I can say that I was actually raised in Chicago and have been a part of the lives of both The Neighbors, as well as helped a number of homosexual Neighbors. I've been there for a homosexual man who eventually died due to cancer eating away at his face and throat while AIDS and HIV brought the rest of his body to nothing but a skeleton.

    I've seen bruised and battered women and bruised and battered men. I've seen women kicked out of homes as well as men kicked out of homes. Most saddening to me though was seeing people who would just continue to go right back to their old mess regardless of orientation or gender. There are homosexual and heterosexual jerks.

    Now I do have my thoughts and conclusions drawn and I can't say I agree with you in all things, I do have to say that there is an overall lack of respect for marriage in general. What I do believe should be a sacred and binding agreement seems to have turned into a platform for "now we can have sex and nobody can look down on us because we're married". Who cares if the girl is a flirting tramp or if the guy hasn't been able to hold a job for a week in his life, they're in "love".

    Lastly, how exactly do you draw your opinions on homosexuality based on Jesus on the cross?


    1. Brian,

      The answer would be in Philippians 2 I believe..... Something about a self-emptying. I think the word is "kenosis" in greek. It's the only way that I understand love possible within human beings and within God Himself. As Jesus made himself lower than angels, so likewise our Christian Call amongst those in the world.

      Emptying of my stuff. My Identity. The things I take hold of as mine....the things that I take pride in.... I see the Christian call as an emptying of this comfortable identity.

      Even if I say MY identity is a Christian identity.

      I see God doing all of this and more when we see God emptying himself of Himself there on the cross... when Jesus Himself is so emptied of his divinity he is calling out "My God My God Why hath thou forsaken me?" In other words... I take Jesus at His word. I think God lowered Himself to the point that he was stripped of his Sonship.

      Naturally this is going to be a risk... as we lower ourselves....and empty ourselves of our comfort level. So too when I witness to the weird and the gays and the strange folks that walk funny and have alcohol on their breath.... I'm more in the business of love and representing Christ's love for us than letting the Bible be the determiner of whose lifestyle is more redeemable than others.

      To be for or against gay people is one's opinion. Love is a matter far more difficult and more trascendent than most are comfortable with... and I think this is the business of the Cross. If it ends up I was wrong in me going outside my comfort level I hope I get judged for it. I hope God sends me to hell for okaying things he was not okay with. I will say the idea of homosexuality in Paul's time and culture is way trickier than most will want to acknowledge (look up I Corinthians 6 and the particular word for "effeminate" for instance). But Like Jesus... I'm here taking risks... and taking myself out of my comfort level...which as a heterosexual male raised in church my comfort level is to point to Romans 1, and I Corinthians 6 and say being gay is and so sorry if you're gay but God has his rules and you're kinda on the wrong side of the rule.

      I realize I'm being abstract. But I hope you get the jist. It's much more based in theory than it is in "here is a verse that says being gay is cool." Keep in mind that if you want to talk Bible.... I can demonstrate with quite a bit of certainty that the idea that the Bible we have is the way God intended it to be is as groundless and taking as much risk as I am when I say gay marriage is okay....

    2. That's good. Seriously.

      I get the whole love part, in so much as it should reach past identity and self and I am absolutely with that.

      Yes, effeminacy and homosexuality was there in Greek culture although in a somewhat different context than we would establish nowadays. I'm not sure if it was an accepted norm even then though.

      I know what jesus did when he was face to face with a harlot, an adultress, and a demon possessed man. I don't know what he would say or do if He specifically dealt with that topic although on the other hand, I'm sure he could have since He would have known who was and who wasn't homosexual.

      Sorry I'm back to rambling.


    3. I like that Brian. My biggest problem with the people who care so much about this topic, in the negative, is that it's just counterproductive. Whether homosexuality is or isn't a sin isn't even the point here, in my opinion. I'm just confused as to why Christians care so much? No one is marching in parades for / going in droves to businesses that are anti-alcohol or drugs. I don't see people basing their choices on who to support and give money to on any other pro/against *insert sin here* platform. That's why it's so easy to call people homophobes that went to Chic-Fil-A and brow beat this cause... It's not that the opinion that homosexuality is a sin that makes someone a homophobe, it's caring enough about this ONE issue to tweet, and blog, and write status', and mug for pictures with a chicken sandwich, and so on. I can't look at all that and think "it's cool, they're just supporting the family."
      I believe that's what their intention is and that's what they think they'd doing. I'm not knocking intentions. But if we're going to do that, and live that way then we have to not only take support from every other company we support that supports Marriage Equality and lend it to companies that oppose it, but we have to do it with everything else that the bible calls a sin. Don't go to a restaurant or shop at a grocery store that serves alcohol. Don't use American Express because they support Planned Parenthood. That list goes on and on and on.
      Having the opinion that homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong doesn't bother me. It just bothers me that people go to SUCH great lengths with it, and use such strong verbiage when talking about it, and are altogether just intense about that issue, while claiming the reason is that they're Christian and it's their Christian duty, while not spreading that same obligation across the board... It just doesn't add up.
      Support whichever companies you (not literally you, figurative you) want, just don't use bad logic in explaining why. There are plenty more causes that are much more worthy of our support and attention. That's all.

    4. Because the family is the most essential element of life. Period. Because homosexuality is against the natural. Period. Because the media propoganda FOR it has been shoved down our throats for a long time now. Period.

    5. Dear Anonymous,

      I am tempted to assume you were being kind enough to let those with impaired vision know that you were placing periods at the end of your sentences by writing "Period" after your actual periods. If so, you are too kind. However, I find this suspect since you wrote an actual "." after each use of the word "Period." And since you didn't follow up these post-Period periods with another "Period" written out, I suspect you were not being kind to those with impaired vision who may not be able to see the little period dots.

      Further, a Period followed by a post-period period does not qualify itself as a sentence in it's own right. "Period." is an incomplete sentence.

      Further, you have an incomplete sentence: ending with "against the natural." Or the natural is a person and you forgot to capitalize his name. If so, who is this natural you speak of and who does he work for?

      Lastly, shame on whoever is shoving anything down your throat. Especially if you aren't consenting towards the aforementioned shoving. If I were you, I'd call a lawyer or least the authorities.

      Also, I realized your "period" frenzy maybe a reference to the ovulation cycle of a female. If so, I have it on good account that they happen once every 28 days and not ever within a paragraph. Let alone three times within a single paragraph. Perhaps you should call the doctors.

    6. I believe I just peed myself a little. Embarrassing, but just part of the 'natural'. Period. period

    7. Almost got hijacked there.. Back to Glen...

      I do think that the outrage and name calling against someone who would dare disagree with the more liberal agendas and ideas really is bigotry in the most pure form.

      Let's take a step back from our opinions on this topic at some other sins, and even those who would practice them.
      Do you see protests, name calling, even legislature allowing people who steal to do so without risk of recourse? Do you see marches honoring people who cheat on their spouses?

      Sorry I haven't replied sooner, I like to put some thought into what I say. Also, I would type more, but I'm on my phone and I don't enjoy typing large amounts of text on it.


    8. I don't see marches and legislation for those things, but whether there is or isn't is beside the point. Nowhere in the bible are we commanded to protest or fight or legislate regarding anyone else's sins. I understand that it makes Christians uncomfortable to see things they don't like in mainstream society but there's just no grounds for the vitriol. If I, as a straight man, am still free to live my life as I see fit, and I want to live my life according to biblical principles, marry a woman, start a family, go to church, teach my kids to believe what I think is best for them, and so on, that is legal. No one is stopping me from doing that. And marriage equality doesn't affect that at all. I am commanded to work out MY own salvation, not anyone elses.
      I'm opposed to the government stepping into church just as much as I'm opposed to church getting involved in government. I believe that gays should legally be granted the same rights as everyone else in the country, BUT if a church says we're not going to marry gay couples then they should be allowed to make that distinction. There's just an awful lot of Christianity saying "You can't tell us what to preach but we can tell you what to legislate" going on. For a movement so concerned about the next world they sure want a lot of power in this one.
      As for the parades and what not, it doesn't matter what they're doing. Christians just don't like seeing parades for something they believe to be immoral. I can understand them being frustrated, but the second they go from 'this goes against my interpretation of morality' to 'government please legislate my interpretation of morality' they've gone too far.
      Like I said, I don't blame Christians one but for not liking this or being comfortable with it, but when they go from simply not liking it, to wanting to legislate against it (which is where the marches and protests come in) then I think there's an injustice being done. Our country is based on the constitution, not the bible, and the constitution wasn't based on the bible. The bill of rights and all 27 amendments can be summed up in one brief sentence - You have the right to do whatever makes you happy, so long as your pursuit of said happiness doesn't directly infringe on anyone else's right to pursue their happiness. I know people on my side of things like to use the examples of the pharisees a lot, so much so that even citing them gets eye rolls and dismissal, but it's applicable. The pharisees dragged an adulterous woman to Jesus and his response, basically, was 'Why do you care so much what she does?' That's going on now, with this issue.
      Sorry to ramble, but I think that required a thorough stating of my opinion. Hopefully I'm not coming off rude or anything, I appreciate the discussion!

    9. Just wanted to say I totally agree with your line of thinking here and I wish more people in this country would apply it to a wider range of issues.

  4. Joel, Thanks for the plug bruddah. I just updated my post with a little more clarity after I discussed with a couple people who emailed me their comments. (Facebook plugin rids me of dealing with you anonymous folks, sorry)

    Also while I was eating a NY Strip last night I had the realization of a few more points came to me.

  5. 100% agree with all of this post. Joel, I really have to give all of you here at SAL serious props, it is not easy to step out and honestly address this stuff.