Archive for June, 2008

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1,000 Hits

June 26, 2008

 

That’s right!  This blog has reached 1,000 hits this month!   That’s a new record.

What have I learned?  I’ve learned that the titles of the posts need to be sensational headlines akin to the National Enquirer. 

I’d like to thank my daughter for being the drum major at IUP.  When all those high school drum majors do a search about audition routines, they end up here. 

I’d like to thank a certain Baptist Church whose members are sneaking over to look at my blog after their pastor mentioned me in his sermon last week.  Yes, I am marrying another man; we’re registered at Lowe’s.  Gift cards are acceptible. 

I’d also like to thank Gretchen and Celeste.  God knows there are plenty of people doing searches for “lesbian couples” and they always manage to find my entry about their wedding. 

Thank you, to my readers.  Some of you keep coming back for more, and I appreciate that. 

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Spiritually Deaf and Blind: 2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad

June 23, 2008

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in somewhat of a dialog with a Southern Baptist Minister for the past day or so.  I thought the discussion was pleasant until this morning when the minister voiced his concern that he was being targeted for his anti-gay speech.  Very quickly, he shut down his church’s blog to comments from the general public.  Note to bloggers:  if you put it out there in the public realm, you can be sure someone will see it, comment, and perhaps disagree with you. 

Pastor Rick’s blog announced that he would be preaching against gay marriage this Sunday morning (June 22) and gave the scripture reference.  I suspected that this would be prooftexting so I made a comment that asked Pastor Rick to go beyond Romans 1: 18-32, and include Romans 2, which demonstrates what Paul was trying to teach the christians in Rome at that time.  Many believe that Paul was condemning homosexuality with this scripture, but careful reading reveals that this is just not the case.  It is hard for some christians to accept this, and this appears to be the case with Pastor Rick. 

By Sunday afternoon, we get a sense of the direction this is going to take.  Pastor Rick feels targeted by myself and the one other person out of six that I messaged about this blog. I brought it to their attention with the purpose of reading my response, not to engage in an attack against Pastor Rick.  We very quickly hear the slippery slope arguments of allowing gay marriage will mean that polygamy, child prostitution, and all forms and expressions of sexuality would become legal.  In a later response to my friend, Matt, Pastor Rick distances himself from comparing homosexuality to child rape, yet it’s clear by listing them together, even in an order meant to show levels of depravity, that P. Rick does not think very highly of gay people. 

I downloaded the sermon and listened to what the good pastor had to say.  I took some notes.  There was a carefully planned introduction that made sure the audience knew that this week’s news story about gay marriage came from a sinful place: California. He now refers to it as the “left coast” because it has “left” America’s morality; it’s left sensibility. There you go, let’s get started with the sweeping generalizations.  P. Rick is in favor of a theocracy as evidenced by his statement that “What is not legal in God’s eyes should not be legal in man’s eyes.”  Human dignity regarding LGBT people is disregarded throughout the sermon as the vocal inflections imply sarcasm: “People who say they are gay” and an elongation of the word “ho-mo-sex-u-al” with a drawl.  Keep in mind, Californians, because of you, “we’re going down the toilet.”

Outside of Matt and myself, Pastor Rick knows all he knows about gay people from his 2, count them, 2 college friends who are gay.  Here’s what Pastor Rick knows:  gay people are not happy, they are afraid of disease, and afraid that their partner will leave them because “that’s the nature of this kind of relationship”; they live in fear.  When Matt pointed out that these were “sweeping generalizations” P. Rick pointed to his 2 college friends as evidence that this was not a generalization.  Hint, P. Rick: drawing a conclusion about an entire group of people based on your experience with just 2 of them is generalizing.  Perhaps these college friends are just losers. 

There is much more in the sermon, but I want to take a look at the interaction that took place today, in P. Rick’s blog.  In the comments section of his blog, I pointed out the inconsistency regarding his “sweeping generalizations” as well as the religious and political conservative’s opinion that LGBT people should be denied Civil marriage.  I asked how he can deny gay and lesbian people the opportunity to commit to each other in a monogamous relationship, then turn around and ridicule them for being promiscuous.  It’s clear to me that people, gay and straight, have looked to their religious leaders for guidance and received bad advice.  When your pastor stands in the pulpit and says that gay men have sex with hundreds of other men in their life time, the young gay man sitting in the pew hears this is what is expected of him because of the way God created him.  Gay people hear that their relationships are worthless, not valid to be considered for marriage, and often fulfill that expectation. 

At this point, something seems to snap.  Pastor Rick is suddenly complaining that we’ve taken the time to respond and engage in discussion.  In what appears to be anger, he states “You guys knocked on MY door. YOU initiated this. You are the ones that conspired together to make comments on my church website.”  I apologized and assured Pastor Rick that he had not been “targeted” and that there was no conspiracy.  Here’s the final paragraph of my last comment:

You, Bro. Rick, have a degree in psychology. You are probably aware that not only the American Psychological Association, but other professional organizations believe that a homosexual orientation is naturally occurring and unchangeable. How is it justifiable to deny people CIVIL rights based on your religious beliefs when the science says this is natural for some people?

Perhaps that is what ended the discussion.  However, I noticed something about all of my comments; most of them were ignored. There was no acknowledgement that he did indeed make generalizations based on stereotypes or limited exposure to LGBTpeople.  There was no response to my appeal to his psychology degree and the scientific evidence of which, as a psych major, he would surely be aware of.  There was no hint that he understands a marriage license issued by the state government is not the same as a religious ceremony conducted by a minister in a church.  Instead, we get a mantra of “it’s a sin” because God says it is, and a list of buzzwords typically used by fundamentalists to degrade LGBT people:  lifestyle, alternative choice, and claims that orientation is changeable, yet groups like Exodus can not provide valid and reliable studies to demonstrate this. 

Finally, Pastor Rick explodes with this:

You are using a common intimidation argument by GLBTgroups. Civil rights are reserved for groups of people based on race, gender, disabilities & age, but not sexual orientation. While there have been some gains by GLBTgroups in this arena, you aren’t guaranteed civil rights based on your sexual preferences. So don’t go there.

Matt,

 

To all, since this is my website, I get the last word. Comments are now turned off on this post.

 

 

 

My thanks to Wendy at bridgeout for the idea of using the church sign generator to create this pic. 

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God “Rains” Down His Wrath on the Anti-LGBT Crowd

June 18, 2008

I haven’t seen it. Maybe it’s out there and I haven’t looked hard enough.  I even thought about writing it myself.  I had misgivings about it, so I ran it past a friend of mine who just graduated seminary and got ordained.  She confirmed what I thought, and so I chose not to write it.  It would be taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes, even tragedies, and would discredit your reputation, she said.  

It’s the flooding in the mid-west and the article that I’m imagining is one in which a rabid gay activist charges that this disaster is divine retribution for anti-gay hate crimes.   A connection could be made, in much the same way that Christian leaders have blamed gay folks for natural disasters, as well as acts of terrorism. 

Hate crimes against gays and lesbians have doubled in Michigan.  Flooding has occurred in parts of Michigan.  Could there be a connection?  I so wanted to write a ranting blog entry blaming hostile bigoted fundamentalists for causing God’s wrath to literally rain down on Michigan and the mid-west.  I just couldn’t do it, not even as satire.  I couldn’t make myself write that entry because I know that it’s wrong to take advantage of suffering people and use them for political gain.  I would be stooping to the level of those I oppose. 

The odd thing is that although there are a lot of strong, even militant, gay activists writing online, I haven’t seen any of them take this opportunity to swipe at their opponents. No one has jumped at this chance to blame christians who support anti-gay marriage amendments, or conservative political leaders who resist enacting hate crime laws to protect LGBT people.  No one seems to be willing to say that this devastation is God’s response to the intolerance, bigotry, or prejudice that we have allowed in this country. 

Why do you suppose that is? 

Maybe it’s because we understand that a loving God doesn’t send natural disasters as punishment.  Maybe it’s because thinking people know that invoking God’s judgment to support one’s own political agenda is unethical.  Maybe, having been on the receiving end of such treatment, even the most militant of gay activists have enough compassion to bypass this chance to beat up on the fundamentalists and their political cronies.

To all the folks in the mid-west, I wish you well.  I wish you a speedy recovery from this disaster.  I wish you all the assistance that this country can send to you.  By all means, please forgive me if this little blog entry sounds like a way to use your misery for personal gain. 

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Bible Predicts Gays and Lesbians Will Take Over the Church

June 11, 2008

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  That is the big fear of many fundamentalist christians, isn’t it?  This scripture verse from Matthew 18:18 teaches them that whatever they permit to happen here on earth, God will permit to happen in heaven.  All I can say is “Praise God!”  I was afraid there’d be no internet, no Starbucks, and no cell phones in heaven. 

 

But Donny wasn’t talking about those things; he was talking about the biggest threat the church faces today: gay people.  Donny came to Soulforce, where I am a moderator, and joined in the discussions on our forums in a polite enough manner.  He made it clear that he thinks homosexuality is a sin.  We heard the same platitudes that we hear from others who wish to rationalize their hatred:  “hate the sin, love the sinner” and “I am a sinner too.”  I always brace myself when I hear certain phrases coming out of christians‘ mouths.  “Now don’t be offended, I’m just speaking the truth in love”  is usually the preface for a big insult or condemnation.  Donny’s “hate the sin, love the sinner” entrance line was the prelude to 37 public posts and a number of private messages to me, that can best be described as crazy-making. 

 

 I sat down with some of those posts and private messages that I had printed up and tried to make some sense of them, find a recurring theme, anything that gave me a clearer idea of what Donny was saying and why.  I found that Donny, and others like him, have a lot of fear going on in their heads.  The fear causes them to engage in inappropriate behaviors to justify their behaviors and rationalize their poor treatment of people who differ from themselves. 

 

One of the big fears appears to be change.  Donny often referred to the neologism being promoted by Soulforce.  I had to look it up.  Neologism often refers to newly coined words or phrases, but can mean new doctrine or new interpretation of sacred writings.  With this neologism that Soulforce is promoting, Donny sensed an attack.  He believes that Soulforce and other gay organizations are attempting to force the church to change the faith that was “delivered only once to the saints.” 

 

Gay christians, their organizations including Soulforce, do believe that recent theological study reveals a neologism:  Homosexuality as we understand it today based on scientific, medical, psychological, biological research, is not condemned by the Bible.  New interpretations of doctrine do not immediately indicate heresy, as many fundamentalists would have us think.  Consider that at some point doctrines concerning abolition of slavery, the sinfulness of racism, equality for women, and approval of divorce were all neologisms.  In our history, christians have supported slavery, racism, subjugation of women, prohibition of divorce by quoting the Bible and proclaiming all of these things to be God’s will.  In short, we like to think God is on our side so we use the Bible to support our prejudices. 

 

An early private message from Donny, in response to my request for him to adhere to our guidelines, revealed that he wanted to use proof-texting to denounce our stand about homosexuality.  Proof-texting involves using a verse or two as stand alone proof that the Bible supports or doesn’t support an issue.  It is always taken out of context, and therefor may or may not be referring to the issue being debated.  Later, when I bring up the issue of proof-texting on the public board, Donny claims that context is everything!  The contradictions began flowing after that.

 

Another tactic that is often used by the religious right is the “slippery slope” argument.  Slippery slope is a logical fallacy.  It is not a valid technique for proving a point.  Slippery slope says if A happens then B, or C, or D will happen, very often skipping over any of those intermediate steps, the debater will simply jump from A to D.  Donny’s favorite slippery slope was stating that if gays are allowed to marry, people will marry their pets.  Proof of this, for Donny, came in a claim that animal brothels exist in Europe.  He even defended his use of the slippery slope argument, apologized for comparing homosexuality to bestiality, then stated that ‘slippery slope’ is still a reality, which reasserted his original insult. 

 

Other logical fallacies committed by Donny in this exchange included ad ignorantiam, spotlight fallacy, begging the question, and burden of proof.  Donny claimed that because the Bible does not speak of loving homosexual relationships, nor does it mention same-sex marriage, that it must then condemn all such things.  That is ad ignorantiam.  A good example is the fact that the Bible also does not mention cats.  Following Donny’s logic, it is important to rid the world of all cats.  Donny offers up Pride parades and the outrageous behavior displayed at such events, generalizing that all gays and lesbians must behave this way (Spotlight fallacy.) 

When Donny appeals to scripture, his reasoning is somewhat circular, thus begging the question.  He even offered several purposes for the existence of the New Testament:  to define the Christian life and to defend against false teachings about it that entered into the Gospel and Apostolic community of believers; to combat false teachings creeping into the Church; in fact ALL of the New Testament was written to explain the way the believers in Christ should behave;  the New Testament was literally written to define what is and what isn’t Christian culture and community.  There is a sense of circular arguing in which we ask why we should base our societal standards on a first century writing and the answer seems to be because the Bible says we should. 

 

In all of this discussion, Donny made accusatory statements and wild exaggerations and failed to offer proof for any of them, thus committing the “burden of proof” fallacy. 

  •  I’ll take this experience as great enlightenment and validation about the Gay Agenda and its relentless attack on the Church and its people.
  • There have already been Churches burned to the ground for their “holding fast to that which is true.”
  • Anything goes is a reality for many people in the sexual abandon realm.
  • A billion-plus[sic] Christians have problems with supporting homosexuality and all that comes with it.
  • Christians are being outlawed and hated for their Biblically[sic] accurate stand in opposition to approving homosexuality. It is the Christians being threatened.

 

 As I write this entry, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of rhetoric that Donny was able to spew forth on our Soulforce forums.  The accusations, the innuendo, the contradictions, the projection, and the hysteria is appalling.  Donny doesn’t believe christians should accept as valid principles that all the major medical, scientific and psychological organizations that proclaim homosexual orientation as normal as heterosexual orientation, and that orientation is unchangeable.  He believes that gay and lesbian people wish to destroy the christian church.  He even believes that the Bible predicts gays and lesbians will overrun the churches.  Donny does not believe that gays and lesbians can be christians. He has implied that all homosexuals are promiscuous.  He claims that he does not care what secularists do, and even states “I do not care about legalized gay marriage as it is not a Christian concept and does not concern the Church at all, except for things to avoid doing”  but later says “Marriage is a man and a woman. And in Christian truth, that is immutable. It is through gay activism of gay rights that you find this gay cause of gay marriage. Marriage shouldn’t be redefined as same-gender. Call it something else but “marriage” is not available.”  His arguments against gay and lesbian people included discussions of anti-discrimination laws, and hate crime bills. All of which seems to boil down to one thing:  fear, which is where we started this entry.

 

Well, I have a fear.  I am afraid that Donny’s most hateful opinions are exactly what religious right leaders are thinking but won’t say publicly. I am afraid that their projection of violence won’t be seen by our society.  Remember that religious leaders blamed 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina on LGBT people.  Donny claimed that LGBT people are burning christian churches to the ground, but the only news stories I found about burned out churches were attributed to racism and bigotry. Many churches have experienced vandalism caused by their support of LGBT people and issues.  I fear that Pastors will continue to speak lies about homosexuals, granting their congregants tacit approval to commit physical violence against gays and lesbians. 

 

Most of all, I fear calling myself a Christian.  That title is now so corrupt that I can not use it to describe my relationship with God.  And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I belong to the same club as Donny. 

 

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Blogging for LGBT Families Day!

June 2, 2008

Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2008

 

I’ve rewritten this first sentence a few times now:  I wanted to talk about how busy we’ve been lately, that being parents of school-age kids means that May has a hectic schedule.  Then I thought about the age range of our seven kids, 9-20, and realized that no matter what age they are, there is always something to command a parent’s attention regarding kids and school.  It starts when you enroll them in preschool and I guess I’ll have to let you  know when it ends. 

In the past month, we’ve attended band concerts, dressed one up for the prom as well as graduation, picked one up at college and taken her back for a spring course, then loaded the van to bring her home again.  We’ve planned a graduation party, arranged for transportation of another kid to school for a sports physical, and attended an awards ceremony for yet another son who did well in art class this past year.  There has been a dentist appointment, a job interview, a school picnic, Boy Scouts, a rock concert, and a road trip.  That sounds like a lot of fun, but the parents have been left out of the fun stuff, except for delivering the kids to some of those events. 

For most parents, I haven’t described anything unfamiliar, some may be wishing that their schedule was so light.  The difference is that this is a blended family, the children are sharing their parents and dealing with step-siblings.  Again, no big deal, a lot of kids do that, some better than others.  No need to write about that:  Been There, Done That, Wore Out the T-Shirt.  Our kids, though, are the offspring of our straight marriages.  I have three children;  two boys 19 & 9, and the only girl, 20.  My partner has 4 boys; the 18yo who just graduated, a 15yo, and 12yo twins.  We all live within 2 miles of each other, and although the mothers have physical custody of the kids, we all share in their care. 

Any problems?  Of course there are, children who find themselves in a new family dynamic that they didn’t choose will let you know when they aren’t happy.  At some point during the past 5 years, each kid has had their moment to let us know how they feel.  For us, the gay dads worried about how this will affect the kids, we’ve come to watch for certain indications that things are going well.  I like to watch for humor.  If the kids can joke about it, take a good-natured ribbing and turn it back on us with a snappy comeback and we all laugh about it, then I know we’re doing well. 

There are many voices from the religious right who would say that we’re destroying the American family, that if my partner and I would be allowed to marry, society would collapse, the children would become juvenile delinquents, and hurricanes would visit our great land.  They believe that a family is one man, one woman, and whatever children God sees fit to bless them with as a natural result of their physical intimacy.  While that may appear to be the paradigm, those who wish to enforce this on everyone by any means possible, including legislation by a civil government (not a theocracy) are ignoring one major issue.  There have always been families that do not fit.  These families exist now, have been around for a long time, and do not threaten to destroy our society. 

There are so many possible combinations that constitute a family:  single parents, grandparents raising kids, aunts and uncles taking in their nephews and nieces, extended families in one household, lesbian moms who have adopted, lesbian moms who carry their own babies, gay dads who became parents through a surrogate, gay dads like us who had their own kids through a straight relationship.  I know of blended families in which children no longer live with a biological parent because mom or dad have passed on after their divorce and remarriage.  They stay with the step-parent and are cared for by a loving new parent.  There are foster families and group homes, and probably many other arrangements that my mind can not conceive but those families work, in spite of varying from what some would declare normal. 

LGBT families are here, and have been for a long time.  If you’ve got a gay or lesbian family member, someone who is bisexual or transgendered in your own family, then you are part of an LGBT family.  Those LGBT people are living in their own nuclear families in a myriad of ways, and it is working.  It succeeds because of love. 

It is time for our country to stop bullying people into living lives that are dishonest.  The nuclear family of a man and a woman and a boy and a girl is a great example, but not the only example of what a family can be.  It doesn’t reflect the reality of our communities.  To write legislation into state constitutions that discriminates against LGBT people, preventing them from accessing marriage and the attending benefits and protections is not only wrong, but ignorant of what already exists and succeeds. 

Our family succeeds when I help my step-sons with their homework.  It succeeds when my partner helps my daughter move her belongings back home at the end of the college semester.  Love shows the way when one of my step-sons calls to say he’s lost and I get on google to find the street names he’s calling out and map him a way back home.  Family values guide us to sit down together for a meal and enjoy each other’s company.  Teaching those values to the kids cause my partner to involve my youngest son in a home remodelling project.  Those precious few “teachable” moments come when the twins need a haircut and money is short, so I get out the clippers and scissors and talk to them while I trim their hair. 

We already exist as a family.  To continue ignoring us, or to try to legislate us away, will not cause us to disappear.  That would only permit a certain group of people to feel good about their bigotry.