That’s Gotta Be Awkward…

Talk about “tension of opposites“…

This lady is quite churchy:

… I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church. I became a Christian when I was seven. I was at the church just about every time the doors were open. I was in children’s choir and GA’s (girls in action), later youth choir, which enabled me to go on several mission trips. I went to a small Baptist college, and am still an active member at a Baptist church (although not a Southern Baptist one). My faith is very important to me, and so is my church. It would break my heart to leave my church…

So what’s the problem?

I’ve come to the conclusion in the past year that not only am I not that attracted to men, but I am very attracted to women. I am not straight. I am a lesbian… and only four people in this world know, and they are all either gay, lesbian, or bi.

Our narrator is, not surprisingly, anonymous for the time being.

No matter.

She writes about several of her more difficult moments:

My mother and I have actually talked about the whole GLBT thing, because a friend of mine came out to her family a couple of years ago. Her parents basically flipped out, joined a fundamentalist church, and tried to sign her up for deprogramming counseling. They have told her that she is not welcome to visit them as long as she is still a lesbian. My mother and I both agreed that this was an absurd and painful reaction. She said she couldn’t think of anything that me or my sister could do that would make her not want to see us any more, and basically thought that my friend’s parents’ reaction was cruel and extreme. I had just finished thinking that my mom was the coolest ever when she said “But regardless, I’m so glad that you and your sister are straight, and I don’t have to worry about that.”

Can’t wait to see if she comes out to her family.

And if she decides to leave her anti-gay church.

(via The Dallas Morning News)


[tags]atheist, atheism, GLBT, gay, homosexual[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    I’m starting to think that there are two basic groups of Christians. One group focuses on wanting to be faithful to the teachings and example of Jesus. To them, other things that may be in the Bible are secondary. The other group focuses on wanting to hate faggots. To them, other things that may be in the Bible are secondary.

    When the second group is confronted with a family member who is gay or lesbian, the teachings of Jesus go into the toilet. I won’t be surprised if they branch off to start the First Church of Faggot Haters. The whole Jesus thing just gets in the way.

    I feel for this woman and hope the best for her. The inevitable crisis with her family still looks promising because even though her mother said that she would not want such a thing, that does not cancel out her (hypothetical) expression of support and acceptance for a family member who would reveal that they are gay or lesbian.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    I know a church lady whose son is gay and it’s very tough for her to balance her religious beliefs with her maternal instincts. She believes everything the church tells her except on this one issue. Once in a while she gets close to the realization that if the bible is wrong on this one issue maybe it is not so perfect after all, but she refuses to go there and just starts humming to herself really loudly to drown out any thoughts.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    No-one should have to live in secret or in fear of being judged.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    Richard Wade,

    Homosexual acts are an abomination to God. -Leviticus 18:22

    If a man has sex with another man, kill them both. -Leviticus 20:13

    Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. -Matthew 5:17

    For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. -Matthew 5:18

    Unfortunately, Christianity truly is anti-gay. If you’re honest with yourself, it’s pretty hard to ignore. This is just one of the many reasons that atheists disbelieve in the Bible.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Those are all OT scriptures, so not technically Christian doctrine… that, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with the fudies today. If they did stick to following the teachings of Jesus we’d see a lot more helping the poor and so forth, instead of wanting to stone people who don’t follow ancient rules. Jesus, as I recall, had something to say about that very tendency. It was something like…. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about lesbianism though. It’s mostly that man on man sex that freaks out the fundies.

  • Richard Wade

    John Pritzlaff, I understand your viewpoint but please be careful. A general disdain for all Christians is not a way to oppose bigotry. It is the trap of practicing more bigotry.

    I haven’t met a Christian yet who doesn’t conveniently ignore a whole lot in Leviticus and other parts of the Bible, including stuff that would get them arrested. The more compassionate and intelligent ones also conveniently ignore the hateful, bigoted crap. Good! Let’s support that.

    I don’t think religions are defined by what their scriptures say. They’re defined by what the adherents actually do. You are what you do, not what you say. I think that applies both to individuals and to institutions like religions. So there are many “Christianities,” some defined by the hateful actions of the practitioners, some defined by the loving, compassionate actions of the practitioners, and many that are various mixtures.

    Blanket dismissal of all of them regardless of their behavior does not help us win over more to the side of love and compassion. I have witnessed people renounce various bigotries after they were exposed to patient appeals and education. That process did not start with brushing them all off as consummate assholes.

  • Cafeeine

    writerdd,

    I’m pretty sure Matthew is NT, not OT.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Churches all over America preach “Put God First”… before self, before family, before society, before environment…. Toss your children aside if necessary if they go against the teachings in the bible… Or maybe we should toss the bible aside and put those other things first.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Richard, I’d like to agree with what you said in your last comment. It would make the world a better place if all religious people thought like you did. However, I just can’t come to terms with how you can still be a Christian if you don’t believe the bible.

    Like you said, most fundies just conveniently ignore the parts they don’t believe anyways so at least you are more honest about it, but if the bible is not the Word of God then what value is it for basing your life on? It is of no more value than any other book or philosophy. When I came to the conclusion that the bible was wrong I turned away from Christianity and decided to make up my own mind about what I believed.

  • Kyle

    I agree with Brian. My sense is that Richard W must not be a “true” Christian.

    If religions were defined by what their adherents do, then there would be no religion, because there is a vast panoply of religious activity; so vast that religion would be emptied of all real meaning, like a definition of “rabbits” that also included “horses”.

    Gotta get back to Idol now… :-)

  • Richard Wade

    I agree with Brian. My sense is that Richard W must not be a “true”? Christian.

    Well you’re right there, Kyle. I’m an atheist. I sometimes contribute articles on this blog.

    Maybe that will help you see why I view religions in terms of what they do, embodied by the behaviors of their followers. I don’t believe any “holy” books are divinely inspired. They’re written, rewritten, edited and adulterated by people. When I used the term “define” in my statement that religions are defined by what their adherents do rather than what their scriptures say, I did not mean a dictionary definition. I meant that is the reality of what it is in the world. Words written on pages in closed holy books might as well not exist at all if there are no people who read them and take action in the world around them. Without practitioners, the books remain closed, the paper oxidizes, the languages are forgotten and all traces of the religion cease to exist. A religion is made real in the world only by what the followers choose to do, and they all follow some parts and ignore other parts of their holy books.

    To ask the question that Brian asked,

    …but if the bible is not the Word of God then what value is it for basing your life on?

    is to miss the point that an atheist on the outside can see. A religion is made up of people. People are its body, its solid existence. Set aside the words they claim are from some god’s mouth. Look at the people and look at their behaviors. They define (make their reality in the world) by what they do.

    When you argue with theists over some issue such as the one at the top of this thread, focus on the people and their actions, and keep in mind that people have similar basic needs. They want to be loved, to be respected, to be accepted, to feel worthy, to feel safe, things like that that you can understand because you share those same needs. Keep those things in mind and you can argue gently and persuasively for people to loosen their grip on their fear and hatred. Appeal as a person to a person rather than as a person to a book. The book can’t change but people can change what parts of their book they follow and what parts they add to the ignore pile. Ask yourself whether you want to technically “win” a debate or to successfully coax a person to be more tolerant and open-minded in his real world behaviors. Sadly, many people who visit this blog choose to “win” and in so doing lose another opportunity to make a positive difference.

    If you think of Christians in terms of their scripture you will never understand them and you will fail to convince them to be more tolerant. If you think of them in terms of their actions and their needs you will have a much better chance.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Sorry Richard, I was getting you and Mike Clawson mixed up I think. And I do agree with what you’re saying – I’d much rather the world be filled with compassionate liberal Christians rather than hate-filled fundies as well. My point was that, as a former fundamentalist, I don’t get how liberal Christians can admit that the bible is not really true, but then decide to follow it anyways. Why bother to be a Christian if it isn’t literally true?

    I know that fundamentalists do the same thing all the time (pick and choose what parts of the bible they want to follow), but there are always rationalizations and excuses. You’ll never see a fundamentalist stand up and admit that they just happen to like some parts of the bible better than others or that some parts of it are just flat out wrong.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    My point was that, as a former fundamentalist, I don’t get how liberal Christians can admit that the bible is not really true, but then decide to follow it anyways. Why bother to be a Christian if it isn’t literally true?

    I think most of us “liberal” Christians (or at least us postmodern ones) would reject the black and white dichotomy that assumes there are only two options: absolutely, literally “true” or completely false and worthless. Instead we’d point out that there are kinds of truth, and degrees of truth, and that sometimes “truth” isn’t even the point anyway.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    Those are all OT scriptures, so not technically Christian doctrine… that, in my opinion, is the biggest problem with the fudies today. If they did stick to following the teachings of Jesus we’d see a lot more helping the poor and so forth, instead of wanting to stone people who don’t follow ancient rules. Jesus, as I recall, had something to say about that very tendency. It was something like…. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    I’ll repeat:

    Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. -Matthew 5:17

    For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. -Matthew 5:18

    Jesus was not against the Levitical laws or the laws of Moses.

    I don’t think there’s anything in the Bible about lesbianism though. It’s mostly that man on man sex that freaks out the fundies.

    24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.-Romans 1:24-26 (emphasis mine)

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    John Pritzlaff, I understand your viewpoint but please be careful. A general disdain for all Christians is not a way to oppose bigotry. It is the trap of practicing more bigotry.

    I appreciate your reminder, because it’s true, but what I said does not indicate that I despise all Christians. I do happen to despise most Christians at least a little (even liberal moderates, because I think their position is still nonsensical) but I despise them for different reasons, and generally I despise fundamentalists a lot more than I do moderates.

    That process did not start with brushing them all off as consummate assholes.

    Didn’t say that either. What I said is that Christianity is anti-gay. Whether Christians choose to follow Christianity all the time is up to them.

    I don’t think religions are defined by what their scriptures say. They’re defined by what the adherents actually do. You are what you do, not what you say. I think that applies both to individuals and to institutions like religions. So there are many “Christianities,” some defined by the hateful actions of the practitioners, some defined by the loving, compassionate actions of the practitioners, and many that are various mixtures.

    Here’s how I look at it. Religions are defined by what their scriptures say. But their adherents are not defined by their religion.

    If what you’re saying is that not all people do the things they do because of their religion, but because of some independent moral source — which is open to atheists — then I agree with you. The ethics of moderate liberals have nothing to do with the Bible, but with their independent moral philosophies (however, the ethics of fundamentalists have everything to do with their holy book).

  • Richard Wade

    John, I think that you and I are pretty much simpatico with our values and our opinions. Your fundamentalist background has given you a certain perspective about how they think. My complete lack of religious background has given me a certain perspective about how they think too. We’re viewing the same thing from very different angles, but we basically see the same thing.

  • Erik S.

    I’m starting to think that there are two basic groups of Christians. One group focuses on wanting to be faithful to the teachings and example of Jesus. To them, other things that may be in the Bible are secondary. The other group focuses on wanting to hate faggots. To them, other things that may be in the Bible are secondary.

    YES! YES! THANK YOU! This is what I wish more people would understand…that there are very different types of Christianity and some who openly welcome GLBT members. Incidently, these are also the same people who are feeding the poor, comforting the sick, protesting war and serving their communities. That’s opposed to the other group who “hates faggots”, only cares about feeding themselves, forgets about the sick, supports war and sends teenagers overseas to distribute literature in places where they need food and clothing instead. I’m not sure about any of you guys, but I know which side of that divide I want to be on…

    ps: Forgive the generalities…I know they’re broad. And for a non-Christian, Richard, you’ve got a really good handle on understanding the “christian spectrum”.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    I sympathize with what you are all saying, but I guess my question for you Mike would then be, how do you decide which parts of the bible to believe and which to ignore? Is it just a list of stuff you happen to like and don’t like or is there some other rational? I don’t mean to come across as condescending, I’d reallly like to know.

    Do you believe in Adam and Eve, the Fall in the Garden of Eden (original sin) and therefore the necessity of Christ’s atoning death? Do you believe in the miracles as well as the horrendous judgements and plagues? How about the virgin birth, the incarnation and the resurrection?

    Each of these doctrines raises more questions than they answer but if you don’t believe in any of them what makes you a Christian in any sense of the word. Sorry if you’ve written on this topic before and I missed it would make an interesting post on it’s own. If you’ve already answered these questions then just direct me there.

  • Charlie

    Most of my liberal Christian friends explained it to me like that:
    You have to look at the historical context in which the bible was written and ignore the ideas that are results of this context, for example the misogynie. The ones that can be viewed independently from the context, such as loving your neighbour and not judging others, those are the important ones.
    They also, like Mike, said, that whether all of the bible is true or not is not as important as the fundies make it.

  • absent sway

    This is heartbreaking. I have had the awkward opportunity, more than once, of being one of the first people a lesbian believer comes out to (years ago, when it seemed clear to me that the Bible’s teachings were anti-gay even though I had wished it otherwise–where I come from, when it’s personal convictions versus the Bible, put your money on the Bible every time). It was a baffling experience to attempt to help; all I could do was assure them that God loved them and I loved them no matter what but unfortunately that didn’t resolve the conflict between their experience and the teachings of our scriptures. One of my friends agreed to go to one of those counseling places that attempt to make gay people straight but was afraid to sign up for fear her mother would find out, and the expense was an issue. My other friend came out to her family and later felt badly about living as a lesbian so she went back to church intending to live a celibate life rather than risk displeasing God. I kept praying and hoping that somehow God would reveal his will clearly and show compassion for them, and no clear direction or adequate resolution could be found. I would be lying if I said that this experience was not part of pushing me away from Christianity.

  • Spurs Fan

    I truly feel for this woman, who probably is experiencing more loneliness than I can imagine.

    Each of these doctrines raises more questions than they answer but if you don’t believe in any of them what makes you a Christian in any sense of the word. Sorry if you’ve written on this topic before and I missed it would make an interesting post on it’s own. If you’ve already answered these questions then just direct me there.

    Mike, you seem to be getting the same question posed to you often and since I can’t help feel like it’s my fault, I’ll cite the links for Brian L. (Brian our discussion was specifically about the concept of hell, but not necessarily about all of the issues you mentioned).

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/05/19/pluralistic-or-totalitarian/#comments

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    I sympathize with what you are all saying, but I guess my question for you Mike would then be, how do you decide which parts of the bible to believe and which to ignore? Is it just a list of stuff you happen to like and don’t like or is there some other rational? I don’t mean to come across as condescending, I’d reallly like to know.

    I don’t ignore any of it. But I also don’t view the Bible as a collection of absolute rules and pronouncements for all time. It’s an unfolding conversation among people who have encountered God and are trying to make sense of those encounters. It presents multiple and often differing perspectives, and thereby invites us to join in the conversation ourselves, preferably (IMHO) in community with others who are also doing the same thing.

    Do you believe in Adam and Eve, the Fall in the Garden of Eden (original sin) and therefore the necessity of Christ’s atoning death? Do you believe in the miracles as well as the horrendous judgements and plagues? How about the virgin birth, the incarnation and the resurrection?

    It all depends. What do you mean by “believe in”? Do you mean do I believe it historically happened? Some of it yes, some of it no. It depends on the historical, cultural, and literary context of the passage, since, after all, the Bible isn’t just one unified document with exactly the same kind of genre all the way through. It’s a complex book containing many different types of literature that require different approaches of interpretation. If we were to read all of it “literally” we would be doing immense violence and disservice to the text since it’s not all meant to be read in that way. Some of it is, some of it isn’t.

    And before you ask “how do you know which is which?” the simple answer is you study, or you listen to those who have studied. It’s really not that hard.

    Sorry if you’ve written on this topic before and I missed it would make an interesting post on it’s own. If you’ve already answered these questions then just direct me there.

    I’ve addressed many of these questions you’re asking multiple times here and elsewhere. Check out these posts:

    A Christian Pastor Responds (Part 3)
    How to Read the Bible
    What Good is the Bible?

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Yeah, it seems like you guys have already had this conversation. Sorry I’m late coming to the party.

    I guess it all comes down to a person just deciding to interpret the scriptures any way they want to support their previously existing values and beliefs. It’s what the fundies do too, although usually to justify hatred and discrimination. At least Mike is twisting the bible for good instead of evil.

    Maybe I should do the same and become a biblical atheist.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Mike, I’ve just read the links you provided and I appreciate the time and effort you’ve put in to trying to explain your beliefs to us. I still have to call bullshit… but I have a better understanding of where you’re coming from.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Well Brian, what then is the one “right” way to read the Bible, according to you? If the fundies are twisting it, and the liberals are twisting it, who is getting it right?

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    I would say you are twisting the scripture because you seem to accept only the parts you like while explaining away the stuff you disagree with. For instance the bible is very clear that god commanded his followers to commit genocide, but you probably don’t believe that the god you worship could ever do such a thing. I’m guessing you would say something like the people simply misunderstood what god really wanted from them. You also believe in gay rights (I think) so you explain away all those verses that condemn homosexuality as not really being from god, but a sign of the prejudices of the time period. However when you find something good and noble, something that you agree with in the pages of the bible, you immediately assume that it must really come from god. It lines up with your preexisting moral values, therefore it must be so.

    The truth is that the bible has some great parts and some truly horrible ones and neither the good nor the bad comes from god or reveals anything about who or what god really is. Rather it is a document that reveals instead what the people from that time and place believed about the world around them and its interaction with the supernatural.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I share most of your values and would encourage you to keep doing what you are doing because its better than the hateful spite coming from most of the fundamentalist churches. However, I just don’t see the point of torturing an ancient document that really isn’t relevant in today’s society.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Here is another quick example which might make things clearer:

    I love the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana. I love Greek and Roman Mythology and Norse Mythology. I know that these are not literally true tales of actual gods, but there is a lot of metaphorical truth to be gleaned from those wonderful stories. Yet it would be silly of me to base my life and belief system around one of these books and elevate it to a status of “Word of God”.

    Belief in the bible is no different.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Brian, I would think that apart from the question of whether the Bible is the “word of God” or not, one could still productively discuss what it actually says and means and how to best interpret it. And on that level of discussion I believe that the fundamentalists are largely misreading/misinterpreting it.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Yes, if it’s understood that it is just a collection of random myths we could have a lovely discussion about the bible.

    But I do think I’m starting to get it now. Your beliefs in hell and the resurrection and such are not based on the bible as the literal “word of God”, but upon the the life of an historical Jesus. The bible has no authority in itself except to the extent in which it reveals the gospel (which is open to one’s own personal interpretation).

    Perhaps it’s just the ex-fundamentalist in me, but it still seems a little too convenient. I can’t buy into it myself and I still don’t see the point of basing your life on it, but I can at least understand your position a little better now. Thanks.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Yes, if it’s understood that it is just a collection of random myths we could have a lovely discussion about the bible.

    I don’t see what is “just” about a collection of myths. Myths can often carry power and significance, wisdom and truth. :)

    Your beliefs in hell and the resurrection and such are not based on the bible as the literal “word of God”, but upon the the life of an historical Jesus.

    Yes, I would agree with Karl Barth that Jesus is properly the word of God. The Bible simply bears witness to that word.

    I also still believe in the divine inspiration of scripture. I just don’t see why that would require every bit of it to be read “literally”. Is God not capable of communicating with us through poetry, myth, story, conversation, etc. just as much as through “literal” history or whatever?

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Sorry Mike, I was out of town for a couple of days and didn’t see your reply. I agree that myths can help us to understand the universal truths of human nature and to understand about the mentality and thinking of ancient cultures. However they do little to help us understand what Zeus or Odin are really like and they sure don’t give me the impulse to worship any those crazy deities. Our understanding of mythology is premised on the fact that these events did not happen and that we know these gods do not actually exist. If they did, our beliefs about the world would be very different. So if the stories in the bible are “just myths”, then they describe events that did not happen and a god that does not actually exist – just universal truths about the foibles of human nature, written by humans for humans. I’m fine with that – how about you?

    And just as the Greek myths describe the gods engaging in terrible behaviour, so to the bible describes YHWH performing some pretty horrible deeds. If god inspired these stories about himself (even if they didn’t happen) then what exactly is the message that we are supposed to take from them?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X