When conscience and ‘obedience’ pull in opposite directions

A couple weeks ago we looked at a helpful short post from Danny Coleman in which he discussed the anxious conflict gnawing at many Christians who are reluctantly convinced that obedience to God’s Law requires them to be unkind, unjust and unloving to LGBT people. Coleman pithily describes those Christians’ dilemma:

They do not hate or fear LBGT people. They fear God. They carry a perception of the wrathful Old Testament God who will destroy cities or nations if “sin” is found in the camp. … Attempts to reconcile this ancient God of wrath with the God of love and inclusion that Jesus represented tend to create a sort of cognitive and spiritual dissonance. And so, most Christians don’t hate and fear gays — they really want to love them. What they fear is God’s wrath and what they hate is the idea of the destruction God will bring down if LGBT people are accepted — if “sin” is allowed.

The problem is that even for Christians bound by such a stunted view of sin, conscience says something else. Conscience tells them that even if they don’t feel fear or hatred, behaving as if they fear or hate others is still wrong. So they feel trapped — torn between the conflicting demands of conscience and “obedience.” If they avoid the guilt of sinful disobedience by allowing “sinful” others in the camp, they incur the guilt of mistreating those others. Conscience pulls them toward love of the other; “obedience” pulls them in the other direction.

You can see the enormous strain of this being-pulled-apart in a recent guest-post by Peter Wehner at Tim Dalrymple’s blog on Patheos’ evangelical channel. The post, titled “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality,”* reveals Wehner’s struggle to reconcile the tug of conscience with what he perceives as the demands of obedience. He begins by stating that “I’d associate myself with the views of Timothy J. Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City,” linking to a recent discussion in which Keller inadvertently restated, endorsed and underlined the point Danny Coleman made above. Keller said:

If you say to everybody, “Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin is a bigot,” [Jonathan Rauch] says, “You are going to have to ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible.” Completely disassemble their whole approach to authority. You are basically going to have to ask them to completely kick their entire faith out the door.

That, in a nutshell, is the fear Coleman describes. And it is the fear that pervades Wehner’s argument.

But Wehner is also more honest than Keller. Keller pretends as though the accusation of bigotry arises solely from the belief that “homosexuality is a sin.” Wehner recognizes that, in reality, the accusation of bigotry arises from Christian support for legally enforced bigotry. He seems to recognize that the problem is not so much that Christians like himself believe “homosexuality is a sin,” but rather that this belief has led many such Christians to deny full legal equality to LGBT people. I am an enthusiastic, almost obsessive, coffee-drinker. I don’t think Mormons are bigots because they regard drinking coffee as a kind of sin. But if the Saints suddenly lost their minds and began lobbying for laws denying coffee-drinkers like myself the right to marry, or insisting that it should be legal for employers to fire coffee-drinkers, then, yes, that would be bigotry.

Wehner doesn’t explicitly call out Keller for the self-serving disingenuousness of his “Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin” straw-man nonsense, but I give Wehner credit for acknowledging the legitimate substance of the complaints about anti-gay bigotry. The main thrust of his argument is to challenge that substance without challenging the belief he shares with Keller, that homosexuality is a sin.

Wehner’s conclusion isn’t wholly conclusive. He seems extremely cautious not to be perceived as advocating “disobedience” lest he incur the wrath of God or of the tribal gatekeepers of evangelicalism. But he’s clearly pointing toward a solution that I think can work for conservative evangelicals like Wehner or Keller or Dalrymple. They don’t need to change their theology or their hermeneutics in order to stop denying other people full legal equality and civil rights:

I think it’s reasonable to say that even for orthodox Christians,** how the Scriptural injunctions against homosexual behavior should manifest themselves in modern American law and society are not self-evident. For example, you might believe homosexual conduct is not what God intended but (like idolatry) that view should not be written in law.

I’d be quite pleased if more anti-gay Christians would settle on that view. (Keller calls this a “Neo-Anabaptist” position, but really it’s just plain Baptist — more Roger Williams than John Howard Yoder.)

My main point here, though, is not the conclusion of Wehner’s argument or the logic he uses in getting there. What strikes me more is the impulse compelling him to make this anguished argument — which, again, is the strain of being pulled in opposite directions by the demands of conscience and the demands of “obedience.” For Wehner, as for many white  evangelicals, “their whole approach to authority” compels them to believe that God demands a “firm stance” opposing homosexuality. Yet Wehner’s conscience is pulling him the other way — he seems to genuinely regret the harm that is being done to LGBT people by Christians who advocate laws denying their civil rights.

The pangs of conscience are clearest toward the end of Wehner’s post, when he recalls a conversation with former InterVarsity president Steve Hayner:

“I doubt whether God will have much to say about our political convictions in the end,” Steve said to me, “but I’m quite sure that he will have something to say about how we loved the least, the marginalized, the outcasts, the lonely, the abused — even when some think that they have it all. Political convictions that lead toward redemption and reconciliation are most likely headed in the right direction.”

Hayner describes a trajectory leading “toward redemption and reconciliation” and emphasizing the powerless, “the outcasts, the lonely, the abused.” And Wehner says, “It seems to me there is great wisdom in his words.”

It seems that way to me, too. But I should warn Wehner that the gatekeepers of the white evangelical tribe don’t look kindly on anyone who allows this wisdom to shape their hermeneutic. That, they say, would be disobedient. It would “ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible. Completely disassemble their whole approach to authority.” You’d be asking them to kick their faith out the door and they’d prefer, instead, to kick you out of the tribe.

Just ask Steve Chalke. Chalke’s evangelical credentials were beyond question — even more than Keller’s or Wehner’s or Dalrymple’s. But he was judged to have headed too far “in the right direction” of reconciliation and love for the outcast, and he was banished from the evangelical tribe — cast into the outer darkness with the mainliners, the “progressives” and the Episcopalians.

But here’s the joyous thing that Steve Chalke discovered. He’s not anguished. He’s not torn between conscience and obedience. For Chalke, obedience to God and conscience are pulling in the same direction. That unity of direction is at the root of the meaning of the word “integrity,” which is why Chalke’s farewell letter to the tribal gatekeepers — his manifesto in support of marriage equality — was titled, “A Matter of Integrity: The Church, sexuality, inclusion and an open conversation.”

When conscience and obedience are integrated — when they are pulling in the same direction — then faith becomes something that perpetually challenges us to become better people. It calls us to constantly expand our love and our capacity for love and to move ever onward, ever outward and ever Christward.

Peter Wehner is clearly aware of the discomfort and anxiety that comes from the kind of faith Danny Coleman described and Tim Keller endorsed — a form of faith in which conscience and obedience are at odds, pulling in opposite directions. It’s like being stretched on a rack. And, one way or the other, such faith will always entail being racked with guilt.

Maybe Steve Chalke is right. Maybe God is a better person than you think. Maybe obedience to what God wants doesn’t have to produce a queasy, uneasy conscience and the nagging sense that treating others unkindly and unfairly is still wrong, even when it’s done out of a sincere attempt to be obedient.

I’ve experience both forms of faith — the fearful kind Coleman describes and the fearless sort Steve Chalke advocates. The latter is a lot more joyful.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I had a hard time getting past that title, which seems like the archetypal headline for any in-group discussion of out-group people. You could fill a bookshelf with the unspoken assumptions packed into and conveyed by those six words: An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality.

Here are some potential alternate versions of that title:

• “A Member of the Tribe Observes Outsiders.”

• “I am a legitimate person. You are an issue and an abstraction.”

• “The Myopia of Privilege.”

• “Jonah looks at the Ninevites.”

• “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has not made me a homosexual.”

• “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. And you’re welcome.”

That actual title — “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality” — includes something of all of those, and more. And that’s before we even consider the false assumption that “an evangelical Christian” must, by definition, be looking at homosexuality from the outside — that no evangelicals are LGBT and no LGBT persons are evangelicals. (Here are links to more than a dozen blogs written by people who are both.)

While there’s something of that attitude pervading the whole post, the general spirit of Wehner’s piece is better than that title.

In general, though, I’m way beyond tired of articles and blog posts titled “An Evangelical Christian Looks at …” It’s long past time for a new wave of articles titled, instead, “An Evangelical Christian Listens to …”

** The colloquial use of “begs the question” to mean “raises the question” leaves us without a term for what Wehner is doing here. “Orthodox Christians,” he says, are those who believe the Bible declares homosexuality to be a sin. And we know that the Bible says so because this is what “orthodox Christians” say the Bible says. He’s assuming the initial point. Or presuming it, actually.

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  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality”

    I’m…pretty sure the first image that came to my mind from that title isn’t what he intended.

    Okay, back to reading the article.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Now now, they’re not all like Peter LaBarbera. ;)

  • Lori

    What Pete does is look at homosexuality. And look and look and look.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Earlier this year, someone at church got up to announce what the men’s group would be doing at their next meeting. If I recall correctly, it went something like this:
    “So, this week at the men’s group we’re going to be looking at pornography, so that should be– Wait! No! Um… this week we’re going to be doing pornogra– Um… This week we’re going to be talking about pornography. So that should be interesting. Yeah.”

  • Albanaeon

    Still kinda sounds like something a gaggle of 12 year old boys might be doing…

  • David_Evans

    “For example, you might believe homosexual conduct is not what God intended but (like idolatry) that view should not be written in law.”

    That’s very well put. Consider also the commandment to do no work on the Sabbath. As one of ten explicit commandments this surely must have a very high priority, but I don’t know any Christians who want it to be the law of the land.

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    Well, no. If they outlawed work on Sundays, who would serve them their food when they go out to eat after the church service?

  • JustoneK

    Heathens? We can’t be havin that.

  • David S.

    A number of Orthodox Jews will do that, have non-Jews around to do things like press elevator buttons that they believe they can’t do on the Sabbath. Historically Christians left money lending to the Jews since they considered themselves prohibited from it.

  • David S.

    I’ve heard the rants from my mother about having to work on Sundays and the post-church crowd coming in and buying food and complaining that she’s working on Sunday. It’s really an impressive level of lack of self-awareness; particularly in the small town where she worked, had the churches shamed anyone who patronized the businesses on Sunday, they could have shut many of them down.

  • stardreamer42

    50 or 60 years ago, that was very much the law of the land. Look up the history of “Blue Laws”. Even today, there are parts of America where businesses aren’t supposed to open until noon on Sunday, presumably so as not to interfere with people going to church.

  • drkrick

    In some places, for some businesses. My memory goes back more than 50 years, and there were places to eat open, as well as some stores. I remember a drugstore at the Jersey shore that had all the “Sunday legal” merchandise located on the same couple of aisles so the rest of the store could be roped off when they opened that day.

  • Jamoche

    I’m pretty sure diapers were not “Sunday legal” in Georgia back in the late 60s when I was 5 and my brothers were babies. It’s the sort of parental rant that leaves an impression :)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Drinking coffee is not at the heart of your being. Sexuality is at the heart of anyone’s being. So thinking homosexuality is a sin is completely and utterly different from thinking drinking coffee is a sin. People can give up coffee relatively readily, even if they’re highly addicted to it. Someone can’t give up their sexuality. Further, coffee really is kinda unhealthy. Being attracted to people of the same sex is not.

    The comparison is unworthy of you, Fred. In trying to defend certain Christians, you’ve bent so far that you’ve smacked the people they’re oppressing. The belief that homosexuality is a sin is incredibly wrong. It’s wrong factually and it’s wrong morally. It harms people. It’s not okay.

  • AnonaMiss

    I got the impression that Fred was less trying to defend them, so much as offering them a baby step, and a way to save face in their hateful culture while taking that baby step. Most people are unable to make the jump from “Everyone I know says that if I’m ok with letting gay people marry then I hate Jesus” straight to “It’s OK to be gay.”

    Sometimes you need to go to where someone is to begin to lead them out.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    And in doing so, he compared homosexuality to coffee drinking. Which is a minor choice in someone’s life. Comparing someone’s sexuality to a choice about beverage consumption is incredibly offensive.

    And yes, I do see him as defending them and I think he’s wrong. Why choose the idea that homosexuality is a sin to die in the ditch over, and not, oooh, giving to the poor?

  • P J Evans

    It’s not about coffee-drinking as such – there are religious that consider caffeine use to be a sin, and that’s the comparison he’s making.

  • AnonaMiss

    Since when is humoring someone for the sake of argument a form of defending them?

  • Rowen

    Um, mind if I ask you a question? Are you gay/bi? Cause, as a gay man, I don’t see a problem with this analogy. Sure, it has some of the holes that you’ve mentioned, but I don’t see that as a huge flaw, nor do I see Fred comparing what I do with drinking coffee.

    Plus, this type of argument has been around for a while. See: “Leviticus bans pork. You take the sausage out of your mouth, I’ll take the sausage out of mine.” or “Leviticus bans touching the skin of a dead pig. There goes football.”

  • arcseconds

    Perhaps you don’t realise exactly how important coffee is for Fred…

  • arcseconds

    Fred is saying that if Mormons infringe on his coffee-drinking, then they are bigots.

    Why are you reading this as ‘sexuality is just as trivial as beverage choice’, rather than ‘even with something as trivial as beverage choice if you infringe on my indulgence in it for the sake of your religion, you’re a bigot?’

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t be quite so quick to dismiss beverage choices as always necessarily minor choices in people’s lives.

    I met a wine aficionado last year, a lovely old gent who’s just mad about wine, and clearly devoted most of his life to assembling an enormous wine cellar, which he loves to share with others in his famous ‘library tastings’. I get the impression he’s not particularly rich, either, so he’s probably spent a significant portion of his income over his life on this.

    If a bunch of teetotalers were to ban wine, this wouldn’t be a minor impact on his life.

    (This is, I guess, the flip side of the asexual discussion below. Sex isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything for everyone, and beverages aren’t minor side choices for everyone, either)

  • Alix

    beverages aren’t minor side choices for everyone, either

    Prohibition, anyone?

    We tried banning something “minor” for moral reasons. It failed miserably, because of exactly what you say – even seemingly minor choices can be major parts of one’s life or identity, and those things still ought to be legal.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Well, not asexual people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Well, not asexual people.

    Define ‘sexuality’ a little broader, or provide an alternate term encompassing ‘to whom one is not sexually attracted as well as to whom one is’ (to clarify: gay men aren’t attracted to women, which is as relevant to their sexuality as that they are attracted to other men). Because the asexual folk I know absolutely consider that aspect of themselves to be, as Lliira says, “at the heart of [their] being”.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ah, referring to sexuality as a character trait, not necessarily the expressions of that sexuality (i.e., actually having sex). I get you now. Agreed, when something is a part of your nature, it’s going to have an effect on everything you do, even if only in the most subtle of ways.

  • Alix

    Welll….

    For this asexual person, my asexuality is so crucial to me only because everyone else makes sexuality a big deal. In my daily life? In terms of how I’d prefer to self-define? It’s really not something I think about much at all.

    And then I talk to other people, and they treat it as such a (bizarre and) intrinsic, defining part of my character that it comes up even when I am baffled as to why it would.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you were a sexual person rather than an asexual person, would you or would you not be a different person?

    If you would be, you see my point. If you would not be, I go off to blink in confusion and try to make life make sense again.

  • Alix

    Er. That’s akin to asking me if having three eyes and being born on Mars would make me a different person. Sure. If I’d gotten up at 6 today instead of 7 it’d make me a different person, too.

    That still doesn’t make my lack of sexuality a critical aspect of my own identity.

    This question makes as much sense to me as “That hobby you don’t do? Other people do it, so you’d be a different person if you liked it too, right?” And it’s a perfect example of what I mean – it’s not something I think about, it’s not something I identify as intrinsic to my own sense of identity – but it’s something other people pick out as intrinsic to my self-definition, and I find it a bit bizarre.

    Edited for clarity.

  • JustoneK

    I’m going to like this from several computers now.

  • EllieMurasaki

    One or two of your comparisons don’t apply. I’m not sure which, because the presence of the other one or two is confusing me. Either being an asexual person is as crucial to your identity as being born human on Earth, or it’s as crucial to your identity as getting up early and not doing crochet. That is, either it’s absolutely vital or it’s absolutely not. Can’t be both.

  • Alix

    Sorry – I was using the Mars thing to point out how absurd and completely from left field that question seems to me.

    It’s not anywhere near a central, defining aspect of my identity. It’s just a quirk, like having hazel eyes and not liking football. I’d be a different person if those things were different, but that doesn’t make those central.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, fine, I am obviously missing something and will go off and blink in confusion now.

  • Alix

    If it helps, I’m always confused by the very many ways sexuality is apparently central and important to the lives of sexual people. People explain it to me, I see it in how they act, and I can sort of get the shape of it … but, well, I completely overlooked how sex in advertising is related to all this until AnonymousSam pointed it out.

    From where I sit, it all looks like an incomprehensible obsession that bleeds into everything if people let it. (I’m not saying that’s exactly how life works for sexual people – I’m just trying to illustrate how it sometimes seems to someone who just doesn’t share that aspect of humanity.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m sexual and it often seems like an incomprehensible obsession that bleeds into everything if people let it.

    At least I think I’m sexual. I’ve recently encountered the term ‘gray-asexual’, which means among other things ‘person who experiences sexual attraction and enjoys sexual pleasure but doesn’t feel driven to go out and get any’, and it seems to apply to me. Might not–might just be that the desire for sex is not my primary motivation or even in the top five, or my social anxiety is squashing all impulses to go out and attempt to get laid–I don’t know yet.

  • Alix

    Identity is confusing. I’m still not happy with how I’ve defined my gender identity, for example.

    I think the last time asexuality ever really mattered to me (aside from the aforementioned discussions with people who want to stomp me out) was when I realized I wasn’t straight and went flailing around trying to figure out what I was.

  • Tapetum

    Oooohhh! I hadn’t run into that term before, and it fits very well. Actually it seems to fit my husband and I both very well. Sex is sort of pleasant, but so way down the priority list that it barely has an impact on our lives even though we’re married. If tomorrow we could never have sex again, we’d carry on being married with scarcely a blink.

  • Alix

    I should add that I don’t mean this comment to be diminishing or insulting. It’s just … it’s hard to communicate well not only how little sexuality matters in my life, but how very strange sexual people often seem.

    Like, why the hell must there always be sexual/romantic plotlines in entertainment? Why on earth does “sex sell” in advertising? Etc. It’s plain weird to me that these things are even issues.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Imagine that you enjoy eating chocolate cake very much. But the only way to get chocolate cake is if you have it with someone else. And there are certain social rituals about the acceptability of when to ask for chocolate cake with someone.

    And it’s so freakin’ delicious you would love to have it as much as you can and when you can’t, you have to look at pictures of chocolate cake as a poor substitute for the real thing.

  • Alix

    I’m … not actually sure what this has to do with my comment.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well, that’s how sexuality can be considered to be at the core of being, in terms of an analogy.

  • JustoneK

    Also, some of us don’t care for chocolate.

  • Alix

    Ah. And so of course chocolate cake must feature in every ad, and there must be a plotline featuring chocolate cake in every story, and people go out of their way to find ways to decorate themselves that indicate what specific kind of chocolate cake they like and how much they want…

    Yeah, I’m still not following this thread.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The analogy isn’t perfect by any means, I’ll grant.

  • Alix

    I mean, I’ve always been able to get how sexuality is important to people in some circumstances, and even how they sometimes might want specific entertainment catering to it, etc. And also how important it is to let people be whatever they identify as – there are plenty of people very unfond of asexuals too, who’d like to see us gone.

    What amazes and baffles me isn’t any of that – it’s how very many things sexuality seems to be important to, for sexual people. Things that to me don’t even seem to have anything to do with sexuality, like a monster movie or ads for coffee machines or business suits or something. And every time I think I get it, something crops up to throw me for a loop again.

  • arcseconds

    All you need to do is factor in that a large percentage of society is addicted to chocolate cake, and generally have a pro-chocolate cake attitude, and of the rest, significant numbers of them will still prick up their ears when they hear “chocolate cake”, and you have your explanation.

    (You may also need to factor in that lots of people also assume that getting lots of chocolate cake means you’re doing better as a person… but you could almost derive this from the other factors)

    If advertisers knew that they could get more people looking at their cars by putting chocolate cake on the bonnet than they could by putting a pretty girl on the bonnet, you can be sure chocolate cake would indeed be featuring in every ad.

  • Alix

    …This does nothing but cement my belief that people are weird.

    I get what you’re saying, though.

  • arcseconds

    What’s weird about this, apart from the fact that many people are interested in something you’re not particularly interested in?

    I mean, sure, there are weird things about it, but you don’t have to appeal to anything terribly weird to explain the prevalence in advertising. You just have to note that it’s something a great many people are strongly interested in.

    Other things are treated similarly: music, food, social status, and sport are all things that interest a lot of people too, although not as predictably, and they’re all used in advertising in ‘gratuitous’ ways, too.

    If 80% or whatever of the population shared your interest in classics, then there’d be a lot more doric columns and togas in advertising — and the rest of us who don’t care about such things would be going ‘man, Alix and the rest of everyone are weird!’

  • Alix

    It seems weirdly intrusive, off-topic, distracting, and infantilizing. I can’t really explain it better than that.

    I mean, I really like dinosaurs. But if people started putting them in completely unrelated advertisements or making a T-rex chase an ubiquitous subplot in movies it would epically turn me off those ads/movies, and I’d walk away thinking the creators were baffling, uncreative idiots. It boggles my mind that I have to explain this when it comes to sex. It really, really does. I mean, holy crap, do sexual people think of nothing else? Is that seriously all anyone sexual ever thinks about, all that attracts them to a product, all that ever catches their eye? Do sexual people never find that overwhelming, intrusive, or gimmicky?

    …This is turning into a perfect example of what I meant above: the amount of things sexual people work sexuality into is baffling to me – most especially because y’all consider this normal, natural, and obvious.

  • arcseconds

    I think you’re missing the point.

    Sure, people are interested in lots of other things, and think about other things all the time.

    But not the same things.

    If you’re interested in getting the attention of the vast majority of the population and don’t care much about how you do it, sex is probably your best bet in our society.

    For advertisers and people making summer blockbusters, this is all that matters. They’re not trying to show the incredible diversity of human nature, or to make huge amounts of sense, or even to show off their wondrous creativity. They are trying to sell stuff, and that is all.

    Ubiquitous appeals to sex has been normalized in society, sure, but that’s also to be expected when you have an industry with bottomless pockets seeking mass appeal and don’t care much how it’s done.

    And yes, people aren’t aware of this, but that’s not exactly surprising. People take social norms for granted! News at 11!

    There’s also a degree of conditioning here, too, I suspect. Cool stuff always involves dark glasses, black clothes, hot women, and cigarettes — they’re cultural markers as much as anything else.

    I’d expect to see this anywhere where the people with disposable income have one thing that they’re pretty assured to all be fairly interested in.

    And that is, I think, what you see. The 50s were not so much concerned with sex exactly (there were social barriers to making explicit appeal to sex) as with social norms such as social status, nuclear families, gender roles and the suburban lifestyle, and that’s what you see promoted in advertising from that period.

    We don’t think men need to show they are manly men by smoking the right cigarettes, and women need to make their husbands happy by having a good meal ready by the time they come home at 6, so these kinds of concerns seem like laughable hangups to us, but they made sense at the time.

  • Alix

    I got your point. I do actually understand how advertising works** – that still doesn’t stop me from finding the mechanics of how it works weird and even creepy. Same with cultural norms.

    My whole point, in this entire subthread, has been about how strange it seems on a personal level that sex seems so important to sexual people that it ends up everywhere, even tied into completely unrelated things. I was trying to explain what that’s like, how it feels – honest to god, I do not need a lecture on how it’s all really truly totally normal, okay?

    I still find humans and human sexuality weird*, okay? I still find advertising bizarre, I still find the requisite romantic subplots annoyingly clunky, and I still feel, often, like y’all are teetering on obsession. I cannot go five fucking minutes, it seems, without someone bringing up sex, sexuality, romance, whatever, unless I’m hanging out with my equally ace friend and we have the TV off.

    This will never seem normal, to me, no matter how many clunky analogies people try or how many internet lectures I get. That doesn’t mean I don’t follow these things intellectually – it means there’s a non-intellectual level where I just. won’t. get. it, because my entire lived experience runs contrary to that.

    *I find humans weird in general, even myself. It’s just a thing.
    **Given the number of people I know who really like to light stuff on fire, I sometimes suspect advertisers might get more attention if they blew up their products on live TV.

    ETA: To clarify for what seems like the millionth time, what baffles me is not that sexual people find sexuality important, attractive, and want to talk about it/whatever. What baffles me are a) how very many things sexual people manage to add sexuality to, and b) that sexual people seem to find sexuality so very central to absolutely everything that you’re baffled I’m baffled that you won’t shut up about it!

    I’m being deliberately hyperbolic, but not by much.

    And I am getting really crazy frustrated right now, so I should probably go take a breather. (Dammit, self, you should know better than to get into conversations on sexuality. It never ends well.)

  • arcseconds

    I’m not giving you a lecture about how it’s all normal, and I’m not trying to tell you how to feel about it.

    (I’m not even sure of what you mean by ‘normal’ here, actually, so I’m not really sure of what you’re accusing me, let alone why you think I’m doing it)

    I’m saying that the situation is explicable.

    That involves an explanation about advertising, and that seemed warranted because you seem to have expectations that advertisers should or could be doing something other than advertise stuff (like, make sense, or be creative).

    I didn’t seriously expect you to not understand advertising, but it didn’t seem to me that you aren’t fully applying that understanding, because you still seemed to be baffled by it, whereas how advertising works goes a very long way to explaining what you see.

    You say you have my point, but your still saying things like ‘y’all are teertering on obsession’. One of the points I’m trying to make is that it’s not necessary for everyone to be obsessed with sex for advertisements and movies to look like everyone’s obsessed with sex. All that’s necessary is for many people to have a strong interest in it, and for there not to be another stronger, more common interest.

    Now, it may be that people are obsessed with sex apart from this. That wouldn’t be surprising, either, given the amount of effort that’s spent informing everyone of how important it is. But you can’t read it off the movies and adverts themselves.

    It’s seeming more and more as though by ‘weird’, you don’t mean ‘inexplicable’, but rather are referring to your particular emotional reaction to this aspect of society. In which case my attempts at explanation are obviously beside the point — but I’m not the only one giving analogies as though some kind of explanation was needed :-P

    It might be worth noting, though, that plenty of sexual people feel the same way.

  • Alix

    Weird = strange.

    As in, I find it rather weird people latched onto the advertising comment as if that was the entirety of my point, and not just one supporting example.

    It feels very much like you’ve latched onto one thing you can sit there and explain repeatedly, in great detail, to the point of ignoring what I was actually driving at. Advertising and the Required Romantic Subplot were not the point of my earlier comment; they were examples – and I only mentioned advertising at all ’cause it was already an example in the thread.

    It’s a rare ad that has no sexy content. It’s a rare book that has no sexuality or romance. It’s hard not only to find clothes that aren’t some variant of “attractive” – or even to find people who understand that I don’t fucking care about how sexy I look. It’s impossible to even have a fucking conversation with people without sex and romance coming up, in completely inexplicable contexts. (“How’s that new computer you bought?” “Oooh, it’s so sexy!” …I hope to god that’s ironic.) (Or: “How was work today?” “Sue and Bob totally hooked up!” “…You’re out of middle school, right?”) When trying to get my hair cut, the very first thing I’m assured is that I can still be sexy. Fine, not what I asked.

    And so on, and so forth.

    It might be worth noting, though, that plenty of sexual people feel the same way.

    Not stupid, did notice. Though it seems a lot of times like sexual people love to complain about how oversexualized society is, then turn around and revel in it.

    My whole point, this whole damn subthread, was, well, to quote myself:

    From where I sit, it all looks like an incomprehensible obsession that bleeds into everything if people let it. (I’m not saying that’s exactly how life works for sexual people – I’m just trying to illustrate how it sometimes seems to someone who just doesn’t share that aspect of humanity.)

    In other words, this is what it feels like, being a stranger in a sexual land: even saying how strange the constant focus on sexuality is leads to people deciding that means I need an explanation as to why that focus exists. I don’t need an explanation. Honest to god, I really don’t. It’s not like I can miss how important sex is to sexual people; y’all ain’t exactly subtle.

    But every. single. goddamn. time. I try to get a sexual person to see what it feels like to be me, I get lectured, as if being asexual means my eyes fell out of my damn head.

    It is hella frustrating, I gotta say.

    (I concede on the bad analogies. I’d make an excuse for it, but no, that’s how my brain really works. Three-eyed Martians and dinosaurs in advertising, go me.)

  • Alix

    I will try one last example, one that has nothing at all to do with advertising, and see if that makes my point clearer:

    I bought a swimsuit the other day. It’s a one-piece, because a) I like one-pieces, b) it has awesome flowers on the print, and c) if it’s not a one-piece, the top goes goodbye in short order. (There must be some inexplicable trick to swimming in a bikini, is all I gotta say.)

    It took me fucking forever to find a one-piece, though admittedly it was a lot easier finding one in my size than it would’ve been finding a bikini in said size.

    And then every. single. person. I showed it to tried to tell me that it was totally okay for me to wear a bikini, didn’t I want something sexy? Why was I “ashamed” of my body? And every time I explained that I don’t care about looking sexy, I like what I got, and bikinis have a serious design flaw (in my experience) … I got blank stares and a slow blink, and more reassurances about how my body was totally okay and I should feel comfortable being sexy. I could practically hear the whoosh.

    And then I read a blog post by a feminist, talking about how it was totally awesome to wear bikinis, and one-pieces and covering up at the beach are oppressive. That women need to, in essence, take back their power by feeling and being sexy.

    And, well, that’s not necessarily a bad message. And it’s not like I care if some people go to the beach to look sexy. But when legitimate personal preferences are slammed? When people look at a female-bodied person buying a one-piece bathing suit and think “I need to let her know it’s okay to be sexy!” as if that’s the main purpose of a suit for swimming in, when all the ads and salespeople and friends and acquaintances and even feminist writers all act like the main purpose of a swimsuit is to look sexy … something, at that point, to my brain, is really skewed.

    And yet so many sexual people don’t seem to get that. It seems to baffle people when I find that kind of reaction odd or skewed (or whatever term you want to use). Like they honestly can’t get why I might actually be more concerned about whether a swimsuit stays on during swimming than whether or not I look smokin’ hot in it – and honestly can’t fathom why I find their bafflement baffling.

    I am not sure this makes anything clearer. At least we’re not talking about advertising anymore…

  • Eric Boersma

    “And yet so many sexual people don’t seem to get that. It seems to baffle people when I find that kind of reaction odd or skewed (or whatever term you want to use).”

    Respectfully, you have spent the majority of this comment thread discussing how baffled you are that sexual people think about sex a lot. You seem to understand that there is an incredible cognitive disconnect when it comes to thought patterns between yourself and the majority of people that you interact with, but yet you seem to be entirely missing the connection that this disconnect operates in two directions.

  • Alix

    Fair point, and I do actually get that there’s a disconnect both ways. (It’s kind of hard not to, when the first reaction you get to people learning your orientation is generally “there’s no such thing.”)

    I will say it gets really damn frustrating, though, when every time someone asks me to explain what it’s like being ace, or whenever I try to express annoyance at something being (to my mind weirdly) sexualized – there’s immediate pushback. It seems less like a disconnect, sometimes, and more like a refusal to even try to understand.

    And then I get told two conflicting messages from sexual people: that sexual people feel the same way about, say, sex in advertising, and that this is just one of those things where I have to accept sexual people are different. I can easily follow either one of those, but not both simultaneously, as they seem mutually contradictory to me.

    If I came off as hostile or reductive, I apologize. Rereading this thread this morning is interesting – apparently, I had a hell of a lot of pent-up frustration over this and it all seeped out.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And then I get told two conflicting messages from sexual people: that sexual people feel the same way about, say, sex in advertising, *and* that this is just one of those things where I have to accept sexual people are different. I can easily follow either one of those, but not both simultaneously, as they seem mutually contradictory to me.

    Going back to the chocolate cake metaphor: chocolate cake is a marvelous thing, I would be perfectly happy to eat it three times a week, but why would I want it for breakfast? Like all things, chocolate cake is best in moderation.

  • Alix

    And I honestly do get that. I’ve said repeatedly that I do get sexual people being sometimes interested in sex, wanting to read sexual plotlines, whatever.

    My disconnect isn’t so much on that level. It’s that individuals tell me they like it in moderation, but somehow this translates to liking a constant bombardment on a group level.

    And frankly, I still don’t get how the fact that you like sex or chocolate cake in some circumstances leads to you being more likely to stop and look at an entirely unrelated ad just ’cause it’s pictured there, and also makes you more likely to buy the thing that’s advertised. If you really like chocolate cake, and people did start featuring it in their ads all the time, would that really make you more likely to watch a car commercial?

    Although I do have to say, I’m wondering if the “forbidden fruit” aspect to sex (which is … stupid and somewhat morally indefensible, in my mind) isn’t playing into this somewhat.

    …It probably is rather telling, that it’s taken me damn near a day to even consider that idea.

    On a slight tangent: as frustrating as this thread has been, it’s also been really useful*, so thanks to y’all for putting up with me.

    *If still somewhat confusing.

  • Alix

    Replying to my reply: The really interesting thing in this whole sprawling mess, to me, is what you* have found clear and what you haven’t. Several times, I’ve been somewhat taken aback by what people have argued over or found confusing in my comments, things I thought were perfectly obvious – which is interesting, because it helps illuminate the disconnect.

    Like I said … somewhere … every time I discuss sexuality vs. asexuality, something else crops up to demonstrate that sexuality is even stranger and more pervasive than I thought.

    *General “you.”

  • dpolicar

    Another thread through this (sorry if I’m repeating earlier comments) is that many people who have sexual desires have experienced being shamed for those desires, which can lead both to them understating the strength of those desires and to them reacting defensively to any attempt to discuss sexual desire as a marked case.

    Not saying this is justified, merely that it can happen.

  • Alix

    True. And this is the other reason (besides it simply not being my topic) why I usually only speak up when someone swings too hard against that shaming culture and hits me in the process.

  • dpolicar

    Well, for what it’s worth, I’m glad you speak up.

  • MaryKaye

    I sympathize. I went to the swimsuit store and asked for a swimsuit to swim in, and the woman behind the counter frowned and thought for a moment, and finally said, “Oh! I have some swimsuits for racing” and brought one out. It was nice, too–I wore that one for ten years until it wore out. But there were about ten of them in a whole store full of swimsuits-not-for-swimming, and I found that very odd and frustrating.

  • arcseconds

    No, it’s that I thought there was something that you didn’t understand cognitively about society, and I tried to explain it. It now seems pretty clear that it’s more that you feel alienated by this aspect of society.

    If it was clear to me from the outset that that was the real concern, I wouldn’t have attempted an explanation. I can see that getting a sociological explanation of a phenomenon when you were trying to explain how it felt to be you is frustrating.

    Was I remiss in not picking up on this earlier? Maybe, but you could have been quite a bit clearer. You engaged with explanations when given as though they were apropos. Even your initial remark uses the term ‘incomprehensible’, which suggests that there’s something cognitive your not getting, not that you intellectually understand the situation fine, but it alienates you emotionally. And you said you ‘got the general shape of it’, but hadn’t picked up on the importance of advertising, so it did really seem as though you were seeking further explanation.

    This kind of misunderstanding is perfectly understandable — dammit, pressed reply by accident.

    It’s a perfectly understandable misunderstanding, but it is a misunderstanding, and you’re misunderstanding me at least as much.

    You seem to be making a lot of assumptions about me, by the way, that aren’t warranted and probably aren’t helpful, with all your ‘y’all’s and such.

  • Alix

    There was something niggling at me here, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until just now.

    There is something incomprehensible to me about ubiquitous sexuality in things like advertising, but it’s not the part you kept trying to explain to me. You kept explaining the advertiser’s side of things, which, well. It’s pretty obvious.

    That’s not what confounds me. What confounds me is that sexual people keep telling me that sexuality’s not some magic brain override or hugely predominant factor in their lives … and yet in order for things like sexy advertising to work, it sort of has to be. I mean, are you really more likely to buy a fucking toaster just ’cause it’s got sexy people using it during 30 seconds on the TV?

    Either sexuality is some huge, overriding, all-consuming factor, or it isn’t. People keep saying the latter and acting … sorta like the former.

    This kinda goes back to how sexual people keep telling me they find society oversexualized, yet constantly seem to play right into that and even enjoy it in the way they act. It’s not the, hm, economic mechanisms I fail to understand – that was part of what I meant by getting the general shape of things, way upthread. It’s not the mass cultural dynamics.

    It’s the individual ones. More specifically, it’s how the individual dynamics I’m told are in play become the mass dynamics that are entirely different, and sometimes the complete opposite. Either the world really is ruled by a secret cabal of people who don’t care what we think and I owe my friendly neighborhood conspiracy theorist a $20, or there’s something here in the individual psychology of people about which I’ve been misinformed.

    As for the rest of your comment: the only time I directly addressed you specifically in the comment to which you are replying was in the third paragraph, where I was explaining what it seemed like, to me, that you were doing. I do my damndest to make sure I phrase stuff like that specifically because I have no way of knowing what you’re actually doing, not being you. When I used “y’all,” I was using a generic pronoun that seemed appropriate to the antecedent “sexual people” – are you a sexual person? I made one assumption there, and if I’m wrong I do apologize.

    As for engaging as if the arguments were apropos, this is my first reply to your first attempt at explaining advertising to me:

    …This does nothing but cement my belief that people are weird.

    I get what you’re saying, though.

    And then, from where I sit, it looked like you went on an epic sidetrack over the word “weird,” which was … weird … and from there we descended into a mass of talking past each other as I kept trying to re-explain my points and figure out what we were even talking about anymore. And it turns out the problem seems to be differing definitions of the word weird? (Also, apparently, incomprehensible.) It really, honestly does feel like you seized onto two minor things – one example and a word choice – and ran with them while missing the actual gist of my comments.

    While I could probably stand to cut out the three-eyed martian comparisons, I’m not sure how much clearer I can be. I do my best, you know. And that’s why I keep trying to engage with people, even when it seems to me like they’re really not getting my point – because if they’re not it means I haven’t made myself understood, and I want to figure out where the failure point is so I can explain better.

  • arcseconds

    OK, so now I don’t know whether or not you want to continue having a conversation about sex and advertising and to what extent it controls everyone’s minds.

    I thought we were having this conversation earlier, but I got told off for a whole lot of things like lecturing you and ignoring you, and how that’s not really what you wanted to talk about.

    You also told me that you understood everything and that suggesting you didn’t was treating you as though you were stupid.

    But now you’re saying there’s something you don’t understand about it, which looks like you actually want to continue the conversation.

    I’m happy to continue, or I’m happy to drop it. I’m fine with misunderstandings, and don’t consider them to be anyone’s fault.

    But if we do continue, you’re definitely opting in for a discussion abut sex and advertising (which is what I understoood the topic to be when I entered the conversation), so you don’t get to accuse me of ‘going on some weird tangent’ any longer, deal?

    (well, actually, you can if you like, I’m just not going to pay much attention to it)

  • Alix

    As long as I know what we’re talking about, I’m usually okay. And I’m curious as to what you want to say, so please continue if you’d like to.

    Clarification: I said I understood from the producer’s side. It’s the consumer side that baffles me somewhat. If you can shed some light on that, please do.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Works for me!

  • AdrianTurtle

    From what I’ve seen, sexual orientation it’s the sort of thing that’s critical to some people’s identity, but not others. (Like religion–the question of what religion you believe in is separate from how important your religion is to you.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ellie often has to follow these conversations through email, so ze may not be able to see that edit. Going to include a copy of your post at the end of this reply just in case.

    It’s probably difficult to imagine if you’ve been this way for as long as you can remember, but for a person with an active sex drive, decisions made can sometimes be influenced on many levels by sexuality. Just try and imagine what role sexuality would play in being receptive to advertisements!

    I’d say it’s a core part of your nature, if not your conscious identity, because you’re going to react much differently to the things which other people take for granted. You don’t necessarily have to think of something often in order to be influenced by it.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    For Ellie’s benefit in case ze can’t see the edit:

    “Er. That’s akin to asking me if having three eyes and being born on Mars would make me a different person. Sure. If I’d gotten up at 6 today instead of 7 it’d make me a different person, too.

    That still doesn’t make my lack of sexuality a critical aspect of my own identity.

    This question makes as much sense to me as “That hobby you don’t do? Other people do it, so you’d be a different person if you liked it too, right?” And it’s a perfect example of what I mean – it’s not something I think about, it’s not something I identify as intrinsic to my own sense of identity – but it’s something other people pick out as intrinsic to my self-definition, and I find it a bit bizarre.

    Edited for clarity.”

  • Alix

    That makes sense. I still don’t know that I’d agree that it’s a major aspect of my identity, though I am now wondering if we’re defining things differently.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “Identity” might be the fuzzy word. Identity can be either the whole of a person’s nature as it relates to social expression, or it can be that social expression itself.

  • Alix

    Well, that, and there’s a difference between how one self-defines (i.e. the things an individual considers the most major aspects of oneself), and all the many, many things that go into making a person who they are.

    Running with your ad receptivity example – I find football boring as hell. Ads using football or football stars bore or confuse me. My not liking football is a part of who I am, and I’d be a different person if I liked it, but it’s also not a major aspect of my self-definition. I don’t see it as something that has a huge impact on my daily life.

    My lack of sexuality’s very much like that. There are times it does become really important to me – usually when others are arguing asexuals don’t exist or are subhuman – but in the vast majority of my life, it never comes up. It exerts the same influence as my football disdain. And people who insist that my asexuality must be a huge aspect of my identity baffle me in the same way that an avid sports fan insisting my lack of football interest defines my life would.

  • Alix

    …I’m not sure that last sentence is grammatically correct. Hopefully, it’s clear enough, though.

  • Matthias

    Well unless a genie comes along and gives me a sex drive I won’t ever know if it would make me into a different person but I’d say no it wouldn’t.

    To illustrate my point let me discribe you how my evening went:

    I came home depressed because RT-PCR didn’t work again (being stuck at the same task for over two weeks and failing in different ways sucks). My girlfriend listened to me, cheered me up, then I made meatloaf and matched potatoes, while she prepared the salad during this time we listened to the news. While the meatloaf was in the oven we sat outside,enjoyed the weather, I listened to her stories form school, we discussed if we should go swimming tomorrow morning. Then we ate, washed the dishes and both went to do some work and blogging on the computer. In a few minutes we’ll go to sleep.

    Now if we had a sex drive what exactly would change in this list? I guess we would have sex before going to sleep but everything else would stay the same right? (At least I hope so it is of course possible that I would turn into a cassanova and leave start bedding anything that moves but I prefere to think my fidelity is not just rooted in that). And thus the core of myselfe would still be the same.

  • AnonaMiss

    Sexuality not being a core part of a person isn’t limited to asexual people, either. I’m a (mostly hetero)sexual person who doesn’t consider sexuality anywhere near the core of my identity – honestly, I mostly consider it an annoyance/distraction. (Having a cubicle directly across from the most attractive man I’ve ever met may have something to do with that.)

    I don’t consider my sexual attractions to be any more a part of me than my food preferences. I hate eggplant and adore brussels sprouts, but if that were reversed, well, whatever. It only really matters at meal times. Which video games I like are a significantly more central part of my identity than who I would like to goink.

    Now, I realize that I have a certain level of luxury/privilege on this front – as a cis heterosexual I’ve never been asked to define myself in terms of sexuality, or had my sexuality challenged by society. But yeah, sexuality is a spectrum in multiple dimensions: you don’t have to be asexual to prioritize it waaay down on the scale of “things that make me who I am.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    This makes my diabetes the “heart of my being”

  • EllieMurasaki

    That sounds like it’s an objection to the term.

  • Matthias

    I for my part don’t consider sexuality at the “heart of my being”. Until I read this article I in fact hadn’t thought about sex for about a week (and if this isn’t entering into TMI I hadn’t had sex for 5 years). I fail to see how this constitutes the “heart of my being” anymore than the fact that I hadn’t been part of the catholic church I had grown up with for a similar amount of time, or should I label myself as an acatholic?

  • Alix

    You said that much better than I did. Thank you.

  • caryjamesbond

    I’m with Matthias on this one. I’m definitely straight, and definitely sexually interested- but I don’t like the way we tend to make sexuality the most fundamental aspect of our natures.

    I am straight- attracted to women. And yet I am capable of friendships, working relationships, and interactions with women that are not at all defined by my sexuality. My sexual desire is part of who I am- and a part of who I am that, as an adult, I have control over. I cannot always control the first flash of “damn, she’s hot”- but neither can I control a lot of other knee-jerk reactions. They’re essentially hind-brain, animalistic reactions- food good, mating good, tribe good. What makes me a human being and not just an animal is the second and third and forty-fifth reactions, where I interact with the people around me as PEOPLE and not just objects.

    To me, making sexuality the most fundamentally important aspect of your life seems to lead inexorably to ideas like “[straight] men and women can’t be friends” or “gay people will ogle me in the locker room” or “you have a close friend of the sex/orientation you’re attracted too, you MUST be cheating on me”

    Sexuality is important, but it is not the be-all end-all of who I am. It is a part of me. However, when I consider what REAL effect it has- it ain’t that much. If my preferred gender suddenly switched, I’d still act the same in relationships, still have the same fears, insecurities, desires.

    I’d be essentially the same person, but the other human being I was attracted to would have different genitalia.

    As for Fred’s analogy- yes, coffee-drinking does not perfectly equal homosexuality. That’s why its an ANALOGY and not the THING ITSELF. Don Marquis said ” “Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”

    Actually, in a lot of important ways, that is untrue. Dropping rose petals down the Grand Canyon doesn’t involve paper. Or Ink. Or writing. Or poetry. Or a publisher. Or a book.

    If Don Marquis wanted to be perfectly accurate, he’d describe the process of writing a book. He used an analogy to make a point. So did Fred. The analogy is not the thing itself, and acting as though Fred is too simple to grasp that yes, coffee drinking and being gay are different in pretty much every way is just….stupid. Coffee and sodomy have exactly one important thing in common- Mormons think they’re sinful. Fred uses that one point of commonality to make a point.

  • EllieMurasaki

    To me, making sexuality the most fundamentally important aspect of your life seems to lead inexorably to ideas like “[straight] men and women can’t be friends” or “gay people will ogle me in the locker room” or “you have a close friend of the sex/orientation you’re attracted too, you MUST be cheating on me”

    I disagree. Unless you’re talking about universally uncontrolled, or assumed to be universally uncontrolled or uncontrollable, sexuality, which I am not and I don’t think Lliira is.

    And also neither Lliira nor I said “the most fundamentally important aspect of your life”. Lliira said “at the heart of your being” and I agreed. Thing about hearts? There’s plenty of room in there.

  • Alix

    I think part of the confusion is that I interpreted “at the heart of your being” to be “something at the core of your self/identity” – and for me my lack of sexuality’s nowhere near the core of my being, but a peripheral.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay.

  • caryjamesbond

    ” Lliira said “at the heart of your being” and I agreed. ”

    I have heard this phrase or functionally identical variations used hundreds of times in my life, to reference many, many things. At no point was it ever used to indicate anything but “This thing is incredibly central.”

    The heart of the issue, get to the heart of the matter, take it to heart, at heart, – anytime you see the word “heart” used to refer to something, it indicates its fundamental centrality to the thing being discussed because that’s what hearts are.

    And if sexuality is not super-fundamental to who you are as a person, then Lliira’s comment falls apart. If sexuality is just another thing on the wide spectrum of things that makes you unique, than Fred’s original coffee analogy is even MORE appropriate.

    Not to mention that, as many people have said, flipping my gender choice probably wouldn’t change who I am or how I express it that much. Take away my cigarettes, however, and you’ll meet a very different Cary. Arguably, smoking is more central to who I am, or at least how I express myself, and how others perceive me, than what gender I like.

    Heck, I’ve gone years without sex and not missed it that much. I’ve begged, groveled, sneaked around, and obsessed about cigarettes when I haven’t had one in a DAY. I’d maybe walk a mile to get laid, but I would, and have, walked a hell of a lot of a lot further than that for a Camel.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I can live with getting people to the “shut your pie hole about whether or not you think it’s a sin” stage before getting them to the “gee, an honest reading of the Bible would indicate that considering it a sin is not consistent with the moral message enunciated by Jesus Christ” stage.

  • Alix

    So is there ever an acceptable analogy, then? It seems to me Fred’s arguing from religious law – accepting their premise and pointing out, in a way they can understand, the flaw in their thinking.

    “In a way they can understand” being, of course, a crucial part of arguing with and/or educating someone.

  • Lori

    Aside from the fact that I don’t think the analogy was meant to create a perfect comparison between coffee drinking and sexuality, I also have some problems with the idea that labeling something a sin is this horrible thing that automatically does harm or is some special kind of awful.That privileges religion in general, and conservative Christianity in particular, in a way that I’m not comfortable with.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass that some people think I’m a sinner (and plenty do, for a variety of reasons). I don’t share their beliefs and I don’t believe that their definition of sin is going to result in me being sent to eternal torment or anything else.

    I do care if they try to write their beliefs into law and I care that our culture gives so much weight to their beliefs that even non-believers end up essentially agreeing with them that their notions about sinfulness are a BFD. In and of themselves those ideas really shouldn’t be a BFD to anyone but them. IMO we’d all be better off if we did think that some Christians’ notions about the sinfulness of sexuality were of no more import to the rest of us than LDS beliefs about caffeine.

    ETA: The fact that a person could give up caffeine without changing their fundamental being doesn’t make it OK to expect them to do so based on beliefs they do not share. I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with LGBTQ rights resting on the notion that sexuality is inborn and immutable. I think sexuality is more complicated than that, but what really bothers me is that it shouldn’t matter. How I express myself sexually is none of anyone else’s business as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. I feel like arguing based on sexuality not being a choice is giving away far too much ground, on more than one front.

  • caryjamesbond

    SO. MUCH. THIS.

  • Alix

    There was something about this comment that really upset me, and I think I’ve finally sussed it out, so apologies for the double reply.

    There are a number of things I’ve chosen to do, things that to an outsider might seem relatively minor, things that I could give up fairly easily if I had to, that are much more at the heart of who I am, much more important to how I want to live my life, than many innate aspects of my personality.

    For one example, I paint. I don’t have to – it’s a choice, it’s a hobby. It’s also a sacred act to me, and a revelatory one, and a method of self-expression that has become fundamental to me, in ways I can’t fully articulate. It is more important to me than not only my lack of sexuality, but my gender identity.

    But painting’s just a choice, just something I decided to start doing one day. I could stop. I have stopped, in the past.

    Some paints are toxic. If they’re the color I need/want, I use them anyway. That they’re “kind of unhealthy” isn’t even a factor.

    I hate the argument that things that aren’t choices are so much more important than things that are. Hate it. It runs so counter to my own experience it isn’t even funny – especially because of my gender identity issues, where I honestly feel I have no intrinsic gender, and so expressing gender identity is a form of playacting, to me. I choose, every day, how I want to be perceived or if I even want to be a gender at all. (This is why, as I mentioned somewhere in this monster thread, I still have issues with what my gender identity even is.) Is that not still important?

    I suppose you could insist that somehow, those choices are still not choices because they’re rooted in my intrinsic non-genderedness (for lack of a better term), or that that somehow makes them intrinsic. Or maybe painting is now intrinsic to me, even though it’s a learned behavior, because it’s become so important to my spiritual and mental health. But at that point, you’d be using definitions of intrinsic and choice that I wouldn’t be able to follow, so.

    The things we choose to do are very much important parts of who we are, and they’re not less so because they’re chosen.

  • caryjamesbond

    Totally this. I understand WHY the entire homosexuality issue is about being born that way- because it places homosexuality in the same category as skin color and other things we find it abhorrent to judge someone for. The fact that Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, and Idris Alba have expressed certain genetic traits says sweet-fuck-all about their talents, their personalities, and it is certainly no reason to judge them.

    But the entire reason our society finds that sort of judgement to be fundamentally WRONG is that those things don’t matter. Skin color, eye color, height, sexual preference- these things DON’T MATTER (or rather, shouldn’t matter. That they continue to matter is wrong.)

    How much melanin your skin has or what sort of warm wet hole you prefer is the most boring thing about you. I want to talk to you about your painting, or your work, or your favorite movies, or what types of food you like- chatting about your physical attributes is…..dull. Oh great, you’ve expressed a certain genetic phenotype. Fascinating. Now, about that recipe for sour cream chocolate mousse?

    Too long, didn’t read: Isn’t “this genetic phenotype that you’ve expressed says something very important about who you are as a person” the sort of thing the bad guys say?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It’s also push-back against the “it’s a choice argument” because of knowing why that argument is made. If it’s a choice, then the opponents of gay rights feel justified in turning the onus of acceptance back on gay rights advocates. If it’s not a choice, then they have to learn to live with their neighbors. If it is a choice, then their neighbors can just deal with not getting their way.

  • dpolicar

    If it’s not a choice, then [opponents of gay rights] have to learn to live with their [gay] neighbors.

    Can you say more about why you expect this?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Because the “it’s a ~choice~” argument absolves QUILTBAG-rights opponents of any culpability in fomenting hatred, bigotry, and discrimination (societal and legal).

    By convincing themselves that I ~chose~ to be bisexual, or Ian McKellen ~chose~ to be gay, or that EllieMurasaki ~chose~ to be genderqueer, et cetera, they can pat themselves on the back that they avoided the ~wrong choice~ and can therefore ignore any feeling of common humanity with us, or any sense of having been born straight and cis but for the lucky draw of biology (or the doings of God).

  • Alix

    And maybe this is only because I’ve been shamed once too often for harmless choices (eating food as a fat person, OMG, the end of the world!), but it seems to me that the best way (admittedly, not necessarily the easiest) to combat that tired old argument is to get people to see that it’s okay for people to make different choices – not to concede that argument to the bigots.

    Because, guess what? If someone decides to make it illegal for me to wear a skirt, or be a bigot about it, that’s still wrong, even though my choice of lower-body clothing is not something hard-wired. The problem is that their argument is wrong, not that choices are wrong.

  • dpolicar

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear.

    I wasn’t asking why you expect opponents of queer rights to abuse queer people if they think it’s a choice. THAT part makes perfect sense to me.

    I was asking why you expect them NOT to abuse queer people if they DON’T think it’s a choice.

    I mean, as far as I know nobody believes being black is a choice, but that doesn’t necessarily force opponents of equal rights for black people to learn to live with their black neighbors.

    Ditto for lots of other groups.

  • gpike

    I know I’m late to the party with this, but I just wanted to comment on this subthread:

    The “choice vs. not a choice” dichotomy creates an awkward catch-22 for those of us who don’t fall easily into any given “category” – when you’re genderqueer you basically have to “decide” what to call yourself and there are times when you have to choose to present as SOMETHING; when you’re gray-A or demisexual you may have to choose to be sexual or not in a given situation, and so forth (or at least *I* do – I’m sure I can’t be the only one though).

    I mean, in all honesty, there was a point where I had to decide whether to go on calling myself “a girl” or to call myself “something else” – and I’m not out of the “omg so confused about my identity” stage – but that decision was based on the evidence that I am maybe not, in fact, a woman. >_>

    But this is so hard to explain to people who want everything in life to be an either/or. Life is all big fat gray areas but most people are in denial about that fact.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It might be optimistic, but my reasoning goes that if they accept that homosexuality is inevitable and cannot be helped, then they’ll grudgingly accept it as a matter of course as something for which people can’t be blamed.

    If it was a choice, however, they could shift the responsibility away from themselves entirely. “Well, why should we change ourselves and the law to deal with something that’s completely optional and entirely of your own making?” they can argue. “Not everyone can have their way. You don’t think that’s fair? Life isn’t fair, so deal with it.”

    Comparable situation: A school has only room for one playing court, which is currently used for the school’s basketball team. Along comes a group who wants to start an unofficial tennis team, but doesn’t have enough people to attract the interest of making it an official school activity. The tennis team wants to have the court refashioned so that they can put up a net and practice, at cost to the school and potentially disrupting the basketball team’s practice. Defenders of the basketball team are going to feel quite justified in telling the tennis players to just deal with the situation and take their game somewhere else. If the tennis team pushes for the renovations, they’re going to push back even harder.

    On the other hand, if there was even one single student with a physical disability who couldn’t get around the school without renovating the steps to have handicap access slopes and whatnot, they’re going to grudgingly accept the cost*. People are more inclined to accept and empathize with a situation a person can’t help, whereas they’ll see others as “making trouble for the sake of trouble.”

    In reality, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a choice or not, since nothing which causes no harm to one or their neighbors should be prohibited on so flimsy a ground as “life isn’t fair.” There’s no cost to equal marriage opponents, so they really don’t have any reasonable grounds to object to this.

    * Yes, I’m aware there are some assholes who will try to weasel out of making renovations for disabled people, but they’re in the minority and generally thought of very poorly.

  • Alix

    “Life isn’t fair, so deal with it” –> the cry of the bully, really.

    It’s actually a great litmus test; anyone who uses that argument seriously is someone I know is an ignorant asshole.

    (Honest to god, does it never occur to these folks that making the world more fair is “dealing with it”?)

  • Alix

    And yet, their religion is a choice. Pointing that out makes their brains fry.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The last time someone pointed this out, the reply fried my brain.

    “I’m not religious. Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship with God. You can’t choose your relationship any more than you can choose your family.”

  • Alix

    Well, except that you totally can choose your family. Hell, I’ve cut blood relatives out of my life for being raging assholes.

    That’d probably fry their brains too.

    …I’m not even going to touch the “Christianity isn’t a religion” thing, except to note that they clearly need to learn words.

  • Tapetum

    I suspect it would fry their brains. I’ve been very startled by the degree to which the more conservative Christians I know view family entirely through obligation, rather than love and choice. You respect your parents and take care of them in their old age because they are your parents. It doesn’t matter if they were abusive, or raging assholes, or any other damn thing – they’re your parents (brother, uncle, whatever) = you must have that relationship with them.

    Somehow this doesn’t hold when disowning your kids for being gay, though.

  • Alix

    Not just conservative Christians, either, but conservatives, full stop. My dad’s an atheist, but other than that is about as rabid a right-winger as you can find, and you’ve just nailed precisely how he thinks, down to the hypocrisy.

    Once, I had to read a book for English class (can’t remember the title) in which the main character had murdered someone and his family helped cover it up. I was talking about my homework, which involved writing a short essay on whether that was moral. My dad blew a gasket and started yelling about how it was not only moral, it was a requirement to support your family no matter what, and that turning on family was tantamount to treason, and he couldn’t believe the school even entertained the notion that the family turning in the murderer might be right.

    And yet when my brother got caught once with marijuana, Dad not only refused to go pick him up but tried to convince the cops to send him straight to jail. Why? Because my brother made him look bad, and he wouldn’t tolerate a son who wasn’t the perfect upper-middle-class kid. (Despite us not even being upper-middle-class anymore, thanks to Dad pissing away all our money and his job.) But when we called the cops on Dad after he tried to strangle said brother? That was a horrible betrayal of family and his rightful standing at the head of it.

    *sigh*

    Dad is still baffled as to why I cut him off. As in, he doesn’t even comprehend how that could happen, not that he thinks I’m wrong for doing so.

  • Tapetum

    That sounds unfortunately familiar, and I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with it.

    Yeah – those bonds of absolute obligation only run one way – up the ladder, not down it. You must support those above you in the heirarchy, but they have no concominant obligation to those below them. Which is how my parents ended up telling me that I would not be inheriting anything AND that I would be their executor in the same conversation.

  • Alix

    my parents ended up telling me that I would not be inheriting anything AND that I would be their executor in the same conversation.

    Ouch. :(

  • EllieMurasaki

    OW.

  • MaryKaye

    Yes. This.

    For me, whether I’m with a man or a woman is something of a choice, in that I’m bisexual–I’m capable of being attracted (sexually and romantically) to people of either gender. So you could say that my long-term relationship with a male person is a choice. But. If you went after me for that choice you’d be hitting something *extremely* fundamental, more so than a lot of immutable traits. If you dyed me black I wouldn’t be a fundamentally different person, though I would certainly face a different social world and it would be hard. But if you took my partner away and tried to substitute someone else, that would be about the most basic assault to me as a person you could manage.

    “It’s innate” is an argument useful in winning a necessary fight against bigotry, but in the last analysis it’s not the foundational argument. I have no innate requirement to be with a man and not a woman, but *this is the man I chose*. (And given that he and I are of different ethnicity, it’s not long ago that people were challenging our right to make that choice.)

  • Alix

    And also, well, I understand the urge to take the shortcut of “It’s intrinsic, so it can’t be wrong” – but that has the added side effect of saying “if it’s a choice, you can criticize it/take away the right to do it.” Witness how many people – even many liberals/progressives – love to scold folks for their food choices.

    It doesn’t matter if something is innate or chosen, whether it meets some aesthetic standard you hold, or some standards of health, or fun, or dignity, whatever. The only thing that matters is whether or not what I am doing, how I am being, actively harms other people. I am not allowed to punch you in the nose, but if I want to run around waving my fists and painting my nose blue, I should have the right to do so, regardless of the fact that it’s hardly an inbuilt requirement of my nature.

  • Lori

    I understand the urge to take the shortcut of “It’s intrinsic, so it can’t be wrong”

    This is actually one of the aspects of the argument that I find problematic.Bear with me, because I’m going to comment on a common, shitty argument that people make about gay people, but I am not endorsing it. Please don’t think that I am.

    There are people who absolutely believe that their sexual attraction to children is innate, that they were born that way. Unless things have changed a lot recently, the preponderance of the available evidence doesn’t support this, but it also doesn’t prove them wrong. If we’re basing the argument for rights on choice vs not a choice then what do we do with that? Because even if pedophilia isn’t a choice the vast majority of expressions of it are still very definitely not OK.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to whomever, but there is something horribly wrong with acting on the attraction in a nonconsensual manner. Children cannot consent, therefore acting on attraction to children is by definition acting on that attraction in a nonconsensual manner. Adults can consent, so as long as everybody is consenting, acting on attraction to adults is not a problem at all.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s pretty much my perspective on the matter. It is a question of harm and lack of consent, and that is why even if it is innate, it is not a candidate for being a socially and legally protected category of person.

  • Alix

    It is a question of harm and lack of consent

    Which, IMO, should be how we frame and argue all of these questions – not on whether or not something’s intrinsic or chosen.

    Am I asexual because of something innate or because I’ve chosen to be (consciously or not)? I’ve no idea; the human brain is a weird, weird thing and I’m constantly surprised both by what seems to be innate and what is cultural/learned. But it doesn’t matter – what matters is that I’m not harming anyone by being ace.

  • Lori

    That’s my point. In the secular realm the issue of right vs wrong hinges on consent, not innate vs not innate.

    Obviously plenty of homophobes make the same exact argument about being gay—that it’s not wrong to be attracted to members of the same sex, but it is wrong to act on it. They’re free to believe that if they want, but we shouldn’t base secular law on it.

    There are always going to be some tricky things about defining and delineating meaningful consent, but I think that creates a lot fewer problems than choice vs not choice.

  • Alix

    Also, a lot of our violent and selfish impulses are inborn, but we don’t consider them okay. This is the whole other reason I find this “innate = acceptable” thing deeply problematic, aside from the whole way it lessens choice.

    IOW, I agree.

    Edit: it also ends up conceding a major argument to the bigots – that their framing of the issue is indeed correct, and that if being gay were a choice, it’d be okay to ban it. I … do not agree with that framing.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There’s a gray area there, and I’m not sure I can talk about it without disturbing people. ROT13 encryption for discussing the acceptability of pedophilia as a mental disorder.

    Jryy, crqbcuvyvn vf pynffvsvrq nf n cflpubybtvpny qvfbeqre. Vg’f bar ernfba jul V’z abg ragveryl fher ubzbfrkhnyvgl fubhyq unir orra qrpynffvsvrq nf n zragny qvfbeqre. Gur qvssrerapr, nf lbh uvtuyvtug, vf va gur npgvbaf bar gnxrf nf n erfhyg bs guvf noabezny qvfcbfvgvba. Vs n crqbcuvyr fngvfsvrf gurzfryirf jvgu cbeabtencuvp neg perngrq ragveryl sebz n crefba’f zvaq (qenjvatf jvgubhg n zbqry, va bgure jbeqf), gura nf hapbzsbegnoyr nf vg znxrf hf, vf gurer ernyyl nalguvat gb juvpu jr pna bowrpg, naq vs gur crefba vf fngvfsvrq jvgu orvat gung jnl, gura… vf gurer ernyyl nalguvat jr fubhyq qb nobhg vg?

    Hayrff jr jrer gb nethr gung cebcntngvat gung fbeg bs orunivbe, rira vs vg pnhfrf ab qverpg unez, perngrf gur vzcyvpngvba gung gurer’f abguvat jebat jvgu frrvat puvyqera frkhnyyl naq vapernfrf gur yvxryvubbq gung fbzrbar zvtug npg ba gubfr hetrf orpnhfr fbpvrgl unf orpbzr npprcgvat bs crqbcuvyrf, vs abg crqbcuvyvn. Guvf vf jurer zl pncnpvgl gb fnl jurgure vg’f npprcgnoyr be abg oernxf qbja.

  • Lori

    I agree with you, which is why I said that the vast majority of expressions of pedophilia are wrong, rather than saying that all of them are. There is a gray area where I’m not sure and I don’t think anyone else is either.

    V unir gur fnzr dhrfgvbaf gung lbh qb nobhg neg jvgubhg zbqryf. Qbrf npprcgvat vg, ng yrnfg gnpvgyl, perngr n xvaq bs crezvffvirarff gung vapernfrf gur yvxryvubbq bs npghny unez gb puvyqera? Qbrf gur neg tvir gur cnegvphyne crqbcuvyr na bhgyrg gung znxrf uvz/ure yrff yvxryl gb pbafhzr bgure puvyq cbea be gb zbyrfg puvyqera, be qbrf vg srrq gur arrq va n jnl gung znxrf zber qnatrebhf be unezshy orunivbef zber yvxryl? V fhfcrpg gung nafjre vf qvssrerag sbe qvssrerag crbcyr naq gur ynj ernyyl unf ab jnl bs znxvat gung xvaq bs vaqvivqhny qvfgvapgvba. Fb, evtug if jebat znl unir n tenl nern, ohg yrtny if vyyrtny ernyyl pna’g.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Adding to that, the same sort of debate comes with up pornography all the time — does having it, even pornography we generally assume to be acceptable (consensual actors, happy and enthusiastic about their job, etc), harm society indirectly by making people look at each other in terms of sexuality rather than as people? Some of us say yes, some of us say no…

  • Lori

    Yup. I’ve run across this issue more than once. For example, some people say that violent misogyny is a kink for them. The fact that it’s a kink doesn’t actually make me feel any better about their misogyny. If I’m being honest, I would never feel entirely comfortable dealing with them in any capacity where they would or could have any power over me. Even if they wouldn’t actually try to hurt me, I don’t trust them to respect me or to treat me fairly. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d rather not have someone who whacks off to things like “I don’t treat women like animals. I respect animals,” doing my annual review at work.

    At the same time, as long as they aren’t actually hurting anyone I don’t feel like I have the right to tell them that they can’t consume porn that caters to their desires or engage in sexual relationships based on their kink as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.

    The kind of people that Mr Heartland mentioned earlier like to act as if their utter lack of compassion and respect is tough and therefore right, and that liberals are wishy washy and soft and therefore wrong. That’s BS on more than one level. The fact is that respecting consent is not the soft, easy thing to do. Sometimes it’s really hard.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Ugh, yeah. I know someone who genuinely likes being called horribly misogynistic names in the context of BDSM role-play and would probably be just fine if it spilled over outside of the bedroom, even into public, as hints of exhibitionism — but no matter what my kinks might be, I can’t understand it at all and it makes me horribly uncomfortable when she talks about it. For the same reason, I’m not comfortable with SlutWalk, even though I 1300% support the message.

  • Lori

    Again, yeah. I’m also of two minds about the whole notion of reclaiming “slut” or drawing sexual pleasure and power from it. I get it and I support the ideas underlying reclaiming it and yet it always feels off and uncomfortable to me, like having a pebble in your shoe.

  • Alix

    Isn’t your final paragraph basically the argument for why the ubiquitous sexualization of nonconsent* and much more obvious rape in media is wrong?

    *Yes, I’m aware nonconsensual sex and rape are the same thing in real life. Media often doesn’t present them that way, though, which is part of my point.

    I … okay, I’m about to admit something that might go over very badly. I have some extremely violent fantasies sometimes. (In my case, they’re not sexual, but that really doesn’t matter.) Sometimes, I write or seek out fiction that portrays this stuff, so that I can get my fix, so to speak.

    I’d never, ever actually act out those fantasies, even if you could give me a 100% guarantee there’d be no legal or social repercussions. Why? Because I value the lives and well-being of other people, and if I have one underlying moral principle, it’s that it’s wrong to harm people, especially for nothing more than my own gratification.

    But without the outlet of fiction? I’d go mad. I’m not exaggerating – during the one period of time I tried really hard to not indulge in the occasional written outlet, it became an obsession.

    It seems to me the solution to this kind of thing isn’t to ban fake portrayals and problematic fantasies, but to make sure we hold to a really clear fantasy/reality divide and some strong moral guidelines about what is and is not acceptable in the latter.

    (This is one reason, incidentally, why hoaxing-for-entertainment, like in many “found footage” film productions, is … morally sketchy, to me.)

  • Lori

    You aren’t alone in finding the outlet of fiction incredibly necessary. I actually think most of us do in one form or another, it’s just that when the needs are more socially and morally acceptable we’re less aware of them, if that makes sense.

    The problem is that not everyone is like you. Some people are the opposite. Fantasy and fiction don’t act as pressure release valves, they act as fuel.

    The law can’t differentiate between you and a person for whom fantasy is building up to reality. The law can only set a hard cut-off and (at least try to) enforce it for everyone. That hard cut-off needs to be determined by harm.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I think the best way to use it would be to consider it an aggravating factor in any conviction rendered for sexual inteference with a minor.

  • Lori

    I think that’s reasonable.

  • Alix

    It seems, then, that we ought to make, say, possession of noncon porn or violent anti-[whoever] material similarly an aggravating factor, which is also something I could get behind.

  • Alix

    I agree with all of that, but I’d argue that “harm” cutoff has to be actual action, not consumption or production of fiction.*

    *Assuming here that this doesn’t include productions involving real children.

  • Lori

    Yes, I agree. Production of fiction not using actual, non-consenting models isn’t harm in the sense that I mean it.

  • Alix

    I thought that was what you meant, but given that people have gotten arrested for possessing drawn child porn, I figured it never hurts to clarify.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    One of my exes was the same way, having both a sadistic streak that wanted to draw blood and having fantasies about being taken in a manner that would be consistent with portrayal of rape — albeit consensual. I have my own kinks and not all of them are easy to convey without feeling like I should be horrified at myself, too.

    We have some sexual hang-ups (I’d say as a culture, but it’s more of “as a species), yes. It’s hard to say what the proper outlet should be, or if there is one and we shouldn’t be working toward eliminating it from our mentalities. For now, though, I think the lesser of evils is to have harmless alternatives available while working on our mentalities at a social level.

  • Alix

    You know what really amazes me about all this? My fantasies, as violent as they are, aren’t sexual – and therefore in the eyes of a surprisingly large chunk of our culture, are acceptable.

    All the fiction, all the movies I use to get my fix are aboveboard and legal, and no one’s even questioning if they should be; the most I’ve heard is people arguing that some of them are too easily accessed by children. And very few people, learning about my reading interests, decide this makes me a pervert, a ticking time bomb, or otherwise unfit for society.

    But if I were getting off on it? Then they’d decide there was a problem. That’s when people would decide I was likely to actually act out my fantasies someday, and so am a menace to society.

    Apparently, I can revel in murder and torture in a nonsexual way and everyone just thinks this is fine, I just like horror and murder mysteries and thriller movies and so on, and no one seriously thinks I’d suddenly be a murderer, even if I write it myself. But apparently once sex becomes part of the mix, these fantasies would become an overwhelming force requiring me to turn into Jack the Ripper?

    Once again, I find I don’t understand sexual-ness at all. (Is the drive to get off really that overwhelming? Really capable of overriding one’s ability to separate fiction and reality?)

  • JustoneK

    Unless it’s a video game! (newmediaofchoice)

  • Alix

    Ah, true. And I’ve seen similar panics over comics or anime. But even there, it all seems to boil down to people thinking they’re exclusively for kids, and being thus really confused by the level of violence they find.

    Funny story: the library where I used to work kept filing such things as Death Note in the junior kids section (we’re talking babies to late elementary school, here) because isn’t it a picture book?

    Fortunately, when my friend stepped in to explain, they changed their minds and started shelving them in the YA section. And then sent out a memo reminding people not to assume comic book = kids section.

  • Lori

    Is the drive to get off really that overwhelming?

    Strength of sex drive varies a lot, but no, it’s generally not anywhere near that overwhelming.

    Really capable of overriding one’s ability to separate fiction and reality?

    No. If someone loses the ability to separate fact from fiction it’s a mental health issue, not a sex drive issue.

    The problem is that we have so much shame around sexuality that we sort of train ourselves to fall back on “I can’t help it” as a way to disclaim responsibility for all kinds of feelings, most of which aren’t actually a problem and which no one should be expecting us to justify in the first place. That blurs the line between things we shouldn’t be ashamed of (most things) and things that we should (like non-consent).

  • Alix

    If someone loses the ability to separate fact from fiction it’s a mental health issue, not a sex drive issue.

    That’s what I assumed, but since I lack a sex drive and that is such a pervasive idea, I figured it didn’t hurt to ask.

  • David S.

    I don’t know how you can think that pedophilia is a choice. Same argument as with homosexuality; do you think that people decide, hey, it’d be awesome to be a pedophile, with all the hatred that go along with it. Innate or not may be an open question, but behavioral traits formed from external pressures aren’t exactly choices either.

  • Alix

    There’s some evidence that some pedophiles are opportunists – that they’re not so much attracted to children as they are picking the most vulnerable victims.

    That’s not all pedophiles, but it’s something that needs consideration.

  • David S.

    I’ve read that the majority of child molesters are opportunists, but that’s part of the reason I would draw a division between pedophiles who feel an attraction to children and child molesters, overlapping but distinct groups.

  • Alix

    Ah. Fair point.

  • Lori

    There can be a sort of opportunistic element to the attraction as well though. Some people who feel a great deal of inadequacy will search for partners who they feel will not be able to recognize or criticize their failings. Children can be the ultimate expression of that desire for someone who is too unsophisticated to see them for who they are, or fear themselves to be.

  • Lori

    Notice that I didn’t say it was a choice, my comment was about whether or not it’s innate, which is not quite the same thing. As I said, the issue is complex and the only thing that’s totally clear is that it isn’t OK to have sex with people who are not able to give meaningful consent.

    ETA: I’m confusing my own posts. In the one you’re responding to I did use choice and that was somewhat sloppy use of language. It would probably have been more clear if I had phrased it as being about responsibility.

    ETA: It’s also true that the fact that you or I can’t imagine why someone would choose a particular thing doesn’t mean that they didn’t choose it. People do things every day that seem to outsiders to produce far more pain than pleasure, or no pleasure at all. Unless we’re going to say that no one really chooses anything (which some people more or less do believe) then the fact that people hate them can’t be considered proof that no one would choose pedophilia.

  • David S.

    Is there any evidence that any sexual attraction is chosen, that even things as minor as being attracted to brunettes is something chosen? Saying that pedophilia may be a choice seems to be a salve to deal with the fact that it’s easier to condemn something that’s a choice then something that’s not.

  • Lori

    I think there’s evidence that sexual attraction is mutable, which would generally indicate at least some degree of choice.

    That’s assuming anybody choses anything at all. There are people studying the brain who have come to the conclusion that free will as we have generally understood it doesn’t exist.

  • Alix

    At least some aspects of sexual attraction are cultural – it’s been known for a while that beauty standards and other standards* for who makes a good/attractive partner vary wildly across human societies. That includes the ages of acceptable partners, too.

    Of course, individual choice also comes in here, and the intersection of cultural notions and individual choices is always hard to navigate.

    *There is some evidence that some things are near-universal, symmetrical features being the most obvious, but it’s damn hard to tell.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Annnnd, there’s a recent article that posits that free will is biologically based. So, there’s that.

  • Alix

    See? Humans are totally weird. The answer to the old “free will or predestination” argument is, apparently, “biology says both, so nyah!”

  • Alix

    Well, and here we cycle back to an earlier part of the discussion – does it being a choice matter, if the person in question is not harming people or doing things to them without their consent?

    I don’t think it does. And that goes for unsavory things like pedophilia, too. It’s actions that count in the end, not inner states.

  • Mark Z.

    I hate the argument that things that aren’t choices are so much more important than things that are.

    Truth.

  • Mark Z.

    Drinking coffee is not at the heart of your being.

    Speak for yourself.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Drinking coffee is not at the heart of your being. Sexuality is at the heart of anyone’s being.

    I find this reductionist and kind of insulting.

  • http://eatdrinkandbemarysue.wordpress.com Mary Sue

    But he was judged to have headed too far “in the right direction” of
    reconciliation and love for the outcast, and he was banished from the
    evangelical tribe — cast into the outer darkness with the mainliners,
    the “progressives” and the Episcopalians.

    I always crack up when Episcopalians are called out like this.

    Mostly because I am one.

    (And a queer one to boot.)
    Don’t be afraid of the outer darkness! We’re Episcopalians! We’ve got enough candles for everyone and at Easter that’s not even enough, we set stuff on FIRE to get our symbolic New Light.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    And when it’s windy for the Easter Vigil, with a mini bonfire next to a bunch of people in vestments, that can get pretty exciting!

    (Another heathen Episcopalian here, shamelessly reciting the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday before swigging wine. Or blood. Whatever.)

  • SonjaFaithLund

    This is why when left to my own devices for church-going, I go to Episcopal churches. You all are wonderful.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

    I do hope we can let people be evangelical and pro marriage equality. In the churches I grew up around, it’s not going to happen.

  • jwhawthorne

    Perhaps we’re talking about this the wrong way. Let’s have Christians advocate for laws forbidding marriage after divorce. Marriage is not “one man and one woman…at a time”. We wouldn’t advocate such a position because conscience tells us that it’s not compassionate in the face of others’ real-life situations.

  • Patter

    And: let’s have Christians advocate for laws forbidding idolatry. In the US, that means 99% of the population goes to jail, including damn near all the Christians!

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Yeah, no more pledge of allegiance to the Flag, and especially no more taking the Lord’s name in vain in the middle of the idolatrous chant.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    A man is currently suing the state of Oklahoma for forcing him to commit idolatry by having a picture of the statue of Sacred Rain Arrow on it. His argument is that by the existence of this license plate, he is being forced to be complicit in the worship of other beings and he’s not okay with that. Either Oklahoma removes the license plate or his religious freedom is impinged upon.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Wouldn’t it only be idolatry if the state was forcing him to pray to Sacred Rain Arrow?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Really, it only makes sense if you allow a Christian’s religious freedom to include the ability to never be exposed to any other way of life, or even the allusion to any other way of life. Which means in order to win this case (which the man is being allowed to make, after appealing up to a higher court once already and winning a court of appeals notice at 2-1), he’s going to have to prove that his religious freedom trumps everyone else being allowed to have religious freedom.

    Scary thought if he were to win, but I don’t think he can.

  • The_L1985

    He reminds me of the folks in AL who tried to pull their kids out of middle-school literature class, because Greek mythology was in it and they were afraid that the mere act of telling kids that a long-dead civilization used to worship other gods would somehow result in mass worship of Zeus in the classroom.

    Which, presumably, is why no Sunday School ever tells stories like, oh I don’t know, the golden calf, or Elijah’s little pissing contest with the priests of Baal.

  • Alix

    Amusingly, I know at least a few pagans who say those middle-school lit lessons were what prompted them towards paganism.

  • MarkTemporis

    Having the Greek myths read to me did spark an interest in other gods and such, but what really flipped the switch for me into expanding my perception of what religion could be was that shitty Planet of the Apes movie where they worship the atom bomb.
    As a kid, I thought that was like the most awesome thing EVER.

  • http://www.angelsparrow.com valarltd

    Just forcing him to have the graven image in his house is state-sponsored idolatry and makes him guilty, whether he worships it or not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    By that reasoning, anything with a picture of Lady Liberty on it in his house is state-sponsored idolatry.

    Uh-oh, she’s on coins and stamps…

  • MarkTemporis

    Hey, nobody’s FORCING him to drive his car into his house! Most people I know are quite happy to keep their car parked outside or in a garage.

  • Lori

    More to the point, no one is forcing him to have that particular license plate on his car. If OK is like Indiana the “In God We Trust” plate doesn’t even cost extra*. He just needed to check that box on the form instead of the standard one.

    *It’s the only plate, other than the standard one, that doesn’t have an extra cost. US Christians are the most persecuted people in history, my ass.

  • David S.

    Actually that’s part of the legal case; it’s the only plate in Oklahoma that doesn’t come with an extra charge.

  • P J Evans

    And to make it even more obvious that it’s All About Him, the license plate doesn’t say what the statue is about or its name. (Oklahoma has a bunch of ‘specialty’ plates, including one for ‘In God We Trust’. Which you would think would be appropriate for this guy.)

    I saw a picture of the plate. The image is a silhouette of an Indian shooting an arrow.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I looked too. I have no idea how it can be mistaken for anything but a representation of the Native peoples who live in Oklahoma.

  • David S.

    But that doesn’t work other ways; if you put a painting of Moses on the plate, would we accept that it was okay because it doesn’t say that it’s Moses?

  • Alix

    …How bad a person does it make me, that my very first thought was that he must go to some hellishly boring worship services?

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    He’s the pastor.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Nah, they don’t advocate that because it would inconvenience THEM. Look at the stats: The divorce rate among evangelicals is equal to (maybe even slightly higher than) the general population’s.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Romans 14. Our faith is strong enough to surmount supposed sins. Yours is not? Then we will not force you to marry the same sex, but only hope, or pray, that you will one day feel comfortable enough in your faith to deem this acceptable if God calls to you.

  • Jamoche

    We could all start using the Latin – “petitio principii”. It’s hardly the first Latin phrase to enter the vernacular, and it’ll get rid of that annoying translation that confusingly includes an otherwise unused definition of “begging” and an out-of-left-field “question”.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    To me (and to others who don’t know much Latin, I’m sure), “circular argument” is much more clear.

  • arcseconds

    dammit, I need to learn to scroll…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I prefer to say “raises the question” or “assumes the conclusion” depending on which facet of the argument is being contradicted. (or “circular reasoning”. :) )

  • Sigaloenta

    But it’s hard to verbify “petere principem” into satisfactory English…

    Maybe we could say “proving your first principle”? It keeps the nice alliteration. I think “assuming the conclusion” is clearer to people who aren’t up on their logic, though.

  • Jamoche

    “Assuming the answer” is also alliterative.

  • stardreamer42

    The alternate description of “begging the question” that has not been distorted out of all recognition is “arguing in a circle”. Also, if you’re talking to someone with any formal training in logical proofs, “making the thing you’re trying to prove into one of your postulates”.

  • arcseconds

    I’m sure ‘petitio principii’ is still good :-)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I prefer the non-Latin “circular reasoning”. :P

  • stardreamer42

    For people who have studied either law or Latin, certainly. I was looking for something a bit more inclusive.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    An excellent riposte to the omg gay marriage people:

    http://i.imgur.com/4ObaSCI.png

  • Lori

    Well, nothing says good Christian like “fuck you”.

  • LL

    RE “It’s long past time for a new wave of articles titled, instead, ‘An Evangelical Christian Listens to …'”

    Yeah, this. I’m not holding my breath, though. Listening is not exactly in their wheelhouse.

  • phranckeaufile

    The colloquial use of “begs the question” is wrong and irritating.

  • Jamoche

    It fits the definition of the words better than the 16th century translation of a Latin phrase does.

  • phranckeaufile

    I beg to disagree.

  • caryjamesbond

    Also, turning back to the meat of Fred’s post:

    This is very encouraging to me. If it turns out that a lot of the anti-homosexuality crowd are afraid and not hateful, that is extremely encouraging. People do not WANT to be afraid, but they do enjoy being smug, being bigoted, and being oppressive.

    If what is being said here is true about at least some people, that’s a whole bunch of potential allies who will be a LOT easier to convince, because we only have to get them to stop doing something unpleasant.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Perhaps somewhat off-topic, bear with me or not as you will:

    I was once in a small Mexican border town with a man I know. He made a comment about some street beggars we saw that followed the typical line of ‘they just want a handout instead of working for a living” etc. Of course he offered no evidence that they had the option of a real job and considered the very fact of their being poor beggars as proof of their moral debauchery. When I pressed him on the matter he admitted to me in as many words that he did in fact feel some compassion for them, and that he was angry AT THEM for making him feel compassion.

    He wanted to believe that being morally good was only ever a matter of being ‘tough’. Something that would always make him feel strong, manly, in control. Any narrative of poor people being lazy hedonists was by definition ‘The Truth’ because it allowed him to express strength and power through his outrage.
    In a similar way I feel that some who express religious opposition to gay marriage may be torn between the human empathy and second-hand glow of other couples love and happiness on the one hand and a desire to assert the moral right to paternally forbid on the other.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The other thing that makes me wonder is how people can fulminate to excess about how “easy” it is to sit there day after day allegely raking in the $$$.

    If it’s that easy, why aren’t the ranters and fulminators doing it, too? One would think their alleged “self-dignity” wouldn’t stop them from raking in the big bucks.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah, I’m not really convinced.

    We’ve seen that with misogyny, if it comes down to being less horrible to women, or fudging their theology, they fudge their theology. And with racism, if it comes down to treating different races the same or fudging their theology, they fudge their theology. And with social justice, if it comes down to helping the poor over the plutocrats or fudging their theology, they fudge their theology. And with the treatment of aliens, if it comes down to treating immigrants decently or fudging their theology, they fudge their theology. And when it comes down to fudging their theology or ceding one iota of their privilege, well…

    I am disinclined to believe that evangelicals* are, in large part, shuffling their feet and saying “Aw man, I really want to be accepting of my neighbor, but I just can’t reconcile it with my belief in an angry god of wrath who will burn my country to ash if two dudes get married.” We’re talking about the society that worked out a way to reconcile support of the complete unfettered accumulation of wealth and power with Christianity. If they wanted to be Religiously Okay with homosexuality, they’d have figured out a way.

  • MarkTemporis

    I thought the title “An Evangelical Christian Looks at Homosexuality” somewhat humourous…as in I’m pretty sure he looks at homosexuality quite a bit when nobody is looking.

  • Carstonio

    The issue with saying “homosexuality is a sin” is that it wrongly treats one sect’s teachings on human behavior as though they apply to the entire human race. (“Sect” meaning the subset of Christians who hold this belief.) Yet the members of the sect stubbornly refuse to offer any secular arguments for why everyone should eschew homosexuality. They’re asking everyone else to kick their faith out the door, to disassemble how they read their holy books.

    I’ve said many times that this would be so much simpler if they defined sin on the tribal level, like the Amish do for modern technology. That would allow them to keep their reading of the Bible and their approach to authority while showing respect for the individual’s moral right to decide the course of hir own life.

  • Guest

    Bigotry -a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices… Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin ..not only that they believe that anyone who thinks about or participates in homosexual activity should burn in hell forever. So implying that Christians aren’t bigoted for believing that gay people are bad is basically ignoring the text of the bible. The bible is bigoted against gays. It says gays should be punished and thrown in a fiery pit forever for their nature, thoughts, and what they are programmed to do unless they apologize to an unchanged God who also happens to be Jesus who said that gays should be put to death in the past but now just wants to throw them in hell. The denying of rights and hate crimes are all a results of the bigotry the bible lays out. it sickens me when people give the religious text a pass when it is the source of the injustice.. the discrimination in laws are the components. Christianity is a hateful religion masquerading as loving. A religion that punishes people for sim

  • Allen

    Bigotry -a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices… Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin ..not only that they believe that anyone who thinks or participates in homosexual activity should burn in hell forever. So implying that Christians aren’t bigoted for believing that gay people are bad is basically ignoring the text of the bible. The bible is bigoted against gays. It says gays should be punished and thrown in a fiery pit forever for their nature, thoughts, and what they are programmed to do unless they apologize to an unchanged God who also happens to be Jesus who said that gays should be put to death in the past but now just wants to throw them in hell. The denying of rights and hate crimes are all a results of the bigotry the bible lays out. it sickens me when people give the religious text a pass when it is the source of the injustice.. the discrimination in laws are the components. Christianity is a hateful religion masquerading as loving. A religion that punishes people for simply not believing but rewards a murder who has a true dead bed conversion. Your religion is worthless and is truly sick. it’s almost as bad as the religion of peace… Give me a break!!!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    And yet so few of the Christians in here believe any of this to be the case.

  • Allen

    Why do u think so? Given that when asked Christians will willing say that they agree with with the bible and agree with the terms of there religion. Why do you think they say on one hand they aren’t hateful while believing in hateful things?

  • EllieMurasaki

    …have you read any of the top-level posts on this blog? At all?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Rather than answer that directly, I propose that you take time to consider what sort of Christian blog would have a community filled with people of many different callings. We have atheists, pagans, Satanists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists and probably several more I don’t recall off hand.

    I think your first problem is that you feel comfortable beginning a sentence with “Christians” and then ascribe a generalizing assumption in the direction of 2.1 billion people of vastly different, contradictory and heterogeneous beliefs about their religion.

  • Allen

    Well this is a Christian blog is it not? The comment was directed at the blog post. Also Episcopalians and Catholics are Christian sects so im not sure why you divided those like they aren’t related. Sure Christians have different views on rituals etc but they all use the same book which my comment was pointing 2. My post had nothing to do with non Abraham religions or knowledge positions. It specifically targeted Christians/Christianity because this is a Christian blog……

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Actually, they don’t all use the same book, and it wouldn’t matter much if they did. The Bible is an anthology of many books, and different denominations of the religion consider certain books to either be part of–or not part of–the canon, such as the Meqabyans, the Jubilees, Psalm 151-155, etc.

    Even if they had all these books in common, each denomination has a different perspective and interpretation of various books. Some think a section should be taken literally, others change the meaning altogether. Different denominations argue about how far Acts 10 should be interpreted in regards to Christians treating non-Christians like brethren, while there are some who argue that all Acts 10 means is that Christians can eat pork and bacon. Some believe that Genesis proves that the Earth is only 6000 years old and cannot possibly be destroyed by human hands, while others believe Genesis is nothing but an origin story, not to be taken as historical fact in the slightest.

    In short, you’re lumping all Christians together when they have very little in common. Again, what do you think would cause so many people of so many different faiths, religions and beliefs to join together in a community? It has something to do with the type of place this is, and I’ll direct you to a big hint about it: the host’s About page.

  • Allen

    Ok so Christians don’t think gay is a sin . They don’t think homosexuality is a bad thing. They have nothing against it…..

  • EllieMurasaki

    Some Christians do. Some Christians don’t. This is why you are being chastised for treating Christianity as a monolith.

  • Allen

    Right! now what does the Bible say about gays?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That David, who had I’ve lost count how many wives, loved Jonathan more than women. What’s your point?

  • Allen

    but you didn’t answer the question tho. What does the Bible say about gays and homosexuality. You can beat around the bush and live in pretend world but their is a reason gays have been hated for centuries by Christians and the Abraham religions. People have died and lives destroyed because of a book of hate that people believe is mandated by a supernatural force.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I did answer the question: there is a canon gay relationship in the Bible, involving one of Judaism’s great heroes. Also, nobody actually knows what the fuck ‘arsenokoites’ means, but since the concept of a consensual sexual relationship between same-sex equals didn’t exist when Paul was writing, Paul’s objection to ‘arsenokoites’ can’t possibly be an objection to a consensual etc.

  • Allen

    ? but many have interpreted that way for years. lives have been destroyed in the process. Here is the problem… No one has given a reason of why the bible or holy book need to used in the first place. You are ultimately arguing that a book inspired by a loving God may or may not hate gays. may or may not hate non Christians. You don’t know. That’s an admission that Christianity is worthless. Whats the point of this then. If you know its wrong for gays to be treated wrongly and non Christians wrong why do u defend something that is unsure? its like your fighting against keep this messed up religion and doing the right thing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Shockingly, I am not a Christian.

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
    That is why I am defending the Bible. Not because it is wholly and completely worthy of defense. Because parts of it are wise, and parts of it are beautiful, and if more of us made an effort to live by the wise parts and appreciate the beautiful parts and reject the abhorrent parts, the world would be a better place.

  • Allen

    Well don’t be angry when others are discriminated and destroyed decade after decade. its like saying you want to defended the KKK. Not because they hate blacks jews and gays but because they loved the Bible and God. You get exactly what you bargain for…..

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you fucking kidding me.

    Saying “‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is a wise way to live life” and “The Song of Songs is gorgeous poetry” IS NOT equivalent to defending the KKK.

  • Allen

    “‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a wise thing to say just as love thy neighbor” Christianity says this while at the same time saying that if your aren’t a Christian and repent to the Christian God you should burn in a hell forever. The point im trying to make is there are other knowledge system that say to be kind to one another without the baggage of condemning a person at the same time. You seem to want to hold on to these religions that do. In the process you bringing the hatred along with it. You are part of the problem. So don’t whine when another group is hated because of the bible or a another holy book says down the line. You get exactly what you bargain for…

  • EllieMurasaki

    You just do not fucking get it, do you.

  • Allen

    No i actually get it very well. You want to salvage the good stuff in the religion but u ignore that religions come with a lot of negative baggage that you can’t separate.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes. I. Fucking. Can. I call it “Unitarian Universalism”.

  • Allen

    okay! better?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Almost nothing. Given that the people who wrote the bible had a radically different conception of sexuality from us, it’s like you’re asking what the bible has to say about the internet. There’s a couple of passages that say “don’t fuck the way the pagans do” or “don’t treat Real People (ie men) like Sub-People (ie women)”, but the only thing I think describes anything comparable our modern conception of homosexuality is the story of David and Johnathan. Which it seems okay with.

  • Allen

    Well the thing is no one has described why the Bible has to be constantly hashed out every time society has a problem. Why not look at modern solution for modern problems? i care nothing about the Bible because their are smarter and better ideas in the modern era. I’m still trying figure out why people have to interpret something to fit current society. When you use things from an ancient book and make it where these things are “truth” things like hatred for gays happens. gays wont be the last there will be another group in which the bible has a problem against and humans will go after

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    ? i care nothing about the Bible

    Then why do you so intently misrepresent its content? YOu seem awfully sure about what it means and what it says for someone who “cares nothing” about it.

  • Allen

    I care nothing about it in the sense i don’t need that shit to decide on how to treat people or who to live my life. I have to know what it means in order to defend myself against Christians who sole agenda is to hate and pretend they are so loving. If you aren’t an atheist lgbt you wouldn’t understand. All Christians do is put me down because of their beliefs and the conservative Christians and the moderate or liberal Christians are no different. They all believe for the most part that gays are bad but they might says it differently. Conservative Christians are more evil about it while liberal to moderates try to be loving with their hate. In both causes it is still hate. Just because you speak in a loving soft tone doesn’t change that. A lot of gays will give liberal Christians a pass on their hate i will not…

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So when Fred (the board host) writes something like this or this, he’s just engaging in introspective self-parody? The fact that Fred has over a hundred posts about LGBT rights just means he hates them in a less obvious fashion?

  • Allen

    once again that would depend on if he thinks gay is a sin or thinks gays are sick perverted abominations who should go to hell if they don’t repent. Hate isn’t just physical. That’s what you dont get. i could eat with you and treat you nicely to your face and wish you death behind your back. Wish that your all your children would die off. Would you call that loving? That’s what Christians are ultimately doing. they say they love me to my face while wishing bad things would happen to me unless i do exactly what they want.. Its fake love not realistic ….

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Well, given that 76% of americans are christians, and more than 50% of americans support same-sex marriage, I think the numbers require the answer to that question be “Sometimes”

  • Allen

    not really!!

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    What are you objecting to in that? Those statistics are accurate at last notice. It would seem at least one in every three Christians supports marriage equality. The actual number is probably higher since that presumes that each and every one of the non-Christians in the country supports it, which is too much of a stretch.

  • Allen

    No! I’m not objecting to the numbers who support same sex marriage in a legal sense. I’m very happy that Christians finally decided despite their religion that gays should be treated equal in some sense. That they deserve to not be hated on forever. I’m objecting to the fact that agreeing that same sex marriage should be allowed in a legal sense doesn’t mean they have abandoned the idea that gays are sick perverts who should burn in hell unless they apologize to an unchanged god who also happens to be Jesus who said gays should be put to death but now just wants to throw them in hell. If you ask most Christians if being gay is a sin they would agree and when doing so they are saying what i just wrote above. Christians still maintain their hate they are just more quiet about it. Still hate tho but as long as they hate in their churches and stay out of our laws and away from me then they are free to do whatever they want.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    So when the Episcopalian church declared that homosexuals are children of God who deserve acceptance and equal protection under the law, appoint gay pastors and perform same-sex weddings and marriages in their own church… they’re just hiding how much they loathe homosexuality?

  • Allen

    That depends on if they still hold the notion that homosexuality is a sin or is inadequate. I could careless about the marrying and the rest. it would all be a sick lie if they still hold that gays are inadequate or sinful in some way. If not that then that’s great but if so then its really pathetic. i hope they have decided against totally hating gays. Actually it would be great if Christians stopped believing in their hateful Bible.Like i said if they have changed their views on gays that’s totally great. I mean it doesn’t change all the lives they destroyed in the past but its a start at becoming better people. The next thing would be if Christians give up on hating everyone who isn’t of their religion but i guess baby steps at morality is the only pace at which religious people can go..

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    There are many Christians who “don’t hate everyone who isn’t of their religion.” I think this blog would have far fewer atheists, pagans and whatnot if the host hated anyone who wasn’t Christian.

    Since you seem to be having trouble with the concept, let me try to hammer it home.

    Not all Christians believe the same things. You keep saying they do, and in the worst way. Stop that. You’re insulting literally hundreds of millions of people by proxy.

  • Allen

    i think we established that all Christians don’t believe the same things but they do agree on several things as well. Like the gays and the non Christians and many other. Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that. The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others. Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept Christianity. it’s an us vs them thing. Its also a superiority thing because Christian put themselves as better than those who aren’t of their religion because they are asking for forgiveness. The Christian religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are. Christians can’t escape there hatred. You tried to pretend that they dont hate gays with the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down to it the bible rejects gays and Christians believe the Bible for the the most part. Some are being more tolerant but to say that Christians have absolutely no problem with gays is ignoring the past and the present. Christians are some low down people for the most part. They know its right to treat gays and non Christians with respect and decency . They know that damning someone to hell for non belief or sexual ornamentation doesn’t fit the crime and they know an eternal hell for a humanly crime isn’t right either but they sit there and repeat like zombies that their God is totally right all the time and is never wrong. When given a right action in life and a wrong action that the bible mandates they go with the Bible. If morality came from the Bible i and others would be dead . Once Christians understand that the Bible is not about morality but serving a hateful supernatural force then and only then can Christians truly actually become better people. Sorry if im insulting Millions of Christians but those millions of Christians have to answer to all the bull that they believe and all the harm that they continue to inflict on others. its Christians who are doing all the damage. its Christians who have made everyone out to something that they are not. So I’m not apologizing if i hurt Christian feelings. They can take comfort in the fact that they believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    You very obviously have a model for how a Christian should be in your head and cannot see past that model. I’m going to try one more time. After this point, no one will be able to say I didn’t try.

    Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that.

    No. I addressed that in one of my very first posts to you. Different denominations read different messages in the Bible, accept different messages, and even reject certain messages. As Ellie pointed out, the conventional message regarding homosexuality is not one that every denomination upholds as the correct one. The words used to describe it do not appear to describe the same concepts as modern homosexuality.

    The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others. Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept Christianity.

    By some interpretations. This assertion is not shared by all Christians. Others would say that all people, Christians and non, are already saved.

    it’s an us vs them thing.

    You seem determined to make it that way, yes.

    The Christian religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are.

    And yet the Pope recently said otherwise. Actually, the Bible spends very little time on the subject of Hell. Modern translations fold several different concepts into Hell, but the majority of reference to Hell as we know it (a lake of fire, the place where the devil goes, etc.) is described in the Last Judgment — which doesn’t condemn “all non-believers” by a long shot.

    You tried to pretend that they dont hate gays with the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down to it

    Don’t tell me what I do and don’t believe.

    Christians believe the Bible for the the most part.

    Not blindly. Not unthinkingly. And the messages they get out of it aren’t always the same.

    they believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

    Not all of them believe that.

    You repeatedly insist that the majority of Christians all believe the exact same things, but that’s just not true. No one here thinks you’re going to Hell for not being Christian. If people believed that here, then there wouldn’t be dozens of non-Christians who gather here to enjoy each other’s company.

    There are gay Christians.
    There are Christians who love homosexuals as family and life partners.
    There are gay Christians getting married in Christian ceremonies with the blessings of gay Christian pastors with their Christian families.

    Are there bad Christians who think everybody not exactly like themselves is going to Hell, especially the nasty homosexuals? Absolutely. They’re not even few in number. But they’re not all Christians and they don’t represent all Christians.

    If you don’t believe me, just lurk around this community awhile and meet a few of the better ones.

  • Allen

    I was actually gonna give you the benefit of the doubt but even in defending yourself you say some questionable things as well as do some dodging…………

    And yet the Pope recently said otherwise. Actually, the Bible spends very little time on the subject of Hell. Modern translations fold several different concepts into Hell, but the majority of reference to Hell as we know it (a lake of fire, the place where the devil goes, etc.) is described in the Last Judgment — which doesn’t condemn “all
    non-believers” by a long shot.

    {That’s dodging the question and ignoring what the Pope and Vatican ultimately said}

    There are gay Christians.There are Christians who love homosexuals as family and life partners.There are gay Christians getting married in Christian ceremonies with the blessings of gay Christian pastors with their Christian families.

    {Question still previously gone unanswered just skipped over. If the Christians still holds to the sin part then regardless of having same sex marriage in their churches they still think of them as something bad.}

    You repeatedly insist that the majority of Christians all believe the exact same things, but that’s just not true. No one here thinks you’re going to Hell for not being Christian. If people believed that here, then
    there wouldn’t be dozens of non-Christians who gather here to enjoy each others company.

    {Not true! I know many Christians who think i should go to hell because im not like them even in my family. I can enjoy their company but that doesn’t change their hateful views. I’m just big enough not to damn people . I actually want to get along. This blog is no different. Christians can still hold to their hateful views and others who want peace can still come an talk}

    As Ellie pointed out, the conventional message regarding homosexuality is not one that every denomination upholds as the correct one. The words used to describe it do not appear to describe the same concepts as modern homosexuality.

    { My problem isn’t with what you said here but about the bigger picture. If you got to sit down and try to sort out if the Bible allows for gays to be treated equally over just treating them right as human. if you have to get confirmation from a holy book on if you can treat people right then you have more problems then you think.}

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I haven’t dodged questions. You just don’t like the answers you’re getting because they don’t suit your prejudices. As one atheist to another: You are an idiot. Good day.

  • Allen

    have great day :D ..hopefully you will answer the questions on day honestly. You responses were a little muddy!!!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Except that nothing you said here is true. some people including yourself interpret the bible that way, but that does not make them right.

    Also, you know that the majority of christians aren’t american evangelicals, right? So maybe you should stop pretending that the american evangelical interpretation speaks for christiantiy in general.

  • Allen

    but I’ve yet to hear a mainstream Christianity respond and say no they don’t think being gay is a sin. No they don’t find anything wrong with homosexuality or homosexuals… once again not all Christians believe the same but at the end of the day many and i mean many of them are influenced to hate on this issue. I could careless if a hand group of Christians don’t hate gays. I’m focused on the hundreds of millions who together have/has destroyed lives and continue to marginalize and vilify gays. What you tend to be forgetting is gays have been hated by Christians for years and you want me to forgive and forget when a few hand full of Christians change their minds. Doesn’t work like that. Christians don’t deserve to be forgiven for their cruelty. What have they lost in this process? They mess up peoples lives for centuries and then say they are sorry and that’s it? Who will be the next on their path of destruction?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Define “mainstream Christianity,” since you apparently don’t think those 78 million+ people calling themselves Christians who say they don’t hate homosexuality and think homosexual people deserve the same rights as everyone else count as Christians.

    And no one’s telling you to forgive and forget. Forgiveness cannot be earned and there is nothing a person can do to obligate someone else to forgive them. Forgiveness is not a business transaction, much less something an oppressor is allowed to hold over their victims.

    What you need to understand, however, is that being a member of a group does not mean you are personally responsible for everything that group has ever done. The people today were not responsible for the Crusades, for the Boston Witch massacre, or even necessarily for depriving homosexual citizens of their rights. “Christianity” is the overall descriptor of the religion in question, but it has no central organization; most of the denominations are relatively isolated from each other and should be treated like separate entities.

    Dehumanizing the other is the first step toward becoming the very thing you revile. By denying them independent regard, you’re effectively saying that there’s no significant difference between child molesters hiding in the Vatican and the ELCA surgeon who works 72 hours straight to save a life and then collapses in bed after a brief prayer that his patient will live to recover. If you start seeing only the overlap between one person and another, it doesn’t take long before all you see is what people have in common and not what makes them different. If you then associate a negative trait to that commonality…

    Well, let’s put it this way- that’s not a great many steps away from the logic that goes into racism. “Some black people are criminals and some aren’t, but we know that they have being black in common, and I’ve seen an awful lot of black criminals, so obviously being black makes you more likely to be a criminal. Therefore blacks = criminals.”

  • Allen

    not the same thing!!!!i don’t think all Christians are child molesters because of what priest have done. Do i blame the RCC for covering it up yes but i don’t blame all Christians . i don’t say that all blacks are criminals because of what one black person does. The difference tho is blacks don’t have a book of things that the whole black race abides by. There is not a black ideology that all blacks or any race are under. That goes for gays or straights. there is also no where in the bible that says that priest should rape alter boys . So im not blaming all Christians for that. But when Christians have an ideology that says gays are disordered people who have issues and its apart of a book that they’ve have accepted as the truth then my only option is to group all Christians together on this subject until they say other wise…… Its like the KKK. They believe that blacks and Jews and gays are bad people. That’s their ideology. Sure there might be someone in their group that just hate blacks and Jews and not gays or just hate Jews etc but because of their ideology i have to assume that they hate all three until they say other wise. Do you see my point?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But SO MANY of them have said otherwise, you just refuse to listen or refuse to acknowledge them as Real True Proper Christians.

    Eta: Do you also feel that you “have no choice” but to assume all muslims are America-hating terrorists? Because you’re making exactly the same argument as the racist, xenophobic arguments conservatives keep making about muslims.

  • Allen

    The Koran does say that the infidels who aren’t apart of the religion should be killed. So any Muslims who says they believe strongly in the teaching of Islam have accepted this as truth. So i would have to assume that that person would hate people outside their faith. There are American Islamist so in that case they wouldn’t hate a person for being “American” but anyone outside their religion i would say yes they would until they say they are totally against that part of the Koran… Just as Christians would have to acknowledge that they don’t believe that gays are perverted or that homosexuality is wrong. If the say they love gays but thinks being gay is a sin then they are lying when they say they love gays… It comes down to beliefs. Beliefs have consequences. If a person has a hateful belief don’t expect me to give them a pass even if they say it nicely…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    If you haven’t heard the mainstream, it’s because you haven’t been listening.

  • Allen

    i think we established that all Christians don’t believe the same
    things but they do agree on several things as well. Like the gays and
    the non Christians and many other. Its all due to the bible..the source. You keep passing over it that.
    The fact is the Bible ask Christians to hate themselves then others.
    Everyone is sinful but Christians are saved by god grace and by their
    repentance and those other people are not because they haven’t accept
    Christianity. it’s an us vs them thing. Its also a superiority thing
    because Christian put themselves as better than those who aren’t of
    their religion because they are asking for forgiveness. The Christian
    religion says those who do not accept god and praise and repent shall
    burn. No matter what kinds of people the non Christians are. Christians
    can’t escape there hatred. You tried to pretend they dont hate gays with
    the homosexuality question but you know fundamentally when u get down
    to it the bible rejects gays and Christians believing the Bile do as
    well for the the most part. Some are being more tolerant but to say
    that Christians have absolutely no problem with gays is ignoring the
    past and the present. Christians are some low down people for the most
    part. They know its right to treat gays and non Christians with respect
    and decency . They know that damning someone to hell for non belief
    doesn’t fit the crime and they know an eternal hell for a humanly crime
    isn’t right either but they sit there and repeat like zombies that their
    God is totally right all the time and is never wrong. When given a right action in life and a wrong action that the bible mandates they go with the Bible. If morality
    came from the Bible i and other would be dead. Once Christians
    understand that the Bible is not about morality but serving a hateful
    supernatural force then and only then can Christians truly actually
    become better people. Sorry if im insulting Millions of Christians but
    those millions of Christians have to answer to all the bull that they
    believe and all the harm that they continue to inflict on others. its
    Christians who are doing all the damage. its Christians who have made
    everyone out to something that they are not. So I’m not apologizing if i
    hurt Christian feelings. They can take comfort in the fact that they
    believe that i should burn while they” the chosen people” get paradise.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    So… 100% of americans are 125% of americans?

    Or are you saying that every single non-christian supports gay marriage (I suspect there are a few followers of other religions, and even a number of atheists who would balk at that) and that 25% of the people who claim to support same-sex marriage really don’t?

    Or are you saying that the christians who support same-sex marriage aren’t real true scottsmen christians?

    Because you sound more and more like an evangelical christian all the time.

  • Allen

    I’m saying many Christians hold the view that being gay is a sin and that it is wrong but still support allowing gay marriage in a legal sense. Which is a good thing but because Christians stand strong with their beliefs that gays are sick and perverts it’s really ridiculous they claim they have love for gays. To me it comes off as a master who likes their house slaves considers apart of the family but doesn’t think they are equal to them. They think of them as on the level of a family pet. Christians are saying “yea gays can have marriage and even come in to our churches but we are still going to hold the view that ultimately they are sick perverted abominations that should burn in hell unless they apologize to an unchanged god who also happens to be Jesus who said that gays should put to death but just wants to throw them in hell.” If Christians still believe that being gay is a sin their love for gays isn’t genuine. Its a scam whether they allow for gay marriages or not. That’s what i’m saying. I want a genuine honest fellowship between people not make believe.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    It sounds like you agree with christian fundamentalists on a lot of things, such as how the bible should be interpreted and who’s allowed to define what christiantity means for other people.


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