Wednesday, May 9, 2012

9 May 2012

I'm a Christian, let's get that clear right off the bat. I was baptized in the Presbyterian Church when I was 5 and 1/2. I was confirmed as a teen, and I've made a number of choices over the years to stick with Christ. I do love Jesus, so you can have my Christ when you pry him out of my cold, dead hands. But I'm the kind of Christian that feels like the Bible is too obviously influenced by humans, mostly males; the books that didn't make it in and did make it in influenced by humans, also mostly males. I tried reading the Bible as a child, and I always gave up. My husband read the Bible twice, first the King James and then the New International Version. He's not a believer, he's pretty much an atheist--maybe that's what reading the Bible through on your own gets you. He believes people can benefit from religious practice, as do I. And we both believe that religion can, has and will continue to kill. Religion is like anything other forms of humans attempting to organize, which is to say easily corrupted. The religion you have is almost always the product of your own cultural and tribal influences, or the result of trying to get away from those and being drawn to something that speaks to you internally.

I have core values, I know what I believe, and it *is* very important to me. And still I say I'm a Christian. People don't think I'm the right religion, so they tell me the good news of their own belief system. There are atheists doing atheist evangelism, telling me that if I don't believe everything the way it is written in the specific version of the Bible they quote, that I'm not a Christian. That I should give up the madness. There are other Christians telling me the same, but that I should repent and follow their truth. I've had LDS missionaries coming to my house for awhile, asking me to be baptized in their church, asking me to pray and God would show me the truth. I went to their church, it was nice, but when I prayed ll that happened was I dreamed that LDS missionaries were breaking into my house and coming in through my windows to try and kill me. It was a manifestation of the stress I felt, so I asked them to stop coming. I had Jehovah's Witnesses coming to my home for 2 years--that was how long it took me to get through the first book about what the Bible really teaches. I thought that by the end of it, I would either convert or become an atheist. But here I am, still a Presbyterian, understanding finally why the JW's have a problem with me.

So gay marriage: I wasn't raised knowing what being gay was. I amazingly didn't find out until I was in middle school, and kids were using it as a slur. I went home and asked my dad what being gay meant. He told me that it was when a man loved another man and or when a woman loved another woman. He said it in a way that I didn't mention sex, but left no question in my mind that he meant in a marrying way (although I didn't know it at the time, my father believed that if two people were living together and were having sex, they were married). I'm not sure I said anything other than I didn't know that existed. He didn't offer any further commentary. I have at least one friend who said he was raised knowing that being gay was wrong because of what it said in the Bible. Because he was gay, it was harmful to him as a kid. I told him I never picked up on the fact that the Bible said it was wrong.

Hadn't I read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah? Well, yes, many times. I never knew it had anything to do with same sex sex. In fact, this was the part of the Bible where I often gave up. Lot offers up his virgin daughters to the rampaging crowd. Then later his wife gets turned into a pillar of salt? What the heck? And if a woman is raped in town, she gets stoned to death. That was where I actually threw the Bible down on the floor in a huff. I was about 12 at the time. Yes, I read Sodom and Gomorrah a bunch of times, and the fact that the men wanted to have relations with the angels didn't seem strange to me. And from the Jehovah's Witnesses, I found out that angels did have sex with human women, and that's where the Nephilim came from, and God prohibited that from happening again. So the fact that humans and angels would have sex was a big no no however you sliced it.

As a teen, I still knew nothing about homosexuality, other than I knew I didn't want to be that way and was thankful that I wasn't, especially as a fat teen who felt completely exposed and hated. I was somewhat sympathetic to people who were, because I didn't see it as their fault, but I only thought there were 2 guys I knew who fit that description. AIDS became big news in the mid-80's, and network news magazine type shows did segments on flamboyant queers who had sex openly in parks. I was not impressed, I didn't get the need for anyone to flaunt any sexual activity.

In my second semester of college, 1985, I had to do a research paper for a writing class. I ended up doing it on gay rights. The material in the Alderman stacks was somewhat dated, but I learned a lot of things I hadn't know neverthelss. I read about the Stonewall Inn riot and the Rev. Troy Perry of the Metropolitan Community Church. He went around marrying gay couples within that church. At that point I decided that if people can have religious commitment ceremonies tying them together, then there was no reason to deny them the legal right to do this. Our civil law shouldn't follow one particular set of religious beliefs, especially if they were discriminatory. And that's really how simple it was for me. I wasn't even sure I liked a lot of the people I was reading about. The last thing I read was a poem where the author wished the reader was gay so we could see what it was like to crave the flesh of our own sex. Annoyed, I shut the book with finality and returned them all to the library, wrote my paper where I basically came down in favor of gay rights including marriage.

Later I went home and asked my sister if she supported gay rights, and we talked about it. We had never talked about gay issues before, but we decided we should raise our kids knowing that some people are gay and that's not a problem. And that's what we've done. I've never tried to assume that heterosexuality is the only option for them, even though the majority of human beings are. I became active in gay rights protesting in school, and mainstreaming was my thing. It often wasn't for my gay friends. Gay marriage wasn't usually the leading point, although the clear evidence that same sex couples lacked basic human rights because of not having something like marriage.

Nowaday gay marriage is a big issue, and many people aren't afraid to come out in favor of it, at least on the Internet. Meanwhile the rest of the people are busy passing amendments to state constitutions trying to ban it. And because of that, our President said that he is in favor of it. Ultimately it's a good sign, it's a sign of change happening that people don't like, and people pulling out last gasp efforts to keep things the way they were. But eventually, those of us who raised their children to believe being gay isn't a moral failing will have a bigger and bigger influence, and the unthinkable will become possible. I'm just sorry it won't help the people who need it now.

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