Friday, July 31, 2015

A bible verse is not the KO punch in an argument

When people throw around "proof texts" from the bible (as if such texts could prove anything) it cheapens the argument they are trying to make and it cheapens the sacred text they are using as a weapon. I know it does no good, but I can't stop myself...I have to push back some on such a ridiculous use of scripture. Today, in response to someone quoting a verse from the Psalter (the text was the writer's prayer, and not a word from "on high", but the proof text slinger didn't seem to notice that) to "prove" that Planned Parenthood should be shut down (and the life saving medical services it offers women), I offered the following:
"'Slaves obey your masters.' Eph 6.5; 'If a man is caught raping a virgin, he must pay a dowry to the victim's father and marry her.' Deut 22.28-29...What's your point [with quoting the 139th psalm]? Slavery and rape (and forced marriage for that matter) are horrendous, bible dictates not withstanding!
A sentence from an ancient text settles nothing. Complex issues can't be determined by sound bites, no matter how revered the book they come from might be." (dw)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Fundamentalist Persecution Complex

A school in Mississippi had an "optional" assembly that was opened in prayer. Someone sued, the school was fined ($7k i think) and now, of course, the Religious Right is crying that Christians are oppressed, the courts are being used against them, the end is near, the boogeyman ("Satan") is attacking the church...blah blah blah. I asked if they would be as upset if during an "optional" assembly, someone opened the meeting with an invocation to Isis and someone was offended and sued the school; would they rush to the defense of the "persecuted" worshipers of Isis? My suspicion is that in THAT instance they would support (perhaps even lead) the suit against the school for allowing the Isisian prayer!
Moreover, I chimed in with the following:
"1. Jesus instructed people to NOT pray in public...but this is about Christian dominance and Christian fragility, so never mind Jesus' opinion on the matter.
2. Why would anyone go to a public school for prayer meetings? [It wasn't billed as a prayer meeting, but once you pray, it's a prayer meeting, unless, like at government functions, invocations are offered by people of many religions or in neutral language that is more or less to the idea of goodness, hope, and civility and not to any deity or promoting any dogma].
Optional or not, there could certainly be peer pressure to attend, and proselytizing could result (If I were a Jewish or Agnostic or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or Wiccan parent, I wouldn't want my children being targets of convrsion tactics at the tax supported public school).
3. When you have to pay a worship tax or have to get state approval to hold worship services on church grounds, then you will have an argument for being oppressed for your faith. When you don't get to have "optional" Christian worship services (where there are also no "optional" Buddhist, Satanist, Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, or Scientology worship services) at a non-religious, tax supported venue, that is not oppression. That is the denial of unearned privilege. Your child can still pray all day long (who would even know?), worship every Sunday with you in the church of your choice, even be driven to school with a rosary dangling from the rearview mirror. Your faith isn't being attacked; it just isn't being given preferential treatment. It's a non-issue."

I await my hate mail.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Golden Rule is the Way

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6.31

Some 70 years after Jesus' execution, an anonymous writer (in the gospel we call 'John's Gospel') imagined Jesus saying, 'I am the way, the truth and the life...' The Golden Rule was the way that Jesus demonstrated, the way that he lived, the way of enlightenment and compassion and service that he modeled. 'The way' didn't mean to feel superior to people who held other prophets are gurus in high regard; the way was the way of loving neighbor, treating others as one would wish to be treated, of seeing everyone as equal ('the last are first and the first are last'), the way of compassion and kindness over legalism (the Good Samaritan). And so, the Way is taught in every enduring spiritual tradition, and regardless of where we discover the way, following it and applying its truth to our lives is still how we commune best with the Source and Substance of all life.

Image found on Internet

Monday, July 27, 2015

What Are We Really Praying When We Say the Lord’s Prayer?

What Are We Really Praying When We Say the Lord’s Prayer/Model Prayer/Prayer That Jesus Taught Us?
A Reflection by Rev Dr Durrell Watkins

Creator which are in heaven…
            Infinite, omnipresent Spirit…
Hallowed be thy names.
            You are known by many names, all of which affirm your goodness.
Thy kin-dom come…
            May I become aware of your presence in my life…
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
            May your goodness be made manifest in my life.
Give us this day our daily bread…
            Your grace is equal to every need…
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors;
            And as we release past hurts we are free indeed;
And lead us not into temptation…
            You never lead us into error…
But deliver us from evil…
            But instead you lead us from all that would keep us from flourishing…
For thine is the kin-dom and the power and the glory forever.
            For you are all presence, all power, and all love throughout eternity.
            And so it is.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Another spirited exchange

A Planned Parenthood opponent (who was responding favorably to a meme calling abortion "infanticide") said, "We need to call things as they are and stop being 'politically correct'. God says abortion is MURDER. He says gay is HOMOSEXUALITY."
The appalling ignorance merited the following response from me:
"If 'he' means the bible (which 'he' didn't write) then 'he' never said homosexuality...that word was coined in the 19th century almost 2 millennia after the last New Testament writings were written...
Instead of fighting to have bodies passed through a birth canal that many then will fight to deny food stamps, free medical care or college aid if it should be needed, maybe we should remember all the women's lives that were lost as they sought illegal and unsafe abortions before Roe v Wade.
And if abortion is really your holy crusade, it is misdirected at Planned Parenthood...only 3% of PP's services involve terminating pregnancies. The majority of their work is providing education, contraception, and cancer screening. In other words, Planned Parenthood saves lives. One may 'believe' that a fertilized egg deserves protection, but surely we can know that a living, breathing woman deserves protection. Reducing the complex and important issue to 'infanticide' is hyperbolic and intentionally misleading." (dw)
Of course I have no hope that my interjections make any real difference, except possibly to the silent seekers who desperately need a counter-narrative. Those are the ones for whom I continuously lift up a progressive voice.

A Christian in Pakistan on trial for her life

Asia Bibi is on trial for her life  (actually is appealing a previous ruling) for the "crime" of blasphemy in a theocratic state. She belongs to a minority religion (which Christianity is in Pakistan) and is accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad during a quarrel. Of course that someone could be killed by the state for their religious views (or even for not holding someone else's religious views in high esteem) is horrifying. I hope that those who insist that ours be a "Christian" nation take note. Theocracy is the enemy of liberty. I want to be free to be religious (or not) and to choose the religion I hold dear; but theocracies cannot (by definition) allow such freedom, and lives are destroyed as a result. I hope our nation is always filled with spiritual and religious people, and I hope as strongly that our government is never a religious one.

My prayer for Asia Bibi and the world is: May she be safe and well and soon freed, and may there be hope and healing for all who have been tormented by the idea that only one religion is right and non-members are to be converted, shunned, or killed. Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Depravity of Racism

White mass murderers continue to have their day in court. African American violators of traffic rules are often killed on the spot or in detention. Undocumented residents are accused of being dangerous even when credible studies refute that claim. The word for this tragic reality is "racism." It is social depravity and it can be corrected, but not until we admit it exists.

Justice for ALL...

I am an unapologetic activist for gay and lesbian equality, AND, I also see the need for the Queer community to recognize and address class, race, and gender privilege within our community (and also beyond). To be justice workers and change agents, we must be mindful of and concerned about all oppressions.

A Disturbing Trend of Violence Against "the Other"

"A transwoman of color was beaten to death in Florida...the 10th transwoman this year to be killed.
Yet another mass shooting took place yesterday...a movie theater in Louisiana (by a gunman who reportedly "hated" liberals...though I don't know how many Louisiana liberals he suspected of going to the movies on a weeknight).
A Metropolitan Community Church in Georgia was recently vandalized (MCCs have an historic and primary affirming outreach to the LBGT community).
In Texas, Sandra Bland, an African American woman, was verbally abused, physically manhandled, and detained (all for changing lanes without signaling). She died in custody.
A presidential hopeful recently vilified undocumented immigrants.
These violent events have taken place in the span of just a few days and just weeks after the shooting deaths of 9 people at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina (an historically Black congregation) and the burning of other historically Black churches.
Beyond the violence itself, the common thread is that the targets of violence have usually been marginalized people (transgender people, gays and lesbians, African Americans, Latinos/Latinas).
It is a very disturbing trend and we must call it out, talk about it seriously, and renew our commitment to positive change...of making our society less violent, less hateful, less frightening. We clearly have a long way to go still." Rev Dr Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister, Sunshine Cathedral

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Changing the World

I was born in 1966. Shortly thereafter, the LBGT movement in the U.S. was energized as never before and began to change the world.
In 1968, the Metropolitan Community Churches were born as a movement by and with a primary affirming outreach to same-gender loving people and their allies. Today, there are several Christian and Jewish denominations that affirm the sacred value of same-gender loving people, but in 1968 such an affirmation was rare.
In 1969 the Stonewall Riots occurred and the Gay and Lesbian community would never be silenced or completely hidden ever again.
In 1970 the Unitarian Universalist Association passed a gay rights resolution and the first Gay Pride parades were held in major US cities.
In 1972 the world’s first LBGT synagogue was founded, as was PFLAG.
In 1973 homosexuality stopped being considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.
In 2000 Vermont became the first state in the U.S. to offer “civil unions”, a near-equivalent to marriage for same-gender loving people.
In 2003 Sodomy laws were struck down.
In 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to recognize same-sex marriages.
In 2011 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed.
In 2013 a key part of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” was defeated.
And in 2015 the U.S. became the 19th country to have nationwide marriage equality. Marriage is now an equal right rather than a heterosexual privilege.
In my life so far, gays have gone from being considered “criminal” and “sick” to being mainstream (in the U.S.), recognized as part of the normal diversity of life, and deserving of equal protection and opportunity (even if we have not yet fully achieved equal treatment in every area and function of society).
            In addition to these hard won and well deserved gains for lesbian and gay folk, the falseness of gender binaries are being discussed openly today and we are learning that not only do we contribute to the world’s diversity, but our own community is more diverse than some ever imagined.
So much change in less than a half a century is staggering; it is little wonder that some people are frightened by the long and growing list of significant changes (a plethora of Right Wing blogs document the angst that many still have about our community). And while I have (some) compassion for those who find their impending loss of heteronormative privilege frightening, I dare not believe that we have achieved enough, that our work is done, that Queer youth no longer need positive role models, that adversaries of equality will accept the changes graciously, that more protections aren’t needed, or that LBGT people beyond our own borders don’t need allies and advocates. We have worked miracles in just a few decades, but we must not become complacent. Our achievements should remind us that we can (and must) collectively continue to change the world.

Originally written for the Florida Agenda for the bi-weekly column, "Dr. Durrell's Spiritual Prescriptions"

Too Much Religious Abuse

"In the early days of woman-suffrage agitation, I saw that the greatest obstacle we had to overcome was the bible. It was hurled at us on every side." Elizabeth  Cady Stanton, 1897

Sadly, those who have opposed equal rights for women, immigrants, people of color, people of non-Christian religions (and no religion), transgender people, and gays and lesbians have wrapped their bigotry in bible verses and called it righteous. They continue to do so, cheapening the richness of the bible and defaming the traditions that were meant to foster generosity, compassion, justice, and goodwill. It's time that we reject as false prophecy any proclamation that demonizes or dehumanizes any portion of the human family.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Story about Child Eating Bears is NOT the one to use for your anti-choice argument

This morning someone called me a "demon from hell" for being pro-choice (in reality, all I did was post a statement from Planned Parenthood, but obviously my posting it did suggest I supported it). The demon-hunter then threatened me by saying God sent a bear to kill people who mocked "the prophet of God" (I suppose being pro-choice falls into that category for this person). Always one for enlightened dialogue, I responded with the following "lesson" about 2 Kings 2.23-24:
"I don't really expect to be attacked by any bears (and in the story, the bear wasn't sent to attack people for disagreeing with the prophet, but for making fun of his baldness...AND, it wasn't God, but Elisha who put some magical curse on them that brought out the bear...oh, and the ones the bear mauled were CHILDREN...not preborn fetuses, but actual, living, breathing, that's an odd reference for this discussion). anyway, i'm a clergy person from Florida not a demon from hell, although Florida in the summertime..."
And such is my form of evangelism smile emoticon

Monday, July 20, 2015

What if "God" were something other than what we were taught to imagine?

As a clergy person, I get two particular questions a lot (and they are variations of the same concern):
1. Why must we pray for good things; doesn't God know what we need and can't God just provide for those needs without being asked?
2. Why are some prayers answered and others aren't?

Both questions suggest an ancient, theistic understanding of divinity. The questions imply that there are gods on a far away mountain or in a sky realm hidden by clouds and they favor some mortals over others, or they are largely indifferent but can be cajoled into offering assistance. And if that is our understanding of divinity, then of course we become frustrated, even angry. Why should the gods grant me a convenient parking place but not protect my car from a runaway shopping cart? Why should the deities bring good fortune into my life only later to let it slip away?Why should the fates add a blessing to one person's medical treatment and not another's? The god in the sky or on the mountain top is notoriously unreliable and often quite unfair.

But here is the good news...there are other ways of understanding "God." God is the word we have inherited for Ultimate Reality, Eternity, the Infinite, the Field of All Possibilities, the Life-force within us. Some prefer to call this "Something" a Higher Power, others see life as being filled with so many seemingly random occurrences that belief in God is problematic. Still others see God as the spirit of life, an omnipresent Reality, an indwelling and all-embracing energy, a web of existence connecting all life. We are not limited to the super-human personalities of Asgard or Olympus any longer. Even Jesus said, "God is spirit..." which we could understand as energy, the breath of life, a ubiquitous gestalt. With that understanding of God, we can say as Jesus did, "the divine and I are one!"

If we say "God" but think of a Zeus or Odin type of character with human personality, then like all other human personalities, that God will eventually disappoint us. But, if God (to borrow from the poet Epimenides and the "Acts of the Apostles") is that in which "we live and move and have our being," then God isn't separate from us, granting some wishes and ignoring others; rather, God is a power within and all around us that we can tap into to help us make the most of the opportunities and possibilities in life.

Apparent delays and denials may not be the action (or annoying inaction) of Apollo, Isis, or Lakshmi; they may simply suggest that we have not yet learned how to do better, or we have not yet healed mental blocks that are in the way of some achievement, or that our desired good is in the works and just hasn't shown up for us yet.

Some of the great spiritual teachers have reminded us that what God does for us, God must do through us. That makes God a partner, something with which we can cooperate (like gravity or electricity), something we can explore and express more of as our journey unfolds. Perhaps the "why hasn't God fixed it yet" questions suggest a need for a new understanding of God, and empowered by a new understanding, we may yet find more peace, hope, and even achievement going forward.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Only a Dying God Needs Defense

Those who feel they need to "defend" God, "God's word," God's prejudices, God's hatreds, God's hangups...seem so angry, and of course they are. Who wouldn't be angry to realize they had a God that was so puny as to need human defense?
Of course, what they seem to be angriest about is that blaming their own fears, hatreds, and prejudices on God is no longer persuasive in society at large. We are now holding them accountable for how they treat others and are not giving them a pass simply because they believe dehumanizing and demonizing others is somehow "God's will."
Perhaps their god of wrath and condemnation is on life-support and the plug will soon be pulled. But endless Hope, Compassion, Beauty, Love, and Life-force will remain, and perhaps some of them will learn to call those powerful experiences divine. (dw)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Breathe. Pray. Choose.

Sometimes things happen quickly, challenges come one after the other, and emotions whirl mightily like a wind storm; if we aren't careful, we'll get caught up in that and create a tragic tale of how life is unfair and mischievous forces are out to get us. But a deep breath (or 30), a brief prayer, and a choice to see things differently can calm the storm and what was getting ready to play out as a tragedy (or least a really bad melodrama) on the stage of our minds is reduced to an annoying moment, soon forgotten and replaced with hope, peace, and a trust that something good is at hand. Today's power words: Breathe. Pray. Choose.

What's Next? Thoughts About Existence Beyond Death

I don't know about the "afterlife". I "believe" (which is to say, I have a strongly held opinion) that the energy of life is indestructible and never-ending, and I assume consciousness somehow survives, or at least could survive the experience of death. And I utterly reject the idea of anyone being banished to an afterlife torture chamber for their opinions (beliefs), misdeeds, or religious affiliations (or lack thereof). 
What I know is that my loved ones who have passed away are still with me in my memories and affection, and even some people with whom I had challenging relationships, now, through the lenses of time and compassion, seem to have good qualities that are worth remembering. 
I don't know what's next, but I know that love clearly lasts longer than physical life, and that is pretty miraculous to me.

Demonizing "the Other" Never Helps

Today, in response to yesterday's shooting in Tennessee, Franklin Graham posted that the U.S. is under attack from Islam and that no Muslim should be allowed to immigrate to the U.S. "until the Muslim problem is solved." A resident of a "free" country in the 21st century posted that (with an alarming number of supportive replies). Mine, however, differed.

I am a gay man, and I have benefited from heterosexual allies standing up for LBGT rights. I cannot in good conscience remain silent when other marginalized groups are targeted and vilified.
My response to Mr. Graham on his Facebook page was as follows:

"While I disagree with almost everything F. Graham says and stands for, this xenophobic, Islamaphobic, racist, demonizing, dehumanizing, wholesale slander of an entire group of people is the most reprehensible diatribe in a long, sad history of reprehensible diatribes to come from Graham. "Muslims" are not any more likely to be "radicalized" than any other religion. I am a Christian pastor and I hope I am never lumped in with the same sort of racism, homophobia, and misogyny that Graham promotes as religion. Of course, just as there are dangerous Christians (and Jews and Hindus and Atheists), there are dangerous Muslims; however, those who disgrace and blaspheme their religion with violence (and violent rhetoric) never represent the best of their religions or the true intent of their religons nor are their acts of violence representative of the larger bodies of the faithful. Criminals must be held accountable for their individual actions, but others who share their faith or skin tone or ethnic heritage must not be condemned for the acts of individuals. "Radical" Muslims no more represent what Islam truly is than the KKK represents what Chrisitanity is. For all the whining about religious persecution on this page, it is beyond hypocritical to then attempt to persecute an entire religion. I hope good people of varying beliefs will challenge Franklin Graham for his dangerous, prejudicial rhetoric." Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Today's Fundamentalist Confrontation

  • Mary: [Read] Romans 1:26 -27. It's not judging someone as doing wrong, it's what the word of God says. If a person believes what the Bible says to be true and it says to love and be kind to one another.. .they should also believe it when it says that exchanging natural relations for unnatural relations is evil and depraved. Read all the Bible and pray for understanding and knowledge.

  • And, here is my response to "Mary":
Durrell"The word of God" is not the "words of God." 
The bible is the Hebrew canon plus 27 "books" (the so-called "New" Testament) that were included by a "vote" at a council convened by a secular government (btw, "James" and "Revelation" almost didn't make the cut). The Christian bible was "closed" hundreds of years after Jesus, and what we think it says usually has more to do with us than with the text itself. 
Slaves obey your masters, women be silent in church, women being forced to marry their rapists or their dead husband's nearest male relative, Canaanites should be destroyed, etc. are not usually held up as non-negotiables even though they are clearly in "the word of God." No one takes everything in the bible literally (or we wouldn't eat pork and shell fish, we would beat our kids, divorcees would not be permitted to remarry, and everyone would literally "tithe"); so to use one of six isolated verses to justify your own homo-hatred is in fact judgment and it is every bit as much "cherry picking" as those you accuse. 
Meanwhile, same-sex attraction and love are not "unnatural" affections for those who are gay, and the Romans passage you misquote says that God gave them their "reprobate" minds as a punishment for isn't the sin in a literal reading of the text, it's the punishment for worshiping idols (and of course, many people turn "the word of God" into an idol, so you better watch out!). 
The bible has been used to justify slavery, segregation, child abuse, wars, the subjugation of women, anti-Semitism (oddly, since almost every person in the bible was Jewish), Islamaphobia, and homophobia. Quoting a verse to spread your hate and then denying that it's hate because you have a verse is circular reasoning which only reduces the bible to a weapon. You are free to be as anti-gay as you wish, but please stop blaming your prejudice on God. (dw)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Heaven, Hell, and Transphobia

Today's exchange with a transphobic person who threatened (why are the fundies always threatening apocalypses and damnation?) that people who tolerate transgender people (and, presumable the trans folk themselves) will have to answer God on judgment day (what a vile, petty god they want to believe in).
Actually her exact words were: "It's going to be a sad day when we get to Heaven and God turn (sic) His back and say (sic) 'depart from me, I dont know you.' Satan is the master of lies, he has a way of twisting the word of God to decieve and destroy. God loves us all but He hates sin. "

That same old song...God is love BUT will abandon you to an endless torment. That kind of love is what keeps Child Welfare services in business! Anyway, my response was as follows:

"Or when we die we might find that God is Love and rejects no one for any reason...when there are gays and lesbians, people of all races and religions, people who didn't fit into gender binaries all at the banquet table of all inclusive and unconditional love...of course, those of us at the table will have to decide for ourselves whether we are in heaven or hell. Sounds like heave to me. Fundamentalists might believe they are in hell as they pass a gay Hindu the potato salad." (dw)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bad Theology. Bad Meteorology. Bad Logic. Just Bad. (Fundamentalist Threatens WH with Divine Lightening Strike)

Franklin Graham suggested that President Obama have lightening rods attacked to the White House? Why? Because of marriage equality. 
Graham was suggesting that God might vengefully attack the White House with lightening (which is monumentally bad meteorology as well as bad theology, and PS - is a lightning rod all it takes to defend oneself against divine wrath? It's harder to ward off vampires!) . The threatened lightening attack would be to show divine displeasure with Love's victory resulting in marriage equality in the US (because, you know. God is love, so what would annoy God more than love's victory?). 
No thunder bolt from Olympus for Hitler, Stalin, Jack the Ripper, those who delayed initial funds for AIDS research and education, the architects of the Crusades and Inquisition and Apartheid, but marriage equality gets the top popped on the cosmic can of whoop ass? Seriously
And not leaders of the 18 countries that preceded the US in marriage equality, just our president? For real?! 
Slavery, Jim Crow, internment of Japanese Americans, the genocide of Native Americans...none of this merited divine displeasure, but love and equality...that's what gets Neptune's trident in the ass? And not the 37 states that already had marriage equality, and not the 5 Justices that sealed the deal for the country, but the president? 
Mr Graham does hear how incredibly hateful, stupid, and crazy that sounds, right
Sadly, there is a veritable army of people stirred by his ridiculous rhetoric. 

Happy to See a Symbol of Hate Come Down

Yesterday, as I watched the battle flag that was resurrected in 1961 in S. Carolina in opposition to civil rights come down today, I thought of the 118th Psalm: "This is a Sacred act and it is marvelous in our sight." 
It was a proud and healing moment to see the flag relegated, finally, to history (and an unfortunate history it is).

Marriage Equality Helps Some and Hurts No One

I admit, I chime in on Right Wing sites from time to time...not to change the minds of the Far Right (arguments, however well-reasoned, rarely change hearts and minds), but to show those (especially young people) who might be hurt by their hateful rhetoric that there are other, more liberating perspectives that they can explore.

Yesterday, on one such site, someone named "Lois" had this to say: "If they want to live their perverse lifestyle go ahead but why do they want us all to agree with it? After all one of the reasons for marriage is to propagate the human race and you cannot do that as a "gay".(they have high jacked that word as well) if they do not repent their deeds they will be judged by God, whether they believe it or not."

And my response was as follows: 
"Perverse lifestyle? That seems harsh and hateful (and impossible to verify...I couldn't possibly know what "lifestyle" or "perversions" were practiced by every gay or straight person...seems like a blanket judgment that just isn't necessary). 
RE: marriage/ children...Lots of people have children without marriage, and lots of people marry without having children. Reducing marriage to licensed procreation is an insult to love, affection, commitment, and shared joy (not to mention the many legal benefits that come with marriage).
If child bearing was a marital deal breaker, then post-menopausal women couldn't marry, women with hysterectomies couldn't marry, men and women who were for any reason "sterile" couldn't marry...procreation can happen with or without marriage and marriage doesn't guarantee procreation.
People marry because they love each other, they want to celebrate their commitment in a public way, and they want to live together with legal benefits thereafter. Meanwhile, because of adoption, surrogacy, and alternative insemination, having children is an option for same-gender loving couples (and many SGL couples do have children).
My husband and I lived together (spiritually married) for 16 years before we were able to have a public wedding ceremony, but having over 200 people at our wedding, 11 clergy bless our union, and friends and family from all over the country come together to celebrate our love, our commitment, our shared life was the most beautiful moment of my life. It was magical. It was sacred. Why wouldn't you want every couple in love to experience that blessing (if they wanted to do so)? It takes nothing away from anyone else's relationship, or even their religious prejudices. You're still married and you still don't think i should be...see, nothing has changed in your world. 

So, marriage is now an equal right rather than a heterosexual privilege; marriage equality benefits lesbians and gays, but it doesn't harm you in any way." - Durrell Watkins 

Lots of Ways to be Brave

Franklin Graham posted today: "Caitlyn Jenner is being honored with the ESPN ESPY Award for courage? I find this hard to swallow after spending time with wounded military veterans and their spouses...they are true heroes."

My response was as follows:

"People who come out (as same gender loving, gender non-conforming or transgender) in a hostile environment (such as the one evangelical churches have created) are courageous.
People who train for the Olympics are courageous (Caitlyn is already brave on two fronts).
People who are first responders are courageous.
Soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel are courageous.
Single moms are courageous.
Social justice Activists are courageous.
One example of courage doesn't negate others. Of course wounded veterans are courageous, and so are others for other reasons.
A sports network is honoring an accomplished took a real act of pettiness on FG's part to try to warp that into a controversy.
The constant vilification of everyone who doesn't look like a Leave It to Beaver character is making religion seem mean-spirited and irrelevant.
As a Progressive Christian I affirm the sacred value of transgender people, but more importantly, as a human being I reject that religion's purpose (or the purpose of any social institution) is to demonize or dehumanize or marginalize anyone..." - Durrell Watkins 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Q&A: Why Didn't Jesus Say Anything Against Homosexuality?

Q: Why didn’t Jesus say anything against homosexuality? Was it because the Hebrew Scriptures were so clear about it that he didn’t feel the need to say more; did he just assume everyone thought homosexuality was wrong and his silence was basically agreement?

A: Let’s consider what the scriptures available to Jesus had to say about homosexuality.
Many people assume the story of Sodom & Gomorrah condemns homosexuality, but it doesn’t.
The prophet Ezekiel stated the sin of Sodom was inhospitality and lack of compassion and lack of concern for the poor (the Sodom & Gomorrah story includes attempted gang rape and repeated incest; there is not a single mention of same-gender love or mutual fact, the story concludes by showing that the Moabites and Ammonites were the product of incest...the story is an ethnic slur against enemies, not a prohibition against gays).

Some will say that the Adam and Eve story where the man is told to “cleave unto his wife and become one flesh” is a statement against same-sex marriage. But the creation myths are just that...origin myths, not dictates about marriage (in fact, the Hebrew word "woman" has too often been mistranslated as "wife" but there is no ritual marriage in the story).

That leaves only two verses in Leviticus from the Hebrew texts that could be considered "homophobic". Two verses....not two stories, not two chapters, just two sentences.

Since Jesus reinterpreted, ignored, or defied ancient texts that called for killing Canaanites (he healed the Canaanite woman's daughter) or keeping a strict Sabbath (saying the Sabbath was made for us, not us for the Sabbath), or killing those caught in adultery (he rescued a woman who was about to be stoned, noticing, no doubt, that her co-adulterer somehow had escaped punishment), there is no reason to believe that Jesus would have been one to enforce two obscure and isolated verses from one book of the Torah. So, from the evidence that I can gather, I believe Jesus didn't mention homosexuality because it wasn't an issue of concern for him.

Secondarily, we know from history that eunuchs were "functionally" homosexual (that is, as slaves, they were often used for male/male sex), and Jesus in Matthew's gospel advocates for eunuchs, and (in his Jesus like way) even broadened the definition of eunuch to include those who are born sexually different.

There is another story of Jesus healing a centurion’s "servant" and the Greek word used for servant was often used to refer to a sex-slave (and a sexual relationship would explain why a Roman nobleman would seek out a Jewish healer to help his "servant"...only romance would explain the desperation of seeking out a peasant magician to help save someone).

So, not only did Jesus never condemn homosexuality (and his scriptures only mention homosexuality negatively twice and he never referenced those writings), but there are times when he seems to have embraced same-gender loving people. That proves nothing about the rightness or wrongness of same-gender love and attraction, but it does suggest that condemning it in Jesus' name is myopic and ahistoric.