God is not a homophobe.
Thank you, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered folks, and all otherwise-queer people who are among my closest friends and parental figures, most awesome mentors and professors, and all those who’ve helped mold and nurture me into the queer-loving straight guy I am today! Would that I might develop a similar courage and conviction to fully COME OUT in my own right, the born-again child of God I was created to be.
I realized the other night that I don’t experience God as simply male or female. With all due respect to my Lord and Savior, who, according to the Gospel writers, gave God a decidedly masculine ‘Father’ identity for God, I simply can’t make gendered pronouns for God fit my experience of God. Neither “Father” this, “She” that, nor “God Hirself” quite seems to do it.
Not that my gender-confusion over God is a bad thing. To the contrary, a singular notion of the image of God is so far beyond my comprehension that having no good pronouns actually works better than forcing inept ones.
To me, God is combination of two or more elements: a stable, all-encompassing entity of spirit-force who is amorphous and certainly un-gendered in any conventional sense, juxtaposed with a hundred trillion images of all of the diversity of creation: animals, plants, earth, sky, and humans too. In that sense, that of specific manifestations of God, characteristics like gender, sex, identity, race, ability, outward appearance, to name a few, may be in fact intricately connected to the fundamental nature of God.
Meanwhile, here’s what some of the internets say about genderqueerness, helpfully edited by me to be inclusive towards deities.
Genderqueer and intergender are catchall terms for gender identities other than man and woman. People [and/or deities] who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both male and female, as being neither male nor female, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. Some wish to have certain features of the opposite sex and not all characteristics; others want it all.
…There are different modes of being genderqueer, and it is an evolving concept. Some believe they are a little of both or feel they have no gender at all. Others believe that gender is a social construct, and choose not to adhere to that construct. Some genderqueers do fit into the stereotypical gender roles expected of their sex [and/or divinity], but still reject gender as a social construct. Still other people [and/or deities] identify as genderqueer since…they do not fit many of society’s expectations for the gender in which they identify…
A God who falls completely outside the gender-binary? Who transcends the expectations and limitations of society? Who manifests certain features of masculinity and femininity at once? Now that makes sense to me. God is genderqueer!
One of the more frustrating aspects about the current debate over same-sex marriage is the utter shallowness of the theology on the anti-marriage side. Having wrongfully presumed that it is their prerogative to determine whether other people’s civil marriages meet their theological criteria, the only theological criteria they offer up is that of gender. Britney Spears wants to drunkenly marry some guy for 15 minutes? No problem. A couple of straight swingers want to get married and swap partners every night til death do them part? Let ’em. But to allow any two women or two men to get married would go against their religion.
Of course, few if any would advocate that we hold anyone else’ civil marriages up to religious scrutiny. That would be considered inappropriate, overreaching. Yet, that is precisely what we do any time civil marriage is denied on the basis of gender, as there is no argument against same-sex marriage that is not religious in origin.
Here’s the problem: gay people not only are allowed to get married in my church, but have been for decades. As far as religious marriage – as opposed to civil marriage – is concerned, we will continue this forever. Yet, other peoples’ concept of religious marriage have overreached into our church building, effectively neutralizing our religious marriages so that they do not result in the same civil benefits as others. If religious marriage is going to be interchangeable with civil marriage, as is presently the case in American society, fine. But not if only one narrow interpretation of religious marriage is going to be enforced on everybody.
So the sanctity of marriage should be protected. The marriages that my church conduct should have the same legal standing as any other religious marriages. People smarter than me have drawn up big arguments around the following idea, but in a nutshell, here is my plan for restoring marriage in America.
Why do some people think that a person’s having a vagina or penis actually has anything to do with their resulting sexual preference? Does having particular genitalia supposedly cause you to have certain desires? Because if so, that seems oddly humorous.
Tune in tomorrow for a new installment of, “The Random Thought Which Popped Right Into Tom’s Head During Class Today.”
It’s weird to be elated and outraged at the same time.
I spent yesterday GOTVing all day long in Indiana (which spent most of the evening being a narrow McCain victory but has since flipped for Obama) (!) (the first time Indiana’s gone with a Democrat in 44 years). Last night, my wife and I headed to downtown Chicago and joined in the truly awesome elation:
It is tempting to want to attribute this victory to the will of God. After all, our God is a God of abundance, and the victory, for the Democrats, was certainly abundant. Every Sunday, and quite often more than that, Christians pray unto God: “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” For the last eight years, many of us have cried out to the Lord, praying that God would lay hands upon our national and global leaders and change – change them. We want God to be involved in our political process, especially when we sense that it is not going according to God’s plan.
And yet, if we attribute the stunning political victories to the will of God, we must also assume that it was God’s will that Proposition 8 has likely passed this morning. Proposition 8 sets the appalling precedent that anyone can be targeted for the removal of existing rights. Anyone! Who’s next? All that is needed is enough money and advertising to eek out a narrow majority. This is frightening, un-American, and it is shameful that religious folks were heavily behind it. Surely it is not God’s will that Ray and Bob, who have been together for 16 years, helped raise me as part of my church family, and were finally allowed to marry this summer and receive equal rights under the law, should endure retroactively becoming “unmarried” and lose those protections.
This election is clearly about what people are able to achieve, rather than the manifestation of God’s will. Accordingly, with the election of Barack Obama as president, my faith in the ability of Americans to govern ourselves has been restored. And with the passage of Proposition 8, my faith in many of my religious sisters and brothers in California has been broken yet again.
It’s weird to be elated and outraged at the same time.
This past Monday was my one-year wedding anniversary.
While I am thrilled to embark upon Year Two with my lovely bride, I have been more anxious than joyful about marriage these days. No, not my marriage (though there are joyful and anxious moments there among many others), but the marriage rights of thousands presently under siege in California via Proposition 8.
Prop 8 is the effort in California to institute an amendment to the state constitution that will prohibit gay and lesbian people from being allowed to legally marry. Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court overturned existing prohibitions against gay marriage and effectively legalized gay marriage. Now, there is conservative backlash in the form of this proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage in California as being between a man and a woman.
I believe that to deny LGBT people the right to marry is discriminatory, immoral, and anti-Christian. (I’m sure it goes against tenets of the faiths of many others as well, as well as those who have no faith, but I personally write from a Christian perspective.) I support equal marriage rights conferred without regard for the sex, gender, or sexual orientation of those involved, for the following reasons:
As if the Christian right didn’t have enough to worry about already. First came the notoriously gay Teletubbies, followed by SpongeBob, the Terrible Token of Tolerance. (Following condemnation from the right, SpongeBob was immediately welcomed into the United Church of Christ. Go UCC!)
But now, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has announced that the beloved Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is gay. (That loud “pop” you just heard was the sound of James Dobson’s head exploding.)
I, however, celebrate this news. As others have pointed out, given the still-pervasive culture of shame surrounding gay and lesbian people in America, it’s vital that gay kids have positive role models growing up–in literature as well as in real life.
However, to the extent that past behavior can predict future behavior, we can expect to see continued Christian-driven censorship of Harry Potter with this new revelation. People have already had a problem with the “witchcraft” in the books (this despite the fact that there are blatant Harry/Jesus parallels to be found as well).
Some may ask, “why does this even matter?” or “why now?” Since Dumbledore doesn’t have any apparent romantic attachments throughout any of the seven books, why would Rowling bother to ‘out him’ at this point?
In my view, Dumbledore is one of the greatest father-figures in children’s literature. People of all stripes and prejudices have come to love him; gay, straight and anti-gay alike. Without knowing about Dumbledore’s gayness, people’s perceptions of him weren’t diminished by their preconceived notions about gay people.
Now, months after the story has been finished, we are free to decide for ourselves whether or not Dumbledore’s homosexuality somehow makes him to be worse (or better) than we’d previously thought. I would think that most honest people would agree that he doesn’t retroactively change into a worse person just because of this news.
Kudos to J.K. Rowling for providing us all with a positive, prominent gay role model in literature.
Ask and ye shall receive…
I asked a blogger on this thread to offer me some specific scriptural citations that indicate that homosexuality is a sin. So, somebody pointed out that in Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13, two men having sex “as with a woman” is clearly condemned.
This got me thinking, because it is also true that Leviticus is full of mandates, rituals, and practices that, for a variety of reasons, are no longer considered to be instructive for how we ought to live our daily lives today. (See Lev 11, 12, 15, 19.20-28 for particularly choice examples.) I frankly don’t see any standard by which Lev 18.22 and 20.13 should be literally applied in lieu of these others, per se.
Furthermore, I don’t agree that Lev 18.22 and 20.13 necessarily represent God’s final word for gay and lesbian people. To the contrary, according to Jesus, the social relevance of Levitican law actually suggests the exact opposite.