if it turns out that I’m wrong, I trust God will be faithful to catch me
July 15, 2015 8:07 AM   Subscribe

An Update on the Gay Debate: evolving ideas, untidy stories, and hopes for the church
While I struggle to understand how to apply Scripture to the marriage debate today (just like we all struggle to know how to interpret Scripture on countless controversial topics), I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy. No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians. It leaves folks feeling like love and acceptance are contingent upon them not-gay-marrying and not-falling-in-gay-love. When that’s the case—when communion is contingent upon gays holding very narrow beliefs and making extraordinary sacrifices to live up to a standard that demands everything from an individual with little help from the community—it’s hard to believe our bodies might be an occasion for joy. It’s hard to believe we’re actually wanted in our churches. It’s hard to believe the God who loves us actually likes us.
posted by imnotasquirrel (140 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
> "Homosexuality only becomes sinful when a person chooses to act on it."

FACEPALM.GIF
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:16 AM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


There is no debate. The debate is over. Homophobes lost. Religious authorities can ramble about the theological implications if they like, but they might as well be counting angels on pinheads.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:23 AM on July 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


I just do not understand the hypocrisy of the church in this matter. If you want to try to find scriptural guidance to allow gays to participate in your religion, but force them to be celibate, why is there not an equally strong push to exclude people who are divorced and remarried? Christ is so clear on that issue, in Matthew 19, that it brooks no alternative interpretation--if you divorce, and remarry, you are committing adultery. And yet no one cares! It is completely forgotten about, like Christ never said it.

That the church can so completely ignore Christ's explicit instructions on one issue, and yet make such a big damned deal about another issue that is at best vague, shows that scripture has absolutely nothing to do with it, and that this is just straight power steamrolling everything else, the same way it always does.

This kind of ugliness is exactly why I could never return to the church. No matter how nice people try to be about it, it's an act of hatred, aggression, and there is no sugar-coating it.
posted by mittens at 8:25 AM on July 15, 2015 [120 favorites]


like Christ never said it.

If it would inconvenience straight men, you have to understand, Christ was speaking metaphorically.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:27 AM on July 15, 2015 [66 favorites]


I hate how the conservative evangelicals are reacting to Julie's announcement, but I'm not surprised. Denny Burk's post in particular was impressive in being completely lacking in any sort of nuance or grace whatsoever, but that's what I've come to expect from him. And then there are the ones acting like she was the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing who came to Wheaton under false pretenses to lead students astray.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 8:31 AM on July 15, 2015


There were a few links that I couldn't really work into the original post about the viability of celibacy as a mandate to begin with (never mind the church's failure to embrace those gay Christians who actually adhere to the conservative interpretation of sexual ethics), with the argument that Side B is the new ex-gay. Many conservative evangelicals have grudgingly accepted the idea that one's sexual orientation cannot be changed, so they've latched on to celibacy instead. "Okay, fine, so you won't be turning straight anytime soon, just stay away from the icky gay sex." And even so, they're completely discomfited by people like Julie who actually refer to themselves as gay Christians because, I guess, that doesn't imply enough shame over their orientation.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 8:37 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Denny Burk piece:
Sexuality is the test of our time. Sexuality/gender is where loyalty to Christ is being tested in our culture. More and more, it has become the line dividing the sheep from the goats.
Why is gender included in that? I get that they think homosexuality is sinful--bigots gonna bigot, whatever--but faith is being tested by gender? Like trans people are giving in to temptation or something? What does this even mean?
posted by almostmanda at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


And yet no one cares! It is completely forgotten about, like Christ never said it.

You mean no Protestant cares, perhaps.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:48 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Like trans people are giving in to temptation or something? What does this even mean?

We are deeply deeply uncomfortable with gay people and trans people (and don't even think about those bisexuals), and we are not really happy about women, either, except as baby-production units in sect-sanction marriages, and we'd like to express that discomfort as outright open hate, but that makes us look bad, so we rely on incoherent double-speak.

The irony that our professed god preached love and mercy is entirely lost on us.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


Why is gender included in that? I get that they think homosexuality is sinful--bigots gonna bigot, whatever--but faith is being tested by gender? Like trans people are giving in to temptation or something? What does this even mean?

"You'll stick to your destructive, limited, often flat-out-deadly rigid gender roles that have no basis in either science, the direct teachings of Christ nor even necessarily the Bible itself and you will like them! If you're a man, anyway. You'll shut up and suffer in silence if you're a woman."
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 8:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


I just do not understand the hypocrisy of the church in this matter.

Multiple choice:

1) a foolish consistency etc
2) but gays are icky
3) 1 & 2
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:54 AM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


As an atheist who has been making it a point to be tolerant and accepting of people's religious beliefs, crap like this makes it so much harder. Of course, you also get this kind of nonsense from the atheist community too, and that tends to irk my queer ass even more than when the religious folks do it. There's clearly some issue that people seem to have about homosexuality and gender that transcends faith. It's just that faith and organized religion are really good at codifying these issues into black and white. I just wish I understood what it was.
posted by SansPoint at 8:56 AM on July 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


And yet no one cares! It is completely forgotten about, like Christ never said it.

You mean no Protestant cares, perhaps.


Rudy "Three Wives" Guiliani is a devout Catholic.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:00 AM on July 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


I think I just feel bad about all of this. Like I feel a qualified badness for Rodgers and others like her (qualified because, god damn, it feels like you are torturing yourself in order to keep carrying water for a culture that hates you), and an essentially unqualified one at the institutions and individuals so fixated on a "Biblical sexuality" which happens not to exclude them.

There's a lot you could parse - a lot of nuanced thought and grappling with what I know are really hard questions for people whose minds are set up a certain way, a lot of actual eloquence in some of this. But all I can really get to is the feeling bad part.

You mean no Protestant cares, perhaps.

Even this isn't really true. Divorce is a major preoccupation of a good chunk of the more fundamentalist end of the evangelical spectrum, though maybe it's receded into the background as the emphasis on sexuality & gender norms as defining theological questions has heated up.
posted by brennen at 9:02 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


SansPoint: Patriarchy, in a word. Men must be Real Manly Men(tm). Note how much less opprobrium queer cis women get in comparison to men.

(I am not erasing trans women or trans men here; I'm assuming we can take it as read that trans people get the shit end of the stick from everyone, for many of the same reasons, and in many ways it's way more urgent that comes to an end right the hell now.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:04 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering : Patriarchy, in a word. Men must be Real Manly Men(tm). Note how much less opprobrium queer cis women get in comparison to men.

You're almost certainly right, but I can't help but feel like there's more to it. Maybe not much more, admittedly.
posted by SansPoint at 9:09 AM on July 15, 2015


I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy. No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians. It leaves folks feeling like love and acceptance are contingent upon them not-gay-marrying and not-falling-in-gay-love.

I've always disliked this line of argument. Look, I'm for same-sex marriage in the church and can give an argument for this by refuting arguments to the contrary that select famous passages from Genesis, Leviticus, and Romans, which misunderstand the legal Hebrew terms and legal system used in Leviticus and which is relevant for understanding the importance of Paul's injuncture against homosexuality in Romans, and which are ignorant towards how Jesus and the Early Christian thinkers understood the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis (it has always been about hospitality, the interpretation of this event as relating to homosexuality is a recent interpretation).

It bothers me so much when it's not that difficult to make a scholarly basis for same-sex marriage in the church (the above aren't my arguments, they're a combination of arguments that many people have made) but people instead resort to fallacious, wishy-washy arguments.

See for example: "Why would God make people gay if he was against same-sex marriage?" Well, you tell me. God gives us all various temptations. Some of us are gay. Some of us have violent tendencies. Some of us have been dealt a heavier hand than others. Just try to live as proper of a life as you can, and God will judge you accordingly with how you dealt with a heavier hand. It's related to the quoted line: "I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy. No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians."

Why would it be an unintended consequence? Imagine a Christian that had deep compulsions towards violence. I'm sure they'd feel a lot of shame towards themselves for harboring these feelings because they'd recognize these feelings as wrong to have. If homosexual actions are also viewed as a sin, then it'd be the exact same situation. They'd see their feelings as being wrong to have (or if you want to get pedantic, they'd see their feelings not as inherently wrong to have, but wrong only insofar as these feelings would lead them to sin) and would properly feel shame about it. Shame is a wonderful emotion that helps us lead moral lives. When I do something wrong and feel shame about it, I'm much less likely to do that wrong again upon remembering how much shame I felt afterwards.
posted by Dalby at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Religion has always been a principal tool by which those in power (men and women) exert control over the masses.
posted by mygoditsbob at 9:12 AM on July 15, 2015


Except that being a gender and/or sexual minority isn't shameful, Dalby, and your entire argument is incredibly offensive by comparing it to violence, no matter which side you're standing on. I give no fucks about what these idiots consider a sin because they are wrong.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


Growing up in an Evangelical church, as a dedicated Wednesday-night-and-twice-on-sundays attendee, plus a couple camps and retreats, I've heard a lot of sermons about gay people, vanishingly few of which ever referenced us as anything other than political opponents in the culture war, and out of those which did address how actual gay people should live their actual gay lives, exactly one, from my then youth pastor, which acknowledged that we might be in the room. The evangelical church doesn't want to admit that we're here; it would be uncomfortable. So they would rather ignore us except to occaisonally preach us into hell in hopes that sufficient levels of self hatred will turn us straight, either ignoring or denying the fact that the more common outcome is that we kill ourselves.

So anyway that got a little off topic but the point I started out trying to make is that for every other struggle churches have classes and support groups and lesson plans and pamphletry, but they tell gay folks to remain celibate their entire lives and to do it in complete isolation with no social or institutional support, because they simply have no framework for dealing with gay people as anything but a threatening "other."
posted by bracems at 9:16 AM on July 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


Imagine a Christian that had deep compulsions towards violence. I'm sure they'd feel a lot of shame towards themselves for harboring these feelings because they'd recognize these feelings as wrong to have.

Historically, this assumes facts not in evidence.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 9:17 AM on July 15, 2015 [34 favorites]


> While I struggle to understand how to apply Scripture to the marriage debate today (just like we all struggle to know how to interpret Scripture on countless controversial topics)...

My advice would be to just apply it however she'd like in order to obtain the results she wants, because that's what everyone else does, has done and always will do.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:22 AM on July 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


I am a Christian, and the ugly poison of gender essentialism is my least favorite thing about the church. God is male, you see, and Christ is male, and priests are male, and for that to be meaningful, there has to be something essentially holy about being male -- or if not something essentially holy, well, it has to be meaningful that all those personages are male, and therefore being male has to be something important, right? So all men are MEN and are like THIS and I guess by process of elimination that means all women are WOMEN and are like THIS, and then all kinds of toxic crap about sexuality and gender and birth control and marriage and gender roles comes tumbling after.

I loathe it. I go to a church that actively works against that nonsense, and I have my hopes that it will die out like geoccentrism eventually. Even the freaking Bible says right in it "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free." Come on!
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 AM on July 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


Yeah, part of the reason these evangelicals fight against homosexuality and marriage equality so strenuously is because they've placed so much stock in complementarianism (which is totally not just a fancy substitute for 'patriarchy') and rigidly defined gender roles in order to determine how people are supposed to be, and having two men or two women turns those assumptions on their heads.

(And notice how all of this emphasis on complementarianism doesn't leave much room for singles. And if you're a GAY single on top of that...)
posted by imnotasquirrel at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Except that being a gender and/or sexual minority isn't shameful, Dalby, and your entire argument is incredibly offensive by comparing it to violence, no matter which side you're standing on.

Um, that was Dalby's point.

I find it mind-moggling that we're still stuck in a boring nature/nurture discussion. Why would Christians find sexual orientation being inborn a compelling argument for accepting gays? Christians believe in inborn sin, remember?

Edit: Just to be clear, I'm saying that Christian churches should accept homosexual relationships and marriages. I'm also saying that it's time to let go of the nature argument.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:36 AM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


While I struggle to understand how to apply Scripture to the marriage debate today (just like we all struggle to know how to interpret Scripture on countless controversial topics

I've always found that kind of puzzling, both the selectivity with which Christians struggle to apply the Bible, and both the struggle itself.

Take the author of the linked piece for example. She knows that it's wrong to deny gay people equal rights. But rather than simply admitting that, she must dig through the semi-random collected sayings of a bunch of people who died over 2000 years ago looking for loopholes or clever reinterpretations of their clear and plain meanings (which, in this case, boil down basically to sex is bad, gay sex is super bad, if a person is straight and MUST have sex I guess they can get married, but sex is bad and they'd be better off never having sex).

But over and above the general puzzlement at the struggle to shoehorn a book written by 2000 year old conservatives into something that can work with modern thought, I'm also puzzled at how selective the obsession with finding Biblical justificaion is.

While a few churches make a few gestures in the direction of hating divorce, none can muster even a tenth of the hate they have for gay people. Because they just don't care. Any opposition to divorce is kind of pro forma and ceremonial rather than deep seated.

Likewise the issue of lending money at interest is completely ignored. Despite very clear Biblical injunctions against the practice (in fact, the Bible commands that Christians lend money with no expectation of repayment). No one struggles to find loopholes and clever misinterpretations of the clear denouncement of modern banking and investment.

Or heck, most (though there are a few fringe hangers on, mostly of the Neo-Confederate variety) Christians are perfectly content to declare slavery to be a deep moral wrong, despite the Bible explicitly endorsing slavery and no less a person than Jesus commanding slaves to obey their masters rather than try to escape.

To me, as an atheist, it looks like nothing but support of modern political conservatism dressed up in faux concern for Biblical authority. But I'd like to know if any of the Christians here can offer a less dismissive explanation. Is there some reason why so many Christians "struggle" with gay stuff, but not with all the other stuff where they live in overtly anti-Biblical ways?
posted by sotonohito at 9:40 AM on July 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


Let go of the nature argument? Oh hell no. That just lets them prattle on with their "is a choice" nonsense.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:43 AM on July 15, 2015


I came across this article yesterday, and as a non-religious person, it gave me some hope for at least some of the churches out there.

posted by odayoday at 9:46 AM on July 15, 2015


I find it mind-moggling that we're still stuck in a boring nature/nurture discussion.

I never understood that issue as anything but tilting at the strawmen these people created. So what if it were a choice? The question remains: What do you care?

I guess that gets at the more far-reaching question I have about this. Why do we waste headspace with people who not only believe in a magic book, but apparently take it as a matter of job description to do whatever mental and rhetorical contortions necessary to make that magic book say anything at all they wish it to?
posted by cmoj at 9:47 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some of the comments are pretty thoughtful, such as this one.

Well, thoughtful in the way of, "Hey, someone finally gets it!"

I assume this Carol Reed's position is not dissimilar to my mother's--I can only assume that is why we simply just do not talk about some things, which has the unfortunate distancing effect and bleeds into other topics.
posted by qcubed at 9:47 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let go of the nature argument? Oh hell no. That just lets them prattle on with their "is a choice" nonsense.

Again, Christians believe in inborn sin. The idea of sin does not exclude hereditary characteristics. Whether it's "a choice"* should be irrelevant.

* I hate that word so much. In all other aspects of human behavior, we've figured out that it's a complicated slush of heredity, environment, and context. But when it comes to sexual orientation, we're way behind.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always found that kind of puzzling, both the selectivity with which Christians struggle to apply the Bible, and both the struggle itself.

But isn't this essentially "why aren't these idiots just rationalist atheists, like any thinking person ought to be?" I mean, the fact that Christians (and, indeed, any "people of the book") interpret the Bible selectively, happily ignoring some parts and feeling a sense of urgency and crisis about the prospect of ignoring others, is hardly a New Thing which has emerged in the wake of the debate over gay rights. The tussle over "the letter" vs "the spirit" has been central to the experience of Christian belief since the inception of Christianity. Trying to figure out which parts of the Bible or which parts of Church teachings are essential and which are malleable has been an ongoing (and often bloody) struggle for centuries. This is just one of the more recent issues to become centrally controversial.

As an atheist myself I can't disagree that this seems irrational, but it's not as if "ooh, look, you guys are selectively interpreting scripture!!" is some kind of stunning revelation that should cause Christians everywhere to slap their foreheads and say "what were we thinking?" This has been their lived experience of the struggle of faith since Christianity began.
posted by yoink at 9:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


I guess that gets at the more far-reaching question I have about this. Why do we waste headspace with people who not only believe in a magic book, but apparently take it as a matter of job description to do whatever mental and rhetorical contortions necessary to make that magic book say anything at all they wish it to?

That's a complicated question. There are a lot of answers, but here's the most practical one: because a lot of people believe in that book. And it's better to find ways to work with them. That's what movement building is about: finding ways to talk about your issues in a way that reflects the values of the people you're talking to. It's something that the bad guys are really good at.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:53 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Again, Christians believe in inborn sin. The idea of sin does not exclude hereditary characteristics. Whether it's "a choice"* should be irrelevant

'should' and 'is' have nothing to do with each other. Erasing the nature argument gives them ammunition to use against me. I don't know how to make it more clear than that. 'born this way' starts the process of getting people to understand it doesn't matter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:55 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


The divorce/homosexuality discrepancy I think is explained by evangelical Christianity's focus on repentance. In their view you're forgiven for a sin if you feel bad about it, ask Jesus to forgive you, and decide not to do it again. So you sin by divorcing your spouse, but then you repent and you're in the clear for another marriage. The "sinful" part is in the past. But since they take as assumed that gay sex is sinful, you can't properly repent if you stay in a sexually active gay relationship. Picking nits about hypocrisy isn't productive if it leaves that core assumption alone, and yeah, it's actually pretty weakly justified if you look closely, even inside the framework of Christianity.
posted by skymt at 9:57 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I always end up posting this in these threads, but Fred Clark (from Slacktivist) had a really great series on how Evangelicals got to the place they have when 30-40 years ago gay (much less trans) issues were hardly on their radar. It's called The Gay Hatin' Gospel and it examines where he thinks it comes from, a bit of the history, and how dysfunctional it is as politics and scripture.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:58 AM on July 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


It's hard to have compassion for people who are acting hatefully, and doubly so when they're appropriating the very faith you hold dear, and doubly so again when they're in a position of authority and influence.

However. I've seen someone very close to me make the journey from well-meaning but unbending evangelical "The Bible is clear on this, whatever we might wish" opposition to homosexuality, to acceptance and support. It wasn't easy for them. Much of this happened later in life, and in a rather conservative, old-fashioned church setting. Some of it came through discussion and prayer, but I think the major factor was coming into close contact with (non-believing) friends of the family who were a gay couple and quite undeniably normal, pleasant, thoughtful people.

I have never seen anyone go the other way, apart from young people getting the Evo Bug bigtime (and which often doesn't stick anyway). Even here, the sense that being evangelical is not contingent on hetero/homosexual distinction is, I think, catching on. Evangelicalism has changed its spots many times.

It's a slow process, and there are certainly those who either intentionally or carelessly do a lot of damage and hurt in opposing it. But having seen how hard it is for even well-meaning people to set aside their deepest beliefs, I do think that now the chain reaction of relaxing attitudes due to contact with openly gay people leading to more people being openly gay is well under way, that more compassion rather than less is the way to go.

But then, I tend to think that about most things, however bad I am at actually doing it. Gotta keep trying, right?
posted by Devonian at 9:59 AM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Erasing the nature argument gives them ammunition to use against me.

I'm really not sure if that's true. I think it can do the opposite a lot of the time. In my opinion, the work of bringing evangelicalism to the light side has more to do with directly addressing the "clobber passages" than bothering with these nature/nurture arguments.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:00 AM on July 15, 2015


In their view you're forgiven for a sin if you feel bad about it, ask Jesus to forgive you, and decide not to do it again. So you sin by divorcing your spouse, but then you repent and you're in the clear for another marriage. The "sinful" part is in the past.

I'll admit, this is one of the things that I have the biggest issue with when it comes to some strains of Christianity. It is handled in a deft, darkly comic, and heartbreaking way in Secret Sunshine.

If it's really so easy to be forgiven for a sin and be cleansed, why shouldn't they take my word for it when I say that I'll ask for forgiveness and convert on my deathbed?
posted by qcubed at 10:02 AM on July 15, 2015


Yoink, if it came across as "why aren't they all cool and rational like me" than I did a bad job of expressing myself.

I think my point here is that many Christians, however falsely, *claim* to take the Bible "literally". There were several comments in the comments on Roger's piece that were variations on "I think I see what you're trying to say, but I take the Bible literally so I can't agree."

I'm not even really trying to play gotcha with the supposed literalists, I just wonder what their thinking is. They claim to be literalists, yet plainly they are not, do they just never think about the conflict in thier claims vs their believs? Do they have some ideosyncratic definition of "literalism" that allows them to loophole and misintepret the bits of the Bible they find inconvenient while still believing themselves to be "literally" taking hte Bible, or what?

I am also baffled by the liberal Christians. maybe I'm just too atheist focused, but it seems to me that the Bible just really isn't all that significant to them. It appears, to me, that for liberal Christians the Bible is more of a puzzle box that can be manipulated for whatever you want rather than an instruction manual (in this they don't differ from the literalists, but they seem much more open in their admittance that when you get down to it they decide what is right the way everyone else does, and then find ways to shoehorn the Bible into fitting those beliefs).

Frankly, the fundamentalists have what looks to me like a better claim on the Bible. They aren't by any means perfect Bible believers and literalists, but their stone age beliefs do seem to be more fitting with the Bible.
posted by sotonohito at 10:04 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am quite sure of that, actually. If I get to remove "but you choose to be this way" from their vocabulary, I then have strategies to talk to them.

If I choose to. Which, frankly, I don't. They're wrong and perpetuating evil, and I have zero interest in having 'compassion' or 'understanding' for their vile beliefs. They need to shut up and join modern society. That is their only valid option.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:04 AM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Except that being a gender and/or sexual minority isn't shameful, Dalby, and your entire argument is incredibly offensive by comparing it to violence, no matter which side you're standing on. I give no fucks about what these idiots consider a sin because they are wrong.

Do people no longer learn in school to judge the internal consistency of arguments even if they don't like the conclusion or premises?

Historically, this assumes facts not in evidence.

Another well thought out response.

Justice Kennedy: "There are untold references to the beauty of marriage in religious and philosophical texts spanning time, cultures, and faiths, as well as in art and literature in all their forms"
Response: "What about the the historical fact that marriage has been an oppressive institution?"

If only we had access to some conceptual distinction between normative concepts and descriptive facts.
posted by Dalby at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2015


I am quite sure of that, actually.

Let me rephrase. I think it does the opposite as often or more often. Drilling the nature thing signals to some evangelicals that gays are "unreachable" and they just shouldn't bother with them. Which is a really crappy thing to signal to the abusive parents of an LGBT kid.

This isn't about compassion or understanding. It's about messaging.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:11 AM on July 15, 2015


I'm really not sure if that's true. I think it can do the opposite a lot of the time.

The reason the ex-gay movement was such a huge thing was because most people used to think homosexuality was a choice. It's become much less of a thing now that many evangelicals have grumpily conceded that sexual orientation is not something that can be switched at will. I'm not arguing that there still aren't people who believe in it, but it's much less popular now that most people don't buy that it's a choice.

Of course, once the evangelicals accepted the futility of choosing one's sexual orientation, they just went for the celibacy mandate instead, so we traded one problem for another. Still, I think it's ignoring the history of Christian homophobia to act as though jettisoning the nature argument doesn't give anti-gay Christians more ammunition.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


That this thing is considered debate-worthy is a large part of what keeps me away from Christianity. Falling in love and getting married is maybe a "sin" or maybe not, let's try to hash this out by interpreting what the Bible says? I mean, I guess I'm glad that folks are beginning to interpret it more these days in a way that I agree with the results of on this particular issue.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:12 AM on July 15, 2015


That's a really good point, imnotasquirrel.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:13 AM on July 15, 2015


You seem to have missed the part where I don't care about their internal consistency (largely because they have none).

And as a gay person I'm getting really annoyed by being told how to advocate for myself, our that I'm stupid because I give no fucks about some bullshit internal consistency.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2015 [9 favorites]




Of course, you also get this kind of nonsense from the atheist community too, and that tends to irk my queer ass even more than when the religious folks do it.

Wait. Stop. Even the atheist community? Am I that old and out of touch?
I don't get it. The religionists have their bibles and Talmuds and Korans and whatever to delude them. But Atheists? A homophobic atheist has to be the most irrational ilk of all.
posted by notreally at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2015


Uh, squirrel made exactly the same point I did
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2015


I didn't say you're stupid. Sorry if I offended you. I'll go now.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:15 AM on July 15, 2015


the ugly poison of gender essentialism is my least favorite thing about the church

Agreed. I don't know how the truth of the Gospel came to stand or fall, not on whether it transforms hearts or brings freedom to the oppressed, but on whether it rigidly maintains certain gender roles. If that becomes the focus of evangelism, then no wonder Christianity gets equated with bigotry.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:18 AM on July 15, 2015


Dalby implied I was. You're just telling me how I'm wrong for advocating for myself. I have no clue about your orientation; you might want to consider that if you're straight, telling a gay man how to deal with homophobes is not on.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:19 AM on July 15, 2015


no wonder Christianity gets equated with bigotry

it could also be the millennia of Christianity being used as justification for bigotry of all sorts that leads to them being equated
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:27 AM on July 15, 2015


notreally: Wait. Stop. Even the atheist community? Am I that old and out of touch?
I don't get it. The religionists have their bibles and Talmuds and Korans and whatever to delude them. But Atheists? A homophobic atheist has to be the most irrational ilk of all.


Oh, brother... you don't know the half of it. There's a strain of extremely virulent atheist that is obsessed with logic, reason, and hyper-masculinity. They tend to view homosexuality and modern gender theory as illogical, and in conflict with biological truths about the role of sex and sexuality in the human species.

They can fuck right off.
posted by SansPoint at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2015 [27 favorites]


You seem to have missed the part where I don't care about their internal consistency (largely because they have none).

You seem to have missed the part where I was offering up an internal critique of Christian arguments against same-sex marriage, and arguing that it was internally consistent to be a Christian and to be for same-sex marriage.

My criticism was against those in the church who are for same-sex marriage, but who do so in a manner that is theoretically unsound.

Dalby implied I was.

If you don't like scholarship then that's your own prerogative, but I do think it's a knock on one's rationality if one does not have the capacity to understand or engage in argumentation. As a professor I'd have to seriously consider failing a student if they turned in papers that weren't capable of this.
posted by Dalby at 10:30 AM on July 15, 2015


[This back-and-forth needs to drop, and fwiw taking shots at fellow users' e.g. "capacity to understand" is kind of escalatory and not great even under ideal circumstances.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on July 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


My advice would be to just apply it however she'd like in order to obtain the results she wants, because that's what everyone else does, has done and always will do.

It's amazing how God's Immutable Teachings Wot Are Immutable so closely tend to mirror the prevailing social mores of the day.

The "being gay isn't a sin, only acting on it is a sin" always reminds me of Anatole France's "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges." Both gay and straight people can't have sex with the same gender, people! Both of them!
posted by Justinian at 10:37 AM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


'born this way' starts the process of getting people to understand it doesn't matter.

'born this way' contributes non trivially to bi erasure, and more generally to bad boundary policing behaviors. Essentialist arguments always end up burning someone. It also opens up a significant weakness - to the extent that homosexual behavior/desire is OK because not a choice, what happens if/when technology makes it more like a choice? Look at deaf culture and cochlear implants for an example of what I mean.

Essentialism is usually wrong, in the sense that you will be able to find someone of category R who nonetheless wants to Q, and almost always dangerous, because it means that we are allowed to be different only to the extent that we are not responsible for that difference.

It's OK for me to bang dudes for the same reason most OK things are OK, our good friend the harm criterion. Whether or not there's some counterfactual in which I don't want to bang dudes has no bearing. The fact that there don't seem to be any plausible such counterfactuals combined with the basicness of the desire plus history happened all make it an exceptionally shitty thing to tell me I shouldn't have or act on that desire. But those are no more necessary factors to make the claim that I get to choose who I try to get (consensually) naked with, in the same way that I don't need them to make the claim that I get to decide what I'm eating for dinner.

Taking it back to the FPP - I would be more optimistic about these people's future happiness if there were any kind of protestant institution of celibacy not centered on homosexual desires.
posted by PMdixon at 10:38 AM on July 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


PMdixon, my bad; for me 'born this way' absolutely includes bi people, genderqueer people--straight people too, for that matter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2015


PMdixon: With regards to the harm criteria, and as a bisexual man, I completely agree with you. The counter-argument from (certain) faith-based positions is that you're harming your relationship with god, even if you, and your sex partner, are totally consenting.

Yes, if you don't believe in god, this makes no sense at all.

If you do believe in a god that has a problem with homosexual behavior... well, that's where things get thorny and you run into the problems that spawn this whole thread.
posted by SansPoint at 10:42 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you want to try to find scriptural guidance to allow gays to participate in your religion, but force them to be celibate, why is there not an equally strong push to exclude people who are divorced and remarried?

You're probably way more likely to find divorced-and-remarried pastors than you are gay pastors.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Let's try this again: for me and people like me this isn't a dry theoretical discussion where we can, or want to, entertain carefully constructed scholarly arguments about internal consistency. This is about our right to exist as human beings.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


we live in a secular society and what a magic book does or does not say cannot be allowed to dictate policy

Just to despair a little further, wasn't the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage equality basically the same thing, only trading one magic book for another?

Sometimes it feels like the only way we do anything is by squabbling over what our ancestors said and meant.
posted by mittens at 10:59 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Let's try this again: for me and people like me this isn't a dry theoretical discussion where we can, or want to, entertain carefully constructed scholarly arguments about internal consistency. This is about our right to exist as human beings.
And that is an essential to discussion to have, and an essential part of the day to day life. But the necessity of the non-scholarly arguments doesn't mean that church leaders should not be engaged by arguments that are tailored for the scholarly side of the religion. The bigoted masses can be simultaneously engaged with arguments that make more sense to them. Know your audience and all...
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:01 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed, cool it.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:12 AM on July 15, 2015


The necessity of the non-scholarly arguments doesn't mean that church leaders should not be engaged in the arguments that they understand.

Within their sects, sure, since people are free to leave those sects (although this is easier to say than do), but not in the greater social and legal world. Hair-splitting over exactly what was meant by a given writer thousands of years ago and miles away is really irrelevant to the legal status of non-members of that sect in the wider polity. These particular arguments have badly injured (including rape, assault, and murder) thousands and tens of thousands of people (only counting the recent past); we need to stop taking arguments from religious PoV seriously outside of those religions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:13 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Here are some lyrics to a song I wrote about 22 years ago regarding my feelings on being queer and growing up in the Presbyterian religion:

Lord, what have I done?
I have only just begun.
Life seems to work better this way.
Hope you don't mind, I've gone astray.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:21 AM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


GenjiandProust: we need to stop taking arguments from religious PoV seriously outside of those religions.

That's, of course, the tricky part. Part of why religious arguments are so prevalent is that for the devout, you need to worry about whether your god is approving of your behavior, and you're also responsible for keeping other people in God's good graces as best you can. I think a lot of non-religious people tend to overlook that second part (myself included). Many think they're doing LGBT people a favor by keeping them from sinning.
posted by SansPoint at 11:31 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Listening (or reading) to any sort of theological debate is like being with fans who think the Harry Potter books are non-fiction. Being religiousless (or atheist or agnostic, whatever) is, by default, a position of great tolerance, just in not going around screaming at religious people 'You believe crazy things! That don't make sense! Even internally! Even if you believe this part, that other part contradicts it and that other one contradicts the first two!' all day.

I, of course, don't do this, and I consider the fact that I have gone more than 16,000 days without doing it as proof of my inner calm, tolerance and love for my fellow human beings.
posted by signal at 11:38 AM on July 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


I am also baffled by the liberal Christians. maybe I'm just too atheist focused, but it seems to me that the Bible just really isn't all that significant to them. It appears, to me, that for liberal Christians the Bible is more of a puzzle box that can be manipulated for whatever you want rather than an instruction manual (in this they don't differ from the literalists, but they seem much more open in their admittance that when you get down to it they decide what is right the way everyone else does, and then find ways to shoehorn the Bible into fitting those beliefs).

It seems to me that because, in the US, evangelical protestantism is the face of Christianity, and because its lineage is so much from sola scriptura (and later, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy), people tend to look at Christianity as being a religion that's centered on the Bible. And I think a lot of liberal Christians from that same tradition do need to justify their beliefs in terms of the Bible, because that's how their tradition works -- but if you see it as a religion that's centered on Jesus, then it's quite easy to imagine -- like a fanfiction writer who's convinced that the TV show writers just got it wrong, and she knows better -- a purer, correcter version of Christianity that needn't worry about being contradicted by the Bible. Of course there's no basis for this version; but the basis for the fundamentalists' version is nearly as weak; oh well!
posted by Jeanne at 11:40 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


signal: If you listen to the Richard Dawkinses and Christopher Hitchenses of the world, or indeed most public atheist discourse, you might think otherwise about the tolerance thing. (Says another atheist, by the way.)
posted by SansPoint at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


A few great blogs from the progressive wing of the church, which has been loving gay folks and blessing their relations and marriages for quite awhile:
Coming Out Christian (Kimberly Knight)
Reflectionary (Martha Spong)
Freedhearts (Susan & Bob Cottrell)
posted by hydropsyche at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


If any LGBTQA Wheaton students or alums happen on this - there's a network of people who affirm you, believe you and support you. Get in touch if you need help or just want to reach out.
posted by wotsac at 11:46 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of non-religious people tend to overlook that second part (myself included). Many think they're doing LGBT people a favor by keeping them from sinning.

Fred Clark also had a blog post about the terrible psychological toll of the drive to witness in the Evangelical church (these people aren't stupid; most of them see that witnessing drives people away, but they feel they have a charge to do it, so they drive people away). However, the religious need to accept that that is between them and their god, and they need to leave other people alone. I mean, I realize that they won't, but the health of an increasingly-pluralistic society demands that they do. Something has to give.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:48 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


but I can't help but feel like there's more to it.

Not just patriarchy, but several thousand years of patriarchy, embedded in all levels of human society from the personal to the global.

As to why patriarchy at all, well, that's a longer discussion.
posted by emjaybee at 11:48 AM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


SansPoint: " If you listen to the Richard Dawkinses and Christopher Hitchenses of the world, or indeed most public atheist discourse, you might think otherwise about the tolerance thing."

Not really: I don't think they're very tolerant. I mean atheists like me, who don't go around shouting at people or picking fights.
posted by signal at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2015


GenjiandProust: Got a link to that second blog post?
posted by SansPoint at 11:50 AM on July 15, 2015


signal: Not really: I don't think they're very tolerant. I mean atheists like me, who don't go around shouting at people or picking fights.

My point exactly. I'm trying not to should at people and pick fights these days either. I just feel like the Dawkins/Hitchens acolytes, the ones who do shout and pick fights, are dominating the public perception of atheism, and it helps no one.
posted by SansPoint at 11:52 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


so does "lay down [one's] life" mean "get married" in evangelical parlance? It took me a while to get that she wasn't talking about a blood sacrifice.
posted by janey47 at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am also baffled by the liberal Christians. maybe I'm just too atheist focused, but it seems to me that the Bible just really isn't all that significant to them. It appears, to me, that for liberal Christians the Bible is more of a puzzle box that can be manipulated for whatever you want rather than an instruction manual (in this they don't differ from the literalists, but they seem much more open in their admittance that when you get down to it they decide what is right the way everyone else does, and then find ways to shoehorn the Bible into fitting those beliefs).

So, I wouldn't necessarily put Catholics in the "liberal" wing of Christianity, but it's my understanding that several popes and Catholic theologians have repeatedly pointed out that the Church's position on the Bible is that it should not be taken entirely literally, and gives itself a lot of wiggle room on how to interpret it.
posted by qcubed at 11:53 AM on July 15, 2015


people tend to look at Christianity as being a religion that's centered on the Bible. And I think a lot of liberal Christians from that same tradition do need to justify their beliefs in terms of the Bible, because that's how their tradition works -- but if you see it as a religion that's centered on Jesus

But... the only record of any sort of Jesus' supposed teachings is the Bible. Any Jesus-centric tradition will by definition also be Bible-centric.
posted by Justinian at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2015


qcubed: it's my understanding that several popes and Catholic theologians have repeatedly pointed out that the Church's position on the Bible is that it should not be taken entirely literally, and gives itself a lot of wiggle room on how to interpret it.

Yeah, but that's specific sections of the Bible, namely stuff like Genesis and Revelations. I don't know all the gory details (left Catholic school after 5th grade, and was never confirmed, or bothered studying it up.)
posted by SansPoint at 11:56 AM on July 15, 2015


The hypocrisy of the church on this issue (among many) is particularly damning. 150 years ago, many Bible-believing Christians knew that slavery was okay; it's what was taught in church, it's how they were raised, and they had Scripture by the fistful to back that up. 50 years ago, many Bible-believing Christians knew that racial segregation and discrimination was okay; it's what was taught in church, it's how they were raised, and they had Scripture by the fistful to back that up. We look back on those Christians of yesteryear and shake our heads in wonder at how anyone could so willingly and thoroughly distort Scripture to support such an obviously unjust belief.

And yet, today, many Bible-believing Christians know that homosexuality is a sin...

What pains me most is when Christians use Scripture in attempt to shame LGBT people into, what, changing? Or something? But then ignore the other parts that are inconvenient to their beliefs. Especially when Christian parents throw out their children for daring to reveal that they are gay. 1 Timothy 5:8 says "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." But I guess maybe the translations that say gays are bad mmkay? may also leave that verse out?
posted by xedrik at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Both gay and straight people can't have sex with the same gender, people! Both of them!

To be probably fairer than most practicing conservative Christians deserve: The divisions of the church that are heavily rooted in Pauline doctrine pretty much feel that nobody should have sex with anyone at all, ever, and that straight married procreative sex is merely the least sinful of several completely sinful options (but is still suuuuper sinful and they should feel bad about it).
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:58 AM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Erasing the nature argument gives them ammunition to use against me. I don't know how to make it more clear than that. 'born this way' starts the process of getting people to understand it doesn't matter.

Would you say a Kinsey 2-4 shouldn't have a same-sex marriage? Such a person would apparently be born in a way where the interorientation of their marriage would be entirely a matter of choice. If protection offered by the law starts and state compelling interest stops at things people don't have choices over, then one could reasonably argue such a marriage wouldn't be protected.

The better argument is that legally, the choice itself is what we protect -- or more specifically, we provide equal protection for individual choices under the law.

(I'll also add a speculation: someday we might well understand orientation well enough to change it. What then? One might like to think that history is a straight line and movements like the one regarding SSM would never revert, but my reading of history suggests a meandering that doesn't necessarily respect a progressively teleology, and I think in that situation SSM would be particularly likely to be reconsidered if an important foundation of its support is something along the lines of "they can't help it.")

Of course, this post isn't about legal territory, it's about theological territory, which has some of its own rules. If you don't want to play by them, that's an important legal right, one that appears to be settled in the US where it touches SSM.

But if you are *engaging* theology, you have to recognize some things about the territory where other people engaged in it live, and Dalby/roll truck roll's points are about that: whatever "born this way" has done in a civil debate context, it is simply an ineffective response in the context of a tradition that believes many kinds of sin can be inborn and homosexuality would be just another thing on that list to be struggled against.

If you want to reach someone in that background -- whether it's one of the "gaybies" the author of the linked piece is protective of, or a theological homophobe -- your argument would probably either need to be against the idea of inherited tendencies to sin of any kind, or toward the idea that homosexual behavior in itself is not sin.

The former sure seems like a hard road, even for an atheist. The latter is only difficult in that it would require understanding traditions from the inside. Dalby, roll truck, and others are trying to help y'all with that.

And Rodgers appears to be someone who understands the hopes of at least part of the Christian tradition regarding both marriage and celibacy and is trying to talk inward about that in such a way that seats gays within those hopes.
posted by weston at 12:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I found this post while browsing the pingbacks and it bothers the hell out of me:
Rodgers’s explanation of her change of heart is long on personal experience and short on Bible. If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she didn’t share it. It shouldn’t be lost on readers that other considerations seem to be driving her embrace of gay relationships, not God’s word.
Leave aside that “other considerations” is a phrase that carries its own invisible scare quotes. Rodgers's decision is the result of large amounts of soul-searching. That, at least, should be plain to see. Viewed in that light, it's infuriating to hear someone reply, “Oh, you fell off the path. Pity. Best of luck in getting back on it,” as though they couldn't be bothered to step off the Pedestal of Certitude before engaging with Rodgers's arguments.

The fact that her argument may not find basis in scripture is all the more reason to take it seriously. She knows the Bible just like any other devout Christian, and she is flat out saying that no matter what scripture says, she cannot conceive of a God that would make homosexuals only to consign them to celibacy, denying them the gift of romantic devotion to another that is freely given to heterosexuals.

If there is a God, and if God is benevolent, then surely our tools of reason are a beautiful gift that God has given us. I have tried hard but cannot understand those who value a rigid interpretation of “God's word” over those tools of reason. Any arguments the author might have for impugning the value of those tools — e.g., that they can end up rationalizing things that one knows is sinful but wants to do anyway — could just as easily apply to man's necessarily imperfect interpretation of God's word.

Adults are talking about complex things and assholes like these are trying to pass judgment. It's inhuman.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


A homophobic atheist has to be the most irrational ilk of all

China is mostly atheist and mostly homophobic. We don't derive our ethical positions from empirical observation and rational deduction. It's no more "irrational" to be an atheist homophobe than to be a devout defender of gay rights. We can't be reasoned out of ethical positions because we're not reasoned into them in the first place. You don't believe in gay rights because you are "rational" and people who don't are "irrational" any more than you wear jeans and a t-shirt rather than doublet and hose because the one outfit is more "rational" than the other.

I'm sure there are lots of ethical positions that we all of us participating in this thread hold dear and which some future generation will look back on with puzzlement and alarm, saying "but how could they have believed that? Isn't it just obviously wrong?" That's just the way being a human being goes, alas.
posted by yoink at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Justinian Both gay and straight people can't have sex with the same gender, people! Both of them!

Funny you should say that. I have a few Orthodox Jewish friends, and by their reckoning, since the Torah/Old Testament says "Man shall not lie with man as with woman," basically lesbianism is totally Kosher by the Torah! (They were being a little facetious, by the way.)
posted by SansPoint at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


In my view, all the nuancing in the world isn't going to alter the sentiment expressed in Burk's post, which is shared by more Christians than any I've encountered on less hostile spots on the spectrum: "Those of us who are pastors are to warn our people to avoid their false teaching. They are not of us (1 John 2:19)." (My emphasis.) This calumny is meant to refer to the Wheaton ministry associate, but is interchangeable with typical church calumnies against LGBT people generally.

Those five words in bold sum up that attitude better than any theological pretzel-twisting, in my opinion, and at least Burks has the directness to call it as he sees it, which is that no matter what I do or believe or no matter how I behave, as a gay man I am willfully and rebelliously living my life in contradiction to the word of God, am never to be welcome in his faith as I am, and indeed am thus to be seen and permanently marked as a manifestation of the devil and/or an alien being.
posted by blucevalo at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there is a God, and if God is benevolent, then surely our tools of reason are a beautiful gift that God has given us.

That second premise isn't universally held by the religious, mind.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:04 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Justinian, except most of the Bible isn't actually about Jesus, and some of hte ancient manuscripts that are about Jesus weren't included in the Bible. There were Christians for around 300 years before there was a Bible.

That goes along with what qcubed said about Catholics, they've got the doctrine that both the Bible and their own religious traditions are valid, the sola scripta view of many Protestants is a newish part of Christianity.

I'm wondering if there might eventually be a move by liberal Christians to have a New Bible that's more Jesus and less Paul and reject the centuries old one. It'd make about as much sense as the current liberal Christian approach of essentially ignoring a lot of the Bible.

Or heck, just having an openly non-Biblical Christianity. There's certainly plenty of historic precedent for it, and honestly the Didache matches modern liberal Christianity more closesly than the Pauline focused BIble does.

Yoink: yup. Much as I'd love to claim that atheists are all lovely ethical and empathic people it just plain isn't true. You can be a total retrograde conservative and still be atheist.
posted by sotonohito at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Got a link to that second blog post?

This is not the post I was thinking of, but it covers some of the same ground.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:15 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


We look back on those Christians of yesteryear and shake our heads in wonder at how anyone could so willingly and thoroughly distort Scripture to support such an obviously unjust belief.

"We were wrong about slavery and segregation, but THIS one, we're totally on the ball about!"

And it kills me that some of the biggest anti-gay religious voices in the US are coming from the Southern Baptist sector, considering how that particular denomination got its start. I realize that simply being wrong on Issue A doesn't necessitate being wrong on Issue B, but my problem is that a lot of these guys insist that the difference is that there is no biblical justification for slavery (unless you're Doug Wilson), handwaving the fact that way back when, their denomination did use scripture to rationalize things like slavery and segregation. Eric Teetsel, the founder of the Manhattan Declaration, went so far as taking credit for ending slavery. And yes, many Christians did fight the good fight as abolitionists, but his denomination wasn't one of 'em.

that straight married procreative sex is merely the least sinful of several completely sinful options (but is still suuuuper sinful and they should feel bad about it)

Oh, this reminds me of a point I saw made elsewhere about how 1 Corinthians 7 says that it's better for you to not marry and that you should only do it if you can't control yourself, and so all straight married Christians need to shut the hell up in acting like it's so easy for gay Christians to abstain from sex if they only had the willpower. And I did notice at least one married guy responding to Julie's blog by blithely urging her to "stay the course."
posted by imnotasquirrel at 12:20 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am also baffled by the liberal Christians. maybe I'm just too atheist focused, but it seems to me that the Bible just really isn't all that significant to them. It appears, to me, that for liberal Christians the Bible is more of a puzzle box that can be manipulated for whatever you want rather than an instruction manual (in this they don't differ from the literalists, but they seem much more open in their admittance that when you get down to it they decide what is right the way everyone else does, and then find ways to shoehorn the Bible into fitting those beliefs).

This is a really good observation, and there's a real tension underneath this. Once one becomes not just a reader but a re-reader and even interlocuter of *any* text, there's a fine line between the authority of the text and the reader.

And like Rodgers' untidy stories, I don't think there's any easy answer to it. I mean, there *is* the easy answer that you yield to the text's inherent authority and a lot of Christians will repeat that answer and even try to live that way. There can be advantages to that simplicity, but as you've pointed out, it's somewhat illusory and for a lot of people that understanding will eventually break down.

I think the faithful but liberal/scholarly Christian approach would stops treating the text as *strictly* authoritative but still something important to be wrestled with in good faith -- ideally, like you would in a trusted personal relationship with someone where you have disagreements: you try not to manipulate or simply dismiss or route around anything you don't like, but you have every right make your own claims and try to work to resolve the tension with respect as best you can.

And like a lot of relationships, this is something that you can't always tell if people are doing from the outside: only the people inside know if everyone is being honest with themselves and each other. The good faith engagement is personal. Like most things that matter with religion.
posted by weston at 12:21 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


> That second premise isn't universally held by the religious, mind.

True, but unless my research has led me astray it is held by Southern Baptists and therefore by Burk.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:22 PM on July 15, 2015


Progressive Christians read, discuss, wrestle with, and argue about scripture endlessly. That's actually what religion has always mostly been about. Jews call it Midrash. You can see it in the writings of the Catholic church fathers like Augustine and Aquinas. The idea that scripture is meant to be taken literally and there is only one way to do so is a 19th century American idea
posted by hydropsyche at 12:28 PM on July 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I mean, there *is* the easy answer that you yield to the text's inherent authority and a lot of Christians will repeat that answer and even try to live that way.

Of course, in this case, the text's inherent authority is being denied and stomped on by believers who insist they're reading it literally. They are engaging in deliberate, malicious misreading, allowing political decisions to influence translation (I know, I know, when has it ever been different), and putting forward a theory of reading that makes absolutely no sense.

What does it mean to take something literally? When the psalmist laments, "I can see all my bones," what are we to do with that? Has he developed some backwards-facing x-ray vision, that also includes magnification so he can see his inner ear? Would any evangelical insist on that reading? Of course not. Literality is just vacuous.

I mean, I absolutely agree, Christianity evolves based on the struggle with different, difficult readings. But this one seems so simple. Three verses in the Old Testament that don't count, three verses in the New that don't mean what people keep insisting they mean. All believers have to do is say, "Oh, wait, we totally misinterpreted those three passages, and now we want to repent for the centuries of murder our willful misinterpretation abetted." Problem solved. But no.
posted by mittens at 12:55 PM on July 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


"Liberal" Episcopal Priest here:

The tradition, by and large, doesn't read scripture merely one sort of rhetoric. It's not meant to be science; nor is it only ritual codes; nor is it history. It is read, in particular, in the context of the community that reflects together. When I read about David or the Levitical codes, I don't ask, well, how should I be like David, or what codes I should obey. I ask, "what does this tell me about human nature?" or "why is this relevant now?"

Is scripture selective? Of course, because life itself isn't ever neat, compact, direct. I've met few people in my life who are perfect in their interpretation of reality, even apart from a text. The reading of scripture is never a one-way street; it disturbs and forces reengagement. It remains a book that is fundamentally about human beings getting along, or not getting along, most of whom barely worth emulating. In short, it represents the breadth of humanity, which can get pretty ugly.

If anything it is precisely because it is NOT a unified text thinking arises. Otherwise it would be a n instruction manual.

Regarding sexuality, that becomes apparent is that we bring ideas to scripture that might not be there. Relationships in the 1st century were bound within customs of honor, property, and rivalry that have been distinguished in our own. They are still there, but put together differently. For this reason, scripture may have insights on who we are, but not in the places where we immediately think.
posted by john wilkins at 1:01 PM on July 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


As a former Mormon, I will say that although Mormons don't use terms like "side A" and "side B"...the movement from "well, you choose to be gay" to "well, maybe you don't choose to be gay, but you can choose to be celibate" in evangelical Christianity is also pretty much happening in Mormonism.

So, I respond sympathetically with the many people here who have commented that moving away from nature/nurture "born-this-way" argumentation has some merit.

The core problem with various Christian denominations isn't that they think being gay is a choice. That is an incidental problem that more and more of them are moving past (but not to a position of acceptance!) The larger problem is that they think there is something wrong with same sex relationships, something wrong with the idea that a person's gender may not match the sex they were assigned at birth, something wrong with the idea that even if a person's gender does match the sex they were assigned at birth, they may not want to fit into predetermined gender roles, etc.,

Because they think there is something wrong with these things, then it doesn't matter how these things arose (choice or born that way), because they are opposed to these things. So, arguing that it's not a choice doesn't really address that -- because they will just move to a place of pity -- "it's just too bad that you are defective like this..."

This is where the earlier comments about inborn sin come in. Like, most of us here would think it is wildly offensive to compare homosexuality with pedophilia, a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, or a short and violent temper. But to the Christian who believes homosexuality is sin, these things are all comparable because all of them are "bad," regardless of how it arises, whether or not it is a choice.

When you want to distinguish homosexuality from pedophilia, you don't talk about whether one is chosen and one is not: you talk about the merits of one vs. the harms of the other. Origin is *irrelevant*.

The fact that the two sides have very different criteria for morality is troubling though. Like, for someone who believes God said it is wrong, you can't really appeal to harm vs benefits...because they don't see it like that. Like, whenever someone compares homosexuality to pedophilia, that immediately tells me that I am talking to a person who has NO CLUE about consent, exploitative relationships, etc., etc., How can you reason with that?
posted by subversiveasset at 1:22 PM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


The idea that scripture is meant to be taken literally and there is only one way to do so is a 19th century American idea

I get sick of this idea that it is only we foolish moderns that ever thought to take the bible literally, and the past was populated by wiser, more nuanced interpreters. There were communities where this was true, but they are notable in that they were exceptions.

This idea that rigid orthodoxy, based on narrow interpretation of text, is a uniquely modern American idea is itself a modern idea. Christianity has been concerned with various heresies since its inception, and has never lacked for adherents who were quite sure that their way was the only way to do it.

A devotion to the idealized notion of the "true text" is also not new. There were fierce arguments about the inclusion and exclusion of various books proposed for the canon, and arguments about the specific contents of the texts that made it in. There's a reason that so many changes have been made to the scripture, people thought the exact wording mattered, and mattered a lot. Literalism was an old idea by the time Sola Scriptura was coined.

The American fundamentalist movement wasn't an unprecedented reinterpretation of scripture; it was a reactionary movement trying to stop societal changes that weren't to their liking. Backing that up with a fanatic devotion to scripture was an established move already by that time.
posted by skewed at 1:30 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


subversiveasset: This is where the earlier comments about inborn sin come in. Like, most of us here would think it is wildly offensive to compare homosexuality with pedophilia, a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, or a short and violent temper. But to the Christian who believes homosexuality is sin, these things are all comparable because all of them are "bad," regardless of how it arises, whether or not it is a choice.

When you want to distinguish homosexuality from pedophilia, you don't talk about whether one is chosen and one is not: you talk about the merits of one vs. the harms of the other. Origin is *irrelevant*.


As an ex-Catholic and ex-Radical Atheist (still atheist, just less of an asshole about it.) realizing this has gone a long way to helping me understand a lot of arguments in these debates. If, say, you had the cure for all cancers, you'd do your best to make sure everyone in the world knew about it, right? I think the attitude of the evangelical faiths is much like that. "I've found the answer! You should know it too! It'll save you from harm!"

Problem is when you run into the disagreements about whether you're doing something harmful, or whether you want to be saved from it. If I sleep with a guy (or girl) who wants me to sleep with him (or her), I don't think there's a problem at all. The evangelical with the anti-homosexual attitude thinks there is and that I will suffer greatly for it at some point.
posted by SansPoint at 1:43 PM on July 15, 2015


One of my parish priests told a joke during one of his sermons about a man who was given a guided tour of heaven. He saw the Jews with the Land of Milk & Honey, the Vikings with Valhalla, the Native Americans with the Happy Hunting Ground...and then he saw this huge fortrees with a giant wall around it. "Who lives there?" he asked. "The Catholics," he was answered "they think they're the only ones here."

FWIW.
/semi-lapsed catholic etc
posted by jonmc at 2:13 PM on July 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Like, for someone who believes God said it is wrong, you can't really appeal to harm vs benefits

I've grown more and more convinced that believing anything is wrong on the basis that God said so is inherently problematic and immature. Even if it's stuff that everyone more or less agrees is wrong like murder. "God said so" is quite possibly the least convincing argument for morality.

I hope that at some point more of humanity can move past needing someone else to tell them whether something is wrong or not. We're not children (except for, uh, children) and we should stop acting like we are.
posted by Justinian at 2:16 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The evangelical with the anti-homosexual attitude thinks there is and that I will suffer greatly for it at some point.

Well I'd continue that line of reasoning and the problem with this way of thinking is that it isn't "thinking" in the conventional sense of the word: it is hubris. This is a distinction in how people think. If the evangelical's conviction is that "I know the secret Answer to a better world, and incidentally it contains certain prohibitions X", simply apply this reflexively, i.e. use the idea on itself. What you get is the obvious criticism: what if your Answer is what is harmful? What if it's not gays that are harmful or harming themselves, but that you suffer and cause suffering because of your faith in God? In other words, what if the true test (or whatever terminology is used to mean this) of God's prohibitions is about something you the evangelical is doing wrong, not on the gays that you perceive is the problem just because it's apparently printed out in your religious texts? But the X-ist evangelical never (publicly) takes this further step; I don't know, maybe because the reasoning is too inconvenient.
posted by polymodus at 2:24 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


How can you reason with that?

Yes, exactly. Therefore, "It's not a choice, no you can't change me or any other person who is of a gender or sexual minority, you also don't get to discriminate against us, welcome to the 21st century, shut up and get out of our way."

There is no reasoning with people who believe that I am less than human, which is why all these arguments about theology are so very very tiresome. The beliefs are wrong, there is no room for discussion here; equality is never up for discussion. It is an absolute which brooks no compromise, which does not rely on the goodwill of the majority (or the minority acting politely enough). The only way that there is or can be a discussion about equality is when it starts from the first principle of "we are all equal, let's turn that into reality." When half of the discussion is predicated on "ew you're a gross sinner" it's not like there's room for dialogue.

The other reason why nature's role in G/SM is necessary to the argument is simple: once they win the talking point of "it's a choice" it lets them put their religious beliefs on the same level as who my gonads respond to. Which then leads us to all the nonsense about 'personal belief' exemptions from people doing their damn jobs. It's a total false equivalency and I'm having none of it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:24 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Liberal Christians who are pro-equal rights for LGBT persons remind me of people that are on Reddit who say "hey this is a big, big tent; those bigots don't represent what this community/organization/institution is all about!" Not bad people by any stretch, just...I dunno, misinformed? Misguided?
posted by DrAmerica at 2:43 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Let me put it this way: I recently saw a couple nuns feeding homeless people underneath highway 101 in San Francisco and it floored me. I thought, wow, Christians in the United States of America actually doing what Jesus would want; that is, getting into the trenches and helping the very least fortunate in society. THAT is what applying Scripture looks like. Nano Nagle, founder of the Presentation Sisters, had a motto, "Not words but deeds" ("Non vox sed votum" in Latin if you want to be fancy). And I think that's a fair way to judge. I don't know how many pieces like this I've seen posted on Facebook from my Catholic friends; what if instead of writing about why gay people are icky and they don't need rights (let's not kid ourselves, we need more of feckless f. f. mongering's "Don't Sugar Coat it" kind of attitude) the priests, bishops and cardinals spent some time writing about income inequality? Or suicide in the LGBT community? Discrimination against Trans people?
posted by DrAmerica at 2:58 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Growing up in the church, there was a strong narrative of carrying on the faith despite of those who would twist it into a bunch of legalese that misrepresented the truth, which was God's love. Jesus vs. the Pharisees, that kind of thing.

Personally, I think liberal Christians who are pro-equal rights are doing a terrific job of carrying on that tradition, and I would not call them misinformed or misguided. Unfortunately, the rest of the church doesn't yet realize that they're (to appropriate Mitchell and Webb) the baddies.
posted by redsparkler at 3:00 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Problem is when you run into the disagreements about whether you're doing something harmful, or whether you want to be saved from it. If I sleep with a guy (or girl) who wants me to sleep with him (or her), I don't think there's a problem at all. The evangelical with the anti-homosexual attitude thinks there is and that I will suffer greatly for it at some point.

Exactly. That's why I think that close personal contact with same-sex couples has such an impact on people...they may have once thought, "Well, gay people are all miserable people suffering for their condition." But then they actually get to know someone, and surprise: there's not a struggle.

(The tricky part is that some people don't care whether there is suffering or not...if God said no, then it's bad, no matter if you're not suffering.)

I've grown more and more convinced that believing anything is wrong on the basis that God said so is inherently problematic and immature. Even if it's stuff that everyone more or less agrees is wrong like murder. "God said so" is quite possibly the least convincing argument for morality.

It's not convincing at all to anyone who is outside of the system. But once you're in the system, it doesn't matter whether you are convinced or not. It's God way, and your obedience, not your understanding or being convinced, that is required.

Some theology is really built around that idea. If God's ways are not man's ways....then the fact that some of God's commands don't make sense to us/seem arbitrary/seem harmful is not a bug, but a feature.

Yes, exactly. Therefore, "It's not a choice, no you can't change me or any other person who is of a gender or sexual minority, you also don't get to discriminate against us, welcome to the 21st century, shut up and get out of our way."

But the important part is not "it's not a choice" or "no you can't change me" because then you absolutely bring up the slippery slope to pedophilia, and as long as you're focusing on the choice aspect, you really can't say anything more. No, it's the fact that there is nothing wrong with being LGBT, with pursuing same sex relationships, with living one's gender identity. This would be true even if it *could* be chosen. (I'm not saying it is, not even for a second.) The argument should never bee: "don't discriminate against me because I can't help it." It's "don't discriminate against me because your criteria and reasoning for discrimination is disconnected from any reality of harm and benefit."

More power to you if you feel you are at a place where you can say "shut up and get out of the way." I personally do not feel able to take a "shut up and get out of the way" perspective because as being not only a sexual minority but also a racial minority, I know that the police apparatus and the racialized system, among other things, is ubiquitous -- and I think the same thing can apply to other minorities (gender and sexual minorities, etc.,). Yes, I agree that it is ridiculous to argue one's humanity (especially with people who didn't get to their position through processes that are all that amenable to reasoning.) But that's the sisyphean task with which I am given. Maybe that makes me a weaker person? Maybe that means I am too accommodating when I should be more radical. But I have seen even people I thought were utterly reprehensible and would never change to do so.
posted by subversiveasset at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, redsparkler, that comment about Reddit went through several revisions before I posted it and I'm afraid it probably still comes across as dickish, which is not my intention. I do think it's at least somewhat of an apt comparison because at some point, a certain number of people will say "this organization, either actively or through inaction, is embodying a worldview that I can't abide" and others will say "no, you're wrong, WE represent what it really stands for and we aren't going to let the bigots take over and speak for us". This is probably getting too far off topic so I'll stop now.
posted by DrAmerica at 3:10 PM on July 15, 2015


DrAmerica - think about it more in terms of being a citizen of a country where a majority of people behave in ways that you don't agree with. It's frequently horrifying, occasionally desperate. But it is the place of your birth and citizenship, a place that belongs to you just as it belongs to the yahoos and yobs. You could leave, could even take a new flag, perhaps with long and earnest study even fit in. But you couldn't stop being from this place, and your departure would achieve nothing good except for a personal relief.
posted by wotsac at 3:12 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're probably way more likely to find divorced-and-remarried pastors than you are gay pastors.

You're probably way more likely to find openly divorced-and-remarried pastors than you are openly gay pastors. (FTFY)

But... the only record of any sort of Jesus' supposed teachings is the Bible. Any Jesus-centric tradition will by definition also be Bible-centric.

Which Bible?

You don't believe in gay rights because you are "rational" and people who don't are "irrational" any more than you wear jeans and a t-shirt rather than doublet and hose because the one outfit is more "rational" than the other.

Aww, that's bullshit and you know it. You've erred too far in presuming an equality in rationality of faith and atheism. Unless you want to go whole hog determinism, most of our beliefs come through a decision process. I believe in rights for LGBTQ people both because of personal background and environment but also because it comports with my rational universe. I can make an argument for liberty and equality for LGBTQ people in any number of rational frameworks: utilitarianism, Kantian categorical imperatives, natural law, rights theory… I can also rationally argue for the liberty and equality of LGBTQ people under a number of theological frameworks.

Likewise, my choice to wear jeans is more rational than hose and doublet because my context is not a Ren Faire. That a historical process is arbitrary — which is what I think you were meaning to argue from your clothing analogy — does not mean it's irrational.
posted by klangklangston at 3:16 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is no reasoning with people who believe that I am less than human which is why all these arguments about theology are so very very tiresome.

This isn't really a post/thread about the legal question of same sex or other non cis het relationships (which seems to have been decided), though, it's *about theology* and how churches are trying to place gays within it *in their own communities*.

That's not a context where one can dismiss or avoid theology, whether you find it tiresome or not.

once they win the talking point of "it's a choice" it lets them put their religious beliefs on the same level as who my gonads respond to

A good civil pluralistic society does try its best to put most freedoms in the personal sphere on the same level. Both religious beliefs and what to do about who your gonads respond to. That has limits where individual personal spheres come into conflict, but as far as I can tell, people's rights to explore, exercise, and speak about their theology is something that should be on the same level as their right to do the same with their sex life, within said limits.
posted by weston at 3:44 PM on July 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Something inborn--sexuality, gender, ethnic origin--deserves more protection than religious belief, which is indeed a choice. Where religious beliefs come into conflict with my right to exist as a person taking full advantage of what society has to offer, religion must lose.

The problem with this theological question about how they're trying to place G/SM people in their communities is, as I've said repeatedly, the fact that their starting principle isn't "everyone's equal." Their starting principle is "some person thousands of years ago wrote down that this isn't okay, let's prove them wrong." They have already been proven wrong. Oh they're having a deep discussion, oh isn't that nice, that must be really comforting for the queer kids killing themselves because their parents, under the direction of (yet another) straight guy thumping on a book, tell them they're bad and wrong.

What Christian theology of all stripes needs more of is what Dr America referred to above: feed the hungry, clothe the naked. And many, many more leaders standing up and saying "nope. G/SM are people too. Stop it."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:55 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


what if instead of writing about why gay people are icky and they don't need rights the priests, bishops and cardinals spent some time writing about income inequality? Or suicide in the LGBT community? Discrimination against Trans people?

Dude, they do. Have you missed the giant shit-fits being thrown by rich people over the Pope's statements about capitalism and income inequality? Did you not see John Shelby Spong, a bishop in the Episcopalian church, writing and speaking extensively and publicly about why homophobia and transphobia is as immoral and unChristian as slavery?

I go to a church -- not a huge one, but a pretty decently sized one -- where these issues, as well as issues of racial violence, police violence, environmentalism, immigration, etc. are preached from the pulpit nearly every week. Christians ARE saying these things.
posted by KathrynT at 4:12 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Something inborn--sexuality, gender, ethnic origin--deserves more protection than religious belief, which is indeed a choice.

Really? It's so ironic you would adopt the exact same fallacious reasoning that the religious right used to use.

Could you choose, right now, to be straight? I'm going to assume you'd say no. Could you also choose, right now, to be Catholic? Religious belief doesn't even seem any different to me than any belief tout court. So, could you also choose, right now, to believe the moon is made of cheese? Could you also choose, right now, to believe that you're not actually reading this text at this very moment in time?
posted by Dalby at 4:15 PM on July 15, 2015


I'm sure you think that's some kind of gotcha. It's not. But it has made me want to not be part of this discussion, because it sounds like you don't really want to be listening to what an actual queer voice has to say.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Playing devil's advocate does not automatically preclude one from good faith discussion.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:30 PM on July 15, 2015


The method by which one plays devil's advocate can make it impossible to determine whether or not someone is acting in good faith, however. Cheers, I hope all you straight people can figure out how us queers should be tolerated. Do let us know when you have an answer, please.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:34 PM on July 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


But it has made me want to not be part of this discussion, because it sounds like you don't really want to be listening to what an actual queer voice has to say.

Cheers, I hope all you straight people can figure out how us queers should be tolerated.

I guess I need to tell my boyfriend I'm not actually gay?
posted by Dalby at 4:39 PM on July 15, 2015


I hope all you straight people can figure out how us queers should be tolerated. Do let us know when you have an answer, please.

I suppose though in the context of this thread that I'd be in the right to reply that:

I hope all you non-religious people can figure out how us religious believers should treat same-sex marriage in our own churches and theologies. Do let us know when you have an answer.
posted by Dalby at 4:42 PM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Something inborn--sexuality, gender, ethnic origin--deserves more protection than religious belief, which is indeed a choice

I am not understanding why this distinction matters, and I think it's mostly because I don't believe it's true, but that may be because I'm coming from a previously-heavily-religious, but also bi viewpoint, and you gay and straight folks may experience the whole nature/nurture/choice thing very differently. I throw that out there as a big red YMMV-type disclaimer for what I'm going to say next!

I do not experience religious belief as a primarily a choice. It is something that was nurtured in me from an early age. It may be something I am neurologically wired for, depending on which researcher or pop atheist writer you read. My choice, such as it is, is what to do with this sense of godly presence. I can't actually shake that sense. I have certainly tried. Maybe it's an illness, a subtle form of paranoia that senses a constant plotting observer, but would like to think that the observer has my best interests at heart (but with the simultaneous terror that the fundamentalists are right, and that god is a malevolent devourer who creates my kind for the sole purpose of torturing them in life and punishing them after death). Whatever it is, it isn't a choice, in the usual "I'm doing this out of my own free will" sense. If it were, then when I finally came out first to myself and the world, I would have also said, ok, bye religion, bye god! Instead I was plunged into a spiritual and psychological crisis that hasn't really ended two and a half decades later.

At the same time, having been involved in a seriously evangelistic, growth-oriented church, I realize that joining a religion is seldom a matter of choice either. Our "converts"--whom we of course hailed as turning away from the devil and the wretchedness of their prior lives--were mostly not atheists, mostly not people unfamiliar with religion. Instead these were people who, in normal non-evangelistic conversation, would still be considered Christian. They were not so much choosing religious belief, as choosing to join a club that voiced that pre-existing belief in a different way.

To make that a little shorter, although conversion is couched in the language of choice and will, it wasn't about someone choosing to become a new thing, just expressing an old thing slightly differently. A little choice, a lot of nurture, and possibly (again, depending on which science you trust) some in-born predisposition.

That strikes me as very, very similar to how attraction works. I'm certainly willing to buy that there is some in-born aspect to sexuality; it doesn't seem completely impossible, although politically I despair every time a "gay" gene is bandied around, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But, why would that aspect of me deserve more protection than my choice of what to do with it? It seems really clear that the ideal targets of our sexuality change over time. I am reminded of the recent CrossFit thread, and conversations about the history of rough trade, and how that idealized masculine target has changed so much over time. I am probably saying this badly, but if sexuality is this set-in-stone, inborn thing, how come the people who were considered sexiest 100 years ago, no longer strike us as so viscerally desirable? Why should a fashion in physique be possible at all? Doesn't that seem like a push from nurture (as the culture evolves and evolves through its various ideal bodies), requiring a response from choice? Are we not, as a culture, training ourselves how to be attracted to certain bodies and not others, as well as teaching ourselves how to be ashamed, how to police others? None of this is inborn, is it?

All of which is simply (?!) to say that I do not see choice, nurture or nature as necessary pivots or fulcrums for our demands for equality. Whether I was born this way, or woke up this morning deciding that I would go forth and bi at people, I deserve to be treated with respect. And within the world of evangelical Christianity, whether god made me this way, or whether my parents made me this way, or whether I made me this way, I can demand that people stop using scripture as a lame fucking excuse to try to send me and my queer brothers and sisters to the grave. Whether my choice in the matter is one of choosing identity, or accepting my identity, or refusing to subsume my identity under some baffling inhumane celibacy, it's mine, and my agency is a vital part of that identity.
posted by mittens at 4:47 PM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Christian here. My priest is gay. Many of my congregants are gay. We've a lesbian bishop.

It's not all of us.

Back to the thread!
posted by persona au gratin at 4:53 PM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Whether I was born this way, or woke up this morning deciding that I would go forth and bi at people, I deserve to be treated with respect.

Yes, indeed. As with so many issues, it's weird to live long enough to see the "right on" social attitudes and beliefs move through their various gyres to such fundamentally opposite positions. When I was a young highschooler and college student marching for gay rights back in the 70s and 80s (when, in my country, being gay was still illegal--if rarely prosecuted), only the "bad guys" believed that homosexuality was "innate." Nobody needed to argue that being gay was a "choice" in order to demonize it: choice or not, it was the duty of the "degenerate" who felt themselves succumbing to these desires to fight against it. Scientists who were beginning, at that time, to investigate the possibility that sexual orientation was genetically determined or, at least, congenital, were seen by all the "good guys" as being as bad as scientists who were trying to come up with scientific evidence for racism. It was obvious that sexual identity was fluid, that if we weren't being forced into our narrow little prisons of conventional morality we'd all be polymorphically perverse. Even among those who thought that the scientists might actually unearth a "gay gene" the assumption was that the only reason anyone could be interested in such a thing was because they wanted to find a "cure" for homosexuality as a "disease."

What a difference a few decades make. It really wasn't until the 90s, in my recollection, that the "born this way" thing got adopted by the "good guys" as a central plank in the rhetorical platform for gay rights. But from the very beginning there were always voices on the pro-gay-rights side that expressed deep ambivalence about it. And you can see why. There is a kind of repressive and restrictive logic in the claim that "God/Nature makes everyone a certain way and that's the way they have to be." There's also a way in which it feeds uncomfortably into that 1940s/50s paternalistic strain of "liberal" thinking about homosexuality: the "the poor dears can't help being warped" thing--which, of course, was what a lot of the 70s/80s pan-sexual liberation rhetoric was directly aimed against.

In the end, I think one should tread lightly on the issue. I think it's indisputably true that many gay and straight people feel, subjectively, that their sexual identity was fixed from early childhood. There is, moreover, considerable scientific support for the idea that this is frequently the case. But I don't think we can fairly say that this should be the sine qua non of the argument for gay rights. People should feel free to have sex with any other consenting adult or adults in any way that makes them and the other adult(s) happy without having to spare a thought for whether or not this is a deep-rooted, biologically programmed aspect of their existence or simply a whim of the moment.
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on July 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Dalby: "I hope all you non-religious people can figure out how us religious believers should treat same-sex marriage in our own churches and theologies. Do let us know when you have an answer."

Why with acceptance, respect, tolerance and an open heart and mind, of course. What other way is there?
posted by signal at 5:41 PM on July 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


I hope all you non-religious people can figure out how us religious believers should treat same-sex marriage in our own churches and theologies. Do let us know when you have an answer

As long as theological discussions bleed over into the secular world and are used as attempts to justify bigoted laws, you're going to find non-religous folk entering the discussion. Many of them have been hurt by religion, and not just in social context, such as being shunned for their behavior, but denied legal rights on the basis of a book that's functionally (to them) a work of fiction with some questionable translations floating around. A lot of them also aren't going to know what set of rules your particular theology plays by or when/why those particular set of rules should be applied. Why would they? A lot of different groups have worked against there civil rights, it's not like they've been hurt by just one particular set of rules.

It sucks that even if you respect the separation of church and state (and are perhaps even vocal about it) people passing by will still tell you to stop waiving the bible around when you're holding it up for an internal discussion, but they've been bludgeoned by it so their reaction is understandable.
posted by ghost phoneme at 4:29 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could you choose, right now, to be straight? I'm going to assume you'd say no. Could you also choose, right now, to be Catholic? Religious belief doesn't even seem any different to me than any belief tout court. So, could you also choose, right now, to believe the moon is made of cheese? Could you also choose, right now, to believe that you're not actually reading this text at this very moment in time?

This is a rather perverse and muddled use of the word "choose." I have reservations about the biological origins of sexual desire, but it is very clear that sexual attraction is set very early in a person's life (whether they realize/acknowledge that attraction of not) and, for the vast majority at least, is not subject to "choice" in the usual sense of that word. Choosing a particular belief or even a belief system, in contrast, is such a different process that using the same word is extremely unhelpful.

Also unhelpful is the extremely vague term "choose to be Catholic." What do you mean by "catholic?" Do you mean adherence to every element of Catholic theological and social policy as defined by the Papal apparatus? Do you mean adherence to the general tenets of Catholicism? Do you mean immersion in the social structures of a Catholic community? Obviously, one cannot choose to have been raised in a Catholic family if you were not, but it is equally clear that some people convert to Catholicism, so Catholicism can be "chosen," within a somewhat different definition of "chosen." Most Catholics I have known are resigned to the necessity of choosing which of the tenets, teachings, and activities of their religion they find compatible with their own moral compass. Unsurprisingly, these choices change over time for each individual. So the word "choice" does not even have one meaning within the seemingly narrow phrase "choose to be Catholic;" how is it supposed to have any relationship to something which is much more innate?

If you were professing Calvinism (or Stoicism, for that matter), you might be on firmer ground. If everything is predetermined, there is no free will and no meaningful choice from the cosmic point of view, but hardly anyone thinks in those terms these days .* But outside of extreme ends of the "free will debate," it's clear that the "choice" to be gay (or trans or bi etc) and the "choice" of a religion are fundamentally different, and trying to compare the two leads quickly to logical incoherence. It's a rhetorical dead end, usually deployed in ignorance or bad faith.

* I recommend Peter Adamson's excellent podcast The History of Philosophy (Without Any Gaps) if you want to explore how Muslim and Christian thinkers worked their way around the problem of how free will can exist with an omniscient god in the picture
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:02 AM on July 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


it's clear that the "choice" to be gay (or trans or bi etc) and the "choice" of a religion are fundamentally different, and trying to compare the two leads quickly to logical incoherence. It's a rhetorical dead end, usually deployed in ignorance or bad faith.

They're different, yes, but what is important is that neither of them are choices in any meaningful sense. I can choose to explore new experiences that might alter my beliefs, but I am not free to believe at will just as I am not free to choose my sexuality. The fact that beliefs are open to revision and sexuality is not, does not change the fact that neither of these two things are meaningfully choices.

The point is that this argument was fallacious when used by the religious right twenty or so years ago. It wasn't fallacious just because the religious right used it. And it's not a valid argument just because queers are using it today.

See: Something inborn--sexuality, gender, ethnic origin--deserves more protection than religious belief, which is indeed a choice.

Well, what would have happened if sexuality wasn't inborn? You'd be up the creek without a paddle. I don't like the implication that the religious right would have been correct so long as it turned out to be the case that sexuality wasn't inborn.

I think the properness of homosexuality is independent of the causal factors behind it. The religious right's argument merely assumed that homosexuality was wrong, it never actually examined its moral worth, which is the exact same thing I was criticizing and mocking here. It really offends me when I see people on the left make the same fallacious arguments as those on the right and expect to get away with it because I like to think people on the left are more intelligent and more correct than those on the right.
posted by Dalby at 8:15 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you were professing Calvinism (or Stoicism, for that matter), you might be on firmer ground. If everything is predetermined, there is no free will and no meaningful choice from the cosmic point of view, but hardly anyone thinks in those terms these days .

Belief voluntarism/involuntarism shouldn't really be controversial. I mean, again, coming from a Mormon background, I come from a religious background that is strongly belief voluntarist -- that asserts that one can choose one's beliefs very easily, so I get that many religious people would from their own theology refer to their own beliefs as a result of choices. But my struggle with faith (or more precisely, struggle with lack of faith) was that the religion just didn't make sense, and since it didn't make sense, I could not (or I did not perceive a way to) just choose to believe. I perceive being an atheist as very much the same as being gay in that it was not a choice to me.

And I think that even for people who profess belief voluntarism, we very commonly think of our beliefs in terms of reasons, what makes sense to us, etc., etc., If our beliefs are based in terms of our responsiveness to reasons, then they are in that sense determined by the various evidences and warrants and things like that to which we have been exposed.

In this sense, becoming converted to Catholicism isn't a direct choice one just makes. It may be a direct choice to pursue materials regarding Catholicism, see if it makes sense...but whether those things are compelling or not is not a choice. And given that state of finding certain things compelling or not, the daily choice may be: "do I continue to associate with this community and church?" Maybe one says, "Because I don't believe, I will stop attending church." But plenty of people also say, "Even if I don't believe, I still attend church."

The orientation analogy seems perverse because for most of us, orientation really is more "concrete" than religious belief. We assuredly know more people who change their minds or affiliations on religious grounds than on orientation. And yet, the analogy comes into play on contrasting the more concrete dispositions from the more fluid action possibilities. So, "Because I don't believe, I will stop attending church" become "Because I am not attracted to the opposite sex, I will not pursue those relationships." But the Side B Christians are saying, "But you could always choose to pursue those relationships even if you weren't attracted...or you could choose celibacy, etc.," Whether one relationship is privileged or not has to be a different question than just asking about inborn inclinations.

All in all, I think that this misses something important: in America (at the very least), whether it is chosen or not, one's religious beliefs are indeed held to be as "protected" -- if not more so, in many states and locations -- as one's sexual orientation and gender identity. So, even for people who think that beliefs are chosen will still think that these chosen beliefs warrant societal respect and protection.

I think we should get to this place with orientation.
posted by subversiveasset at 8:59 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think most on the left consider choice vs not-a-choice to be the only argument for gay rights, so, even if that paddle is dropped there are a few others lying around ready to be picked up.

But its worth keeping around because we're not in a society of perfectly rational people who are all working with the same fact pattern. For many gay people its a way to argue against the belief structure that's been imposed on them (it's just a lifestyle choice!), frequently by people who haven't thought it through and who, in many cases, are resistant to thinking it through.

Getting them (frequently family members) to realize that this one "fact" is not true can work on two levels: 1) it means the gay person is not choosing to inflict their gayness on those around them (so now it's not a personal affront and deliberate rejection of the family's currently held beliefs) and 2) realizing there is one error in their assumed set of facts may get them to consider other possible errors in their argument/belief system.

It's useful on a personal level (now that mom doesn't think I am rejecting her deeply held beliefs just 'cuz, she is marginally more accepting of my partner, baby steps!) and a bigger picture level (one voter at a time).
posted by ghost phoneme at 9:23 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


They're different, yes, but what is important is that neither of them are choices in any meaningful sense. I can choose to explore new experiences that might alter my beliefs, but I am not free to believe at will just as I am not free to choose my sexuality. The fact that beliefs are open to revision and sexuality is not, does not change the fact that neither of these two things are meaningfully choices.

Well in as far as changing one's sexual orientation is either impossible or vanishingly rare while changing one's birth religion is moderately common (depending on how narrowly you define "religion"). So, really, even a cursory examination of human experience shows you that choosing to change your religion is, indeed, possible. I know people who have gone from being Catholic to Episcopal, Lutheran to Unitarian, some Protestant denomination to Buddhist, and the list goes on. St. Augustine changed religions a bunch of times before he settled on his particular flavor of Christianity, if you prefer a more classic tale (and, at one time, every Christian was a Jew). Now, in most of these cases, it wasn't, as far as I know, that they woke up one day and said "Today I shall be a Manichean!" but there was clearly a place where they made the decision that they were no longer Religion X and now that they were Religion Y. This makes religion a very different category than race and sexuality, which are either totally innate or, in the latter case, perhaps formed very early in life.

Well, what would have happened if sexuality wasn't inborn? You'd be up the creek without a paddle. I don't like the implication that the religious right would have been correct so long as it turned out to be the case that sexuality wasn't inborn.

We would think very differently about Galileo if it had turned out that the Sun orbited the earth, too! Imagine the fuss!

I do agree that "born this way" may not be a) strictly true (although it may be) or b) the only framework that people should use to approach equal rights for LGBTQ people. However, as testified above, it is a useful tool in certain circumstances, and, if it works, it's foolish to discard it based on an overly-fine reading.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


changing one's birth religion is moderately common

This idea is, I think, where the analogy between religion and sexuality breaks down, if we keep defining religion as joining a certain group, rather than looking at it a little more deeply as...well, to keep analogizing, as an attraction to a certain idea, to a certain mode of thinking, which can express itself in many institutionalized ways. So that in this analogy, being religious at all would be an attraction to god or god thinking, and would be a choiceless-appearing orientation, but finding oneself in a specific religion would be a matter of evolving taste within that pre-existing attraction.
posted by mittens at 11:20 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


as testified above, it is a useful tool in certain circumstances

Absolutely. But did anyone in this thread argue that it is an argument that should never be deployed? I don't have time to re-read the whole thread, but that strikes me as a straw man. I think the question was whether or not it should be the central pillar on which claims to gay rights rest (as fffm seemed to be strongly insisting, above).

It's obviously a good tactical move to use against people who make "oh, but you could just choose not to be gay!" claims--but it's dangerous for all kinds of reasons to make it some kind of sine qua non of arguments for gay rights. People "changing their sexuality" is actually something that does happen quite often. People might construct stories around those changes which emphasize some kind of internal consistency ("oh, that was just my college-experimental phase" or "inside I always knew I was living a lie" or whatever), but as a matter of demonstrable fact there are people who one day strongly insist that they are of one sexual orientation and another day will strongly insist that they are of another. Those people should have every right to act on whichever set of sexual desires they want to without having to fear judgment that they are somehow "betraying" an identity that was supposed to be either "god-given" or "innate."

And simply as a matter of scientific observation we really do not know how much of sexual identity is innate and how much is "acquired." We know that it's not purely genetic (I know a set of identical twins, one of whom is happily gay and the other is happily straight). We know that there are some genetic aspects and some that have to do with the environment in the womb and so forth. We know that there are cultural, social and familial components. While there are certainly many people who feel, retrospectively, that they were simply "always gay/straight/bi" there are others for whom sexual identity is a mystery that either never becomes fully clear or only becomes clear later in life. Gay rights--or, more expansively, the right to free sexual expression (within the obvious limits of informed consent etc.) belong as fully to them as they do to the former.
posted by yoink at 11:34 AM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


being religious at all would be an attraction to god or god thinking

And, indeed, there are almost certainly some strong genetic components in such a bias. So a profoundly religious person has good reason to say "I was just born this way." More than that, many deeply religious or "spiritual" people do express themselves in that way--that they always had a feeling for the "mysterious" or the "ineffable" in the universe, etc.
posted by yoink at 11:36 AM on July 16, 2015


Well in as far as changing one's sexual orientation is either impossible or vanishingly rare

If the discussion regarding sexual fluidity or discovery that often comes up in progressive discourse is to be believed, this is not a given. Sure, lots of people find their orientation/identity firm. Many people don't change the faith/identity they're born into either. If the Kinsey reports are to be believed (debatable, but it's a starting place), it may even be more people have fluid orientation than change their religious identification in their adult lifetime.

while changing one's birth religion is moderately commonI know people who have gone from being Catholic to Episcopal, Lutheran to Unitarian, some Protestant denomination to Buddhist, and the list goes on. St. Augustine changed religions a bunch of times before he settled on his particular flavor of Christianity

Most of these examples are less analogous to an orientation change and more analogous to a vanilla couple discovering they also like various activities they might have previously identified as "something other people do" they weren't into or comfortable with, Protestant to Buddhist being an exception.

The theist to atheist transition seems like it might be a good analogy (as is its reverse), but then again, I'm not sure most people who've done it would describe it as a choice, and then there is also the question of what that choice might mean to someone embedded in a modern-ish ontology (vs, say, a 16th century ontology).

I do think there is some degree of the population that exercises something like choice, but I think it belongs to agnostics who understand various atheist and theist cases and then commit themselves to a path based on their values. If this has any analog with sexuality, it seems to me the strongest one is to marriage: there's a choice to check and channel sexual desire in order to deepen a relationship one values. But then again, is that a choice? Or a natural response to vasopressin and oxytocin and other processes the equal of biology underlying sexual orientation?

Choice is a useful concept to us sapient folks, but it's a murky one too. Having legal protections limited by choice spreads the murkiness to the law and its ability to equally protect.
posted by weston at 12:24 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"When I was a young highschooler and college student marching for gay rights back in the 70s and 80s (when, in my country, being gay was still illegal--if rarely prosecuted), only the "bad guys" believed that homosexuality was "innate."

This made me curious — the earliest use of inborn immutability as an argument that I've been able to find so far is a 1986 Canadian Charter court decision. In general, US decisions leaned on the privacy arguments or utilitarian arguments of lack of harm. I know in California that the state decisions were primarily (initially) due to two different (often comingled) strains: That of sex discrimination and the over-broad definitions of sodomy.

But you're right, again as far as I can find, that the studies supporting genetic predisposition were published starting in the early '90s.

And in reading through that stuff again, I'm reminded of something that's often forgotten in these arguments: There's not really any support for the idea of a single etiology for same-sex attraction. There are a handful of studies that posit some level of genetic determinism (the strongest seem based on twin studies) but even then the most determinative results have been around 60 percent genetic explanation (though further twin studies beyond sexual orientation have shown us confounding factors unknown in earlier monozygote studies, like differences in placental hormones). Discrete genetic explanations often only have predictive values of 20 to 33 percent, which leads me to believe that 1) there are a lot of different ways (genetic or otherwise) that someone can end up with same-sex attraction, and 2) that experience and mutability are factors for at least some people (straight or LGB) in terms of orientation. For example, it's not that hard to believe that there may be more bisexual people than are commonly reported simply because many people who might identify as bisexual haven't had the explorational experience that would, for lack of a better word, activate that orientation. My hunch would be that those folks who are more immutably predisposed are probably further out on the ends of the Kinsey scale, but I don't think there's any science to support that hunch yet.

"My choice, such as it is, is what to do with this sense of godly presence. I can't actually shake that sense. I have certainly tried. Maybe it's an illness, a subtle form of paranoia that senses a constant plotting observer, but would like to think that the observer has my best interests at heart (but with the simultaneous terror that the fundamentalists are right, and that god is a malevolent devourer who creates my kind for the sole purpose of torturing them in life and punishing them after death). Whatever it is, it isn't a choice, in the usual "I'm doing this out of my own free will" sense. If it were, then when I finally came out first to myself and the world, I would have also said, ok, bye religion, bye god! Instead I was plunged into a spiritual and psychological crisis that hasn't really ended two and a half decades later."

I used to feel like that. I don't know if it's coincidental, but my belief in free will has waned about the same time as my belief in God, though not to the same extent. I used to feel a faith (very strongly, at least 10 years or so ago); I don't really anymore.

Something that I do think is odd about this conversation is how we think about religious choice has very much changed over the last couple hundred years. The majority of the Enlightenment's religious liberalism came from the back-to-back Eighty Years War and Thirty Years War, both of which were essentially Catholic versus Protestant, and incredibly bloody. The notion that someone could choose their faith was part of the conflict, both between Catholics and Protestants and also within Protestants. It's out of this environment that we get John Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration, which ended up being hugely important for liberal beliefs on religion (including the U.S.'s first amendment). While you could argue that most people choose religion now, it's also something that has historically been seen as a totally legitimate thing to die or kill for. I'd tend to see that as fairly analogous to sexual orientation in terms of deeply-held identity, even if it's far less likely that there's any link between genetics and what sect you find most appealing.
posted by klangklangston at 12:32 PM on July 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Absolutely. But did anyone in this thread argue that it is an argument that should never be deployed?

Dalby seemed to be headed in at direction at the very least.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:28 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Someone else also said it was time to let go of the nature argument. There was also the lamenting the use of fallacious arguments (which seemed to be referring to nature): Fallacious arguments that are still effective with a subset of people, so the lamentation seemed misplaced.

Just to be explicit, I don't begrudge anyone wanting to employ other arguments, or lamenting that there are other arguments which should be more compelling. But the fact of the matter is that on the ground, not all religious people (people in general, really, but on this issue and a few others the religious right have been imposing their beliefs on others) think through their deeply held and sincere beliefs, and are very happy to believe falsehoods that, in their mind, support those beliefs. (The perceived) Dismissing of a functionally useful argument as not being good enough seemed to me to be oblivious to how the minds of some people work.
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:55 PM on July 16, 2015


"Dismissing of a functionally useful argument as not being good enough seemed to me to be oblivious to how the minds of some people work."

The thing is: Weak arguments always have diminishing utility and often come at a cost themselves. And "born this way" has limited utility next to things like refocusing on love and getting people to draw out their own similarities to LGBTQ people — basically empathy exercises. There's almost certainly an immutable component to some people's sexual orientation, but overstating that or oversimplifying undermines some pretty basic liberal notions of rights.
posted by klangklangston at 7:38 PM on July 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Vaguely related: Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Raises Questions Of Religious Rights, Tax Status -- new NPR piece, transcript isn't up yet, but here's the summary:
Religious colleges worry that if they stick to their convictions, they may lose tax-exempt status. That happened to Bob Jones University in 1983 because it continued to prohibit interracial dating.
One of the people interviewed also noted that evangelicals as a group used to be strongly against divorce, and while some still are (as of 2010, even pushing to make divorce more central than "bellwether culture war issues of abortion and homosexuality"), evangelicals generally don't bat an eye at the practice and evangelicals are (now, circa 2014) more likely to be divorced than the average American—even Americans who claim no religion. The notion is that "this, too, shall pass." Of course, it's miserable for people whose lives are under scrutiny and attempts of outside control due to this "temporary" issue.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:21 AM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


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