Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Coming Out Day: Dialogue with a Fundamentalist
I was reminded of a conversation that I will attempt to reconstruct...a conversation with a lovely woman, a long-time friend (I'll call her Diana), whose religious convictions were making it very hard for her to accept my coming out. It is worth remembering simply because it contained all of the usual cliches and plattitudes that the religious right uses as verbal weaponry against those of us who have struggled. As she sat with her husband, she began with a very direct question:
Diana: So, when did you choose to go gay? I mean, it’s a choice….people choose to do this.
Me: Really? And so, when you have a physiological response in your genitals to seeing a naked person of the opposite sex, is that “a choice?” Do men choose to have their penis get hard upon seeing a hot woman, or do you choose to get horny when seeing a hot guy? If you didn’t choose those physical reactions, what makes you think that I chose mine?
Diana: Well, you might be born that way, or it might be environmental, I don't know, and that’s not your fault, but it *IS* a choice to actually act on it!
Me:I see. So, masturbation is one of those things that men “act on,” especially in the years during which their testosterone is running high. In fact, I've heard it said that ‘99% of men masturbate, and the other 1% lie about it.' So, is that a choice? I mean, if virtually *everyone* does it, does it make sense to call it a choice? To divide all actions in the world into “choices” and “non-choices?” How can something be a “choice” between two alternatives, if everyone across the globe and across the centuries has made the same “choice?” Don't you think our sexuality is a little more complicated than just being a “choice?”
Diana: Well, what about monks, who pledge themselves to chastity? If they do it, why can’t you?
Me: Well, first off, because I don't want to...I've done that for half a lifetime and it's killing me. But are you realistically suggesting that 100% of gay men should be ‘required’ to live in a way that 99.995% of straight men can not? Those monks will tell you that the overwhelming majority of men, of any orientation, should never even try it.
Diana: But…what will happen to society? Heterosexual marriage, within the context of a family, has always been the foundation of this country!
Me: Actually, it hasn’t. Up through the civil war, the majority of people in the United States lived in what we would call ‘non-traditional’ families: grandparents with grandchildren, aunts and uncles and sisters with nephews or nieces, with neighbor’s kids thrown in and common-law marriage arrangements. It wasn’t until after the 1880s that the majority of households in the US even had an actual ‘church’ wedding…and the ‘nuclear family’ did not predominate until a brief period starting in the 1950s.
Diana: But if we accept homosexuality, what’s next? Polygamy?!
Me: Actually, we don’t need to discuss hypotheticals when it comes to this issue. We can talk observable, objective history. There is only one period in American history when polygamy flourished – and that was in Utah under Mormonism. And it was HETEROsexual polygamy. If you believe that acknowledging some type of sexual unions will lead to polygamy, than it is actually heterosexuality, not homosexuality, that has lead to this in the past. You sure you want to continue down this road?
Diana: But the Bible says its wrong!!! Don't you believe anything any more?!
Me: Yes, it does say homosexuality is wrong, and yes, I actually do have a very strong faith. But the Bible is NOT the basis for law or civil rights in this country. The Bible also tells us to dash our enemies babies heads against rocks, stone our daughters who have sex before marriage, avoid eating shellfish and wearing clothes of two cloths, to monocrop our fields (which we know is a dangerous practice), and to require women to wear head coverings and keep their mouths shut in public. The problem here is that the Bible is not a timeless rulebook handed down from God, full of unchangeable Instructions and dictates from on high, even though many American Christians think so.
Diana: That's Blasphemy! The Bible is the Word of God!
Me: No, actually YOU just blasphemed. The “Word” of God, would be Jesus, the uncreated Second Person of the Trinity, not a created book.
Diana: Yes, but the Bible is the Written Word of God!
Me: Oh, so the Bible is Perfect? Since only God is perfect, that would change the Holy Trinity into a Holy Quadrilateral: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Book.
Diana: No! The Book is not God! It’s His word! And it's Inspired and perfect!
Me: If the book is not God, and only God is Perfect…then the Bible can not be perfect.
Diana's Head Explodes. Conversation Over.
Happy Coming Out Day! May the next generations' struggle be easier!