Friday, December 17, 2010

Just (Don't) Do It: An Epilogue To Cross Dressing Saints


One of the many comments on my original thread entitled "Cross Dressing Saints", read as follows:

Now when looking at any commandment we must see why God would want us to refrain from cross-dressing. It is because cross-dressing shows a sort of contempt for being the gender God made you, and a desire to be the other gender and/or a rebellious nature, all of which are not Christian.


However what these Saints did was very different. They didn't do it rebelliously or out of contempt for their gender or a desire to be the other gender. Rather they did it so that they'd live closer to God. Surely this wasn't the Spirit of the law that God gave. What these Saints did was in line with the spirit of the law.      

I think this is the point I'm actually trying to make. While gender identity is a lot more complex than we often take for granted, there is something to be said for this notion that showing contempt for who you were created or born to be by acting differently might not be good for the soul. Notice the passage in Deuteronomy does not say "Do not show contempt for the gender God made you." It simply says "A woman must not wear a man's clothing..." and continues on "...for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this." 

 When the church canonized these saints, I'm sure the church must have asked herself, "what did God mean by this verse in the Pentateuch? Is this an all-encompassing statement? Is there a context in which a person wearing the clothing of the opposite gender is ok?" Maybe not in those exact words, but you get my drift. The church herself deemed the motivations of these women, not only permissible, but admirable, and holy, and from the fruits of the lives of these women, I dare say, so did God.

The same question needs to be asked in regards to Homosexuality. Is the Bible truly making a blanket statement?  What did homosexual contact and behavior represent at the time? You might brush these questions off as "liberal" or "agenda-oriented", but you'd be doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Why do we respond to some verses with conversation and inquiry, and others as ipso facto commands? The answer is easy.  We're self centered.

For people who apparently do not have to deal with same sex attraction, there is no need to look deeper into these verses. For a church that is afraid of the "Culture Wars" as someone had put it, a hard line is necessary for the assumed preservation of the whole, even at the expense of a divergent few. But when it comes to a person who is actually experiencing these feelings, understanding the truth behind these passages becomes ever so important, because the resulting understanding will completely drive not only the course, but the well-being of this person's life and relationships. A person who loves himself will be able to love others and love God. Not so much for the self-hating man or woman.

To dismiss the importance of these questions is to spit in the face of these people whose very lives are affected. Understanding if we are truly required to give up all forms of same-sex romantic and intimate love, can mean the difference between being a healthy and a very broken person. It is not just a matter of "not doing it." There are plenty of people out there who simply just "don't do it" who fall victim to a whole host of psychological and behavioral issues that do not affect just themselves. Are "crowns in heaven" the reward for the whole host of sins they commit as a result of the one "sin" they managed to avoid? Don't ask me, ask the wives who are emotionally and physically neglected by these husbands. Just ask the youth who have become either emotional or sexual prey to over-controlling and manipulative church leaders or mentors. (Ever meet someone of the same gender who was just a little creepy? Who took too much of an interest in you and while it was nice at first, ended up controlling and suffocating you? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about). Ok let's ask other people. Just ask the young man who has a messy and complicated relationship with his best friend. And while you're at it, ask the parents of dead gay and lesbian children, who have lost the loves of their lives because their children could not handle it anymore.

While people both gay and straight choose to live celibate lives for a variety of reasons, how one approaches and arrives at this conclusion will make the difference whether or not this person will be healthy or are actually harming themselves. You don't need to look past your very life to see the difference between heaven and hell. If simply "not doing it" is a virtue, then how do you explain all the rotten fruit in these forests of obedience?

So while the church might very well always believe that homosexual activity is wrong, how they communicate this message, how they will deal with their own children who disagree, and how they deal with their own congregations will make the difference in whether or not the church is able to continue being a light in this world to all people. It is obvious that the church does have a long ways to go before it can get to this place, but the question is, will she do her homework, or will she even bother? Based on the resources available, it's still "not a Coptic issue."

6 comments:

  1. Ok really quick comment. I'm sure I'm getting annoying by know but please forgive me for that. Christ should be the fulfillment of our emotions and not a relationship, heterosexual or homosexual. If not being able to have a homosexual relationship causes emotional problems, then it leads me to believe that the relationship with God by this person isn't as strong as it should be.

    I do feel for people with these problems though, to an immense level. I think its our duty to help them come closer to God and past that there becomes a constant happiness that is indescribable.

    I don't think allowing a sin so other sins don't come should be validated because of this.
    Also I don't think not doing it is a virtue, but rather it is refraining from sin.

    Please forgive any sadness I have caused to anyone, and please let me know if something I say offends you. I'm a weak person and not very good with words, so I write things that can be easily misinterpreted.

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  2. Well, you don't need to apologize, man. You're just saying what you believe. Why apologize for that?

    The laws and guidelines that have been attributed to God, have always been really to help mankind. Usually they're in place because there's a certain benefit to following them. For the betterment of society, and for the betterment of the individual. Because of the host of dangers and issues, and emotional and psychological problems that are brought on as a result of ex-gay therapy and viewing ones own orientation as wicked, it leads me to believe that maybe we're not supposed to be doing that. Are you saying these people aren't as close to God as they should be?

    Let me ask you a question. If you ate a piece of rotten meat, and you got sick, does that mean your relationship with God is weak? No, you're doing something that is unhealthy for your body.

    If a woman is abused by her husband, and he doesn't stop. The church says she should stay with him. I absolutely disagree with that one. Her staying with him, is inflicting damage on her psyche. She must find a way out.

    When our psyches are damaged we are useless. We are not fit to be servants, but rather we end up causing harm to others, because we don't know any better. People who are broken and are being damaged become further from God, not closer, because they learn to be unable to receive love. Now we all find ourselves in unfortunate circumstances, but usually when circumstances are too much to handle, we have to think, maybe there's a change that needs to happen. The holy family fled to Egypt for safety. And aside from eating taamayya and fool, they found refuge in being in a safe place. There are some things that are not worth facing because the consequences are worse.

    You should talk to gay christians, the celibate ones, the married ones, the ex-gay ones. Spend time with them. Figure out what their lives are about. Judge a tree by its fruits. A book by H.H. will not tell you what you need to know, because he doesn't know. I've learned in the last several years these people were wrong about this.And I'm glad I figured it out now rather than much later. And it's ok that they're wrong. Why? Because they're just people.

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  3. I hear what you're saying M. Being single isn't the problem. There are plenty of gay celibate people out there who are just fine, that's not really what i'm talking about.

    It's the process of being against one's own sexual orientation that is harmful. It is this harmful process that leads people to unhealthy behavior towards themselves and others, there is a ton of documented evidence out there that shows this as well.

    But not only that, I've seen it in myself, and in others I know. That is the problem. The examples I give above aren't of gay people who choose to be celibate, but are gay people who are against themselves and their natural orientation. It's these people who get themselves into trouble.

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  4. That, M, is a very good question. There are so many reasons, but to mention a few:

    1) Tradition - people often do what they're supposed to do. Especially in more traditional societies and cultures where people believe being gay is a choice, so some people have these feelings, they know they didn't choose it, so they assume they're just not gay. They may not necessarily want a wife the same way they've ever desired to be with a man, but they do it, because having to do it, is good enough.

    2) Some people know that they're gay but cannot risk family, friends, community, to make that happen, so they do, again, what they're supposed to do.

    3) Some people find the ex-gay movement, and after years of therapy believe they've been cured. Some go on to marry, and they may actually truly love their spouses, but the reality hits eventually that they've not been cured.

    On that note, I do know of a man who is gay who married a woman, but they actually work. Why? Well, he knows he's gay, he has accepted it. She knows it. However, his love for her has taught him to adjust. He couldn't choose to live as a gay man due to his faith, but his sincerity and honesty is what keeps them working.

    And there are also a zillion other reasons.

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  5. I really don't know, Mike. Sexuality is a gradient. Alfred Kinsey created a scale to measure the range of human sexuality that I'm sure you may be familiar with. It is possible that men who are already attracted to women are able to learn tactics to deal with their same sex attraction in oder to feel fully committed to a woman. These programs are not for everyone. They didn't cure me. There are people who claimed to be cured who go ahead and engage in same-sex relations.

    The problem is, all the research is conflicting. Exodus promotes research that claims a high percentage of people are cured. Other research claims otherwise. Many ex-gay programs will admit that same-sex attraction is never really cured, but rather people learn to deal with them.

    The question is, is same-sex attraction something that needs to be "dealt with." I would do more research on the damaging nature of some ex-gay programs, before engaging too heavily in them. Make an educated decision, at the end of the day, your psyche and mind and spirit are just as important as your body.

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  6. I'm going to be more direct.

    "The Church" is wrong. In the 1800s, many Christian churches defended slavery. In the 1700s, many Christian churches defended the genocide of Native Americans as part of a larger missionizing movement. In the 1600s, many Christian churches approved torture of "witches," basically women who wouldn't conform to the status quo. It was wrong in each case. The kind of wrong that inflicted untold suffering and undermined the very mission Jesus set forth.

    Years from now, someone will write that in the 1900s/2000s, many Christian Churches were just dead wrong about homosexuality. And, if you continue to defend this position, you will be on the wrong side of history. The side of history that inflicted immense pain, harm, and violence on other humans. The EXACT opposite of what Jesus preached. The EXACT opposite.

    Stop basing what you think merely on what you were taught and what you read in a book. Think. Think critically. It is your God-given obligation to use the mind God gave you.

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