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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, Part Deux

I am loathed to admit this, but I was wrong. I thought the conversation about "Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner" over on HOB/D would be over by now, like a bad dream or a root canal.

It's not. Not by a long shot. At present, some of the leading conservatives on the group, who are stubbornly clinging to their position, claiming that it is not, Not, absolutely NOT a position of hate, are now complaining that there is a 'lynching' of conservatives being orchestrated by the progressives.

This is another version of the conservative penchant to shoot themselves in the foot and blame everyone else because they are limping. This version is proof of the old maxim: "If you give a person enough rope, they just may hang themselves."

Today, one of the leading conservatives noted that we could not stop using this abominable phrase because, as he put it: "I also understand the problem with the catch phrase in question but again I don't know how we create a meaningful euphemism for sin."

So, I responded:

Okay, I thought I had no stomach left for this conversation. I thought, like the wedding ring my granddaughter Abby swallowed the other day, 'this too shall pass' after 72 hours (Note: it hasn't yet for Abby, either).

Apparently, it won't. Apparently, there is yet more crap to wade through. Perhaps an 'invasive procedure' will be necessary. Perhaps *** ******'s 'golden' post has given me new dedication. Whatever.

It's not about creating a meaningful euphemism for sin. Sin is sin. Some of it is subjective, some of it is objective. I am a sinner who knows her sins only too well. But, my sexual orientation is not a sin.

We have the 10 Commandments as our guide. Interestingly enough, Moses, like Jesus, is silent about the particularities of homosexuality. They are also both silent on the issue of sexual behavior outside of marriage. Seems to me, with regard to this particular point, that it is once you've made a covenant with another and break it, or do not honor someone else's covenant, that there is sin.

Think of it this way, ****. Your gender is male. It's who you are and how you were created by God. Imagine someone saying to you, "Well, your gender is a sin, but I love you as a person."

I believe you write with your left hand. It's how you are - a behavior you have - a natural proclivity and preference. Oh, you could (and may already have) learned to write with your right hand, but it never feels natural or good or right, and, more often than not, you make a mess of things when you try to write with your right hand. At some point, as an adult, you choose to write with your left hand, in direct 'rebellion' of the standards of conformity required of you by others. Imagine someone saying to you, "Well, you are left-handed which is a particularly 'sinister' (from the Latin for 'left' = heh!) sin, but I love you as a person."

Your sexual orientation is heterosexual. It's how you are - a behavior you have - a natural proclivity and preference. Imagine someone saying to you, "Well, you are heterosexual which is a sin (whether or not you 'practice' your orientation inside or outside the bonds of marriage), but I love you as a person."

THAT, *****, is what we're talking about. What LGBT people find deeply offensive and hurtful and why some of our dear so-called 'straight' allies have been crying into the hot wind tunnel of inflammatory, hurtful rhetoric on this listserv for you and (other conservatives) to stop.

I can no sooner stop being a lesbian than you can stop being a heterosexual male. It's part of who I am. I don't like it one little bit, but it's part of how society knows who I am. Depending on where I am (like some parts of the church and for some members on this listserv) it may form my entire identity. I find it really, really offensive to have the identity of my whole humanity reduced to an identification with an act of sex. It's only slightly less worse to have my clerical identity modified (which is to say reduced) by my gender, i.e. "woman priest."

As for the dualism of separating my sexual orientation from my sexual behavior, well, I simply can not believe that God has created me this way, given me potential for intellect and wisdom, as well as the ability to love and and to enjoy bodily pleasure, and then said,

"But, you can't use any of these gifts. Why? Well, there's something that the culture which humankind has created out of the world I created which considers this a 'design flaw' because you are woman and you love another woman. I know. I know. It makes me angry, too. Such arrogance! I knew it would be a gamble when I created 'free will.' You are a marvelously made female who is intelligent and competent, who has loved another woman for 32 years, and created a yet more marvelous family. And, even though I have created your capacity for mutual physical pleasure and given it to you as a most precious gift, you must never use it because it will disturb those humans who do not expand the intellectual potential I have given them by opening their hearts."

Imagine God saying that to you about the gift of your heterosexual orientation. I don't believe God gives us gifts - gifts, divine gifts - only to confound us by denying us the possibility of ever using that divine gift. I do believe that God wants us to use all divine gifts - including the gift of sexuality - wisely and well.

I believe I am - and many others are - doing just that. I believe myself and other LGBT people to be moral agents of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of us aren't. Some of us are LGBT people. Many, many more of us are so-called 'straight'.

Human intellect is morally neutral (although it was not ever thus). Human racial status is morally neutral (although it was not always thus). Human gender status is morally neutral (although, it, too, was not always thus).

Human sexual orientation - hetero, homo, bi, or auto - is morally neutral. Whenever we use these gifts from God to hurt or oppress ourselves or others, or to engage ourselves or others in activities against God's will or our nature, then there is sin. Then, there is immorality.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin" is not a morally neutral phrase. It has been used as a club to beat LGBT people to give them the message that they must deny the gift that God has given them. It is a sin to use that phrase as a weapon to hurt LGBT people.

We should stop THAT sinful behavior. Now. Because I do believe it is not only hurtful to God, but I also believe it diminishes and stains the gifts of your humanity, **** and (that of other conservatives).

I'm going to stop now because I do fear that I am engaging in that old definition of insanity (doing - or saying - the same thing over and over and expecting things to change). That is not a wise or prudent use of the divine gift of my intellect. I fear my ongoing participation in this conversation may lead me to the 'near occasion' of that sin.

God forbid!


susankay said...

It makes me sorry that I am heterosexual which is almost as stupid as asking others to be sorry that they are not. "Forgive them Lord, they don't know what the *&%$ they are doing" -- (alternate version)

Mary Sue said...

are now complaining that there is a 'lynching' of conservatives being orchestrated by the progressives.

I'm sorry, I'm sure the rest of your post was fabulous and well-written, but this is where my brain screetched to a halt.

EXCUSE ME?!?!?! Everyone who has a newspaper clipping of one of their ancestors hanging from his neck in a tree raise your hands.

*raises hand, looks around for others, not seeing many from the mailing list*

To compare someone challenging your opinion to mob-incited torture and murder is just--- I'm only coming up with cuss words, Elizabeth, which I'm going to keep off your comments.

My ancestor was lynched for being a different color. And without a lot of hard looking, I can probably Google up a recent mob-incited murder of a GLBT person in every city these so-called conservatives are posting from. But I'm not going to, because I'm depressed and angry enough already.

Lynching. *shakes head* Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I have no more words.

Lisa Fox said...

A very, very fine response to the "Hate the Sin..." crowd, Elizabeth. Thank you for this one.

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

"This too shall pass" . . . I'll never be able to think of that phrase the same way again.

P.S. People don't have gender; nouns do. (I know you don't agree, but as an English major, thank you for letting me speak my peace.)