Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Islam is Gay?

Amrou Al-Kadhi writes for the Independent that “Jahed Choudhury, 24 – who identifies as both gay and Muslim – married his partner in an Islamic ceremony, even though his family refused to attend.” He goes on to admit his family would also decline to attend his wedding, no matter how steeped in Islamic tradition it was. He says his relationship with his parents fell apart when they discovered his sexuality and tried to reform him. He writes that “this felt much more to do with their cultural association with Islam – their fear of what relatives would think – rather than anything to do with Islamic scripture.”


Yeah, why would you think it had anything to do with Islamic scripture? Cultural association with Islam has nothing to do with the Quran, just like Christian culture has nothing to do with the Bible. And by that I mean, I call bullshit. You can’t pretend the ceremony is primarily religious and the homophobia is primarily cultural.

Friday, May 12, 2017

No-Name Blogger Destroys Ideological Pastor Who Attacks Calm Christian Reverend

No matter how much I tell myself I’m over how society treats (or has treated) gay people, I’m not over it. I recently watched Brokeback Mountain (2005) for the first time, and bawled afterward. Take a look at what's facing gay men and women in Chechnya. The world is something of a hot mess (surprise).

The Video
I want to talk about a clip that’s surfaced both on my social media and in my thesis research. Ideologically labeled, “Christian Pastor Destroys Gay Pastor,” it’s a clip of two pastors debating same-sex marriage shortly after the corresponding Supreme Court ruling. To spare you from watching the exchange, I’ve paraphrased their discussion below. 'J' is Dr. Robert Jeffress arguing against gay marriage, and 'C' is Rev. Neil Cazares-Thompson arguing for it.


J: Should bakers lose their business for not baking gay cakes?
C: Should the law not protect people who oppose slavery or support interracial marriage?
J: Race is different from sexual choice. My black friend agrees with me.
C: Being gay is a gift from God, it’s not a choice.
J: All sexual activity is a choice. Maybe not inclination though.
C: Christianity has continued to evolve through tradition and our understanding of scripture.
J: God’s word never evolves or changes.
C: God still reveals himself through living beings.
J: God doesn’t contradict himself. Jesus says a man shall leave for a woman, which has been the pattern for 2,000+ years.
C: Marriage wasn’t about a man and a woman loving each other as much as it was about property and men’s domination of women. We have evolved on marriage.
J: It was God’s created plan. It wasn’t about domination, but about one man and one woman. Who are we to say we know better than God?
C: Should we continue slavery, considering it was okay in the Bible?
J: Slavery was never condoned in the Bible. Those who led the fight against slavery were Christians.

Religious Freedom
Turning away gay customers is inherently not a good thing, and the manner in which the government interferes is something beyond the complexity of this post. Dr. Jeffress asks a loaded question, assuming at least a few things:

  • Catering a wedding means supporting the behavior and beliefs of the couple
  • Gay marriage is not compatible with Christianity
  • Religious beliefs must explicitly inform business practice
  • The government’s intervention in this matter is contrary to the first amendment

All of these should be argued in their own right before asking if bakeries should “have their businesses taken away from them.” I would hope that most Americans do not want to live in a “big brother” society. The way to balance that desire with protecting minority groups from unfair abuse is a matter more complex than this post intends to go.

Race vs. Sexuality
No, race and sexuality are not perfectly analogous. But analogies aren’t drawn between things that are the same, they’re drawn between things that are different but offer important similarities to clarify arguments about one or both. Saying these things are different does not nullify Rev. Cazarez-Thompson's analogy.

Orientation vs. Behavior
Sexual orientation is a construct of our society. Even heterosexuality wasn’t really an accepted concept until the 20th century. Rev. Cazares-Thomas implies as much in a different portion of the interview I’m not going over here (complete debate can be found here). First century understanding of same sex sexual behavior is naturally vastly different than ours. Conflating the two understandings is ignorant at best and intellectually dishonest at worst. Without engaging the concepts that make this entire debate function, it’s impossible to convey your belief for or against gay marriage.

Evolution of Religion
Be forewarned: You’re never going to win an argument about this with a fundamentalist. It doesn’t matter if you’re perfectly reasonable and have the perfect case for what is historically provable. Fundamentalism, like extreme liberalism, inherently ignores history in favor of revisionism. It took me a long time to accept this, but the “historical context” they provide for Scripture is little more than a snapshot of a 2,000 year old world with almost zero regard for everything that has happened since. To a fundamentalist, quoting a passage of scripture that sounds relevant has more weight than a rational argument based on thousands of years of tradition and history. The two should go hand in hand.

Instead of discussion divine revelation, however, I want to focus on the given examples of religious evolution: marriage and slavery.

Example A: Marriage
It was over a millennium after Jesus death that marriage for love began to become a thing—and that was only in Europe. In the Middle East and India today, love marriages are either unpopular or considered socially unacceptable.

Believing that the current Fundamental Baptist ideal for marriage has always been God’s plan and it’s always been that way is absurd. Many marriages in the Bible have components that are not acceptable today, especially when it comes to women. Polygamy, anyone?

And let me say how frustrating the How do we know better than God? reasoning is. The only way we can hope to perceive or understand the nature or mere possibility of a deity is through ourselves. We sense, observe, and interpret. How do we know better than God? ends up being a lazy rhetorical device used to shut down legitimate discussion on moral issues. I’ve seen it many times. The more subjects you put beyond the possibility of debate, the easier it is to control people with unwavering dogmatism.

Example B: Slavery
Go read Exodus Chapter 21. The entire passage assumes slavery is not only acceptable, but a natural part of life. There’s even a rule says you shouldn’t be punished for physically assaulting your slaves unless they die from the attack. No Christian would support that today, but many of them would happily quote Leviticus to delegitimize same-sex romantic love.

I’ve listened to pastors and other Christians try to explain why the Bible doesn’t support slavery, but all it took was one step back to realize how tenuous those arguments are. The Bible never celebrated the institution of slavery, of course, but its writers provided a framework in Christians could interact with it (see Paul’s letters). Likewise, the Bible certainly never advocated for abolition of slavery. And while many abolitionists were Christians, so were their pro-slavery counterparts. Both sides argued their position from scripture. Both sides declared God was on their side. And one side was wrong.

Conclusion
There are cases to be made for both positions reflected in the original video. And while I don’t think either advocate got a chance to fully explain his position, I contend that Dr. Jeffress’s arguments are deceptive, inaccurate, or both.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Pride and Prejudice's Insidious Agenda

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” - Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 1. This clear endorsement of the heterosexual lifestyle is a shocking summary of the flagrant pro-heterosexual agenda of the pop novel Pride and Prejudice. Who is this Jane Austin, and what is her purpose in writing this book? There are rumors that the author, never married, was a heterosexual, and actually believed it was acceptable for her to date men. Her sexuality never realized, she turned to writing to live out her strange fantasies.

Though Mrs. Bennet's concern for her daughters secure the family fortune is noble, the implication is clearly that she believes they should form romantic attachments with men to do so. Later in the book, a clergyman actually proposes to Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine! A man of God, suggesting a sexual connection to a woman? Outrageous.

These disturbing heteroerotic undertones continue throughout the book. Male and female characters refer to having "regard" for each other. What unspeakable heterosexual euphemism is this? I shudder to think of what terrible sexual exploits underwritten by this word.

Austin plays with our morality when Elizabeth (rightly) rejects Mr. Darcy's sexually disturbing advances halfway through the book. We think she is proclaiming the unnatural practice of different-sex relations, only to turn around and have Elizabeth fall for his hidden charms, which before she was happy to leave to his male friends.

Strangely, much of the family's tension does revolve around a different-sex relationship, that of Lydia and the shameless Mr. Wickam. That their horror at this attachment does not extend to the other daughters of the Bennet family leads you to wonder what a morally sick atmosphere the early 1800s had.

It reminds us to pray more for the healing of our land from the cancer of heterosexuality. It has pervaded our media, our neighborhoods, even our churches. How can we raise a pure generation if heterosexual people pass themselves off as normal?

Books like Pride and Prejudice only advance this mentality. I recommend leaving this title for the perverts that enjoy the kind of immorality it advances, the unnatural bonds between a man and a woman.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

[Short Story] The Book of Rime

The Book of Rime
Riley C. Pritchett
April 24, 2016

A dim sliver of light flickered across my face. An ache that hinted at a lack of sleep tugged at my mind. I surveyed the other bunks in my monastical hideaway. Seven holy Brothers, my faithful companions for the past two years, still slept. The sylvan scent of pine leaked through the dragon-eye slit which also let in the sun, our call to action.
I pulled out the trunk containing my five possessions. The first possession was a vaguely red formal robe with my mother’s initials stitched in the collar in black thread. The second was a heavy book in which I had recorded sayings from the Book of Rime. It represented a year of toil, and treasuring it was my greatest sin. Staring at the words brought back my faith, quelled my doubts. The third possession was a small dining set: metal bowl, metal cup, wooden fork, wooden spoon. The fourth was a satchel, into which I shoved my book and my last possession. I blush to mention the stack of money I had saved from my old life. It would do little good to give it to the poor—if I gave it here at Renwald Abbey, that is.
It isn’t that our abbey is corrupt, but the ways of men are not forgotten here. A holy brother once spoke of Brother Ezriel’s endless pockets. Though he swore by the feet of the gods he meant nothing by it, he spoke as one who said a woman was not of concern to him, when his heart ached to watch her pass. The next day, I observed Ezriel dig his bloated hands into the bag and stuff coins into his habit when he thought no one was looking.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Poem: I Sorrow, but Not for Myself

I sorrow, but not for myself.
The kindness offered, clear and bright
Was a mask of value,
A lunatic's painting---
Accept his art, not his advice.

Graven, graven, the words and rules
Fade away.
Why is the real care covered
By the covered hatred?
Each corner, each brick
Is burned into mind
As it burns away.

The unfamiliar faces
Freshly charred with acne
Gave an untrusting gaze.
A dog among cats.
I spiraled into truth
As those faces vanished
Into the light
That I now see.

I worshiped a shiny god
With an aspiring accomplice.
But the deity had no need
Of its worshipers in the day
His intellect could not withstand.

Scorned for forgiveness,
Forgotten for compassion,
Condemned for acceptance,
Silenced for love.
All the chosen path,
Not narrow but blind,
Not wise but fearful
That the world might stick to its shoe.

It is not for myself,
The one who lied to escape,
But the friend shot down,
The erring one cut off,
The innocent imprisoned---
For them I sorrow.

In the snare of silence
Words take form like wind:
Faintly felt but not heeded,
The march to life is death
To a few.

Give them the rose of compassion
Lest they lose themselves in doctrine
Unwritten by God. Man is a clever author.
I did not see. I did not see.
Will they see
When there is nothing to wake them?

God save them. God save me,
For I cannot save myself
From piety, which is etched into the floor
As apathy is etched into the screen.

Save them, even as I sorrow,
For my grief is nothing at the sight
Of a God who can shine past a thousand
Of the darkest, dankest years.
He may yet live, and his breath is near.

(Written 2014, edited 2016.)