The Changing Character of the Debate

Tom Krattenmaker, a commentator on religion and public life based in Portland, Oregon, published an interesting piece this week arguing  that sooner or later, most Christians (in North America and Western Europe anyway) are going to have to adapt to a politics and society in which queer people bear and exercise more rights than they have before.  Our rapid political and social progress  on this issue over the last ten or twenty years should not of course be taken for granted—no change is guaranteed, or permanent—but Krattenmaker calls attention to the one and only fact which makes me (very cautiously) optimistic about our near-term prospects inside the Church: a new generation of faithful are coming of age, some of whom are beginning to be ordained, many of whom have quite consciously been formed and educated right alongside their openly queer brothers and sisters.  Pure, distilled, irrational hatred remains real enough, but own experience has been that even the most conservative elements in the Church, who are of my age and background, have substituted for that former hatred a kind of hypocritical and almost regretful condescension.  That may not seem like much just now, but I think it’s telling.  Krattenmaker:

It appears increasingly obvious that social acceptance of gay men and lesbians and insistence on  their equal rights are inexorable. If the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” weren’t enough to signal the turning point, or the classification of several gay-resisting Christian right organizations as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, there came news that [the ex-gay advocacy group] Exodus International was ending its involvement in the anti-homosexuality “Day of Truth” in U.S. high schools. “We need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace,” Exodus President Alan Chambers explained, “while treating their neighbors as they’d like to be treated, whether we agree with them or not.”

Add it up, and you see a decision point at hand for socially conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council that have led resistance to gay rights. Do they fight to the last ditch, continue shouting the anti-gay rhetoric that rings false and mean to the many Americans who live and work with gay people, or who themselves are gay? Or do they soften their tone and turn their attention to other fronts?

Prayerful discernment and simple Christian decency would strongly suggest the latter. The alternative looks worse by the day—a quixotic battle more likely to discredit its fighters and their fine religion than win any hearts and minds for Jesus. Christianity has far worthier causes than this.

"INEXORABLE"

Two points here re: Krattenmaker.  First, the public discouragement of homophobic groups like Exodus—and the private regret of individual priests who feel compelled to enforce church law on this matter, though they would really rather not—are evidence that the “conservative” party knows, on some level, that it has lost the argument, but does not yet know how to make the admission, or what then to do about it.  Fr. Hopko’s book strikes me as falling into this category, too. The honest conservatives are fearful, above all for Holy Tradition’s integrity.

But fear, by itself, cannot long sustain a belief system, or a policy.  It requires too strained an expenditure of energy, to hold it all together.  Or so I found, at least.  Sooner or later a critical mass of Christians are going to yield to the actual logic of natural law; and to the obvious implications of their otherwise positive and entirely harmonious relationships with actual queer people in their own families, schools, and work places.

Second, the institutional churches are, in the great sweep of history, ruthlessly pragmatic bodies.  (Which is a good thing.)  Christians have successfully lived under, and sometimes taken on the trappings of, a wide spectrum of political orders.  An institutional religion which can come to terms with Byzantine and Russian emperors, Germanic feudal kings and kinglets, Islamic caliphs, the commercial republics of the Renaissance and Reformation, the democracy in America, and even conclude concordats with the likes of a Napoleon, Hitler, or Stalin (however distasteful those concordats may have been), can surely come to terms with this one component of contemporary liberalism.

That is not to say that all those different political forms I have just named are equally just or unjust, or equally useful or unuseful for the preaching of the Gospel.  They are not.  But it is to say that prudent people, ecclesiasts included, do tend to know where their real interests lie, and where and when to compromise.

For Christians, the answer to the question of who Christ is, is (truly) a hill to die on.  (So is the question—pace my more radical Protestant friends—of what is the Church.)

Call me crazy, but sexual ethics is not.

vozradujemsja

Victor de Villa Lapidis

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Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 11:52 am  Comments (7)  
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Other Gay Conservative Groups? Really?

Cool!

I got linked to GayPatriot today, and it was a bit of a surreal experience: all sorts of statements supporting homosexuals, but advancing the conservative agenda – even an alternative to Pride called Homocon.  Now, when we say in our title that our blog is conservative, we mean, largely, religiously conservative.  Victor is politically to the right, and Eiluned is to the left, but both agree on more than they disagree.

I, the atheist-agnostic-white-straight-male, am quite fiscally and socially liberal and a lot of what I read on GayPatriot (really, Patriot? Because only conservatives are patriotic?  But I digress…) I found horrifying, wrong-headed, and at times, mildly offensive.  Ann Coulter, one of the most loathsome writers I’ve ever read, is going to SPEAK at HOMOCON!  Admittedly, she’s taking a beating for it, but still: what is happening to the world?

Gay Activist? Maybe not, but still...

But you know what my overall response is?

This is awesome.

It’s about time the Liberals lost their stranglehold on gay rights, and gay conservative organizations became prominent. It’s an indication that homosexuality and homosexual acts,  only decriminalized in Canada in 1969, finally decriminalized by the US Supreme Court in 2003, and still punishable by death in many countries (Saudi Arabia, Sudan, UAE, to name a few) are finally being accepted even by mainstream Republicans.  Is this bad for the Democrats?  Yes; it robs them of a useful demographic.  Is it bad, potentially, for the cause of gay marriage?  Probably, as these gay Republicans are arguing more for civil union than marriage.  Is it bad for liberalism as a movement? As it steals liberalism’s issues, it may drive progressives to be more and more extreme; and that’s a good thing.  Progress must always push the envelope, and conservatives must resist the change.

There is nothing inherently wrong with either conservatism or liberalism.  They are both vital drives: one is the desire to try new things and explore, and the other is the fear of what damage such exploration might inflict; the need to hold onto what we have already accomplished vs the imperative to change.  Both are valid.  It’s a dialectic… the two forces must clash, and a synthesis forms from the struggle.  Gay Republicans are part of that synthesis, and are a sign that times are changing. I may be wrong, but I doubt Anne Coulter would have spoken at a gay rally fifteen years ago, or even ten, or five.  Things are improving, and this shift on the part of the right is a perfect example.  Eventually, gay rights will have the same status as feminism… still an important struggle, still a real concern, still laughed at and ignored by those who are uninterested, but at least the largest part of the work will be done.

-Your Blogmaster, the Righteous Pagan

Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 1:25 am  Comments (7)  
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Some thoughts on Pride 2010

Yesterday, I attended the Pride March.  I admit to having been a bit apprehensive about the going.  I’d never been to one before, and from stories that I heard, I expected it to be a bit outside my comfort zone, and was somewhat afraid of seeing a display of homosexuality rather like the one appearing in this satirical article by The Onion.  However, I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part.  Sure, there were about 20 men near the front of the parade, completely nude.  Sure, the Leather Daddys and the BDSM groups made their appearance (more about on the morality and ethics of BDSM in a later (hopefully soon!) post).  But the march was not a warlike assault battering the gates of a hostile and morally superior world; for the most part it was a boisterous show of solidarity, welcomed by cheering supporters all along the parade route.  If there were anti-gay protesters, to my surprise, I didn’t see them.  For the most part, no matter what your orientation or conviction—homo- or heterosexual (or even asexual!), religious or atheistic—you could cheer and feel support for someone in the parade.  It almost felt mainstream:  the Anglicans, Heterosexuals for Same Sex Marriage, even (which shocked me the most) the School Board had a float.  Even more charming was the large group from PFLAG marching with signs such as “I’m proud of my trans son.”  In the Village, one almost had the illusion that Pride is completely mainstream, as even hardware stores demonstrated their support:

Dudley Hardware, Church Street

(Of course, if it were really mainstream, they wouldn’t have to show support, it would just be part of the culture, and we wouldn’t need a Pride Parade, but baby steps…)

That being said, a few things did bother me, most especially the level of other major political issues that people tried to address in the parade.  Sure, everyone has politics, but I feel that a march affirming the existence of and need for GLBTQ rights is not the place to air feelings about Israel, or plug your candidacy for Mayor, because, as the buttons distributed by the Ryerson Student Union remind us, “My Pride is a March not a Parade.”  Pride should not be a place where those with the most amount of money and/ or supporters have the best floats, flashiest costumes, and loudest voices.  It’s a march to remind people that 40 years ago, such an open display of queerness would have been unthinkable, and that in some parts of the world, it still is.  It’s a place to marvel and celebrate how far we’ve come, and remind people of the work still to be done.

But we have come far.  I stood next to an older Filipina, in her 60s.  She wore a conservative long jean dress, with a long sleeved jean jacket, decorated here and there with embroidered flowers.  She could have been any one of the women I meet at church, or even my own mother.  But on her jean hat was a wreath of rainbow flowers, around her neck, rainbow beads.  She cheered as loudly as any of the young short haired dykes, and the boys in heels and eyeliner.   She cheered in joy and solidarity.

Pride 2010

In Corde Mariae,

Eiluned

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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