Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bad Religion

Today’s New York Times has an article on gay evangelicals, who, instead of leaving the church when they come out or throwing themselves into bogus gay "recovery" programs, are standing by both aspects of their identity.

Your butchbloggerbot is up on current events. So what does he have to say about gay evangelicals? Given his propensity for in-betweenness, he's of two minds (and from this point forward, he promises to stop using the third person).

On the one hand, you go, guys! The GLBT community is diverse, and ought to be tolerant of all things except hate. The view of religion that the men and women (mostly men) in the article embrace is ostensibly not one of hate. As such, it is a move in the direction of dismantling the false marriage of conservative hate politics and religion. An extreme reading of religion has allowed the right to get away with too much crap for too long, including having pastors tell their parishioners how to vote. That ain't in the Bible, people—and it sure as hell isn't in the Constitution!

On the other hand, orthodox religion lends itself to this kind of abuse. (Religion has a long history of justifying ill treatment of infidels—just a quick glance at the Middle East will do, where Jews abuse Arabs and vice-versa and Sunnis abuse Shi'ites and vice-versa. Lots on Sunnis and Shi'a on the MojoBlog these days).

In order to keep people in line with its rigid logic of us vs. them and right vs. wrong, religion tends to shun sexuality. All sexuality—hence the absurd condemnation of contraception among Catholics and some religious-righters. That's because people in touch with their sexuality quickly learn that (a) attraction can’t be explained or changed, (b) what’s taboo is hot, and (c) it’s possible to take something taboo and do it consensually, making consent the only right/wrong issue in sexual behavior. Being in touch with your sexuality might also lead you to get intimate with people who don’t share your ideas or your background, forcing you to take a crash course in empathy for the other. Sunnis falling in love with Shi'ites, Christians falling in love with Jews: not good for orthodox religion. If gay evangelicals are actually bringing sexual love back into the religious equation, props. But at least one of the men in the Times article has made a purity vow, so I question whether there's not still a healthy dose of self-hate and mistrust of sexuality going on.

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