I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I Am an Ally

My piece for the GLAD Easter Writing Project is up today. You can find the project here. I strongly encourage looking into the archives. There are some amazing pieces from folks who have walked the walk. Here is what I had to say:

I am a person of privilege. Not so much based on my finances—although, there too if I allow myself any perspective—but I am a white, male, cisgendered, middle-aged, straight, married, Christian father of two kids with a house in the suburbs. The question: Why would someone like me be an active ally of those in the LGBTIQ community? The answer: Jesus offers salvation, even to the privileged.

If you peruse the Beatitudes, you do not find much love for people like me. Blessed are the poor, those that hunger, those that are hated for Jesus’ sake, and those that mourn. The social-justice activist author of Luke even takes it a step farther and provides curses for the rich, the full, those who are laughing and those who are spoken well of. Luke 6. Thankfully, if you look elsewhere Jesus provides an out for us. In Matthew 25, we learn that we can be saved simply by helping the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick and the imprisoned. In Mark 10, Jesus teaches the privileged young man that all he has to do to inherit eternal life is to give up his privilege and follow Jesus. It is surely a rational choice to surrender privilege in order to participate in the life eternal, right?

Of course, the thing about surrendering privilege—or put another way, promoting justice—is that once it is gone, it is gone. That was the rich man’s problem in Mark. He had so much that surrendering it was not an easy thing to do. Kindness or charity is much easier. I could be the straight guy who is actually pretty nice to the gays. The man who actually lets the woman at work get credit for something once in a while. The cisgendered man who, you know, uses the proper pronoun without commentary when referring to a transgendered woman. Of course there is a problem with the kindness over justice plan; seems like you risk missing out on the eternal life promise.

Even with such a great prize at stake, it would have been difficult for me to advocate for a permanent end to my privilege, but for the powerful examples in my life of people who chose justice, and therefore participation in the eternal life. My parents were children of the sixties who fought for justice. My mom is the teacher who stands up for the rambunctious little boy, or the girl whose clothes don’t get washed as often as they should, or the little guy who can get this math problem but not as fast as the others. My dad established open membership and women elders at every church he pastored, and preached against racism and in favor of Dr. King’s ministry—even when it was suggested that he tread lightly around such topics. And truthfully, that is why I am an ally. I believe the Scripture supports being a champion for social justice, but without the example of what living the eternal life really means, how truly, deeply, joy-filled it can be, I would never have been able to reach for it by letting go of the privilege.

I asked my mom why she and my dad cared so much about justice. She said, “Well, I think it is because of the church.” She talked about the unconditional love they had both experienced at Meadlawn Christian Church in Indianapolis and how that unconditional love had as its precursor the notion that everyone, everyone, was a child of God. Presumably the folks at Meadlawn who loved Mom and Dad as youngsters would have told a similar story. Who knows how far back this chain of love goes. Maybe in a very concrete way, I pursue justice today because Jesus not only offers salvation to the privileged, but because Jesus started a chain of love that made it possible for me to accept that salvation.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Predestiny and Predisposition

Oedipus Rex explores man's inability to run from his destiny. Oedipus, his parents, and a few other people became aware that something unthinkable is going to happen. I focus on the sexual component because it seems that Oedipus was not particularly traumatized my coming across some folks on the highway and killing them. Perhaps the Thebes-Corinth corridor observed a version of the stand your ground law. Also, frankly, it is not hard to imagine a circumstance that leads to a father killing a son, particularly in the king-crown prince dynamic. Also, Sophocles devotes some significant energy to describing Oedipus' sexual perversion in new and different ways.
He sowed the same womb as his father . . . Time, which watches everything and uncovered you against your will, now sits in judgment of that fatal marriage, where child and parent have been joined so long. . . . She lay moaning by the bed, where she, poor woman, had given birth twice over—a husband from a husband, children from a child. . . . As he moved, he kept asking us to give him a sword, as he tried to find that wife who was no wife—whose mother’s womb had given birth to him and to his children.
The play ends with Oedipus mutilating himself and his mother/wife killing herself. Uplifting I know. I can't help but be reminded of the torment we inflict on the gay community by insisting that they deny their sexuality. Running from one's destiny, Sophocles teaches, leads to suffering. I wonder if it matters whether one considers something to be a predestiny rather than a predisposition. I wonder whether my heterosexual orientation and cisgender is destiny or disposition.