Saturday, 18 August 2012

Between a Rock and a Hard Place


I subscribe to an on-line gay newspaper. Over the last few months in this paper, I have read that I am deranged, delusional, and that I should be locked up and killed. Does this sound familiar? Who is saying this? No, not preachers or spokesmen for hate groups designated by the Southern Poverty Center. The people saying this are GBLT people, in response to articles about some of the more extreme Christian rantings. The commentators aren't aiming their hate at the bigots in question, but at people like me, bisexual and gay Christians, angry that we belong to an institution seemingly inherently hostile to the LGBT community. I find myself increasingly stuck between a rock and a hard place as my sexuality and my faith clash.

Have I taken a side of the fence? I hope that if you know me, that you know I believe in equality, love all neighbours, and that I think fundamentalist Christianity is nothing more than a patriarchal means of controlling women, children and anyone who they view as 'other'. If you don't know me I am an ex-theology student who did my dissertation on women in Christian Fundamentalism, and have posted about equality here. I am glad to sit thousands of miles away, with legislation in place to prevent discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or sexual orientation. Does it always work? Hell no, but the legislation is there. And fortunately, although the Church (yes, my church), is vocal in its disapproval of equality, it doesn't have the dangerous grip on politics and education that it does elsewhere.

In most cases I read the rantings on both sides and step away from the computer. You have a right to your opinion - it just isn't mine. I don't believe hate speech should be viewed as free speech, but that is my opinion. Fortunately one that has also reached the courts in America as the recent case of Chris Armstrong and Andrew Shirvell. If there was one case I cheered about it was this one.

L: Chris Armstrong, R: Andrew Shirvell

But, (there had to be one of those, didn't there?), there is one thing I cannot stand, and that is the way that some of the GLBT community and its supporters appear to be attacking women in their war against Christians. I first noticed it in a meme on Facebook. It was supposed to be funny; an educated man making a comment to a particularly bigoted woman that the Bible tells women that they should keep quiet, and he suggested she take its advice. It was supposed to be funny, yet it bothered me on many levels. I stared at it for days, and eventually explained to the person who posted it why it bothered me , "Would you find it funny if you substituted gay for women?"

What I am saying is that using bigotry to fight bigotry seems wrong to me. For all the vileness from certain women in their war against the homophobic agenda, fifty per cent of the human race have been subjugated for centuries due to religious laws and cultural mores. In the twenty-first century women are still oppressed, not only in parts of the world that still have child brides, refuse to allow them education and stone women for perceived transgressions, but also in first world America, where a law student is called a slut for talking about birth control to help with gynaecological problems and a woman in the Michigan statehouse is silenced for calling a vagina... well, a vagina, in an anti-abortion debate. These are hateful words, a temporary censure, but it's a huge backwards step. The so-called war on women is more than about abortion or birth control, it's about a group men trying to regain control of society.

Using Biblical scripture to deny a woman the right to speak, to use the same bigotry that GBLT face on a daily basis seems self-defeating. In fundamentalist Christianity women are brainwashed into believing that men are superior. I make no apologies for saying that. I've been part of such a church and had first hand experience of the brain washing. I've listened to more than one woman earnestly tell me that men are in charge because the Bible tells them so. I walked away from that church because I have a brain, I can think for myself, and I found a church that treated me as equally as the man sitting next to me. Why am I still a Christian? Because I believe in the teachings of the main man. If you want to know want I think read Miroslav Volf in Exclusion and Embrace: Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation.

Name a bigot a bigot. Call them what they are. Homophobia has no place in the twenty-first century. Now is the time to be telling churches and government that gay, lesbian, trans, bi and all people have the same rights as heterosexuals. They have the same rights as women have been fighting for, and non-whites have been fighting for.

But don't tell women to shut up on the basis on Scripture. Don't fight bigotry with the same narrow-minded bigotry. It may seem funny, it may seem trivial, but it really isn't. Now isn't the time to take a step backwards.

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