Patrick Henry College Professor Says ‘Homosexual Activists’ Were ‘Integral’ to Rise of Nazism

In a so-called Faith & Reason lecture delivered to the entire student body today, Patrick Henry College Professor Stephen Baskerville claimed that “homosexual activists” played an integral role in the rise of Nazism.

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I find it hard to understand how any academic could retain any shred of self-respect after implying that the Nazis and queer people were bosom buddies. This chart, for example, lays out the various triangular Nazi concentration camp badges that were used to categorize Jews, sexual offenders (which were primarily gay men), the Romani people, and those who were mentally ill, among many others.

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This quote was only one of many similarly inaccurate and deeply offensive statements delivered in the course of the lecture, the text of which is about 25 pages. Baskerville, who has made a career of railing against the “divorce regime” after a messy divorce in his own past, warned the student body against adopting a “theology of resentment.”

He also said that the AIDS epidemic has been exacerbated by “sexual ideologues, who sabotage effective campaigns for abstinence and fidelity in favor of ideologically inspired but useless condom distributions, resulting in further spread of the disease and millions of needless deaths.”

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Yes, you read that correctly. Distributing condoms spreads AIDS.

This sort of lying and misinformation is malicious and irresponsible. If someone chooses to be abstinent, that’s their business, but they shouldn’t be made to feel as though they invite death if they choose to be sexually active. In addition, calling safe sex campaigns a form of “sabotage” is ridiculous. The ability to know about and practice safe sex does not take away your ability to practice abstinence if you so choose. Instead, it provides you with more options.

Baskerville spews classic MRA and queer panic rhetoric for much of the lecture. He puts words like “rape” and domestic “violence” and “child abuse” in quotation marks, to suggest that straight cis men and fathers are being persecuted in a witch hunt full of supposedly false accusations.

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I’d like to say that I’m surprised that these sorts of comments are coming from a PHC leader, but I went to school there for four years. I heard rape victims referred to as manipulating liars, I was told that children’s rights was a ploy to take children away from their parents, and feminists were dismissed as ugly people who couldn’t get dates. So no, it doesn’t surprise me that a PHC professor would say these things, or that he would be met with thunderous applause.

But I do wish that Patrick Henry College valued reputable academic research and healthy discourse over demagoguery and targeted attacks. That Baskerville is even employed at PHC, given the poor quality of his research and rhetoric, let alone allowed to represent the college in a campus-wide lecture given to the entire student body, shows how little the school respects academic disciplines and its own students.

Guest Post: My road to embracing same-sex marriage

At QueerPHC, we welcome guest posts that are affirming and relevant to LGBTQ students and graduates of Patrick Henry College. To submit your own guest post, email queerphc@gmail.com.

Last week we received the following in an email from a PHC student and with the author’s permission have decided to share it anonymously. In the email the author told us, “I wanted to make available to you the  attached document detailing how I came to embrace same-sex marriage. … I didn’t always take this position, but the testimony of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in Christ and in the human race have forced me to reconsider my views.”

Same-Sex Marriage, Christianity, and Civil Government – A Discussion 

I didn’t always hold the position I currently do. There was a time when I denounced those who embraced such a view as “culture destroyers” who wanted to remake America into some sort of libertine dystopia. But over the course of the past year, I have changed my views after much thought, prayer, and reflection.

I support same-sex marriage.

Here’s why: I believe that a distinction exists between sacred and secular spheres of
active governance.

This principle has its roots in the Lutheran “two kingdoms” doctrine. Essentially, the doctrine stipulates that individuals enjoy liberty of conscience, and that civil government
should not be employed as an instrument to coerce the soul. In some sense, it foreshadows Thomas Jefferson’s notion of the “separation of church and state.”

This need not open the doors to rampant anti-religious sentiment. Traditional Christianity teaches that all men may apprehend a civil morality stemming from the aforementioned principles of freedom, dignity, and rights, without offering endorsement to a particular sectarian framework (general revelation vs. special revelation).

Arguments against same-sex marriage fall into two categories: moral and pragmatic.
Each deserves consideration.

__________________________________

The Moral Arguments

It is generally agreed (as it should be) that the torture and murder of a child is flagrantly wrong; though people may disagree as to the source of and motivations underlying such a moral proposition, its facial validity is rarely questioned. This proposition, however, may be reasonably affirmed by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and others alike. Thus, it is reasonable to suggest that “civil morality” may exist outside a uniquely sectarian framework.

To anticipate a potential objection: this in no way diminishes the veracity of specific Christian truths; it simply notes that a civil society may be governed outside of principles requiring support for a given religious system. This is implicit in the New Testament: no doubt the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day enforced some God-honoring standards of “morality” through its legal codes (do not steal, do not murder, etc.), though this in no way constituted propagation of Christianity per se.

Not once did Jesus instruct His followers to occupy the institutions of civil governance and remake them in the image of an Old Testament society. Given the immense amount of time He spent expositing His kingdom, this is a notable exclusion. Rather, Jesus spent much of his time challenging the sacred authorities of His day – many of whom sought to impose Old Testament religious standards through law (witness the role of the Pharisees in handing down legal sentences).

America was not founded to be a theocratic society; quite the opposite. Freedom of conscience, emerging from this conception of civil morality, undergirds the First Amendment and much of American public life. Due to this, the law may reasonably permit certain interactions to occur, for the sake of strengthening civil society at large, without the necessity of deriving sanction from a particular religious system.

Most American Christians would be outraged – and rightly so – if a Muslim majority attempted to legislate shari’a law as a binding standard for civil governance, or if a Scientologist majority sought to require engrammatic audits for all Americans. This is likely because all Americans, deep down, recognize the necessity of this sacred/secular distinction: though some may desire that their personal convictions become law, they would resent another individual attempting to do the same. True religious freedom, paradoxically, calls for a secularized view of civil morality (though one that respects the necessity of the transcendent, which offers a grounding for the aforementioned freedoms, rights, and dignity inherent to man).

This might manifest pragmatically in the following example: though the Bible expressly forbids the marital union of a believer with a nonbeliever, civil society does not. I know of no individuals who would seriously advocate that the government prohibit interfaith marriages from occurring, despite the fact that such marriages directly conflict with the teachings of biblical Christianity.

I believe same-sex marriage should be viewed in the same light.

The pragmatic benefits of same-sex marriage will be discussed in subsequent paragraphs; this speaks solely to the moral question. I believe it is illegitimate for a secular civil government, purporting to espouse religious freedom for all, to hand down legislation based on specific sectarian tenets. It is because of my commitment to defending the rights of religious believers in a pluralistic society, and the concomitant value of freedom of conscience, that I reject the morally-rooted argument against same-sex marriage.

On to the practical arguments – which are manifold, and deserve thorough consideration.

__________________________________

The Pragmatic Arguments

Bad For Children: This, in my mind, comes closest to a compelling argument against the legalization of same-sex marriage. After all, I’m inclined to favor the research indicating that children probably do best when raised by a married mother and father.

The arguments raised by LGBTQ advocates against the extensive work of Mark Regnerus are, frankly, unconvincing; I find it reasonable to hold that the lack of data on stable two-parent same-sex households is more likely to suggest a lack of such households than a serious research flaw.

That said, I still support same-sex marriage, and here is why: if the “children’s best interest” criterion is employed as a justification for disallowing LGBTQ persons to marry one another, this criterion would have far-reaching implications for the existing heterosexual marriage framework.

I find it inconceivable that two married lesbians or gay men would automatically constitute an inferior parenting arrangement when weighted against the heterosexually inclined households that are currently permitted to rear children – an alcoholic single parent in an impoverished community, bad foster parents who show little love and concern for their temporary progeny, and any number of others.

Somehow, participation in the LGBTQ community is automatically more of a disqualifying factor for child-rearing than these? I cannot fathom how two married, monogamous LGBTQ partners are automatically inferior to any other arrangement, and are accordingly disallowed from adoption, etc.

Unless conservatives favor a centralized administration that determines who is and who is not qualified to have and raise children, this argument is deficient.

Bad for Heterosexual Marriage: I have never understood the merits of this argument. If marriage is beneficial for heterosexual couples (due to its promotion of stable, monogamous relationships for the rearing of children), there is no logical reason why expanding marriage to encompass LGBTQ persons would harm this objective.

This is a poor argument, at best.

Procreative Function of Marriage: This is the new defense being offered by supporters of traditional marriage – that male/female sexual relationships, in the context of marriage, have a uniquely procreative context.

As has been noted at length by various commentators on the topic, this fails to include the infertile and the elderly within the definitional penumbra of “marriage.” Unless it is believed desirable to disallow heterosexual marriage to those incapable of procreation, this argument does not hold water.

Redefining Marriage: This argument stems from the belief that a fundamental social institution should not be redefined for political purposes. Even a cursory look at the history of human civilization, however, indicates a patchwork of cultural traditions respecting marriage (concubinage, polygamy, polyandry, and any number of others).

This in no way implicates the sacred or sacramental dimensions of marriage in a transcendent sense: I believe that marriage is a unique conjunction of souls that was originally ordained by God Himself. But this does not constitute a basis for civil government policymaking, as exposited at length above. My argument solely speaks to the question of whether or not the civil government may define the character of a marital relationship as it exists in the secular sphere. There is little doubt that it may; in America, marriage requires the consent of both parties who have reached the age of majority or received parental permission, and the signature of said parties on a marriage certificate. “Redefinition of marriage” is a scary but ill-thought-out concept – civil governments often establish varying definitions as to what constitutes “marriage” in the eyes of the law. (Consider the case of British common-law marriages).

“It’s Unnatural”: A virtually identical argument was raised during the miscegenation controversies of the 20th century. Respecting that debate, history speaks for itself. Moral disapprobation of a policy, by a group of individuals operating from a specific sectarian mentality, does not constitute a basis for its legal-political disallowance.

Religious Freedom Undermined: Religious institutions should certainly not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages, nor should private organizations be required to embrace a specific political stance on the issue.

Regarding the resulting legal quandaries stemming from anti-discrimination issues, I am inclined to consider LGBTQ rights as paralleling the rights of religious liberty, rather than those of race and gender; race and gender are immutable and immediately identifiable characteristics, whereas religion and sexual orientation are usually fixed and are not immediately identifiable. Generally, institutions are accorded a higher level of discretion in selecting their associates on the basis of shared religious beliefs, rather than shared race or gender; I would propose that a similar standard be employed in the case of sexual orientation. Thus, a Christian business opposed to LGBTQ practices would not be legally compelled to hire LGBTQ individuals, but the government itself would be forbidden from engaging in such discrimination. This seems to be a reasonable compromise that respects the rights of all parties involved.

Slippery Slope: As previously noted, monogamous same-sex relationships may be reasonably integrated into the current definitional framework of marriage. This does not automatically trigger a downward decline toward polygamy, bestiality, and incest; the issue of same-sex marriage should be considered on its own merits. And, as previously mentioned, this was an argument raised against miscegenation…and the promised apocalypse failed to materialize in that case.

__________________________________

I offer no condemnation of those fellow Christians who do not share these views. This is a challenging topic dealing with the intersection of morality and civil governance, about which I believe individuals may reasonably disagree. I ask only that grace be shown in the dialogue process.

If, in our haste to defend that which we hold as truth, we become the Westboro Baptist Church…we have lost far more than just the culture war.

Thoughtfully,

[Name Redacted]
March 27, 2013

Welcoming Our New Readers

We’ve had quite a spike in reader traffic lately, so we thought our new readers might appreciate a quick tour of the site.

Queer at Patrick Henry College (also known as QueerPHC or QPHC) is a community of LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Patrick Henry College, a small private Christian fundamentalist college in Virginia. We exist to provide encouragement and a sense of solidarity to those LGBTQ students and alumni in the Patrick Henry College community.

This blog has already seen its share of controversy in its short lifetime. After we created QueerPHC, school chancellor Michael Farris threatened to sue us for copyright infringement. After some media attention and a call from an attorney acting on our behalf, he withdrew his threat. A few weeks later, President Graham Walker alluded to a possible LGBTQ conspiracy targeting Christian college and university campuses.

All three QueerPHC bloggers have attended PHC, and we know the isolation, shame, and fear often associated with being LGBTQ in the PHC environment. The prevailing voice in the PHC community is one of condemnation. But we don’t think you should have to be ashamed of who you are and the way you love. We don’t think you should be forced to choose between your faith and your sexual orientation or gender identity.

We saw the artificial boundary lines that had been set, and we decided to camp out here in the middle and chat with those who walked by. We’re building a community with other wanderers. We all have a story to tell, and we’re only just learning how to tell it.

We welcome all new readers. We moderate our comments, so please keep your comments civil. And if you have a guest post idea that is both relevant and affirming to LGBTQ students and alumni of Patrick Henry College, send it our way at queerphc@gmail.com.

We hope you’ll stay for awhile!

‘A Peculiar Synchrony of Message and Method and Timing’

I recently shared the full text of a letter that Dr. Graham Walker sent to Patrick Henry College Alumni about QueerPHC and the recent media attention. For the sake of brevity, I won’t quote the full text below. All text in italics is from Walker’s letter. Note: I use the term “homosexuality” because PHC rhetoric about LGBTQ issues is usually limited to the LG portion of the spectrum.

It seems that many of [the journalists reporting on QueerPHC] can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality. But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution.  Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.

Yes, thanks to the PHC Handbook, we’re well aware of where PHC stands as an institution. However, apart from such documentation (and the many, many verbal statements that PHC leaders have made about sexuality), the college’s position on homosexuality would be far less clear.

Walker and other PHC leaders would like to reduce the conflict about homosexuality to a fight between Christians and non-Christians, in which the non-Christians support “deviant lifestyles” and the harried Christians attempt to defend traditional marriage against the onslaught of abuse, divorce, adultery, marital rape — oh, I’m sorry, against the onslaught of the homosexual agenda.

The homosexual agenda.

Unfortunately, liberal Christians and queer Christians complicate matters.

Failing that, Walker attempts to explain this conflict as a struggle between those who take the Bible seriously, and those who don’t. In this mindset, taking the Bible seriously means believing in the inerrancy of the Bible, and believing in the inerrancy of the Bible leads to an immediate and obvious condemnation of homosexuality, also translated as “all that weird butt sex stuff.”

For argument’s sake, let’s assume that taking the Bible seriously means believing in its inerrancy. Plenty of Christians wouldn’t equate the two, but we’ll leave them out of this round. However, even after we’ve excised this portion of the Body of Christ, we still have a deeply divided group.

Pro-LGBTQ Christians who still believe in an inerrant Bible believe that culture and context are important to understanding the Bible’s “clobber” verses about homosexuality, and usually believe that those verses actually refer to temple prostitution or pederasty or (in the case of Sodom) gang rape. PHC leaders commonly use the rhetorical tactic of claiming that the anti-LGBTQ side is the only side that takes the Bible seriously, and that the Bible’s position against homosexuality is self-evident. As a queer Christian, I don’t believe the Bible is the sole property of anti-LGBTQ fundamentalists. I take it seriously, too! I just interpret those verses differently.

As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines.  Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now.  There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy.  All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.

When I first read this paragraph, I burst out laughing. “A peculiar synchrony”? What are we, the League of Extraordinary Queer Pajama Bloggers? (We’re printing the T-shirts now!) QueerPHC was not part of some vast queer conspiracy. We started the blog on our own, hoping only to encourage the LGBTQ students and alumni of PHC. Now we’re in contact with leaders of LGBTQ groups at other Christian colleges and universities. The support and encouragement we receive is phenomenal.

If there is any synchrony, it’s because many LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Christian colleges and universities realize that the time to speak out is now. We’re not conspiring; we’re organizing!

I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.  

The threat of a lawsuit, the denial of our existence, the accusation that LGBTQ students or alumni are liars because they signed an honor code — none of this is newsworthy in Walker’s eyes. This is erasure. Walker doesn’t think the school’s treatment of LGBTQ students and alumni matters.

But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles.  I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies.  I think of them as potential friends.

I’m just gonna leave this here.

memeagain

Homosexuality: It’s an Orientation, Not an Action

When the story of Patrick Henry College Chancellor Michael Farris’ threatened lawsuit was picked up by various news outlets and blogs in the past week, we at QueerPHC braced ourselves for the inevitable response from the Patrick Henry College community telling us that we were unnatural, immoral, unbiblical, you name it.

Instead, the response from Farris was far more disturbing. He said we don’t exist.

Continue reading

Bishop Gene Robinson Reaches Out to Closeted PHC Students

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, of the Diocese of New Hampshire, recently visited the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where he spoke with former congressman Pat Murphy about Robinson’s new book, God Believes in Love.

Robinson spoke with Queer Patrick Henry College after the presentation, and offered some encouragement to closeted students at the college. He’s used to such appeals for encouragement, and said he receives several emails a week from “some kid in podunk Idaho who thinks they’re the only gay person besides me in the world.”

“What I usually say to them is there’s just a big, wide, wonderful world out here, and it can be wonderful for gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender people,” he said. “And you may have to stay where you are, you may have to be quiet about who you are for awhile, but find a few people that you can be open with, that you can be yourself with, because it will feel like an oasis in an awfully dry desert. And then when it’s possible, get out into this big wide world and meet some of us who are having the time of our lives and are not held back by being openly gay.”

Robinson said LGBTQ people who grew up in conservative environments as he did, and as many PHC students did, can do a great deal of damage to themselves.

“The hardest person to come out to is yourself, right?” he said.  “We learned all the things that everybody else was learning, and we became alienated from ourselves, not to mention our parents and our families, and so on. I think it’s a really tough row to hoe, but find some oases to feed yourself along the way, and then join this community that’s waiting to embrace you.”

As a queer Christian, it’s hard to overstate the impact that Bishop Robinson has had on the lives of people like me. To see someone who is both openly gay and openly Christian take on a bold leadership role in the church is nothing short of inspiring. At Patrick Henry College, there’s quite a bit of talk about “leading the nation and shaping the culture,” and Bishop Robinson is doing exactly that, with his ongoing role in transforming the cultural conversation on queer people of faith.

Robinson is retiring on Jan. 5 and leaving New Hampshire to move to D.C., where he hopes to assist St. Thomas’ Parish in Dupont Circle in founding a new Center for Non-Violent Communication, with the goal of changing “the nature of the debate” in the highly political city. Color me excited.

Patrick Henry College Herald Tackles Homosexuality

The Patrick Henry College Herald, a student-run publication, recently published this article on out friends and family members of current students [PDF], which also features the story of a current student who describes her former relationship with a woman.

It’s worth a read, not because I agree with what is said, but because it’s one of the first times that PHC students have openly wrestled with this issue as a student body. While the article was upsetting for me to read for reasons that I will explain in just a bit, it is also a relief to have the LGBTQ community acknowledged, and in a way that does not simply make the queer community into a faceless, vaguely threatening entity. And while I disagree strongly with the tone of the article, I commend writer Elizabeth Stinnette for taking on this project and pushing the PHC student body out of the comfortable silence that they have maintained on this issue.

Nevertheless, I wanted to highlight two of the major misconceptions in this article.

1. Being straight is part of the Christian gospel message

PHC students tend to discuss homosexuality in relation to marriage amendments and as signs of a decaying culture. However, gays and lesbians cannot be painted with a single rainbow-colored brush. A sizeable minority of students has [sic] experienced the complexity of the situation—their relatives and friends are publicly or privately homosexual. Additionally, a few students have struggled with same-sex attraction themselves. While all of these students acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin, they realize that they need to extend grace to their relatives and show them the light of the Gospel.

I just have two questions: how does one paint with a rainbow-colored brush? And where can I find one?

On a more serious note, it would be a good idea for PHC students to move beyond only acknowledging the LGBTQ community when talking about marriage amendments or the supposedly decaying culture. The first is dehumanizing, the second is demonizing.

But I still take issue with the more “loving” approach that is outlined. When a relative is gay or lesbian (the article doesn’t really acknowledge the bisexual or trans* communities), the suggested solution is extending grace and showing them the light of the gospel.

As a Christian who also happens to be a member of the queer community, I am all for grace and the light of the gospel. I want to extend it to others, and I want others to extend it to me. But when did sexual orientation become an integral part of the gospel?

I guess I must have missed that verse in Romans 10 where it says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and promise to be straight forever and ever, you will be saved.” I must have been sleeping in Sunday School when we studied John 3:16, where it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, and turns away from their homosexual desires, should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now I know that some Christians don’t see sexual orientation as an integral part of the gospel. To them, homosexuality is a sin just like a bunch of other sins, and they believe that the gospel promises that God’s love has the cleansing power to get rid of all sins.

But other Christians take that idea and run with it, and preach the damaging message that you can’t be gay and a Christian, or that if you are gay, you have to be celibate if you want to go to heaven.

There is no room in this paradigm for the out, proud gay Christian who is in or looking for a gay relationship. In this mentality, you can be out if you’re celibate, or you can be out as a “former gay.”

2. Being gay or lesbian is synonymous with having emotional and/or psychological issues

And now we get to the part of the article that really broke my heart. A student with the pseudonym “Marie” tells the story of her longterm lesbian relationship with a girl named “Donna.”

Marie and Donna both grew close after dealing with incredible tragedy and hardship in their personal lives, including Donna’s abusive mother, the deaths of several of Marie’s close family members, and the death of Donna’s cousin “Trent”, who was “the only person who loved Donna.”

Marie’s parents forced her to attend PHC; neither they nor anyone at school knew about her lesbian relationship at the time. Meanwhile, Marie dreamed of getting a job at a law office so she could take Donna out of her abusive situation.

“Things were bad between me and Donna,” Marie said. “I felt like I had abandoned her.”

Marie didn’t realize how separated they had become until a high school quarterback took Donna out on a date, got her
drunk, and raped her. Donna called Marie while she was working on her second Spinney paper.

“There was nothing I could do about it,” Marie said. Both girls sobbed over the phone.

Donna became pregnant, but she lost the baby a couple of weeks later. She and Marie had always talked about having children together and had even picked out names.

“I felt that I had lost my own child,” Marie said. They named the baby Jasper. He would have had blonde hair, blue eyes, and Donna’s smile.

After a student at PHC witnessed to Marie, she “gave up the dross and took the gold,” and now considers herself straight. Donna is still trapped in her abusive home situation.

“I think about this woman who I loved, who I was engaged to for five years …. I have to look at her and know she will go to hell because no one loved her enough to show Christ’s love for her. And it breaks my heart beyond all bearing,” Marie said.

I can’t even begin to fathom the pain and personal tragedy that Marie has had to deal with. And it’s not up to me to decide whether Marie is straight, lesbian, bisexual, or some other orientation. But if Marie reads this post, I want her to know this:

Marie,

You and Donna had to deal with an overwhelming burden of pain that would have put strain on any relationship, especially one between two young girls who had to weather a long-distance relationship. Death, abuse, rape, a baby that you both loved and then lost — your strength and courage in loving each other through all of that is astounding. Such painful events would cause emotional and psychological trauma for anyone. If you had been a man, you might have still had to break up with Donna anyway. No one can be superhuman forever.

But you should know that loving another woman is not the problem. Loving another woman does not make you broken. You’ve decided that you want to be with a man someday and that you want to live as a straight woman. I don’t know you, and I don’t know the details of your situation. Maybe you will find lasting happiness with a man.

But you should know that if you are still attracted to women, that is OK. You can lead a full, happy, meaningful, moral life as a lesbian or bisexual woman. And if you remain a woman of faith, you can maintain a relationship with God that will only enrich your friendships and relationships with people of any gender and orientation.

If you fall in love with another woman, a woman with whom you could see yourself building a long and happy life, a woman with whom you could see yourself raising children, don’t run away from that because you’re afraid of losing God’s love. Not only does Romans 8 remind us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but a love that beautiful (even if it’s with someone of your own gender) brings us closer to God.

Whoever you are, Marie, my heart goes out to you.

Our Criticism of Your Bigotry Does Not Count as Oppression

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A straight person or a white person or an able-bodied person or a cisgender person or a man says that gay people or people of color or disabled people or trans* people or women are the true oppressors, because somehow

  • a gay person reacting angrily to homophobia
  • or a person of color reacting angrily to racism
  • or a disabled person reacting angrily to ableism
  • or a trans* person reacting angrily to transphobia
  • or a woman reacting angrily to sexism

is, first of all, a problem, and second of all, a problem that is equal to or greater than homophobia, racism, ableism, transphobia or sexism.

The main complaint of these privileged persons seems to be some variation of “We can’t criticize them without getting in trouble!” or “They’re taking away our freedom of speech.”

The latest iteration I’ve seen is a quote attributed to Voltaire currently circulating on Facebook in the form of meme-style text on a sketch of a giant hand crushing a tiny crowd of tiny people. The quote says, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

I agree with this sentiment, but I was disappointed by the comments on one of these Voltaire quotes. Apparently, some of my fellow PHC family members believe that, according to this standard, women, people of color, disabled people, and LGBTQ people “rule over” them.

I sincerely hope that these comments were not meant seriously, though even as a “joke,” they are not funny.

If these commenters are correct, then black lesbians with disabilities should hold more clout in this country, proportionally, than any other demographic.

Of course, that isn’t true. And neither is the implied statement that men or white people or able-bodied people or straight people are not allowed to criticize women, black people, disabled people, and LGBTQ people.

These commenters think that an angry response to oppression counts as actual oppression.

If you make a negative comment about gay people, and someone tells you that you are being hateful or inaccurate or ignorant or oppressive, you aren’t being oppressed. You aren’t being deprived of your freedom of speech. The other party is merely using their freedom of speech to respond to you.

If you are a straight, white, able-bodied, cisgender man, you possess immense privilege. There’s nothing wrong with being straight or white or able-bodied or cisgender or a man, and the vast majority of the world will happily affirm you in your identity as all of these things. But there is something wrong with feeling entitled to your privilege, as if you deserve  special treatment because you are any or all of these identities. And when someone who is not straight or not white or not able-bodied or not cisgender or not a man complains about the inequality in society, you are a jerk if you claim that that person complaining about inequality is the one perpetuating it.

You have the right to squander your freedom of speech on hateful, inaccurate, ignorant, oppressive statements. And we have the right to call you on your bullshit. It’s how free speech works.

Welcome to America.

Hiding in the Closet on National Coming Out Day

To my parents:

As I meet with you this week for the first time in a few months to try to stitch up the tears in our threadbare relationship, I wish that I had a few minutes to be completely truthful with you about who I am. Just a few minutes in which I could share an important part of myself without worrying that you would interrupt me, or walk away, or, worst of all, tell me, in that terrible quiet voice that you’ve both adopted, that you’ll be praying for me to return to God.

But I’ve spent the last few months grieving the loss of my family, and I don’t want to lose you again just when we’re on the verge of establishing an uneasy peace. As much as I wish that I had the guts to be honest with you, I know that I’m a coward. I’m relieved that I can explain my actions by saying that I don’t want to make things harder for the younger children. If I were to come out now, I know that you would desperately try to isolate the other children from all the harmful influences that you think warped my soul.

But the truth is that I am most afraid of being shunned by you.

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Dan Savage vs. Brian Brown: The Dinner Table Debate, Part 2

See Part 1 of my review of the debate between Dan Savage and Brian Brown.

Moving further into his opening criticism Dan Savage talks about how the Bible clearly supports and allows slavery, and yet, Christians now consider slavery to be sinful and evil. He says that if Christians can adjust what they believe about the value of human beings on this simple topic that is clearly permitted in the Bible, then they shouldn’t be so dogmatic on the issue of human sexuality, which is far more complex. Brian Brown does address this issue of slavery and the Bible, but in a very poor way (I’ll cover his response, the good parts and the parts where he fails, in a future post).

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