GayTaylor

LGBT Alumni & Allies of Taylor University

Month: November, 2013

Church to gays: “Go to hell.” Amiel to church: “Go to jail.”

4134046143_5726eb96afSelf-hatred is a lifelong prison sentence. I know. I keep trying to make a jailbreak. My church upbringing, my family, my college—all these and more taught me to loathe myself. Since coming out as a gay man in mid-life, I have involved myself in the long process of healing from these early messages.

Fine for a church, a religious system, an religious-affiliated academic institution to preach. I expect it of them. I honor their right to free speech. But it doesn’t necessarily mean what they say is accurate. Doesn’t necessarily follow that what they’re promoting is even Christian. It’s no news that organized religion often promulgates attitudes and actions that make lgbt people out to be less-than, unacceptable, and immoral simply Go Premiumfor being who they are.

The effects can be devastating.

Jesus himself is quoted as saying, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” It’s not a new idea (what is?), but a time-honored way of testing the truth and utility of a teaching, a word of advice or system of thought.

Sogoyewapha, also known as Red Jacket, famed orator of the Seneca, made this same point is an 1805 speech in which I hear echoes of church efforts to “reach out” to lgbt people:

250px-Red_Jacket_2You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? . . .

  Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again of what you have said.

Yeah, well. You tell me how well that worked out. Think the preaching and sermonizing really made the people more kind, honest, accepting, respectful, more Christian?

The Swiss-born philosopher, academic and poet Henri Amiel put it this way:

The test of every religious, political, or educational system, is the [person] which it forms. If a system injures the intelligence it is bad. If it injures the character it is vicious. If it injures the conscience it is criminal.

Seems to me a whole lot of erstwhile Christian institutions would be liable for criminal behavior under Amiel’s definition.

photo credit: Jason Nahrung, flickr

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Oyez, oyez

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Tickled I am to receive notes from various persons who stumble across this blog. I am heartened to hear from people who wish along with me for my conservative alma mater to be willing to take a hard long look at some assumptions, prejudices, biases and religious beliefs that get in the way of the institution pursuing stated goals and aspirations.

Sometimes I pretend I am the only lgbt person to have graduated Taylor University who still feels anything for the place, who dares have pie-in-the-sky hopes the place will some day embrace her/his/its lgbt graduates, current students and staff. I am proven wrong nearly every time someone drops me a note privately or via the blog.

As one correspondent said today, “there is an appetite among some students to have a different sort of conversation on this issue than may have happened in the past.”

Hear, hear.

May our number increase.

Come ye thankful people, (ahem) come

Thanksgiving. In this country a traditional time for family gatherings and gatherings of thanks. It has set me thinking:

My family has had a tough time with my coming out gay. I am thankful we grapple with issues of substance.

Both my parents are now dead; we did not reconcile over this issue while they lived. I am grateful to have the sense that my father has since made some strides toward acceptance, my mother not so much.

I came out gay; my children will have nothing to do with me. I am thankful they have the courage of their convictions.

It’s been years since our divorce. Still my former wife communicates with me (when she does) via her attorney. I am thankful to have been able to reconstruct a life in which her reactions to me no longer figure so prominently as they once did.

To one of my siblings I am anathema. I am grateful for those family members who will still talk with me, grateful to have found acceptance by more distant relations at extended family reunions.

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The coming out process called me to examine and restructure my beliefs, my life, living and loving, I am grateful to find myself in the happiest place I have ever been in my life, to have survived (what was for me) the turmoil and upset, to have tasted incredible peace, and to continue to flourish within and without.

My husband of lo these several years loves me, cares for me, and partners with me in creating a world of love and acceptance within our home and circles of influence. For this I am profoundly grateful.

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photo credit: phostezel, sxc.hu