In my local meetings, people are committed to honoring loving same-sex relationships. I would like to tell people that Friends collectively support the human rights of all persons regardless of sexuality. Sadly, I cannot do this. I am seriously bummed out by NY's dual affiliation status and I am unwilling to accept that those who accept FUM's policies or who indicate that homosexuality is a sin are members of the same faith community as myself. I am not interested in sharing community with those who are hateful enough to allow sloppy interpretations of ancient texts (a hermeneutics of bigotry?) to justify condemnation of human beings. When asked to choose between the rights of LGBT people and the religious sensibilities of homophobic Friends, I'll turn my back on conservative*** Quakers every single time. Without exception. Make no mistake. Opposition to gay rights is every bit as ugly, inhumane, and backwards as racism and sexism.
There is no rational or intellectual justification for bigotry. Not ever.
The ancient perceptions of human sexuality are so dramatically different from our own that it becomes nonsensical to apply their reactions to various sex acts to our modern context. Scholars of the Hellenistic world indicate a starkly different organization of sexuality than what we understand as a gay sexual relationships. Pederasty, male prostitution, and the hierarchal relationships between a powerful adult male and a passive younger male are not in the least bit the same as a healthy sexual relationship between consenting adults who love each other as equals. Hellenistic people did not see people as gay or straight but as powerful and not powerful. Powerful men had sexual access to adolescents, younger men, slaves and women. Younger people (both male and female), slaves, and all women were expected to submit and older men were expected to dominate. Their sexual models were vertical rather than horizontal. Pauline emphasis on reciprocity in sexual partnership challenges such a vertical construct. This is just one of many arguments surrounding the changing patterns of gender and sexuality over time that require our attention before we arrogantly assume we understood ancient people's attitudes about sex.
Even if there were not great cultural and linguistic stumbling blocks to the application of biblical language to modern morality, I would not give a rat's ass about the bible's injunctions against homosexual relationships. Common sense and human decency tell me that if someone loves another a human being and behaves toward their beloved with respect, joy, and tenderness, then that relationship is a blessing to the entire human family. To stand in the way of such a loving relationship is to stand on the side of injustice and intolerance. It is to make oneself the enemy of the best humanity has to offer.
I am proud that Quakers were ahead of the general population on such issues as pacifism, slavery, Civil Rights, and women's rights. To be historically accurate, we must point out that in all these movements, a few radical Friends stuck their necks out and lots of them got themselves read out of meeting because they were quicker to perceive injustice than their brethren. Progressive Friends in the nineteenth-century remain my models for appropriate discernment practice. I cannot believe that divine justice could ever tolerate the destruction of families, the restriction of reciprocal love, or the mockery of rationalism. How much discernment and revelation does it take to uhold the basic human rights of another human being? How long must we wait? A generation? Two generations? How many good people are we willing to hurt in the process? How many of their children? Seriously, what God asks us to be infernal, controlling, irrational, judgmental, busy-bodies until a discernment process tells us we no longer have the right to tell other adults who can stick what where? (With so much misery in the world that needs our attention, why do so many people have such a perverse interest in other people's goodies?)
Bottom line: When the Bible, the Church, or the Law oppose my heart's joyful response to another human heart, then I stand with my heart. Let the Bible, the Church, and the Law be damned.
***In this case, I use the term "conservative" to indicate political and social conservatism as experienced in the United States. I do NOT mean "conservative" as in Conservative Friends who are conserving Friends' religious and traditional integrity. While conservative Friends may differ from me in that they tend to be far more Christ-centered than I am, there is not necessarily any profound difference in our understanding of social justice issues. My issue with conservative Friends is when they behave like so-called social conservatives. These terms are not synonymous and I apologize for the confusion this may cause.
For a continuation of my thoughts, albeit in a more wise-ass fashion, please refer to O Canada.
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