This morning at my church something said during the post-sermon discussion recontextualized in my mind the debate on homosexuality currently happening in the Western Church. I found myself mentally framing the problem in this way: Proponents of gay rights and those who assert that Christians should fully accept gay people tend to think of the issue as one of justice; opponents of same-sex marriage and those who believe actively gay people can’t fully participate in Christianity tend to think of it as a morality issue.
Clearly I’m engaging in fairly abstract thinking here, so let me just say up front that anyone debating this issue needs to remember one thing perhaps more than any other: to actual gay people and those who love or care about them, it is primarily neither a justice nor a moral issue but a personal issue. When arguing about whether we can accept gay people in the church, we are actually, from their perspective, arguing about whether God made them to be the way they believe they inherently are. This seems a little arrogant by its very nature. So, even if your personal answer to that question is “no”, always keep in mind that they will see your denial as a denial of their fundamental humanity. Conversely, if your answer is “yes”, don’t think that gives you the right to speak authoritatively on their behalf. No one wants to feel like a political football.
To return to my initial thought, though, this difference in perspective explains why this particular debate has grown so bitter and divisive, with people on either side continually giving in to the temptation to portray their opponents as monsters. LGBTQ advocates see conservative Christians as something akin to people who still believe in racial segregation, or worse: slavery. Traditionalists consider gay Christians and their allies essentially willful heretics: people who deliberately ignore what the Bible says so they can keep sinning, or accept people who are sinning, respectively. Both groups, of course, comprise mostly good-hearted people trying their best to do what they think is right. But it is in the nature of people to engage in black-and-white, good-versus-evil thinking and consider anyone not in complete agreement with oneself to be the enemy. Moreover, with such strong motivating factors as the desire for justice and the desire for moral purity, one’s opponents will appear to actually hate justice itself or morality itself, not to simply disagree about the nature of justice or morality, and neither side will likely change its mind easily or within a short span of time. Thus the Church appears doomed, in the near-to-medium future, to war within itself, causing severe and lasting casualties in the form of damaged relationships, decreased church attendance or involvement, and—since the world is supposed to know we follow Jesus because of our love for each other—uncounted potential converts repulsed by our in-fighting.
Since the Kingdom of God in our present age must transcend such enmity and make peace between people who would not otherwise have peace, we cannot accept this state of affairs. Thus, I propose a re-framing of the issue of how the Church will accept and respond to LGBTQ people: instead of thinking of the issue as either a justice issue or a moral issue, let us consider it for the time being a potential paradigm shift. Fortunately, we already have a very explicit model for dealing with paradigm shifts: say nothing.
This is, in essence, what I interpret to be Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 8, 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 14: when confronted with someone who has decided they can’t accept a practice you accept, don’t throw your acceptance their face. On the other hand, when confronted with someone who accepts something you don’t feel you can accept, leave that between them and their conscience, which is to say, between them and God.
Yes, this means that conservative Christians may need to allow their churches to be thronged with gay people who suddenly feel much more accepted by Christendom than they did before. It also means that LGBTQ allies may need to spend less time talking loudly in public about how the truly Christlike thing is to fully accept people of any sexual orientation. Maybe, we just… let it go, for now. If this whole culture shift blows over in a decade or so, and we all swing back around to believing homosexuality is unnatural and not to be accepted by society, traditionalists won’t have to feel guilty for how abusively they behaved toward LGBTQ advocates. And if, as I expect, twenty years from now we take for granted that a man can love Jesus and still totally have sex with another man, those who have been saying this all along will have already spent lots of time learning to be gracious toward those who couldn’t see quite so far ahead.
In the mean time, imagine the following scenario: a gay couple arrives for the first time at a conservative church. Liz introduces herself to the man next to her by saying, “Hi, I’m Liz, and this is my wife, Kari”, and the man responds, “It’s nice to meet you; how did you find your way to our church?” At the end of the service, the woman sitting behind Kari asks the couple out to lunch, and makes sure they know by the end of the meal that she fully accepts their marriage and their place in the church. Liz and Kari come back a second and third time to the church, and even though they eventually realize that most of the people there don’t agree with their host from the first Sunday, they never feel de-humanized or condemned. They become members and raise their adorable adopted children there. They give money to the church. Liz works in the nursery; Kari organizes the yearly food drive at Thanksgiving. Occasionaly they engage the pastor of the church in a spirited debate on the issue of homosexuality, and at the end he says, “Well, I don’t agree, but I’m really grateful for your perspective”, and he means it.
Does that sound so bad?
I frequently worry that I am not providing myself with a sufficient diversity of inputs. Only consuming ideas and opinions that already align with your own leads to intellectual stagnation, bigotry, and arrogance, and since I so dearly love to be right and, on the whole, would like to be liked, I try to keep feeding myself writing and commentary from sources opposed to my own current positions.
Feminism, one of my primary areas of interest, tends to skew in a certain direction, as all movements do. For example, if you follow many feminists you will hear frequent discussion of “rape culture”, which you may not feel certain exists, even if you understand the term. Or, to cite the impetus for this particular post, you may hear many feminists and feminism-inclined women tell stories of the times they’ve experienced sexual harassment, sexist behavior from colleagues or supervisors, unwanted physical contact, sexual violence, or rape. You may start to wonder whether these stories actually represent the norm, suspecting that you may have skewed your input volume too far toward the voices of angry or activist women, who have now convinced you that women are more disenfranchised and oppressed than reality reflects.
I have certainly asked myself this question from time to time, just to keep myself honest, and I have tried to give due credence to the voices in my life suggesting that everything isn’t really so bad for women—that men are, on the whole, supportive and “nice”, and that while sexual harassment and sexual violence persist in our culture, they do not constitue the pervasive, systemic problem feminists would have us believe. These voices argue, somewhat persuasively, that people mostly act with kindness and in good faith, and that the many examples to the contrary represent only the most egregious acts of violence and bigotry.
But. These voices are making an argument—reasoning from a dearth of evidence in their own experience. On the other hand, the stories of women who have been hurt and abused are actual stories, not abstractions, and while they also represent a limited and skewed sample, I doubt not at all that the events described did actually take place. Let us leave aside for a moment the question of whether abused or disenfranchised women under-report their own negative experiences, thus resulting in the aforementioned dearth of evidence in the everyday lives of the majority. Instead, let us reduce the extent and ubiquity of sexual harassment and violence to something we can’t deny: many, many women, particularly at times when some nationally-noteworthy and horrendous act of violence has occurred as the result of ingrained misogyny, report feeling constantly fearful, objectified, harassed, and de-humanized because of their gender, and this is not to be borne. It is not to be borne, I say, even if it is only happening to one woman, and I have received direct evidence in only the past two days that it is happening to hundreds of women.
If my own Twitter feed can tell me that hundreds of women report these experiences, can we doubt that our society has a problem that we must correct? Are you, my reader, content to know that even the relatively few women within the reach of myself and the 205 people I follow on Twitter suffer from frequent harassment, abuse, and violence? Then how much more should you feel outraged to know that an even greater number—whatever number your process of extrapolation might suggest—also feel compelled to structure their lives around these threats of oppression?
Given the choice between listening to a persuasive voice contending that sexual harassment and sexual oppression cannot be as bad as all these feminists make it out to be, and believing the stories of hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of actual women, which will you choose? Personally, I find concrete stories much more compelling than argument, and I am willing to risk making a few good and caring men feel uncomfortable or affronted by suggesting that they and I participate in an institutionalized misogyny that keeps many women—even if only hundreds—fearful and at risk.
Even if it’s not All Women, it is more than I am willing to bear.
Inspired by the #YesAllWomen hashtag.
You can’t live without the fire
It’s the heat that makes you strong
‘Cause you’re born to live
And fight it all the way
You can’t hide what lies inside you
It’s the only thing you know
You’re embracing that, never walk away
—Within Temptation: “Iron”
Here are the top 10: Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden.
Raise your hand if you’re afraid to visit any of those countries.
Romania finished ahead of us. Think about that, anyone who remembers The Iron Curtain.
A brief examination of George Lucas’s prequels and the purpose of Star Wars ‘99
There’s no shortage of explanations as to why George Lucas’s Star Wars prequels are considered a failure, but I personally believe the usual culprits (execution, screenwriting) are symptoms of a more fundamental…
You guys. You Guys. YOU GUYS. Aaron Diaz is finally going to reveal more of his Star Wars 1999 project.
There will be more than one woman and more than two black people.
You had my curiosity; now you have my attention.
From a philosophical perspective, libertarians generally believe the appropriate role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. The question is, is forbidding abortion a way of protecting life, or should it be viewed as a restriction of liberty? There’s a plausible libertarian case on both sides. People who are consciously libertarian are more respectful of the other position on abortion, in my experience, than most pro-lifers and pro-choicers. I do not think there is an official position.
I don’t know how this works in FCP X, because you don’t change to a new NLE in the middle of a huge project, but the Boris FX 3D Text plugin Apple licensed to do titles with fine-tuned controls and effects, such as drop shadows, drives me totally bonkers. It’s a tyrant that doesn’t play well with others and forces me into hacky workarounds to perform what should be relatively simple tasks.
Example: I want to cross-dissolve between two screens worth of credits, so I should be able to just drop in a cross-dissolve transition from FCP’s extensive library of effects. But because I have credits for two different characters on the screen, I used two different instances of the Boris plugin, and when I drop in the dissolve, only one of them dissolves. The other vanishes immediately when the transition starts, while its counterpart on the next screen remains absent until the transition has finished.
Positing that this might be due to a bug in the alpha channel implementation, I tried cropping each slide to exclude the expanse of empty space surrounding each title, but to no avail. Instead, I just now finished keyframing every clip individually to change the opacity from 0 to 100 (or vice-versa) over the course of 24 frames, which took far longer.
Also, I’m pretty sure the render time increases over using FCP’s software-optimized transitions. So I’m writing this during the 25-minute wait it takes to render out 2 minutes worth of still images with text over them.
That’s right, in this movie I have static, screen-based credits instead of scrolling ones ↩
Highlight of the morning.
Just got Over the Rhine’s latest double album, and I’m playing it on a loop while I read. With the autumnal northern-Indiana weather and gathering dusk, it makes me feel like curling up on the couch and losing myself inside a good fantasy novel, but instead I’m catching up on the news and my magazine backlog.
Halfway is good enough for now.
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is not saying that we should self-regulate to prevent other people from doing sinful things on our account. He is saying that we may need to self-regulate to prevent other people from doing totally permissible things they think are sinful (but aren’t) on our account.
This is the meaning of the phrase “cause to stumble”. We want to help our fellow Christians avoid “stumbling” into the sin of legalism toward themselves; we are never told to limit our own liberty by being paranoid that we might make someone “stumble” into the sin of actual sin.
So, please, for Christ’s literal sake, stop telling women that when they wear bikinis or sundresses they are “causing their brothers to stumble”, because that is not at all what Paul meant, and it’s mega-hot outside.
If your response to something you dislike or disagree with in your chosen subculture is, “I just can’t with this,” you’re writing in the wrong place.
Non-writers can afford the luxury of being too triggered or disgusted to respond to something. Writers focusing on one particular niche topic may feel free to disregard or shrug off ideas in a different niche than their own. But if an idea in your subculture starts to gain traction—any attention or viability at all—excusing yourself from the conversation with “I just can’t with this” probably means you should excuse yourself from the conversation entirely.
This isn’t a knock against people who have wounds or trauma that make it too difficult for them to address certain subjects. And it may just mean you need to narrow your focus. For example, if you, a fashion blogger, have experienced emotional trauma from fat-shaming such that you can’t write about body image issues, fine: you’re a fashion blogger who doesn’t write about body image. If, on the other hand, you claim to be a fashion blogger who does want to address body issues, but every fifth article you read on the subject makes you shut down for the day, you probably need to stop writing on this subject.
I can hear you thinking now, “Oh sure, invalidate my opinions because of their strong emotional component.” Nope. Your opinions are totally valid. Your status as a writer is not. If you want to have a voice in a certain discussion, you have to be present for the entire discussion. Nice, considerate people—people who already feel kindly-disposed to you and eager to hear your thoughts (that is, the core of your existing audience)—will listen to whatever you have to say, even if you need to duck out of the conversation halfway through. If you want everyone else to pay attention to you, though, you’re going to have to grit your teeth and stay in the conversation, refusing to back down in the face of not only strong, direct opposition but unintentional triggering as well.
If you want to call yourself A Writer, you don’t get a choice about this. Do you think war correspondents with PTSD get to keep their beat as long as they don’t have to see anything too grisly?