As it so happens, I was sent two “Ugh” links on the same day. It isn’t unusual for me to be sent two Ugh links in one day, after all this is the era of Trump, a time period in which there is a great push to entrench our nation in our old and enduring prejudices. Still, these two Ugh links seemed to sort of ding, for me, the kind of ding that makes me want to write.
As many of you know, I am a former Evangelical, the fascinating American religion of the frontier based on the dramatic born again experience and a life dedicated to the Bible and to the fighting off of the evils of liberalism. And for the first nearly thirty years of my life, that’s how I rolled.
There’s a weird obsession with virginity, within evangelicalism, at least there was when I was growing up and when I was in my twenties. There were stern warnings for the youth against all of the evils of premarital sex, along with subtle (and not so subtle) forms of slut shaming for those who indulged the desires of the flesh.
How I rate it: 4 of 5 stars
Plot Summary: A coming of age story of Junior, a fourteen-year-old boy living with his family on the Spokane Indian Reservation. With a sense of humor along with the blanket honesty of a young adolescent, Junior narrates stories of being bullied and making a major step forward in an attempt to take ownership of his life.
Significance: Controversial as well as comedic, there are many beautiful moments in this novel that speak to the experience of growing up on “the rez.” For those, like myself, who have extremely limited knowledge of what it is like to grow up on the reservation, it was riveting and at times heartbreaking to read Junior’s diary.
“….Bystanders often ask the obvious question: If they knew they shouldn’t, and they wished they hadn’t, then why did they? Every situation is slightly different, but there are a few popular reasons…..”
“I mean, there’s this mythology out there that women lie about being raped. In fact, some women do lie about being raped — between 2 and 10 percent is the best research. Many studies show this. So it’s really a small amount. It’s not too different from other crimes. The difference is in other crimes the victim isn’t assumed to be lying…”
“….the best statistics show that about 97 percent of rapes, you know, the rapist walks away, is never held accountable. That is, to me, really disturbing…”
Jon Krakauer, Author of Missoula: Rape And The Justice System In A College Town. NPR
It isn’t a secret that the Bible is anti-gay. This basically makes no sense, on the surface. I have had a theory over the years that the anti-gay language goes back to the attempt of ancient cultures to strictly maintain male hierarchies of control.
By and large, this theory fits the biblical evidence as I see it. Mainstream American Christians, for example, tend to believe that the Bible prohibits homosexuality because it is “sinful” or “evil” — they see it as a moral problem. But the Bible never actually says that. The ancient law of Moses basically says: gay sex is detestable, kill them both by stoning them to death. End of story. There’s no “pray the gay away” camps or anything. A man is not to lie with a man “as a man lies with a woman” because women are to be sexually submissive. When a man is in the submissive position, that violates the natural order of the hierarchy. The answer is just to stone them and move on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that modern day Christians are not calling on the death penalty to deal with homosexuality. Though, to be fair, there are Christians who do call for gay people to be killed, and in other countries, gay people are still murdered, jailed, or maimed as a matter of law — I don’t mean to diminish this very real persecution. My point is simply that if my theory is correct, then most modern American Christians don’t really understand the roots of why there is so much anti-gay language in the Bible. If they did, they might be willing to rethink.
All that brings me to what I learned today. I was listening to one of those Great Courses series. This one on Classical Mythology. The Professor explained that in ancient Athenian culture, sexuality was based on the hierarchy of domination and control. To put it bluntly, it was all about who penetrated who. Man penetrating woman = okay. Male god penetrating human female = okay. Human male penetrating female goddess…not so okay.
Homosexuality was okay, as long as it maintained the hierarchy. So, a mature, older man could penetrate an adolescent male, because the hierarchy is not violated.
This adds a bit more substance to my theory that the biblical anti-gay rhetoric is rooted in the hierarchy of male control and domination. This would be a reason to dispense not only with Christian anti-gay rhetoric but to also consider all of the ways in which Christianity needs to question hierarchies of domination and control.
That’s what I learned today.
Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. – Paul in his Letter to the Romans
Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. – Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians
My theology of homosexuality is described thusly. That being gay was considered by biblical authors like Paul to be “unnatural” and as such was wrong. But there were other things considered to be unnatural as well, like having long hair, or having women as equals and as leaders. Likewise, slavery was also considered natural by many ancient worldviews.
“Birth control should be an important topic to those of us who consider ourselves pro-life because the most effective way to curb the abortion rate in this country is to make birth control more affordable and accessible…”
“….those who oppose coverage of birth control based on their religious or pro-life convictions must take into consideration the fact that lack of coverage may actually lead to more abortions. And we must remember that shrugging off birth control as something people should be able to easily pay for on their own betrays some of our own economic privilege in this conversation…”
Alice Walker wrote The Color Purple (a Pulitzer Prize winner) to convey her own journey from the “religious to the spiritual.” The novel reads like a spiritual journey, a deeply human narrative, set in the context of the oppressive weight of racism and the abuse of male domination. The story gradually moves from brutal and harsh to redemptive. Read more
A recent study conducted by Extreme Tech magazine estimates that pornography, which comprises only one aspect of the commercial sex industry, now makes up 30 percent of Internet traffic. In 2006, the commercial sex industry contributed approximately $13.3 billion to the United States economy — without accounting for prostitution. In fact, some estimates indicate that the U.S. commercial sex industry had 2006 revenues that were larger than the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball combined. Commercial sex is not only pervasive in the US, but it also has a global reach that extends beyond its borders. From AlterNet’s The Future of Sex? 5 Trends that May Transform Our Sex Lives
From the BBC:
Homosexual acts may be outlawed in Kenya but there is a long tradition among some communities of women marrying each other. This is hard to fathom in a country where religious leaders condemn gay unions as “un-African” – and those who dare to declare their partnerships openly often receive a hostile public reaction.
Research shows that for women, sexual preference is more likely to be a choice than for men…and what’s wrong with that?
Unfortunately it is religious people, in particular Christians, who criticize and even demonize same sex parenting. It may sound simplistic, but my personalview is that the best home for children is one of love and of informed/educated parenting methods. Here are a few clips from an article at The Huffington Post: Read more
Christ does call us away from “clinging” to things of this world. Sexual orientation, however, is not something I “cling” to—it is simply a part of me, like my hand, my hazel eyes or my brown hair. Read more