First of all, the eight-year-old in me finds the word “disbosom” so snortingly hilarious, but it’s precisely the reason why I love the Dictionary.com Word of the Day. It’s an eighteenth century word meaning to reveal, to confess, as in “baring your soul” or “the naked truth.” Words are a window into the sensibilities of another age, when they actually meant something to the people who used them. Today words seem little more than candy bar wrapping paper — disposable, cheap, trivial. I find particular awe in the opening words of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word.” While I no longer believe in the literal factualness of this idea, that God created everything, it’s still a beautiful image of creating through speech. It’s the dream of every writer to give his or her words life so that they may convey everything that can’t be expressed on paper.
Today I received a response to a comment I left on a blog several weeks ago during the national gay marriage debate that sprang up over the recent (and it turns out, successful) marriage equality initiatives. It was clear that this woman meant well and wanted me to know that God loves me, even though I don’t believe in him and am living a lifestyle that this God apparently thinks is an abomination.
She also pointed me to a blog entry written by a young man named Matt Moore who has been sharing his story of apparently finding Jesus on the floor of a gay club. (Or so she says. I’m skeptical about that claim.) One of his recent blog entries is entitled HIV/AIDS & The Hope Of The Gospel, in which he recounts a close call he had with contracting the virus. This apparently led him to conclude that being gay is a sin, and he claims to have “left the homosexual lifestyle,” which as we all know is code for going “ex-gay.” Whether that means attempting to change his orientation through therapy or “praying away” the gay, or turning to a celibate lifestyle is uncertain.
What I am certain of is that my heart is absolutely breaking for this young (and, if I may say so, very attractive) man. He’s had a hell of a time, and his story is rife with abuse and sadness. And this is precisely the kind of person that the Church preys on, exploiting the feelings of self-loathing programmed into them by society and promising deliverance, if not here then in the hereafter.
As an atheist, I don’t believe that there is anybody minding the store with a broom and dustpan at the ready to sweep up the mess and set everything right at the end of the day. I believe that, if we’re lucky, we have 70-80 years of existence on this planet, and then that’s it. There is no great reckoning. No big reward. No eternal punishment. We have one go at this life, so why waste it strapping yourself into a straight jacket to please the jackals who preach their toxic hatred from the pulpit?
I can understand how someone who fell into a lifestyle of promiscuous sex and drugs for a while would want to run from all of that. Many alcoholics pick up their entire lives to start over, leaving behind the environment and the people who enabled their addiction. But homosexuality is not an addiction. It’s an orientation, something deep in the wiring of the brain that leads some of us to seek out members of the same sex as mates. Unlike most animals, we’re capable of much more than just breeding. As primates, we’re highly complex social animals. We can form pair bonds, and build emotional and romantic connections with our partners. What conservatives like to describe as “homosexual behavior” is behavior we find among heterosexuals as well. But just because many homosexuals have engaged in that kind of party lifestyle doesn’t mean that all homosexuals do.
Most of the gay men I know are in committed relationships of some kind. The single gays I know are looking for committed relationships. With the introduction of more LGBT characters in movies and television, our community is moving from the fringes of an underground lifestyle to the mainstream. We don’t want a sling in the bedroom, or a dungeon in the basement. We want the house in the suburbs with the dog, the neighbors, the couch and the mortgage. That is to say, everything we associate with heterosexual marriage. Is this the gays trying to emulate the “straights”? I don’t think so.
Those things don’t just symbolize heterosexual marriage. They symbolize adult commitment, setting down roots with the person you love and care deeply for. Of course, those symbols are going to be different for each person. For example, I could never see myself as a suburban couple, with the Subaru jeep, picket fence and 2.8 kids. Maybe a dog. Jason and I don’t really see ourselves as a “planted” couple. We want to travel, live in foreign countries, study abroad, and see and learn as much as we can. But we want to do it together.
A few weeks ago I attended a wedding of a friend of mine. I know for a fact her now-husband has struggled with same-sex attraction. Another friend of mine there confirmed that many of the other guys there also struggle. It breaks my heart because I know what they believe their God is demanding of them, and I also know they have been conditioned to not see it as a burden. The author of the first epistle of Peter writes:
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)
They honestly believe overcoming their homosexual feelings is suffering for Christ. This is the evil humans do with religion.
As the character of Auntie Mame says in the stage play, “Life’s a banquet, and most poor bastards are starving to death.”