Monday, May 30, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Oh yeah, I have a blog.
In just the past few days, there's been an interesting overlap in several of the blogs I read. It all started when Believe Out Loud, a Christian group that encourages churches to become "fully inclusive of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity" tried to place an innocuous ad on the Sojourners website (a large network of progressive Christians) and was refused. Here's the ad:
This prompted two posts over at slactivist, "My hope is built on nothing less" and "Jim Wallis and Believe Out Loud, Part 2" and over at Obsidian Wings, "Authoritarianism and the Slut Who Walks", which sort of a follow up to "The Women Men Don't See", which was a really interesting response to the Jewish newspaper that edited out Hillary Clinton and another female White House staffer out of a photo because of their (Stalinesque?) "respect" for women. The slactivist posts are more about the intersection of homosexuality and Christian identity, while the OW posts are more about authoritarianism and strict gender roles. Good posts all.
I was just struct at the quality of the points raised by Fred at slactivist as well as the civility (and coherence) of the commenters. I think Fred's main points can be summed up as:
For now let me just reiterate what I’ve said above about evangelical identity in America’s evangelical subculture. It is marked, above all else, by the proper “stance” on homosexuality and abortion. Those who meet that test are regarded as insiders with a voice that will be listened to. Those who fail that test are regarded as outsiders..
The point here is that there are many, many people besides Jim Wallis who inhabit the terrain that Tony Jones describes as "conservative on issues of human sexuality" while "theologically thoughtful and progressive on other biblical and social issues." I think that Tony is right that such a position is, in the long run, untenable.
I find his first point more interesting. Abortion and anti-gay-rights are, as raised by both slactivist and OW, shibboleths for right-wing Christians. In other words, those two beliefs are almost mandatory and universal markers for inclusion in that community, which also largely defines the modern GOP.
I've often said that (and bored both readers of this blog by saying so often), current politics is driven by identity as much as it is policy. More so for the Right; there are virtually no pro-gay, or pro-choice Republicans, but plenty anti-gay-marriage Democrats. For example, Barack Obama.
I don't really have a point, but many of the commenters at slacitivst do. Many of them are excellent and it's sad that they're going not going to get attention because they're comments in some guy's blog. So I'd like to highlight a few here:
[T]his is why evangelicals are losing numbers in droves. They've made it a zero sum game where you can either be a Christian or you can love your neighbor as yourself.
Semperfiona, on whether Jim Wallis's decision not to run the ad was a choice between "the lesser of two evils:"
It's hard to be charitable toward a choice that paints "respecting my civil rights" as the greater evil... it sounds an awful lot like "I'm not a bigot but my customers are, so your kind are not welcome here" which is just a mealy-mouthed species of bigotry and reinforces the opinions of other bigots, comforting the comfortable.
Amaryllis, on gender roles:
What bothers [fundamentalists] the most about gay couples is not what they may be doing in bed; it's much more about "who wears the pants" when both wear pants. Or skirts and heels.
Because, in their view, the entire basis of social relationships, from the most private to the nation as a whole, is based on Authority. And trying to ignore the "natural" or "God-given" hierarchy is just asking for trouble, for individuals and for society as whole.
And not to bury the lede, but these are the best of the bunch:
Morgan Guyton: (emphasis mine)
[T]he reason why "conservative" views of sexuality don't have long-term viability for a Christian who's serious about the Biblical perspective on poverty is because the primary function of sexual "conservativism" is to excuse middle-class Christians from being concerned about poverty since we can label it a moral failing of welfare mamas who need to learn how to close their legs.
bad Jim, on why a conservative (wide) stance on sexuality is such a shibboleth for evangelicals:
[A] focus on sexuality doesn't threaten things that really matter, like wealth and power. Preaching that looks benignly upon getting and spending is more likely to prosper, and the ideal of self-control lends itself nicely to material pursuits. If a display of virtue and self-denial is required, what better than to condemn sins to which one is not attracted or of which one is incapable, which for most men would include homosexuality and abortion.