Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thick Skin And Stone Hearts

How can people ever know the mind of God? How can creatures such as us ever hope to understand the thought processes of a God who can create a universe? Who are we to decide what is or isn't acceptable to God? And what I find amazing is the folks who will stand up and claim that they know what God wants, what God says - and go further to claim the authority of God to act out of hatred and intolerance.

Last week I wrote about a conversation I had with my Facebook friend on the topic of homosexuality and transgender. Needless to say the conversation did not end so quickly, but continued over a few days, and simply showed that neither of us was prepared to back down. I suppose the only difference between our arguments was that one of us was arguing human rights based on facts, while the other was arguing religious fundamentalism based on fiction.

All that aside, I must reiterate that talking is better than not talking, because the moment the lines of communication are shut down and people stop freely exchanging ideas, they start to build little fortresses around themselves and make plans for war.

Bigots these days see human rights victories and gains in equality for GLBTI people as threatening. They love to claim that they are having homosexuality "forced" on them, although I fail to see how this can be true - when the quest for GLBTI rights is about attaining EQUALITY with the part of society - the heterosexual and cis-gender part, which has for centuries taken for granted - and accepted as "normal", the oppression and prejudice with which millions of people have to grapple on a daily basis. This Facebook 'friend' of mine is one such individual.

Firstly, nobody is "forcing" you to "approve" of gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people - or to even like them. The only thing society is "forcing upon you" is laws which prevent people from committing acts of hatred and discrimination against them. The only argument you can possibly present against such laws or argument, from a religious perspective, is that regardless about what you believe, it is your religious ethos to commit hateful acts or to discriminate against people simply for who they are. Is this the ethos such people would call Christianity?

Why does everything have to be about what is "right and wrong" with you folks? What is right in destroying other people's lives? What is wrong in treating other people as you would like to be treated yourself? Is that not one of Christ's own teachings? Is spreading lies about people and trying to make criminals out of them indicative of how those pointing the fingers would like to be treated? Do those calling themselves "bible-believing Christians" hate themselves that much?

If all people were to be judged by "right and wrong", nobody would be wholly right or wholly wrong - for have not all people "sinned and fallen from the glory of God"? It seems more than a little unfair that some folks with at least as much sin themselves as any gay or trans person, like to jump up and down and point fingers at other people.

Don't you think it a little bit strange that it is usually us they point fingers at, and not tattoo artists and people who eat pork and shellfish? Yet they are all ritual offences called "abominations" listed with homosexuality in the OT. And yet Christ even dismissed these ritual offences when he said it is not what goes in that defiles you, but what comes out. Funny, I don't see people throwing philanderers and serial monogamists out of church - and yet even certain ministers who are very vocal in attacking the humanity and equalities of gay people are examples of these themselves.

Guilt and innocence, right and wrong - are only a matter of timing.

"There is also enough evidence existing today to confirm that the bible is indeed fully and completely inspired by God." my 'friend' countered. Ah, now there I have a few questions for you.

How can you produce evidence of something which is improvable? Can you back up any of your claims without referring back to you book as "proof" of itself? Allow me to refer to a great explanation of what I am getting at:

"Let’s look at a classic circular argument used to show how perverse illogic has infiltrated modern society:

Statement: “The Bible is the word of God.”
Question: “Why do you believe that?”
Answer: “Because the Bible tells me so.”
Question: “How do you know the Bible is fact?”
Answer: “Because God wrote the Bible.”"

Can you see what happens here? A document claims it is the word of God and it is assumed and believed that it must be so because after all, God wrote it.

If I wrote a book which I say was inspired by God, does it in any way give legitimacy to my work or the words in it? And yet people wrote the bible - even the many books ripped out of it by other people - all of them claiming to have been "inspired by God".

At this point I assert that because I may write something about God while inspired by God, it may likely in no way reflect God’s opinion, wisdom or even what he desires people to do.

Suppose I wrote a book about telephones and say I was inspired by Alexander Graham Bell. Does that mean that Alexander Graham Bell had anything at all to do with me writing my book and what I put in it? Does it reflect the views and morals of Alexander Graham Bell?

Claiming that the bible was "fully and completely inspired by God" is a bit like a child believing in the tooth mouse. The child "knows" the tooth mouse exists, because they find a shiny penny under their pillow.

People are imperfect, and people, even if "inspired by God" are fallible - therefore anything written by them must be imperfect also. An imperfect being cannot create something perfect. This is logical.

I won't go into the plethora of genuine evidence which shows how badly the scriptures many refer to as supposedly "inerrant" have been translated over the centuries - and even deliberately altered - because as I recall, we have been down that road before.

It is not the system I am criticizing, but the abusers of that system.

My taking on religion in the defense of people like me, doesn't mean I don't have faith in God - what it does mean is that I lack faith in humanity (including myself) to understand God and to speak for God, which is why I sincerely doubt a collection of scriptures as old as the bible, which was written by people - and why I most certainly doubt any person who incites hatred and intolerance and demands punishments for other people in the name of God - for surely such people do not speak for God.

People who want to take away other people's humanity and turn them into scapegoats on the basis of something written by other people and then misrepresented as "Gods word" certainly do not live by the central message of Christianity - which is love, forgiveness and tolerance, not "hang-'em-high" and trample them into the dust.

"In a million years with thousands of links, books and opinions, you will not convince me of your stance. You are sinning and one day God will tell you that."

I am sinning? By doing what exactly? By loving? By being female? I do not deny that I have my faults and that I have sin - just that I have any more or worse sins than anyone else.

I tried explaining science to you, but I suppose you are the sort of person who would have gladly helped the Church burn people alive in the Dark Ages (I always wondered why they called them that) for daring to suggest that the Earth orbits the Sun and not the other way around.

I wonder what they would have to say about that today?

If today there is enough scientific evidence to show genetic and even biological causes for people being born GLBT or I, then surely somebody who wrote those very "inspired" scriptures - or translated them screwed up? Only an absolute fool and a fanatic would continue to insist otherwise.

Interesting enough, every time you corner a fanatic with scientific facts which they cannot argue or disprove, they either dismiss you as "anti-God" and a "secular humanist" or they start spouting reams of misapplied and irrelevant "scripture" at you, like good little sheeple and like that will in any way, shape or form prove anything. Which just proves to me that common sense and actual reason doesn't come into it.

And don't worry, I know that convincing a fanatic of the truth is a near-impossible feat, but I so enjoy our "chats" because it shows me just what kind of ignorance we are up against and reminds me of why I keep on fighting. The willful kind of ignorance, the kind that will deny facts even in the face of them, because they have been so conditioned to believe that everything contrary to what lies they have been taught will utterly destroy their view of the world around them, and so they cling to the lie out of fear. Why do you fear us so much?

Have any of the terrible things your fundamentalist groups predicted of the legalizing of gay rights come to pass? Has pedophilia skyrocketed since gay couples were allowed to adopt? Has the divorce rate trebled since gay people were allowed to marry? Has society disintegrated because gay people are not being herded into jail? Has your Church or religion become persecuted since any of these things? No, but that still doesn't stop fundie groups from blaming everything from violent crime and natural disasters to child prostitution and dead soldiers on society's "toleration" of homosexuality. It seems to me that kind of "thought" stems directly from folks like Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist cult. Scapegoating, plain and simple. It doesn't mean we are any of the things you claim we are, it doesn't mean we are even wrong - it just means you find us convenient.

I suppose whatever sins I may have, they are somehow worse than any of your sins? I always thought all sins weighed equally? But somehow I will "go to hell" for mine while you will get a nice pat on the back and a Noddy badge from the Big Guy for sticking it to those "dirty gay and tranny perverts who just won't listen" regardless of whatever you did in your life?

I suppose you as a sinner have been given the "right" and carte-blanche to condemn me as a sinner - and that I should "just shut up" and roll over, while fellow sinners and homophobic religious leaders who have little room to talk, condemn me? Of course it is laughable to suggest that a dog being kicked is somehow "anti-Man" for daring to bite the foot kicking it. It is simply an act of self preservation and self-defense.

I hope you can see the difference, but if you still want to make sarcastic remarks about my intelligence and reasoning in the face of not being able to argue your case, feel free to do so.

You are not God - and God does not need specks of dust to spill blood for him. If God condemns me, then let God condemn me - you and those like you who call themselves "Christians" while denying us the right to call ourselves the same, or to live beside you in peace - have no right to do so on his behalf - to justify your hatred in the name of God - and to take enjoyment from it.

"Let the Lord Himself lead you and if you harden your heart, you will know the truth when you stand before Him. Remember me then. Only then will you truly understand love."

Ok...

So now my love is being devalued as well? I "obviously don't understand love", simply because of who I love? Inneresting...

Isn't it strange that GLBTI folks are attacked so viciously and continuously - and yet the only way we really differ from heteronormative cis-gender people is in how we identify ourselves and who we love? Aside from that, our lives are probably just as ordinary - or even just as boring as theirs. Which oddly enough explains the extraordinary lengths to which they have to go in order to paint us as "dangerous threats to civilization" and lest I forget, "the family".

I think if my Facebook 'friend' finds herself standing before God, she might find a whole lot of people there she didn't expect...

Christ suffered and died for ALL people out of love. God sent him out of love for ALL of us. The only rule there was to accept Christ as their personal savior and to love each other as he did. Nothing in there about punishing each other - or ourselves. Life is tough - and unpredictable enough as it is.

If my heart was "hard", I would not still be here in this world, trying to be a voice for the voiceless and taking hits from people claiming to hate me in the name of he who died for my sins. My skin on the other hand, is another matter.

Try harder.

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