Monday, May 30, 2016

I am a conservative, white, American Christian

I am a conservative white christian and I fled Europe for religious freedom.

In 1635 I banished Roger Williams from Plymouth because he exercised religious freedom and thought differently. As St. Paul says, if anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be accursed.

In 1692-93 I supported the execution of 20 people, most of them women, for the crime of witchcraft.

I continually applied rules of property exchange to the indigenous tribes who did not operate in the same way. When they realized we were taking advantage of them, and subsequently lashed out at us, we killed their women, children, and old in places like Mystic Connecticut.

I converted the indigenous people to my Christian faith which necessarily included a culture that looked and acted like mine. But my fellow white American christians did not like living near them, so we gathered them into "praying towns." As we encroached on their homelands, we forced them farther away. When they didn't convert, we would enslave them and sell them to sugar plantations in the Caribbean.

I led revivals among fellow whites, who didn't know they were sinners in the hands of an angry God, holding them by a thread over a white hot fire, because that's what the Bible said. Meanwhile, I owned African men, women and children, because the Bible does not condemn slavery.

Religious liberals condemned slavery. They were deists, Quakers, unitarians, and even atheists. They had no Bible verses. In response to these liberals I made laws banning the unilateral freeing of slaves. I also made laws requiring escaped slaves to be returned. I fought a war of rebellion to protect my right to own fellow human beings. I joined in fasts and prayer vigils, asking God to deliver us from an oppressive federal government.

Communists and religious liberals argued for the right of employees to have rights to living wages, limited hours, days off, and age limits. The Bible does not support these things, especially when communists demand them. They are godless and anything they ask cannot be from God.

As slaves were freed and workers were allowed to make demands on employers, we started down a slippery slope. Soon everyone would want the same rights I as a conservative white American christian had. Unexpectedly, women demanded the right to vote. As St. Paul writes, women are easily deceived and cannot be trusted in such matters.

I refused to become political when black Americans also demanded to be treated equally. They did not like substandard schools, bus seats, voting restrictions, wages or criminal justice. I refused to march with them. As St. Paul says, God has placed our governments over us to keep order. They were disturbing the order. I would not get involved with them. Communists and Jews did. They are all Christ haters.

Women again wanted more rights. We let them vote and work with us, they did not want to stay home and raise children. They wanted equal pay for equal work. They wanted the right to make medical decisions about their own bodies. They wanted the right to divorce abusive spouses. God hates divorce. Feminists hate God.

Next on the slippery slope to godless communism, homosexuals demanded civil rights. It's clear from the writings of St. Paul that God hates fags. They are all going to hell for rejecting the ancient faith. If they are given equal rights God will judge our nation. We will become communist.

Then those gays wanted to have access to marriage contract rights. Well I wrote a constitutional amendment to defend heterosexual marriage. If I did not, God would judge the nation.

I told gay kids in my church they could not be gay. They had to repent. God would help them un-gay themselves.

Now trans kids would like to be accepted. I do not understand their thinking. It does not fit into my Biblical categories or favorite texts. So I will defer to my conservative approach. If it's new, it's wrong. I don't pay attention to those verses about making all things new or forgiveness for the whole world or their is neither male nor female, slave or free or the greatest of these is love. New things terrify a conservative christian male like myself. I prefer to drive in the passing lane, instead of meander on the margins of the road, looking for the wounded and injured.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Parable of the Fig Tree

I live in Connecticut where we have plenty of pick-your-own apple orchards to visit in the autumn. I love the crazy looking old trees like this one. They look like a lost cause, but the only reason they are around is because they can still pop out the fruit in season. These warped trees are especially fun when you can still put your kids on your shoulders to "help" you pick the fruit. However, these trees can also be fragile. This is not a tree I would let my helpers play on. The deformity does not prevent it from producing fruit, but the deformity does make it susceptible to damage. In other words, there is plenty of fruit to be had if we protect the tree from stresses that other trees could endure. Additionally, much of this tree's productivity would be limited if it were brought into conformity with how a tree should look like. To judge the tree and take a saw to it before it has an opportunity to demonstrate its fruit production would be foolish.

In Luke's gospel, chapter 13 Jesus tells a brief story about a fruit tree and patience.

Luke 13:6-9 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

My previous on treating our transgendered neighbors as equal human beings in need of some public accommodation generated a heated discussion on my Facebook account. It seemed to me that those who disagreed with my idea were those who saw their neighbors unacceptable to God as long as they lived out their transgender identities. Transgendered neighbors are expected to conform to their equipment and expected to repent of their sin of transgenderism and choose to not be transgender anymore by the grace of God (even though there is no proof text condemning transgenderism in the Bible that I know of). However, as @XianJaneway shared on Twitter, the church has an extremely high tolerance and patience for child molesters who look fine externally but bear mealy, wormy, poisonous and harmful fruit in their lives. The examples are practically new every day...the Catholic church moving rapist priests around, rapist missionary boarding school teachers, rapist pastors, pastors who defend predatory parishioners. All of them claim God's grace. And congregations will even give that grace, foolishly. The offenders know all the right words, dress all the right ways, help all the right people, but are socially dangerous people. Transgendered people are not dangerous. Even when they can say the right things, even when they can exhibit the good Christ like fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, so many can't make time to wait and see.

I don't know about fig trees, but an apple tree around here can take up to five years before it starts to produce fruit. The church that demands branches sawn off to conform to what a tree should look like in their group, may miss out on an extremely abundant production of good fruit. "Ugly," non-nonconforming trees might be the most productive in the orchard if left to the Caretaker instead of the criticism of all the other trees.

Friday, May 13, 2016

getting opposite "feels" for trans people

The national conversation on transgendered persons has boiled down to feelings.

Some feelings are of the "creeped out" strain.

Some feelings are of the religiously guided form.

But feelings are not a useful guide to policy on civil rights.

Because some of the people do not have "creeped out" feelings.

Some people are religiously guided to acceptance.

Feelings do not move towards solutions on a political level.

Fortunately, our country is guided on the principle of no state church. All religions are treated equally. All minorities are entitled to the same civil rights as the majority.

So if feelings and religious sentiments are not valid considerations for guiding civil policy, what is left? Facts and figures of the observable and reproducible variety.

Transgendered persons are a normal variant of the human species, just like intersexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, and bisexuality. For all of these, the outworking of these genders and sexes does not harm anyone else, including willing intimate partners. This is a fact. Fear of national judgment by the deity of your understanding is a feeling not a fact. Fear of nor disgust with non-majority sexuality/gender identity is a feeling not a fact. Not understanding that sexual organs does not always correspond to gender identity could lead to those feelings, and education can solve that.

Facts are that ostracism of minorities from their fully entitled civil rights leads to higher suicide rates among adolescents and poorer mental and physical and even economic health, inhibiting the pursuit of "life, liberty, and ... happiness."

Comparing those with harmless minority gender identities/sexuality with harmful proclivities is a category mistake which can cause mental, emotional, and physical damage to the harmless minorities. One lawmaker compared a trans person to an anorexic, saying both need treatment. However, an anorexic is slowly committing suicide, whereas a trans or gay adolescent is also more likely to attempt suicide than his or her peers. For the first, intensive intervention is necessary to prevent death, for the other, social acceptance, recognition and accommodation will also prevent death.

Some people are born with an arrested sexual attraction to children who can never be consenting partners. When pedophiles and pederasts have intercourse with children it is always rape. In pure numbers, most convicted pedophiles are heterosexual. Their sexual compulsion as rapists brings them often to occupations of trust around children, often in churches and education settings. Children need to be protected from them. This is a fact. Children do not need to be protected from transgendered people. Transgender homicides and suicide are very high for their population. They need to be protected from society, which is why they are entitled to their full civil rights.

We are entitled to our feelings, but when it comes to policy, we have to look at data. Trans people have been using restrooms for ages without issues. Suddenly, those civil rights they have enjoyed, though usually without the majority's knowledge, are being threatened, putting them at risk of violence in public restrooms by those with wounded feelings. Those are facts. Facts need to guide our discussion on civil rights.

Cartoon and more great artwork from David Hayward, the Naked Pastor.