Tag Archives: LGBT

Gay teachers less likely to challenge homophobia?

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Despite the ever-present challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students face at school, a new study finds that gay teachers are actually less likely to challenge bullying in the classroom than their straight counterparts out of fear for their own jobs.

As TES Magazine reports, the study comprised interviews with more than 350 teachers and school principals over how they deal with anti-gay incidents at school. The bulk of the interviewees who identified as LGBT said that not only did they not feel safe coming out at school, but they had rarely intervened when they witnessed homophobic remarks being made.

Over one-third of the teachers interviewed for the survey said they were worried their jobs would be at risk if they came out to their colleagues, while 62 percent were worried about losing their jobs if they came out to their students, according to the report.

As a gay teacher myself, I understand how other LGBT teachers might feel. Whereas, some teachers might not stand up to homophobic incidents, I do not allow any bullying or any disparaging remarks in my presence. I attempt to teach my students the golden rule. Though I might fear that it might out me to my students or that my students might perceive me as gay because of it, I don’t worry too much. Parents and students alike know that I am the one liberal teacher at the school, and so they think it is just one of my liberal diatribes when I challenge bullying in the classroom. I also tend to give them a mini sermon on the golden rule in the process.

That being said, it does not mean that my job would not be in jeopardy if my sexuality did come out. I have allies on the school board, so I might not lose my job, but it is also quite likely that I would. We can hope that one day, the sexuality of teachers will not be an issue. Currently, it is a very real threat. News of the TES Magazine report follows the case of Carla Hale, a longtime teacher at Ohio’s Bishop Watterson High School who was reportedly fired after her partner’s name, Julie, was listed among the survivors in a public obituary for Hale’s mother. In February, Purcell Marian High School Assistant Principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after endorsing gay marriage in a personal blog post, while in 2012, music teacher Al Fischer was dismissed from his job at St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, Mo., after archdiocese officials learned he was planning on marrying his longtime partner.


Patience Is Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

James 5:7-12

So many of the situations that we find in life are endurable because we know what their end will be. We need to be patient, patient for the Lord. As a gay Christian this is not something that is going to be easy. We get persecuted for what we believe, some places we are ridiculed for our beliefs, and others, heterosexual Christians or LGBT non-believers reject us for our beliefs. But, we must stand firm!

Waiting is hard.

In the black nights of suffering, when ominous clouds come in from the west, it’s hard to know whether those clouds bring nourishing rain or devastating tornado that destroys a all in its path. We have no way of knowing how long we’ll be suffering from a disaster or how long our heart will ache.

Some might question why Job is given to us as a second example of patience since he did impatiently demand that God explain his sufferings to him (for example, Job 6). But Job is an excellent paradigm for us because though he questioned God, he never gave up his faith. Also, if Job is our example we can see that even the most patient of God’s servants will not be perfect until they are glorified. Finally, because Job was one of the first to anticipate the final judgment, he serves as an example for us who also await that day (Job 19:25–26).

We need to love one another, stop talking negatively about one another. Watch our tongues because what we say usually is what is in our hearts. We shouldn’t be speaking with hate, condemnation, gossiping just to tear some one else down.

We need to stand for the Lord, let others see Him in us! No matter what the consequences we need to be bringing others to Him and not making others start thinking that if that is what a ‘Christian’ is like then what’s the point?

Just do our best to remember that we shouldn’t have to ‘swear’ about these things…simply say Yes or No. That we are followers of Jesus because He has died for our sins and if we believe and have repented for our sins He will give us eternal life! This is why we follow. No arguing with others about it, no ‘swearing’ about it. Just let it be…Yes or No.

P.S. I apologize for the late post. It’s been an incredibly busy weekend, and I did not have computer access until just now.


Bigotry, Biscuits and Gravy: Being Queer Below The Mason-Dixon Line

Interesting post about LGBT identities in the South


Everyone’s a Biblical Literalist Until You Bring Up Gluttony

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I came across a link to this on Dan in OKC and decide it was probably worth reading. After reading the blog post from Rachel Held Evans, I wanted to share it with my readers as well. Tell me what you think.

…Or divorce, or gossip, or slavery, or head coverings, or Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence, or the “abomination” of eating shellfish and the hell-worthy sin of calling other people idiots.

Then we need a little context.

Then we need a little grace.

Then we need a little room to disagree.

I got to thinking about this after I was criticized last week for my post about loving gay kids unconditionally. Some folks were very upset that I had the audacity write an entire blog post about putting a stop to LGBT bullying without including a Bible-based condemnation of LGBT people, or at least a theological discussion around the issue of homosexuality and Scripture.

Bible verses were quoted.  Open letters were written. End Times predictions were made.  Pillows in my home were thrown record distances.

It’s funny. Yesterday, in Sunday Superlatives, I included a quote from Mark Twain in which he referred to a snake oil salesman as an “idiot,” but no one left an angry comment warning me of hell based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:22 that “if you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court; and if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”

Nor did anyone raise any biblical objections regarding gluttony a few weeks ago when I casually mentioned overdosing on Sweet Frog frozen yogurt (strawberry, with a pile of chocolate chips, Oreo crumbs, and chocolate animal crackers on top, if you must know), or about materialism when I shared pictures of our new car. (Hey, for some people, a brand new Honda Civic is pretty flashy.)

And in spite of the flood of emails I get each week condemning my support of women in ministry, I’ve never received so much as an open letter criticizing my refusal to wear a head covering, even though my Web site is full of photographic evidence of what the apostle Paul calls a “disgrace” in 1 Corinthians 11:6.

We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes.

Heck, you could make a pretty good biblical case for gluttony being a “lifestyle sin” that has been normalized by our culture of “Supersized” portions and overflowing buffet lines, starting with passages like Philippians 3:19 (“their god is their belly”), Psalm 78: 18 (“they tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved”), Proverbs 23:20 (“be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat”), Proverbs 23:2 (“put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite”), or better yet, Ezekiel 16:49 (“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”)

Yet you don’t see weigh-ins preceding baptisms or people holding “God Hates Gluttons” signs outside the den of iniquity that is Ryan’s Steakhouse.

And we haven’t even touched on materialism, or the fact that on the day I stuffed my face with froyo, 30,000 kids died from preventable diseases and many more went hungry. 

It seems the more ubiquitous the biblical violation, the more invisible it becomes.

So why do so many Christians focus on the so-called “clobber verses” related to homosexuality while ignoring “clobber verses” related to gluttony or greed, head coverings or divorce?  Why is homosexuality the great biblical debate of this decade and not slavery, (as it once was) or the increasing problem of materialism and inequity? Why do so many advocate making gay marriage illegal but not divorce, when Jesus never referenced the former but spoke quite negatively about the latter?

While there are certainly important hermeneutical and cultural issues at play, I can’t help but wonder if something more nefarious is also at work.  I can’t help but wonder if biblical condemnation is often a numbers game.

Though it affects more of us than we tend to realize, statistically, homosexuality affects far fewer of us than gluttony, materialism, or divorce. And as Jesus pointed out so often in his ministry, we like to focus on the biblical violations (real or perceived) of the minority rather than our own.  

In short, we like to gang up.  We like to fashion weapons out of the verses that affect us the least and then “clobber” the minority with them. Or better yet, conjure up some saccharine language about speaking the truth in love before breaking out our spec-removing tweezers to help get our minds off of these uncomfortable logs in our own eyes.

We see this in the story of the religious leaders who ganged up on the woman caught in adultery. She was such an easy target: a woman, probably poor, disempowered, and charged with the go-to favorite of the self-righteous—sexual sin.   When they brought her to Jesus, they were using her as an example to test him, to see how “biblical” his response to her would be. (See Deuteronomy 22:23-14.)  Jesus knelt down and scribbled in the sand before saying, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone.” They dropped their stones.

While self-righteousness avoidance certainly affects our selective literalism , we also have good reasons for not condemning one another for the more ubiquitous biblical violations (again, real or perceived) in our culture.

It’s hard for me to flatly condemn divorce, for example, when I know of several women whose lives, and the lives of their children, may have been saved by it, or when I hear from people who tell me they would have rather come from a broken home than grown up in one. We have a natural revulsion to the idea of checking people’s BMI before accepting them into the Church, especially when obesity is not necessarily reflective of gluttony (often, in this country, it is a result of poverty), and when we know from our own experiences or the experiences of those we love that an unhealthy weight can result from a variety of factors—from genetics to psychological components—and when some of our favorite people in the world (or when we ourselves) wrestle with a complicated relationship with food, whether it’s through overeating or under-eating.  

Again, it’s a numbers game. It’s hard to “other” the people we know and love the most. It’s become a cliché, but everything changes when it’s your brother or sister who gets divorced, when it’s your son or daughter who is gay, when it’s your best friend who struggles with addiction, when it’s your husband or wife asking some good questions about Christianity you never thought about before.  Our relationships have a tendency to destroy our categories, to melt black and white into gray, and I don’t think God is disappointed or threatened by this. I think God expects it. It happened to Peter when he encountered Corneilus and Philip when he encountered the Ehtiopian eunuch. Suddenly it became a lot harder to label your friends “unclean” or “unworthy.” 

 After all, when God became flesh and lived among us, the religious accused him of hanging out with “sinners” (even gluttons!) never realizing that this was the whole point, that there were only “sinners” to hang out with.

Of course, all of this raises questions about when it’s right or wrong to “call out” sin, and I confess I’m no good at sorting that out. I’m as hypocritical as the next person, judgmental of those I deem judgmental, self-righteous, indulgent, a gossip, too careless with my words, too quick to get angry at certain people with certain theological views, too easily seduced by money and notoriety and…my favorite things in the whole entire world…AWARDSI LISTS! ACCOLADES!

I too need reminding that, for all my big talk about a “Christocentric hermeneutic,” more often than not, I’m following a “Rachelcentric hermeneutic” when I read the Bible, complete with my own biases, preferences, insecurities, and opinions guiding how I “pick and choose.” (Oh I can wield every Bible verse that challenges Calvinism like a knife, but I’d rather not talk about how I’m actually applying the Sermon on the Mount to my life or what I really think about enemy-love.) 

Should we stop discussing which biblical instructions apply today and how we ought to apply them? Certainly not. Should we remain silent when the vulnerable are oppressed and exploited or when injustice and immorality pervades our culture? No. Do we abandon our convictions about what the Bible says is sin? No, not even when we disagree on that. Are rhetorical questions overused in blog posts? Yes.

But it’s good to remind ourselves now and then that just as Southern slaveholders had a vested interest in interpreting Colossians 3:22 literally, so we tend to “pick and choose” to our own advantage. 

And when we make separate categories for the “real sinners,” when we reduce our fellow human beings to theological issues up for constant debate who cannot even be told they are loved without qualifiers, when our hermeneutic conveniently renders others the problem and us the heroes, maybe it’s time to sit across a table and get to know one another a little better, to break up some categories and make some new friends. Maybe it’s time to drop our stones for a while and pass the bread.

…healthy, whole grain, organic bread, of course.


Warning Against Worldliness

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What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
 
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
 
James 4:1-12
 
When was the last time you heard a sermon warning against worldliness? I suspect for most believers it would have been a very long time indeed. There are several reasons for this. Likely it is because we are in fact very worldly, and we don’t like to speak to our particular sins, so we just drift along. Also, you are particularly unlikely to hear a sermon, or in this case read a Bible study, about worldliness and gay Christians.  First of all, most of us would start squirming in our chairs.  My first thought would be, “This can’t be good.”  The reason for this is that as gay Christians most of our naysayers consider homosexuality to be a sin of worldliness.  That as gay Christians, we want to sin, be a part of this hedonistic culture, and call ourselves Christians.  But I hope that if you are one of those who regularly follow my Sunday posts, then you will know that is not the message I will deliver here.  I write these posts as both Bible studies and as a way to deliver the truth.  Therefore, I want to study this passage in a way that brings to light the kind of worldliness that applies to LGBT Christians.
 
There is also another reason Christians don’t tend to dwell on worldliness. We have tended to misunderstand what the warnings against worldliness actually mean, and/or have quite distorted the actual biblical teaching on this. That is, we have often thought that worldliness means having nothing to do with this material world altogether.  Or, as LGBT Christians we have been branded as worldly people because too many people believe that homosexuality is a choice.  The truth is, as I believe it (and I do believe that God helped me understand this after much prayer and meditation), God created us to be gay.  He had a purpose for us.  Whatever, that purpose is, we cannot deny God for creating us or leading us down this path.  We are all God’s children and have his undying and eternal love.
 
James is not the only one to warn about worldliness.
John: 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
 
Paul: Ephesians 2:1-3 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
In the text from James above, these verses make me think of the person who tries to live in both the world and in the kingdom. It can’t be done. Living in the kingdom means the Spirit dwells within us, and God reigns over us. It must be all or nothing. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  Therefor, ask yourself to describe you in one word.  What would you say?  If you are worldly, then your answer might be your profession or an adjective describing how you feel or act, but truthfully, the answer should be very simple: Christian.  Whatever else you are, however else you might describe yourself, it is being a Christian that should come first.
 
James finishes this section of scripture we are examining with a warning about verbally attacking or slandering our brother. When we do this, we are not only attacking, but judging his character. In doing so, we are speaking out against and judging the law. Think about it. We are to love our Lord God with all of our heart, soul, strength and might; and to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we speak against our brother, we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves, and might as well throw the whole commandment out the window.

…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God…. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Romans 12:2, 9

As believers, we are not of the world. Worldliness is not a kingdom attribute.
 
If you’re wondering if a behavior or activity is worldly, ask yourself these questions:
  • Does this activity, thing, pursuit take my heart away from God?
  • Does it sabotage my communion with God and my walk in the Spirit?
  • Does it undermine or seek to displace my relationship to Christ as the power of my life?
  • Does it attempt (is it designed) to do so?
  • Does it feed the self-centered, appetite-driven, God-hating part of me called the flesh?
  • Does it inflame my desire to disobey God’s commands?
  • Does it produce pride, contention, immorality, or any other behavior contrary to the love of God and the love of others?
  • Does it lure me into obsession with what is earthbound and temporal versus what is heavenly and eternal?
In John 18, Jesus answers Pilate by repeating this phrase twice:  My kingdom is not of this world.
 
If you follow Jesus, then your kingdom is the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is not of this world.
 

 


Moment of Zen: Old Pictures

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Oh, the history contained in old pictures!


All-American Boy

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A friend of mine sent me a link to the video below, and I think it’s pretty fantastic.  I was raised on country music, in fact I’m going to a concert tonight (the group Alabama).  I wouldn’t say I’m a huge country music fan, because I tend to like older country music.  Most of the time when I listen to the radio in the car, I am listening to NPR, not music.  I tend to like funky alternative rock more, but I do like some country music.  When my friend sent me this video, he said, “Since you like country music you are going to enjoy this video.  It’s got a surprise twist.  And the singer is so damn gorgeous and so aptly named.  It is making its rounds on gay sites so you might have seen it already.”  I had not seen it, but I couldn’t pass up an introduction like that.  You guys may have already seen it, if not I hope you will watch it.  Let me know what you think.
Steve Grand  is out to be a country music star, and an out one at that. He’s got the whole package – great voice, musically talented, incredibly hot, and fearless, as you can see in his video for “All American Boy” which he created out of pocket, as he doesn’t have a label yet. The hopelessly romantic singer falls for a guy in a heterosexual relationship in the video. The two spend time together leading to skinny-dipping in a river and a kiss. Unfortunately, the attraction is only held by one of the characters. His lyrics are quite dreamy for his crush “He smiles, his arms around her but his eyes are holding me, just a captive to his wonder, ohh I say we go this road tonight.” Steve produced all his own music, as he does not have a manager or label. He raised funds to pay for everything on his own by playing piano at a local joint and at a church. 
 
He’s ready to be upfront and honest from the start of his career, “time to be brave. the world does not see change until it sees honesty. I am taking a risk here in many ways, but really there is no choice but to be brave. To not tell this story is to let my soul die. It is all I believe in. It is all I hold dear. We have all longed for someone we can never have… we all have felt that ache for our ‎#allamericanboy.”

 

Gay country music artists do not have a good track record.  Josey Greenwell ended up recording a pop song, and k.d. lang left country music, at least for the most part.  I love to hear all of them sing, but I love k.d. more as a jazz artist.  She has a beautiful voice.  I hope Josey goes back to his country music roots and finds success, just as I hope Steve Grand has success.


Thank you, Steve Grand, for having the courage to make the music you want and to be a voice for thousands, in a music genre that may not support you.