Race, prejudice and a nice chalupa

I’m regularly floored by seemingly innocuous comments that express racism so deep that we’re unaware of it. I’ve been thinking about race lately, especially in terms of my kids, who are both mixed.

To be brief: racism. Note the mention of “preferential treatment”. And I am fully aware that as a gringa, I qualify for a great deal of white privilege, if you go in for that sort of thing.

But this? Scares the beejesus out of me. Granted, the guy was an unsavory character. Granted, my kids may never be working in an area subject to ICE raids.

But it scares me, nonetheless. For them.

I’ve been wondering about this “hierarchy of minorities”. Obviously, my research is rather anecdotal, but it seems that the reaction to Latinos is much more vehement than, say, to Indians or Asians. Asians seem to be perceived as intelligent, studious. Indians? As a family member said, “if I wanted to talk to an Indian I wouldn’t call my credit card company”. And reactions to African-Americans? Don’t get me started.

They are so seemingly innocent: a white friend locking the door to her car as a black guy walks by. A family friend talking about “all those Mexicans with leafblowers” to my husband, though he’s been reminded more than once that R is Colombian. Or how about all those people voting for Obama simply because they “want our first black President”?

I do get scared for my kids. Scared that someone will snatch them away from me. Scared that they may get hurt, or have their spirit bruised. And now this fear that I see all around me, the fear of the unknown, of the stranger in our midst. But my daughter as the stranger? My son, cutting teeth and learning to sit up, as the “foreigner”?

*shudder*

Thoughts?

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46 Responses to Race, prejudice and a nice chalupa

  1. faemom says:

    Unfortunately we live in a world of prejudice. It’s your job as a mother to sheild them from as much as you can. You’re the support. I hate that there are such ignorant people out there that believe in stereotypes. My husband’s best friend is a racist, and I have warned my husband that if I catch our sons listening to that junk, we will not be seeing him again. My parents sheltered me from all that to the point I thought it was just a few ignorant people here and there. Imagine my surprise to find out that certain friends mummble about those Mexicans or those Asian drivers. It’s just disgusting. Good luck. You’re doing a great job; your kids will turn out fine.

  2. evenshine says:

    Thanks faemom…here’s hoping our kids will face less of it than we have had to, or our parents’ generation has had to. Still gets under my skin, though.

  3. rakuchick says:

    We (I) had some of the same visions – and very real fears – concerning our tender and optimistic (naiive?) children while living in Spain. You work to be their friend and confidant, do your God-directed best to model and verbalize what’s right, then pray for them to choose it as “their own”. It all drives you to your knees, but I think it’s where we’re supposed to be anyway, isn’t it? What a blessing…

  4. evenshine says:

    Thanks, rakuchick…it’s important to remember that ultimately, they’re not ours.

  5. Pingback: The I-word « Evenshine’s Weblog

  6. jesurgislac says:

    I’m sorry, I’m a complete stranger here by your blog because of WordPress’s “possibly related posts” function, so I will not be in the least offended if you dismiss this comment as pure impertinence and ignore it or do not take it out of moderation.

    You’ve said elsewhere that you oppose same-sex marriage. If you have a concern for how your kids are treated, why wouldn’t that also apply to whether your kids are going to be allowed to get married when they grow up? If you have a concern against discrimination and name-calling, why does that not apply to sexual orientation? Even if none of your children turn out to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual – why would you feel such indifference/hostility to other people’s children?

  7. evenshine says:

    Welcome, jesurgislac! And don’t worry, I like impertinent questions- not that it’s impertinence to ask a person about their position!

    First, let me say that your analogy to my post is incorrect. Sexual orientation is something one chooses, not like race, which one cannot control. I understand you hold a different opinion, and we could debate that, but it’s tangential to this particular post.

    “If you have a concern against discrimination and name-calling, why does that not apply to sexual orientation?”

    My answer is- it does. I would never use pejorative terms or encourage such behavior in my children.

    “why would you feel such indifference/hostility to other people’s children?”

    I wouldn’t. It’s entirely possible to hold an opinion opposite to another person and love them just as well. The same goes for my own children- were they to choose such a lifestyle, they would have my love (of course!) but not my approval.

    Hope that makes sense. Thanks for commenting!

  8. Jesurgislac says:

    Sexual orientation is something one chooses, not like race, which one cannot control.

    So you personally chose to be heterosexual… when?

    Sorry, that is a rhetorical question which is, I know, impossible to answer unless you are currently a member of the ex-gay movement, in which case there’s an official answer one can give. So never mind that.

    You are factually wrong, that’s all: no one chooses their sexual orientation. Whatever the cause of some people becoming heterosexual, that occurs well before anyone’s old enough to remember what the cause was, and while sexual orientation can change over time, it doesn’t do so as a matter of choice.

    A person does choose their religion, of course – even if their choice is simply”I’ll stick with the religion of my parents” – so are you okay with discriminating against people and denying them civil rights based on their religion, as you are for their sexual orientation?

    My answer is- it does. I would never use pejorative terms or encourage such behavior in my children.

    Well, if you take the position that a person’s sexual orientation is inherently sinful and they shouldn’t have civil rights/legal equality because of it. you are encouraging your children to use pejorative terms – telling children that some people are inferior/unequal does encourage not merely pejorative terms, but also violent behavior towards the group of people singled out as inferior.

    The same goes for my own children- were they to choose such a lifestyle, they would have my love (of course!) but not my approval.

    Most children do figure out that it’s better to do without parental approval than to internalise it and disapprove of yourself. Unfortunately, many parents do seem to prefer their own happiness over that of their children…

  9. Evenshine says:

    Thanks again for commenting. I’ll do my best to answer your points, but again, this post was NOT about sexual orientation.

    My sexual orientation is not up for discussion, so let’s pass on that first question you made.

    “You are factually wrong, that’s all: no one chooses their sexual orientation.”

    First of all, prove it. Where are the facts that I am missing? The research is at best divided. We can throw studies at each other till we’re blue in the face, but I’d prefer not to do this on my personal blog.

    Secondly, I don’t agree. Are people mindless automatons, slaves to instinct and desire? What about pedophiles? Without those pesky consent laws, they’re just people doing what they were born with, right?

    “A person does choose their religion, of course – even if their choice is simply”I’ll stick with the religion of my parents” – so are you okay with discriminating against people and denying them civil rights based on their religion, as you are for their sexual orientation?”

    Hmmm…let’s say I’m Muslim, and want to marry my 3rd wife. Polygamy is against US law. But it’s my right! Is US law discriminatory, then? We’d have to define how far “civil rights” go…which is exactly what this country is in the process of doing.

    “Well, if you take the position that a person’s sexual orientation is inherently sinful”

    I’ve never taken that position in my conversation with you. Try not to jump to conclusions. Also, let’s be clear. Sexual orientation itself is not sinful.

    “and they shouldn’t have civil rights/legal equality because of it”.

    They DO have civil rights. And equality. Any time they want to, they can marry a person of the opposite sex. I won’t stand in their way.

    “you are encouraging your children to use pejorative terms – telling children that some people are inferior/unequal does encourage not merely pejorative terms, but also violent behavior towards the group of people singled out as inferior.”

    Again, I would not teach them that “some people are inferior”, any more than I would encourage them towards violent behavior. You may be jumping to conclusions again.

    “Most children do figure out that it’s better to do without parental approval than to internalise it and disapprove of yourself.”

    I assume you’re speaking from your own experience. Mine has been different. I enjoy parental approval when I have it, and I enjoy conversing with them over points of departure when we have them.

    “Unfortunately, many parents do seem to prefer their own happiness over that of their children…”

    Again, your own experience? Sorry to hear so if true. I think, however, that parenting involves not only a focus on our children’s happiness, but guidance in what is right and wrong. Can they stuff themselves with chocolate until they vomit? Sure, but the responsible parent attempts to work for healthy, intelligent children, who will one day make their own decisions.

    I wish you the best. Thanks for commenting.

  10. jesurgislac says:

    but again, this post was NOT about sexual orientation.

    I appreciate that: I was merely struck by your concern that your children/other people’s children should not be treated badly and made to feel unwelcome because of their ethnic identity/race, which contrasted on the blog via which I found you in which you were arguing that your children/other people’s children ought to be treated badly and made to feel unwelcome because of their sexual orientation.

    That people who would never discriminate on grounds of race or gender are eager to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation and religion, is one of the saddest things for me that comes up around Proposition 8: people who can clearly see that treating children badly is wrong on any other grounds, argue that instituting legal discrimination against children because of their parents’ sexual orientation is morally justifiable.

    Again, I would not teach them that “some people are inferior”, any more than I would encourage them towards violent behavior. You may be jumping to conclusions again.

    No, I don’t think I am. You have been consistently arguing that lesbian and gay people are inferior, undeserving of equal civil rights.

    They DO have civil rights. And equality.

    Not in the US: not anywhere, though Massachusetts and Connecticut now come closest.

    Any time they want to, they can marry a person of the opposite sex. I won’t stand in their way.

    Oh, that’s ugly: to encourage a child into a card marriage instead of a loving one. Really, that would just be horrible, both for the child and their partner.

    Certainly that demonstrates that, hypothetically at least, you would put your own happiness above that of your child, if you want a gay child to make a loveless, fake marriage for the sake of your happiness, rather than hoping they will marry only when they meet the one person who is right for them.

  11. evenshine says:

    Jesurgislac- I’m enjoying the conversation! Really. But if you insist on twisting my words then the debate will become meaningless, and we will have nothing to say to each other.

    At NO time, either in this discussion or in the other, did I say that “your children/other people’s children ought to be treated badly and made to feel unwelcome because of their sexual orientation.” In fact, I have been consistently arguing the opposite. People should be treated with love. Period. But you can treat a person with love and still disagree adamantly with their decisions.

    Nor did I say I am EAGER to discriminate based on sexual orientation. In fact, the other discussion was about tax-exempt status and the Catholic church. Let’s be clear, please.

    NOR did I say that I would encourage a loveless marriage. Twisting what I said (or maybe you didn’t understand?). Try and follow me here:
    1. You decry a lack of equal rights.
    2. The law clearly allows any person (ANY PERSON) of legal age to marry another of the opposite gender.
    3. THUS…equal rights.

    What you really want is extra, or super-rights. Something that has not ever been a part of the traditional definition of marriage.

    “Certainly that demonstrates that…etc”

    You don’t know me, my situation, or my life. You obviously have little understanding as well of my moral code. So the idea that you would jump to a conclusion regarding my love for my children is as abhorrent as the agenda you’re pushing.

    I do hope they will marry only when they meet a person who is right for them. I pray that it is a serious, thoughtful decision. But you know what? In the end THEY will make that decision, not me. I will love them no matter what. But again, loving a person doesn’t mean condoning actions that are morally wrong.

  12. Rhology says:

    jesurgislac,

    Let me try to illustrate what Evenshine means by taking it in a slightly different direction.
    Let’s say for the moment that we grant that one is born with one’s sexual orientation. OK? Cool.
    Now, let’s also remember that people are also born with predilections to the following: violent temper, alcoholism, misogyny, depression. We’re Christians. People are born sinful, but a non-Christian would grant that it does not follow from the fact that one is born with a predilection towards some action that either
    1) one has no choice about carrying that predilection out in their actions, or
    2) one is always morally justified in carrying that predilection out in their actions.

    By contrast, being of Latino ethnicity is not sthg you DO; it is sthg you ARE. There is no “Latino action”, but there is homosexual sex – action. That’s why the two are very disanalogous. Both sides – the gay rights crowd and the let’s kill gays crowd – should realise this. Me, I’m in the middle – I want to help homosexual people OUT OF their sinful and destructive behavior, to a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior.

    You said:
    You have been consistently arguing that lesbian and gay people are inferior, undeserving of equal civil rights.

    Could you please quote her saying that?
    Saying that homosexual marriage is an outrage and danger to the institution of marriage is not equivalent to what you said she said. Maybe she doesn’t dig the idea of granting a super-right to people based on nothing more than preferred behavior.

    Not in the US: not anywhere, though Massachusetts and Connecticut now come closest.

    Actually, they DO have the EXACT SAME CIVIL RIGHTS as I have.
    WRT marriage, ditto. They can marry one person of the opposite sex and of appropriate age if that person consents to marry them. Simple. You don’t want equality, you want super-equality, so that homosexuals may be more equal than others. A super-class.

    to encourage a child into a card marriage instead of a loving one

    No one is forcing anyone to get married at all, you know. Let’s not overreact here.

    Now, as regards this article, I am going to say sthg that might get Evenshine a little bent at me. 😉
    This Olivares character is a criminal. I’m not going to shed any tears for him, really. If he’s concerned about getting deported, how about NOT BREAKING THE FRIGGIN LAW? Hopefully this is the wake-up call this near-waste of skin needs to make something of himself.

    Peace,
    Rhology

  13. thebenevolentdictator says:

    Eek, as much as I don’t want to jump into this discussion again (and really my discussion was one of non-profit organizations abusing their tax exempt status), I think the judgment that gay people are living a lifestyle that somehow is equated with alcoholism, depression, violent temper is a misguided premise. Certainly, they do not need to be helped into a relationship with Jesus Christ based on their sexual preference alone. Again, there are lots of gay people who have loving, fulfilling relationships with God. You all don’t have to like it, agree with it, or approve of it…but remember that Jesus supported the idea of tolerance and loving one’s neighbor not passing judgment. The Bible speaks clearly about you who have no sin can cast the first stone…all of us straight people sin…it’s just that our sins (and I’m not saying that gays are inherently sinful, just looking for the metaphor here) are in the closet (so to speak) for the most part. Again, don’t approve or condone if you don’t wish, but being a Christian should be about more than disapproving of people we don’t like.

  14. Evenshine says:

    Hey, BD, nice to see you over here. I hope you have the opportunity to read carefully through all the comments thus far, because I think you’ll find that I have never advocated judgment of a gay lifestyle. Talking about these issues is not judgment. Not agreeing with someone’s life choices is not judgment. I think that’s been clear in our discussion. And I think we’d also be in agreement with your last statement- being a Christian has nothing to do with disapproving of people. If anything it’s about loving people. Thanks for commenting!

  15. evenshine says:

    Rho,

    Thanks, as always, for very eloquently laying the smack down.

    I agree on the Olivares thing. But he’s a citizen- which gives him certain rights (like not being deported). It was mostly a point of departure for a discussion about race.

    Blessings.

  16. jesurgislac says:

    At NO time, either in this discussion or in the other, did I say that “your children/other people’s children ought to be treated badly and made to feel unwelcome because of their sexual orientation.”

    Of course you were: You were arguing that no lesbian or gay person should be allowed to get married. That’s a clear and very direct way to treat lesbian and gay people badly and make them feel unwelcome. All lesbian and gay people start out as someone‘s children, though many – the children of homophobic/bigoted parents – end up effectively parentless, when their parents decide that their own happiness is more important to them than their children’s. Indeed, for many/most lesbian and gay people, their first experience with prejudice and discrimination comes directly from their parents, who don’t know yet that their children are lesbian/gay and feel free to be openly homophobic about lesbian/gay people without realizing that they’re talking about their own kids.

    1. You decry a lack of equal rights.
    2. The law clearly allows any person (ANY PERSON) of legal age to marry another of the opposite gender.
    3. THUS…equal rights.

    Well, certainly, if you consider that card marriages – fake, loveless marriages entered into solely because the gay or lesbian child knows their parents will loathe their marrying the one person who is right for them – are “equal” to a child getting to marry the one person who is right for them.

  17. jesurgislac says:

    (And when I say “child” I mean “adult offspring” – sorry, I just realised that was potentially confusing! I know my mom would still refer to me as “her child”, even though I’m over 40…)

  18. Rhology says:

    Jesu,

    You’re acting like we are trying to argue that gay people should get married. No, not necessarily. Just saying that they have equal rights in the arena RIGHT NOW. Plenty of hetero marriages are loveless, etc, too.

    BD,

    Yes and no. Someone may be saved while homosexual, and they may or may not be changed away from that tendency, either quickly or slowly. But if they have never repented and put their faith in Christ, every person needs Christ.

  19. jesurgislac says:

    You’re acting like we are trying to argue that gay people should get married. No, not necessarily. Just saying that they have equal rights in the arena RIGHT NOW. Plenty of hetero marriages are loveless, etc, too.

    No: my point is that you are definitely arguing that gay people should be legally banned from marriage. That is, real marriage – like George Takei and Brad Altman have, like Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin had until Del Martin’s death. The notion that it’s “equality” because, had George Takei been the kind of man who could be that disloyal, he could have ditched Brad Altman to enter a card marriage with some woman – because, had Del been a disloyal person, she could in theory have ditched Phyllis to marry some man – is pure nonsense. Yes, they were equally “free” as heterosexuals are to leave the one to whom they pledged lifelong loyalty and committment, but they were not equally free to make their lifelong loyalty and committment marriage.

    We may praise the California justice system that for six months they had equal rights, and that Proposition 8 will not be fully enforced to annul the marriage of George Takei and Brad Altman nor any of the other Californians who wed between June and November.

    We may also be grateful that Barack Obama has promised to have DOMA repealed, so that – no matter how long it takes to bring state-by-state equality – legally married couples will be recognised as married by the nation in which they are citizens, if not by the backwards and unequal states that voted rights away from them.

  20. evenshine says:

    “you are definitely arguing that gay people should be legally banned from marriage”

    Yes. But it does not follow that such treatment is abusive, mean, or “bad”.

    What IS bad, from the Christian viewpoint, is giving a “right” to a practice that is inherently morally wrong. I’m not sure how to phrase this so that it fits your understanding, but try this: imagine a practice or behavior that you find morally objectionable, no matter what the circumstances. Now imagine that a group of people would like to see that behavior legally sanctioned and protected. This is where the average conservative Christian finds themselves in light of the Prop 8 debate.

    As to your examples, I don’t feel qualified (nor should you) discussing the “real-ness” of anyone’s relationship.

    YOU may praise California, but the issue still remains- and the country remains divided.

    YOU may be grateful for Barack Obama and his policies, but 46% of the country is not.

    Cheers.

  21. jesurgislac says:

    Yes. But it does not follow that such treatment is abusive, mean, or “bad”.

    You may say you feel that it wouldn’t be abusive, mean, or bad to have a majority of people vote to say that a minority group couldn’t marry. But somehow I’d got the impression from the posts on your blog that you thought otherwise.

    What IS bad, from the Christian viewpoint, is giving a “right” to a practice that is inherently morally wrong.

    No, not from “the Christian viewpoint”: there are many Christians who do not believe that same-sex relationships are “inherently morally wrong”.

    But in any case: not relevant to the question of Proposition 8. There were Christians who doubtless sincerely believed, like the Virginian judge who ruled against the marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving, that interracial marriage was wrong. That did not mean that those Christians ought to have had the right to force their religious beliefs into the law of the land, and so the Supreme Court ruled, 41 years ago.

    Not only because they recognised marriage as a civil right, but because freedom of religion, separation of church and state, is a vital American principle. You have no right to claim that your belief that God is homophobic ought to be the law of the land. No religion, no religious person, has the right to enforce their beliefs on others. Proposition 8 is a profoundly anti-American amendment.

    I’m not sure how to phrase this so that it fits your understanding, but try this: imagine a practice or behavior that you find morally objectionable, no matter what the circumstances. Now imagine that a group of people would like to see that behavior legally sanctioned and protected.

    Yes, I do: the behavior of people like you arguing that some families ought to be discriminated against. You want your prejudice against some couples and some families to made the law of the land. I find this practice completely morally objectionable, regardless of the claimed circumstances: I believe that all families ought to be supported, that no child should be discriminated against because of the race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, of their parents. You do. That’s your argument.

    As to your examples, I don’t feel qualified (nor should you) discussing the “real-ness” of anyone’s relationship.

    If you don’t feel “qualified” to say that George Takei and Brad Altman do or do not have a “real” relationship, how can you feel “qualified” to argue that they shouldn’t have been allowed to marry and that their marriage ought now to be annulled?

  22. Evenshine says:

    “No, not from “the Christian viewpoint”: there are many Christians who do not believe that same-sex relationships are “inherently morally wrong”.

    I would say that they are in serious theological error, and should be corrected in their view by their pastor. That viewpoint is not defensible from a Biblical standpoint, and mainstream Christianity is clear on this issue.

    “Mildred and Richard Loving”- again, not applicable. Race= ontology. Sexuality= behavior.

    “Not only… anti-American amendment.”

    In YOUR VIEW. Why do I have to believe what you do?

    PLUS, I’d love to see how you’d base a system of legislation on relativistic morality. All laws are based on morality. Who gets to decide whose morality to base them on? Why should your morality rule the day?

    “your belief that God is homophobic”- that’s YOUR belief. Not mine.

    “Yes, I do… That’s your argument.”

    See above. Why does your morality have to rule mine?

    Takei/Altman, etc.: Of course I don’t feel qualified to judge the reality of their relationship. I don’t live with them, I don’t know them. But my point (which you seem to have missed) is that the “real-ness” of a relationship has nothing to do with legality.

  23. jesurgislac says:

    I would say that they are in serious theological error, and should be corrected in their view by their pastor. That viewpoint is not defensible from a Biblical standpoint, and mainstream Christianity is clear on this issue.

    No, actually: it’s the claim that homosexuality is “inherently morally wrong” that is hard to defend from a Biblical standpoint. It is based on a handful of verses, none from the gospels: from a section on ritual purity in the Torah, and a couple of doubtfully-translated verses in Paul’s letters to the early Christian churches. I perfectly accept that some Christians do interpret these verses in that way, and would never deny their freedom in religion to do so: just not to use their interpretation to make the law of the land.

    And mainstream Christianity is very far from clear on this issue, as can be seen easily from the sheer range of Christian viewpoints on this issue even within the Anglican Communion, and outside it, ranging from the Religious Society of Friends to the Westboro Baptist Church.

    In YOUR VIEW. Why do I have to believe what you do?

    Because my view is that you have the right to believe what you choose, and no one has the right to legislate to enforce their beliefs to take away your civil rights.

    Whereas your view is that the religion holding majority power does have the right to take away other people’s civil rights. Which is a dangerous thing for anyone to believe – unless you’re okay with a majority vote removing your civil rights, or those of your children, someday…

    “your belief that God is homophobic”- that’s YOUR belief. Not mine.

    No, I don’t believe that God is homophobic: (a) I’m now an atheist: (b) even when I was a Christian, I was never brought up to believe that God was homophobic. Your argument is that you think God has ruled “homosexuality is inherently sinful” – therefore, that God is homophobic.

    Takei/Altman, etc.: Of course I don’t feel qualified to judge the reality of their relationship. I don’t live with them, I don’t know them.

    Yet you feel qualified to argue that they shouldn’t have been allowed to marry.

  24. evenshine says:

    This has got to break some sort of record, at least on my site! Thanks for discussing.

    “No, actually: it’s the claim that homosexuality is “inherently morally wrong” that is hard to defend from a Biblical standpoint”

    I love your “no, actuallys”. According to YOU, it’s difficult to defend. How many verses is the minimum for it to be truth? Besides, I’m not sure you want to attempt the ad populum argument. Even if the Anglicans and the Quakers were my preferred expression of faith, they’re still in the minority.

    “just not to use their interpretation to make the law of the land”.

    So, we have the question, which thus far you have avoided. WHOSE interpretation do we use, then? Yours? The “majority”? Both are philosophically problematic. Using atheism to attempt to legislate (i.e. enforce morality) is like using a sock to cure a cold. But try- I’d really like to hear your reasoning.

    “homosexuality is inherently sinful” – therefore, that God is homophobic.

    No, actually. :)1) Homophobia is the fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. 2)God is not subject to fear.

  25. jesurgislac says:

    Let’s say for the moment that we grant that one is born with one’s sexual orientation. OK? Cool.
    Now, let’s also remember that people are also born with predilections to the following: violent temper, alcoholism, misogyny, depression.

    So you equate heterosexuality to violent temper, alcoholism, misogyny, and depression? And that’s why homosexuality is “inherently sinful”?

    I have no idea whether a person’s sexual orientation is genetic or environmental or social: I suspect some of all . What I said is that no one chooses their sexual orientation: no one “decides”, consciously, to whom they will feel sexually attracted, with whom they will fall in love. You know this yourself, if you think about your own feelings.

    The notion that you can equate George Takei’s abiding love, affection, and respect for Brad Altman with “violent temper, alcoholism, misogyny, depression” is… absurd.

    I love your “no, actuallys”. According to YOU, it’s difficult to defend. How many verses is the minimum for it to be truth?

    Well, if the many, many verses in the gospels about not judging your neighbor, not policing your neighbor’s relationship with God, not setting yourself up as better than others, not being hypocritical, aren’t enough to be considered by you to be “truth” – since you go against them all in claiming that you know what God wants of Christian lesbians and gays better than they themselves do – I don’t know why you pick on the scraps of verses in Paul that can be interpreted to mean Paul was saying that same-sex sex was a vile sin, as particularly important. Paul was writing letters to churches in 1st century CE: Jesus was, whether or not a person believes him to be the Son of God, trying to tell people how to live their lives and care for each other. To me, Jesus speaks more clearly as a philosopher and guide than Paul does: though I admit I’ve only read the gospels in translation, and I’ve been an atheist for many years longer than I was a Christian.

    Perhaps significantly, Jesus uttered no word of instruction about policing other people’s sex lives: and in fact warned people off doing so unless they themselves were perfectly pure. Jesus is full of comments about people who thought themselves able to judge another person’s relationship with God, and they’re not very nice comments about those kind of people. Why do you feel that Paul polemicising about people who deliberately turn from the worship of God to the worship of idols (Romans 1:26-27) is more of an authority for you about the truth of Christianity that anything Jesus said about not judging other people?

    And if you regard Mosaic ritual purity as still important for modern-day Christians (the verses in Leviticus / va-Yikra that condemn two men who have had sex as ritually unpure, unfit to offer sacrifice in the Temple) then McDonalds is just as much an offender as any gay man – eating bacon will also render you ritually unpure – as will wearing clothes made of mixed fibres.

    You understand, I am not saying that you are wrong to uphold Paul over Jesus: I believe in freedom of religion, remember? I’m just pointing out that Christians who read the gospels in a regular way may come to believe that the truth of Christianity is more found in parables about doing good to your neighbor, not judging other people, about a God so goofy with love He will accept anyone who comes to him (I love the story of the Prodigal Son and of the workers in the vineyard) – rather than the homophobic Christian perception of a God that’s ruled that being lesbian or gay is inherently sinful, so it makes no difference how two people treat each other, it’s all hateful in the eyes of God.

    I just don’t like that particular interpretation of Christianity, that makes homophobia more important than anything else – the argument that for a Christian religious freedom means having the right to persecute and discriminate against gay people. Which is where the supporters of Proposition 8 are coming from: not merely the belief in a homophobic God, but the belief that Christianity mandates persecution and humiliation of people because they are of a sexual orientation God regards as “inherently sinful” – and that they (you) feel entitled to get the power of the state to do what you believe your homophobic God wants.

    So, we have the question, which thus far you have avoided. WHOSE interpretation do we use, then? Yours? The “majority”?

    None. No interpretation of any religion ought to be made the law of the land. No religious belief ought to be made law.

    Civil marriage, after all, has nothing to do with religion.

  26. evenshine says:

    “And that’s why homosexuality is “inherently sinful”?”

    No. Again, inherently sinful because God said so.

    “The notion that you can equate George Takei’s abiding love, affection, and respect for Brad Altman with “violent temper, alcoholism, misogyny, depression” is… absurd.”

    I didn’t. You seem to have missed Rhology’s intended connection, which was meant to elaborate on the idea that we have desires for many things, but it does not follow that not all of them are morally good. And what’s your thing with Zulu? 🙂

    “you go against them all in claiming that you know what God wants of Christian lesbians and gays better than they themselves do”

    No, GOD knows best for all human beings. As the Creator of the universe, he has that prerogative. And tolerating sin is not one of the things He does. So from this reasoning, does the Supreme Court know what is best for us better than we do?

    “so it makes no difference how two people treat each other, it’s all hateful in the eyes of God”.

    If this is your view of God and Christianity, I can see why you left. At no time have I suggested this viewpoint. Quote me if you can find it.

    “No interpretation of any religion ought to be made the law of the land”

    I think you mean, “no interpretation FROM any religion” here. OK- so from what do we interpret? Where do we get the moral (or ethical, if you’re more comfortable with that word) standards upon which to base the law?

  27. jesurgislac says:

    No, GOD knows best for all human beings. As the Creator of the universe, he has that prerogative. And tolerating sin is not one of the things He does.

    So, why aren’t you willing to trust in God? Why do you feel that God needs Proposition 8? If God knows best, why not leave God to deal with the gay Californians who want to get married, rather than arguing you get to play God and “not tolerate sin”?

    So from this reasoning, does the Supreme Court know what is best for us better than we do?

    I’m not following your reasoning here.

    If this is your view of God and Christianity, I can see why you left.

    Oh no. I stopped being a Christian when I stopped believing in God. It took about 10 years and a lot of thought and reading, but at the end of the ten years I knew God didn’t exist. I didn’t leave Christianity because some Christians think God is homophobic: I left Christianity because I no longer believe in God. I am saddened by the Christians who argue for homophobia as a central tenet of Christianity, because the Christianity I used to believe in was not like that.

    At no time have I suggested this viewpoint. Quote me if you can find it.

    You argue that same-sex couples ought not to be allowed to get married, because you claim that God and Christianity say that it’s wrong. This is not my view of God – I’m an atheist: it’s yours.

    OK- so from what do we interpret? Where do we get the moral (or ethical, if you’re more comfortable with that word) standards upon which to base the law?

    Well, the US has been going for well over two hundred years on the standards derived from English common law, which were themselves derived by standards going back till whenever (the principles of English common law may predate the arrival of Christianity in England) on good ways figured out by practical common sense for people to behave towards each other. I’m not sure why you’d want to revise this, change the US Constitution, suddenly in order to impose your religious beliefs upon everyone else, whether or not they share them. We’re talking about same-sex couples having the freedom to marry, not a “moral or ethical standard”: it is neither moral nor ethical to argue that, as another evangelical Christian puts it, marriage is a “privilege not a right”.

  28. thebenevolentdictator says:

    Y’all have been busy since I last checked the site.

    There’s so much that I want to say, but I’m tired. But, I want to paraphrase something that I heard Melissa Etheridge say in an interview last week…she said something to the effect that if homosexuality is inherently sinful that God will judge her at the appropriate time. After it’s all said and done, this country was founded on the premise (again, something we are still trying to put into practice) that we’re all created equal. As I’ve had the right to marry the person who I love, I believe that should be the right of all adult Americans.

    Also, in regard to Christians who support this movement and that they should be counseled by their pastor. Sorry- I cannot support that, obviously. I’m a Catholic, not a member of a cult. I’m a thinking, highly educated person and there isn’t a person that can make me think that relegating gay people to a lower status than I enjoy is acceptable. No amount of “counseling” will make me change my mind. Certainly, it’s interesting to have these discussions but outside of God himself revealing something to me (see Paul discussion above : ), I can’t see changing my mind on this one.

    People can quote the Bible at me all day long on this and until I see masses of people trying to outlaw the eating of shellfish or advocating for the stoning of disobedient childen (see Leviticus)…I can’t get too excited.

  29. thebenevolentdictator says:

    I realized (again, tired) that I didn’t flesh out my M. Etheridge reference. She said that God will judge her, but that doesn’t mean that she should be denied her right to marry the person of her choosing.

  30. Evenshine says:

    Oy vey. Jesurgislac, it’s difficult when I have to explain things several times in various different ways, but you then persist in either twisting my words or (purposefully?) misunderstanding. As a former Christian I had hoped some of these things would be understandable. But I’ll try…again.

    Trusting to God- of COURSE. And I do, on a daily basis. But it does not follow that the law of the land should be “trusted to God” AND ABOLISHED. By this logic we’d have anarchy, or at least lawlessness. People are not inherently good- this has been proven over and over by history. We need laws. OF COURSE God is sovereign, and in control. But he instituted human law and morality so that people could live together in peace.

    You persist in equating my view that homosexuality is sinful with abuse and bad treatment. I have asked repeatedly that you show me where I advocate this viewpoint and you have failed to do so.

    “US has been going for well over two hundred years on the standards derived from English common law”, etc.

    I don’t think you want to argue this. The end is that we stick with what we have, which is to argue against your viewpoint that gays should be allowed to marry.

    But it again (AGAIN) avoids my question: what SHOULD the law (and thus decisions about legislation) be based on, from your point of view?

  31. Evenshine says:

    BD- thanks for stopping by.

    “founded on the premise…equal”

    Yes. Also founded on the belief that “in God we trust”, as I think you and I would both agree.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion.

    As to the Christians being “counseled”- that is not what I said. Please review comments thoroughly before quoting someone. I said “corrected”. Much in the same way as your Priest might correct you on Catholic church teaching on this matter, were you to ask. To equate church counseling with a cult is ludicrous.

    And in the end, I agree with Melissa Etheridge, at least on the first part of your quote. She WILL someday stand before God, and have to give an accounting for her sinful way of life. As will you, as will I.

    “there isn’t a person that can make me think that relegating gay people to a lower status than I enjoy is acceptable.”

    Then why are you here?

  32. jesurgislac says:

    Trusting to God- of COURSE. And I do, on a daily basis. But it does not follow that the law of the land should be “trusted to God” AND ABOLISHED. By this logic we’d have anarchy, or at least lawlessness. People are not inherently good- this has been proven over and over by history. We need laws. OF COURSE God is sovereign, and in control. But he instituted human law and morality so that people could live together in peace.

    But this “banning same-sex marriage” law has nothing to do with people “living together in peace”. It is explicitly a religious law being imposed on people who do not share those religious beliefs. Extending marriage law to include same-sex couples is an extension of the law: the pro-Proposition8 crew were arguing for anarchy and lawlessness, against the rule of law.

    Your belief is that God is homophobic and doesn’t want same-sex couples to have sex, still less have committed relationships, and from that you argue that it’s the business of the secular power to enforce God’s will with regard to these same-sex couples – therefore, you say, let anarchy and lawlessness reign for same-sex relationships!

    You persist in equating my view that homosexuality is sinful with abuse and bad treatment. I have asked repeatedly that you show me where I advocate this viewpoint and you have failed to do so.

    But I keep pointing it out to you: You keep advocating that because you believe homosexuality is sinful, that means same-sex couples ought to be legally barred from marriage. That is abuse and bad treatment of lesbian and gay people. That’s your viewpoint.

    But it again (AGAIN) avoids my question: what SHOULD the law (and thus decisions about legislation) be based on, from your point of view?

    That’s a huge question, Evenshine. The one thing I will say explicitly they should not be based on (as the Founders of the US themselves ruled) is religious belief. English common law, on which US law and decisions about legislation are ultimately based on, is an enormous subject. Other parts of the world use different systems – France and its colonies use a system derived from the Code Napoleon, a systematic code written down by jurists, Scottish law is much more legislative than judicial – there are multiple systems worldwide.

    The system of law in the US, and legislative decisions thereof, is based historically on the system of judges making law according to their knowledge of past decisions, their own learning, and – the best of them – an aspiration to be just and fair, to have the law apply equally to everyone.

    It’s that aspiration which led the Supreme Court of California to override the original anti-marriage amendment of 2000: it is unjust that marriage law should not be allowed to apply to same-sex couples.

    If you have a problem with this, if you would rather live in a country where law is based on religious rulings, you need to look at Iran or Saudi Arabia to see how that works.

  33. thebenevolentdictator says:

    I’m here because I think it’s interesting to have an airing of differences and also because I like to understand how people who believe differently than I think. But, I’m not here to be convinced otherwise. Although I’m a devout believer in God, I can’t presume to know what God thinks about homosexuality. The one thing that is clear from the Bible, above all else, is his Greatest Commandment: To Love One Another. As an American, I enjoy great status and this is another gift I’ve been given. To deny other Americans this status based on my own religious tradition is simply wrong.

    Also, in real life- if you knew me, you would think it’s laughable that apparently in the blog world I’ve become an unlikely gay activist and also quoter of the Bible.

    But, I do stick to my beliefs. And we can argue semantics all day long, but no amount of priestly/pastorly counseling, advice, correction or whatever you want to call it can dissuade me from my belief that it is more important that we treat each other well and respect each other’s (God given) free will than trying to outlaw everything we may disagree with. As a thinking human being, my opinion is my own and, as I said, there isn’t an earthly person (priest or otherwise) who will be able to move me on this subject.

  34. thebenevolentdictator says:

    Also, in regard to the M. Etheridge thing, we will ALL have to account for our sinful way of life. Whether M. E.’s sexuality comes up in her interview with God, St. Peter, or whoever remains to be seen. Maybe it’s more important that she was a good parent, a contributer to society, etc. Much like I hope that the good that I’ve done in my life and my belief in God will outweigh all the bad things I’ve done as well.

  35. evenshine says:

    J- I think we finally have it! YES, I would bar homosexual marriage, because fundamentally it’s sinful. And I don’t believe that legislation to that effect is abusive. So we’ll have to disagree there.

    As regards the law- I’d disagree here as well. Law in this country is based on the Judeo-Christian belief system. “What they thought was right”- yes- based in a thoroughly theistic worldview. But you’re right, it’s a complex question. I’m glad I’m not a lawyer.

    May I suggest that in light of our apparent inability to come to an agreement, that we finish with “closing arguments”? It may be a civil and fair way to finish the discussion.

    Thanks for your comments, as always.

  36. evenshine says:

    BD- I appreciate that you enjoy watching the debate, but please come prepared to give an argument other than “it’s my preference”.

    May I suggest, with the best intentions, that you do some research into Catholicism? You are WAY out from official Church teaching, and it’s sad to me that you either a) know so little about your professed faith or b) choose to ignore it, to the detriment of your own soul- according to the Church.

    I’d also suggest you look into the Bible a little. You mention that you can’t presume to know what God thinks. Fortunately we don’t have to presume- He has left us His word to go by. If you have trouble understanding what you read, there are a wealth of resources out there to help you. But, as I’ve mentioned before, your local Priest is a good place to start.

    As always, my best to you and yours.

  37. jesurgislac says:

    May I suggest that in light of our apparent inability to come to an agreement, that we finish with “closing arguments”? It may be a civil and fair way to finish the discussion.

    Fair enough.

    J- I think we finally have it! YES, I would bar homosexual marriage, because fundamentally it’s sinful. And I don’t believe that legislation to that effect is abusive. So we’ll have to disagree there.

    If you mean that – that if a majority vote in your state annulled your marriage, and you were told that you could never be allowed marry the person who is currently your husband and who would suddenly become merely your live-in partner: the only way you would again be able to be married would be if you ditched your live-in and married someone else – if you would not regard that as abusive, then though I think marriage is more important than that, we can agree to disagree.

    If you simply mean that you don’t see it as abusive because it isn’t being done to you, and you don’t care if it’s done to your children, well: abusers never are the best judges of whether what they are doing is abusive.

    As regards the law- I’d disagree here as well. Law in this country is based on the Judeo-Christian belief system.

    No, it’s not. You are simply, factually wrong. Law in the US is based on English common law – just as it is in most ex-colonies – and English common law is not based on the Judeo-Christian belief system.

  38. thebenevolentdictator says:

    All right. We can agree on two things, at the very least.

    1- We cannot divorce morality from government. (and, as I said, I wouldn’t want to)

    2- Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.

    Where we disagree…

    As I see it, religion and morality, while they can go hand in hand, are not the same. As J pointed out above, Iran and Saudi Arabia are countries where religion is the rule of the country. But, I bet we could agree on the fact that we would not classify either of these govts. as particularly moral ones despite their religious bent.

    Secondly, I disagree with using personal or organized religious values as measuring sticks for forming our public policies despite the fact that our country was founded on said Judeo-Christian policies.

    Because where does it stop?
    Should America outlaw birth control (Catholicism), alcoholic beverages (Southern Baptists and other evangelical churches), blood transfusions (Jehovah Witnesses), electricity (Amish), and mandate a Kosher diet (Judiasm) and a dress code (Mormons)? I’ve never needed a blood transfusion, but I like tank tops when its 100 degrees outside, a good cabernet, my car, and oysters. It’s impossible to divorce public policy from the moral leanings of the country, but forcing others to subscribe to a religious tradition not their own based on your own belief is not what this country was founded on. I think that outlawing anything based on a personal view that its sinful is incompatible with our country and our freedoms that we enjoy as Americans.

    Despite our obvious differences, I’ve enjoyed the banter.

  39. thebenevolentdictator says:

    Evenshine-

    OK, I’ve enjoyed everything but that.

    I went to Catholic school for 12 years and attend weekly Mass. I know it pretty well, thanks.

  40. thebenevolentdictator says:

    One more thing, and I’m done.

    Again, as a person God given intelligence and free will, it is up to me to be the kind of person that God wants me to be. I am not perfect, and I sincerely hope that at the appropriate time that God can forgive me for the all the grievances and sins that I have and will commit over the course of my life.

    I don’t believe that you are a Catholic, and I do not need to be or appreciate being preached to about my own religion or my own spirituality. Thanks again.

  41. evenshine says:

    J- Thanks, as I said, for the civil conversation.

    Yes, we will have to disagree. I do not find anything abusive about defining marriage as it has always been, since recorded time, including, I may add, the founders of this country, who based their system of law on Judeo-Christian morality. Morally I don’t agree that a preferred behavior should be granted super-rights over any other.

    In addition, separating morality from law is impossible. Atheism doesn’t offer any reasonable alternative, as atheistic morality is based on preference.

    Thank you for your time and persistence. I hope you’ve learned something. I certainly have.

    Blessings.

  42. evenshine says:

    BD- AGAIN, have you read my comments thoroughly? You are missing a great deal of what I have said, and you are misunderstanding the rest.

    The religious governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia are based on Islam, a religion I hope we can agree is full of error. I never suggested a religious government for the US- I suggested that morality comes from religion, and they cannot be separated. I understand you disagree with me. That’s fine. I would give you the same challenge as I gave Jesurgislac- what do we base it on, then? If you’d like to answer in a post on your own site, I will be glad to participate.

    “I know it pretty well, thanks.”

    Then you ignore historical and current Church teaching, and flaunt your pride in that fact. I’m not sure how one can be Catholic without following Catholic teaching, but good luck.

    You’re right- I am not Catholic, though I have studied Catholic theology, married a Catholic, and attend Mass. I didn’t ever suggest I was Catholic. But if a person were entering the freeway on the offramp, would you try and stop them?

    As always, blessings.

  43. thebenevolentdictator says:

    No, what has bothered me all day as I sit here at my desk working and through a dentist appointment, is the fact that you made this personal. We were having a pretty interesting discussion and you made it personal. And, yes, I find that to be offensive. You’ve said that I misunderstood you, but rereading all of these comments, I’m not sure how that’s possible.

    I know of NO person who believes completely in the perfection of their own religion- except for my old high school religion teacher. I acknowledge that while I believe most of Catholic theology that I have trouble with some parts of its social stands. Those are my imperfections and I am human. It took me quite awhile to embrace organized religion and to go back to my Catholic roots, but I have and acknowledge any differences I may have with my religion as my responsibility. I understand Catholicism very well. My uncle is a priest, I am active in my parish, and I have read much of what Pope John Paul II wrote. Does it make me less Catholic because I think that, as Americans, we need to uphold our Constitution? I think not.

    It bothers me when I’m having a discussion is when someone attempts to tell me I’m wrong. Why can we not agree to disagree? I made no effort to tell you that you are wrong and “convert” you to my belief, but you felt the need to tell me to educate myself on my own religion. I guess I have a problem with that. I’m a good person, I raise my children within a religious tradition, and I honestly don’t think that I’m entering any freeway from the offramp.

  44. evenshine says:

    BD- you must not have understood. I am closing comments on this post. I’ll email you a response, as you continue to misunderstand. Blessings.

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