The Church of Gay
I’ve written it before many times here on the Blend: how would fundies react if instead of calling homosexuality a sexual preference, we called it a religion? After all, gays have their own culture, beliefs, hymns (“I Will Survive”?), books, rituals, holidays, celebrations, sacraments, and a huge headstart on lavish costumes and silly hats. Wouldn’t it be harder for a fundie to deny someone’s freedom of religion than to deny someone’s freedom to do with one’s genitalia as one pleases?
Well, with the recent developments in Britain forbidding Catholic adoption agencies from discriminating against gays, we find religious folks there crying “Discrimination!” Do they realize the argument they present validates my whole “Church of Gay” concept?
Apparently Nathaniel Frank, blogging at HuffPo, does (check it out There’s Moreville…)
Piers Paul Reed, for instance, a popular English author and a prominent Catholic, has called it ironic that homosexuals, so often the victims of discrimination for what they feel in their hearts, would seek to force Christians to violate the deepest convictions of their souls.
But the argument that gays and lesbians should sympathize with the situation of devout Christians as victims of discrimination signals a remarkable –if perhaps unwitting– evolution in religious thought about homosexuality. The ironic, and quite promising, outcome is that social conservatives are now expressing parity between the feelings of Christians and the feelings of gays and lesbians.
What might come of this newfound sympathy? Religious faith and practice have properly enjoyed special status in Western culture as a protected sphere. When John Locke and Thomas Jefferson articulated their influential theories of political liberty during the Enlightenment, freedom of conscience was fundamental; the only way to give any real meaning to the period’s new understanding of the relationship between the state and the individual. In a free society, any effort to dictate the shape of the human heart is considered not only inhumane, but impossible –as meaningless as squaring a circle. What people believe or feel inside is regarded as a matter of individual conscience, and cannot be mandated by a tribe, a King or a state.
In this light, it is not hard to grasp the parallels between sexual orientation and religious faith that embattled Christians are now expressing. Religious individuals often speak of feeling a surge of emotion from deep within them, of hearing a calling from something outside of themselves, and of struggling to follow the dictates of their conscience in secular surroundings. Likewise, gays and lesbians frequently describe the undeniable force of their emotional attractions, the need to respect a commanding feeling that seems to come from something greater than individual whim, and the challenge of honoring their convictions despite social stigma.
All I know is that the church socials at The Church of Gay are going to be a helluva lot more fun!