Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho!
I suppose it's worth asking: does the image of two guys in ice hockey gear about to kiss make you do a double-take?
It did me. Hockey, like American football, is a sport that is the essence of machismo and violence. Guys slap a piece of rubber up and down a skating rink while shoving and pushing and even punching their opponents in pursuit of getting the puck into the goal. It's not one of my favorite sports. In fact, I barely pay attention to hockey and usually dismiss it as "Canadian ice boxing". So two hockey players showing such tenderness as a kiss with one another: yes, it caught my attention.
So did the question: Shocking? Was I shocked? Yes, in a way I was. But I wasn't repulsed. And the more I look at the picture, the more I like what I'm seeing.
Two men in love is as sweet an image as looking at the Royal Couple in my book.
And that's part of the point in celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, a holiday born in Montreal in 2003 by Foundation Emergence. There is nothing to fear in love. In fact, one might say that a perfect love casts out fear.
So, why then do people continue to cling to their fears of LGBT people? Are the ones who fear gay and trans people without God? How can that be when so many who profess to have a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ are the very ones who then quote one of their favorite seven memorized verses from the Bible to condemn us?
I have a couple of theories on this. One can be found buried in a story from CNN's religion blog about how the smartphone and other such devices are going to drive down church attendance.
According to a 2010 survey, more than a third of born-again Christians “rarely or never” read the Bible. Among “unaffiliated” people - that is, Americans who don’t belong to a religious congregation - more than two thirds say they don’t read the Bible.
The people don't read the Bible... and what they do read... they quote ad nauseum out-of-context and not understanding it. If they go to church, they've very likely had the experience of being fed poison from the pulpit designed to bolster their ignorance. And not just at the Roman Catholic and Baptist Churches. At my own St. John's Episcopal within the past decade, there was apparently sermon upon sermon used to stir the pot of fear and loathing of LGBT people. Today, those hate-filled words pour forth from the pulpit of St. Peter's Anglican Church... which incidentally links itself to the Anglican Church of Uganda. And if you think homophobia is bad here...
My other theory is more tied to the culture we live in. People are just generally very wiggy about sex and bodies. And the LGBT community poses a serious challenge to the straight world's comfort level. Those who are not comfortable in their own skins as heterosexual can't seem to help but get all fixated on what "those people" are doing (or not!) in their bedrooms. The church is no helper in this area because the church has taken a "body=bad" approach to spiritual teaching. But if you think about it: if the body is so bad, then why would God have appeared to us in the male person of Jesus Christ? And don't we start bordering on some bizarre form of Gnosticism in the Church when we refuse to see the body and spirit as both gifts from God?
Are homophobes without God? Yes, they are. God isn't a homophobe and does not support the fear and rejection of those who live in love. After all, don't we Episcopalians love the refrain of that hymn: God is love and where true love is God himself is there?
Let that be the message of the day and make that the ethic we export to the rest of the world!
(Aside: I will have a blog much later today on the Smartphone as Church).