Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hmmm I think Frank Schaeffer is rattling a few Evangelical cages

I've been offline these past few days because of a few big things going on that have required my undivided attention, so blogging will probably take a back seat for a few more days. But I do have a post waiting in the queue to be tweaked and published later today. And just a few hours ago a comment came through on one of my older posts that required not only my approval to be published, which I gave, but also a response written with great restraint.

Unfortunately I think I failed on the restraint part, but nothing sets this seething momma off faster than when comments come in under the thinly-veiled guise of kind, loving Christian compassion, and end up being anything but. So with that said, I think I may have over-reacted and gotten angrier than I should have, but then, I certainly don't pass myself off as anything but a seething mom who will fight to her death for her gay son.

Word to the wise: don't use dog-whistle language with me, it may work with your fellow Evangelicals, but not with me. I hear what you are really saying and I won't let you get away with it. You see, I may be an unwashed heathen in your eyes, but I am not stupid.

So for greater audience viewing, I am re-posting both the comment and my response. And I will let you all decide if I went overboard with my anger as I suspect I may have. Feel free to give me a verbal flogging if you must.

So first the comment:
FrancisSchaefferStudies.org said...
You should be careful not to jump on the Frank Schaeffer bus too quickly, one must always question someone that has attempted to throw his entire family "under the bus," so to speak.

I know you might not think so, but most Evangelical Christian's are not haters of gays. It is the fact that the lifestyle and actions of being gay violate a premise of the Evangelical Christian faith that they have a hard time with (I'll spare you the Biblical law explanation). Yet unfortunately many are not mature enough to properly take exception without being hurtful to others, which is indeed a shame. Let me be the first Evangelical Christian to apologize for those who have been hurtful to you and your son.
The unfortunate fact is that there is a decline of people in the church that understand the gracious balance of law and love. The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer (Frank's father) wrote about this in his book The Mark Of A Christian. Apparently Franky never read this book. In that book his father details that you have every right to judge us when we are not properly displaying these two important traits. So you should challenge any Christian who attacks you in the future on this point. Francis Schaeffer said, "truth without love is ugly and love without truth is compromise," these are primary tenants and BOTH must be observed.
On the gay issue. Being "anti-gay agenda" does not necessitate that you hate gays. In reality the position is that the homosexual lifestyle is a social dysfunction that is counter-productive to society. That is both an opinion and conviction of mine. I hold the opinion not because of just religious views, but also on the basis of the sociological implications. Yet I hold this conviction in the same way I feel about other social disorders. That those dealing with them are real people who deserve our real compassion and help. I am neither homophobic or hate homosexuals.

I took the time to read your story about the day you found out. I won't pretend that I truly understand what that felt like, but I do empathize with you. The sociological dysfunction of that moment must have been truly tramatic. Your descriptions sound nothing short of depression. I also read your write-up on the aftermath and it is here that I can see you begin to displace your anger. While the world may have a multitude of errors in how it deals with this issue, and I empathize with your analysis here also, the jump to attacking the overal social construct and Christians seems to me greatly misguided. Granted you were hurt, but at this point haven't you now become a hater yourself?
After years of this sort of writing and anger, and probably talking to less kind Evangelicals I wonder if anything I say will be taken as helpful. Yet, I wanted to at least offer a few sincere words.
And now my response:
Seething Mom said...
I appreciate the time you took to write your comment and I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant well. And though I respect your right to beliefs that run 100% counter to my own, you so completely lost me when you started backing up your "opinion" and "conviction" with words like "homosexual lifestyle" and "social disorders", which not only imply choice and defect, but truly show your profound ignorance on the subject. And that you used those words when confronting a mother of a gay child was quite telling and insulting.

I watched my son for years and knew he was struggling, I just didn't know why, and even counseling did not uncover the secret he spent most of his young life hiding because he thought it would cost him our love. And why would he believe otherwise? Between 20% & 40% of homeless youth on the streets are lgbt children, many of whom were either thrown out of their homes when they came out or were outed to their families. And though I do not have statistics on this, I'd bet my last dollar religion played a huge role in it as well because tragically, so many of these families are getting validation from their churches and religious leaders to be bullies, to throw their children out on the streets, or to subject them to horribly damaging programs that claim to change one’s sexual orientation.

I can tell you this, no sane person I know chooses to be something that will make him the scorge of the earth, an abomination, and to many people of faith, worthy of death. I would love to know exactly when you chose the "lifestyle" of being straight because I know from my own personal experience, my sexual orientation is every bit as innate to who I am as my eyes are brown. Neither is a choice and neither can be changed. But it is "both an opinion and conviction" of mine that you have made the "lifestyle" choice to be a holier-than-thou swathed so tightly in a false sense of smug sanctimony that I think you should get help. Being gay is NOT a social disorder, as you call it, but being a homophobe in denial, in my humble opionion, is.

And you are right, I do write with anger - a lot of it. And I make no apologies for it. And you are also right that I keep my exposure to "less kind Evangelicals" to a minimum. I happen to have a brother who is a born-again Evangelical (posted about him here, here, and here). He is a profoundly broken man who did what many of the Evangelicals I know did, he traded an addiction to alcohol and a lifetime of despicable, selfish behavior for an addiction to twisted religion that he uses as a weapon to judge and hurt others. I no longer expose myself or my family to him. He was far easier to be around as a beligerant, ugly drunk than he is now as a beligerant, ugly Christian.

UPDATE: And my evangelical "friend" responds:

FrancisSchaefferStudies.org said...
Thank you for the response. I appreciated what you had to say and taking time to inform me from your perspective. You did say I was "ignorant" on the subject, and I admit that from a certain perspective I am. I have not lived directly with this as you have personally, although I have had friends, co-workers and even a boss that I worked with directly who were practicing gays. I do seek to understand how it impacts a family such as yours.

You targeted my comment on homosexuality as a social disorder, and called that "ignorant" on my part, and it came across to you as insensitive. I was hoping more to state it more as a clinical understanding, it was not my intent to offend you. There are some facts however that you should understand on this. Homosexuality was considered psychopathological up until 1980, when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a disorder in the 3rd edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Up until that time it was considered a disorder.
Next I wanted to caution you about your argument that homosexuality is innate to the person. I have always seen that position as very problematic since other sexual disorders such as pedophilia and hebephilia can very easily be justified using this same argument. Surely you would not condone a pedofile's actions by saying that he was born with it?
I realize that categorizing something as a "disorder" is not comfortable given your love for your son, yet understanding something as a disorder is a diagnosis of a problem a person is having where that person needs help. All of us have disorders in some way, so saying this is not intended to state that I am better or hollier than you or your son.
And of course, I can't let this go without a rebuttal. So after taking some time to compose myself I respond:

Seething Mom said...
I am having a very hard time even responding to your unbelievably offensive and hurtful comment. In fact I am so enraged and offended, I am not even sure I can compose a cogent response. You pass yourself off as a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate evangelical, but you have proven yourself to be none of those things. I am truly horrified and sickened by your latest comment.

Using terms like pedophilia and hebephilia to bolster your argument that my son's orientation is a disorder, or a choice, or whatever the hell point you were trying to make was like a knife in my heart. That is my son you are talking about. Stooping to such lows makes me realize you are probably not worth the time or energy it takes to respond. But this is my beloved son you have chosen to analyze and dehumanize so I will not let your hurtful words go uncontested.

Homosexuality involves two loving and very normal consenting adults (consenting and adult being the operative words here), there are no children involved, just two people of the same gender who are drawn to each other in the same way that I am drawn to my husband and my straight son is drawn to his girlfriend. There are no children, pubescent or prepubescent victimized, and there is absolutely nothing illegal or abnormal about the relationship. And by the way, the relationship goes so much deeper and is so much more complex than the sex act you and your fellow holier-than-thous get so hung up on. (It really is kind of creepy how it is all about the sex for you people.)

Homosexulity has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, and is well documented for 500 of them. A new review made in 2009 of existing research showed that same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species. (The information I just sited can be found here.) Drawing comparisons with the illegal acts of pedophilia and hebephilia has exposed your ignorance and your deeply ingrained homophobia. Pretty much every accredited medical and psychiatric association now believes that homosexuality is no more a disorder than heterosexuality -- and every bit as innate an orientation as heterosexuality.

You have once again demonstrated your profound and very willful igonorance. And you seem completely unwilling to even consider that you might be wrong. But I am not surprised. You are the typical narrow-minded, right-wing evangelical today - completely entrenched in rigid beliefs that will never change, no matter how many facts contradict them. And the cruel way in which you chose to make your point about homosexuality, to a mom who has a gay child, reveals all I need to know about you. I now understand why Frank Schaeffer scares the living daylights out of you. He recognizes the monster that has grown from the work of his parents and he is right to be shining a spotlight on it and sounding an alarm.

Seething Mom said...
And one more thing...
I am not sure why you have chosen my blog as your forum to make your very misguided opinions about homosexuality known. If you are thinking you can win some hearts and minds here, you are woefully mistaken. In fact you have accomplished quite the opposite.
This is a crowd who has felt firsthand, the sting of words just like the ones you used here, the cruelty of judgment just like the judgment you used here, and the hurt of rejection just like the rejection you displayed here. They come here because this is a safe zone, free of the bigotry and ignorance that has so badly scarred them.

You will change no hearts and minds here. So if that was your intention, I'm afraid you are wasting your time and should probably go elsewhere.




The Crow said...

And I will let you all decide if I went overboard with my anger as I suspect I may have. Feel free to give me a verbal flogging if you must.

No verbal flogging necessary. Anger entirely justified.

It is so annoying (and angering) when those frauds "reinterpret" our lives for us.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Personally, I think you were the soul of restraint....

They really have no idea of how smug and officious they sound, do they? And they really have no idea of how much they turn people completely off of Christianity.

Daniel said...

I'd only add one thing you didn't address:

"Homosexuality was considered psychopathological up until 1980 ..."

I'm wondering if Frank realizes the implication of this argument: For the past 30 years, homosexuality has NOT been considered a disorder. The APA decided that it had been wrong.

This is what scientific progress looks like.

I can only imagine some priest in 1640 arguing that the Earth did, indeed revolve around the sun like this, "the sun was considered to revolve around the earth until 1610, when Galileo's observations confirming Copernicus's calculations removed that view. Up until then the universe was considered Geocentric."

Seething Mom said...

Thank you Daniel for reminding our evangelical "friend" that it is time to update his facts before using them to bolster a point that has been debunked for over 30 years. I was so tired last night and so enraged by this man's cruel comment, that I probably should have waited to respond. But I could not. I would not have gotten a wink of sleep with that kind of ugliness hanging in the air.

And one more thing, our evangelical "friend" has never identified himself by name, only by the name of his blog, FrancisSchaefferStudies. His name is definitely not Frank. Frank is the name of the son of Francis Schaeffer, the founder of the religious right movement and a very vocal critic of what has become of his father's movement.

Frank is a hero to anyone who fears this religious-right monster and the damage it has done to the Republican party and the glbt commnunity.

Unfortunately, our good evangelical "friend" is only courageous when it comes to hurling horrifying hurtful comments at the glbt community, but not when it comes to signing his name to it. So I owe it to the real Frank to make it perfectly clear that this man is not Frank Schaeffer.

Sage said...

I am so glad I am the gay son of a black woman. Black women are known for not making the truth pretty just to make people feel better. Surely this has got to be why so many gay men of all ethnicity's emulate black women so. That all being said, here I go. Your Evangelical "friend" is full of caca. And I would honestly say, from the most objective place I can, which is easy for me---you showed restraint, IMHO and were quite diplomatic is your responses.

Seething Mom said...

Thank you Sage.

Ben Marston said...

I am Eastern Orthodox. In our view the passions are disordered, from birth. We are broken in our affections. Our natures are good but we are plagued by passions, from birth, that are disordered. So, it is possible to be born with impulses and orientations that are adverse to inner communion with God. One that I have is an impulse to have multiple females. Been there as long as I can remember but it is a disorder that I resist from a place within my humanity that is deeper than impulses, my spirit, if you will, where we learn virtue and grace, by overcoming the fifth column within our genetics, our disordered passions.
So, the disorder in human nature is not primarily of the will; but of the passions; and the problem is that our will is bent to think that the passions are reliable guides and they are not.
As a Christian I spend much of my day resisting thoughts that are not in according with selfless love- thoughts of judgment, regret, fear, pride, self-esteem. It is the struggle against these thoughts and feelings that by God's grace has given the inner awareness of the presence of God whose presence is worth more than all the wealth of the world, is the fount of joy and Eternal Life. And for which the denials of self that are required are more than worth it.
So, as a person whose passions are disordered, I share a common malady with all human beings; and as a human being I share a common glory with all human beings- I am made in the image of God-which means that I can aspire to the freedom which exists in union with the selfless love of God, that often entails denial of submission to my own fallen impulses, whether inherited or acquired.
The Gospel of Christ is that we can overcome our bondage to passions and pride, and enter the freedom of selfless love by union with Him; it is a free gift but is also one that requires effort. This is the taking up of cross. To those who don't know God, the cross is foolishness but to those who are being united to God's person and selfless, passionless love, it is salvation.
The choice is before us- selfless love or bondage to passions that area disordered.

Seething Mom said...

Ben, I am publishing your comment because I believe it to be sincere and coming from sincerely held beliefs. I do not believe it is intended to be hurtful or hateful. With that said, I could not disagree with you more. You start from a position of straight love is pure and Godly, but love between two individuals of the same sex is disordered. I submit to you that your beginning premise is wrong. One would have to believe that premise in order to proceed any further with your argument.

When I was a little tiny girl (maybe as young as 3), way too young to understand attraction in a sexual sense, but old enough to realize that I was attracted to men (I had those silly crushes on my father's friends that little girls get), not women. Ben, that attraction was not a passion, it was an innate sense of who I was. I didn't understand it, I just knew I would grow up some day and marry a man. I never ever had a moment in which I made the choice to be straight and I suspect you did not either. Being straight or being gay is as innate to a person as having brown eyes. Both are immutable.

To compare being gay to a passion or an "impulse to have multiple females" is a completely unfair comparison. And it implies that there is choice involved to being gay. We all have impulses to do things that are not moral and most of us are able to ignore them or choose not to act on them. But ignoring a very integral part of who you are is to be in denial of who you are.

My son is gay and I had had some suspicions that he might have been gay back when he was quite little - way too young to understand sexual orientation or attraction. We do not know the science behind it yet, but one day we will have the proof that being gay is no more disordered than being straight. It may be genetic or environmental or some combination of a bunch of factors, but Ben, I can tell you without a doubt, it is not a passion, it is not a disorder, and it is not a choice. I watched to many painful years of my son agonizing over something that I later learned was his coming to terms with who he was. He absolutely did not choose his sexual orientation.

I do appreciate your taking the time to post a comment. Again, I believe it came from the heart and I respect that.