A member of All Facts and Opinions‘ Armchair Activist mailing list sent along an interesting pointer to a terrific installment of the nationally syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love, which originates from Seattle’s fine alt-weekly, The Stranger. In this bit, the always entertaining Dan Savage very eloquently addresses some of the boneheaded logic many religious people spew at GLBT people. This is the exact argument I have used with antigay Christians on numerous occasions in the past (and no doubt will use time and time again in the future, heavy sigh), but oh, oh, oh, Dan makes his case which such panache. Here is an excerpt from the column:
The intro to your column about losing your virginity — it went into the birth of Jesus -— was craptastic. Did you have to go there? Did you have to degrade Jesus and Mary?
Before you write me off as a Fox News–watching, Wal-Mart–shopping, Bush-supporting Bible thumper, please note that I am a liberal Democrat living in a blue-collar city in a blue state. I voted for Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, and Kerry. But I also try to live a Christian life. Your statements were sacrilegious. Jesus and Mary deserve a little respect.
I don’t see how it’s disrespectful, degrading, or theologically incorrect to point out that if Mary was a virgin when she conceived, and if you don’t buy off on the Virgin Birth (the idea that Jesus somehow passed out of Mary’s uterus and down through her vaginal canal without disturbing her hymen), then Mary’s hymen broke when the Kid was born. Isn’t the whole point of the Jesus Thang that He was the Word made flesh? And if Mel Gibson can portray His death in detail so gory it bordered on the pornographic, how can an aside about the mechanics of His birth be off limits?
And finally, to Rob in Albany who felt my aside was proof of my intolerance and hypocrisy: Joking about Christianity isn’t evidence that I’m intolerant — hell, I’m perfectly willing to tolerate Christians. I have never, for instance, attempted to prevent Christians from marrying each other, or tried to stop them from adopting children, or worked to make it illegal for them to hold certain jobs. I don’t threaten to boycott companies that market their products to Christians, and I don’t organize letter-writing campaigns to complain about Christian characters on television.
It would indeed be hypocritical for me to complain about fundamentalist Christians who’ve done all of the above to gay people if I turned around and did the same thing to Christians — but, again, I’ve done no such thing. Intolerant? Hell, I’m a model of tolerance! Oh sure, I joked about the Virgin Birth because I think it’s silly and sexphobic. And I’m free to say as much, however unpleasant it is for some Christians to hear. Fundamentalist Christians, for their part, are free to think homosexuality is sinful and unnatural, and they’re free to say so, however unpleasant it is for me to hear. But fundamentalists aren’t willing to just speak their piece, Rob. Nope, they seek to persecute people for being gay, and that’s where their low opinion of homosexuality — which, again, they have an absolute right to hold — transubstantiates into intolerance.
All right, gang: The next time someone gives you the old “you are intolerant of Christians” bullshit, remind them that we aren’t trying to make them unequal under law – that’s what many Christians insist upon doing to us. (And I say “many” because there are equality-loving Christians out there, God bless ’em, and some of ’em are even queer.) We want everyone equal under law, no matter their religion or lack thereof, no matter their sexual orientation. Those who want us to bow down to God as they perceive it insist upon supremacy – their supremacy.
And they have it: Fact is, religious types control the language (“later-term abortion” vs. “partial-birth abortion”) and frame the confines of any debate. (Why some libs allow this is far beyond me.) They want their version of morality to be ours – and they mandate it under law. And yes, they control the law, which favors them and punishes GLBT people, atheists, and many non-Christians for not sharing their beliefs. (And the law does favor Christians, whatever Bill “They Won’t Take My Christmas” O’Reilly says about how we horrible, intolerant libs are persecuting the poor, Jesus and Mary-worshipping, traditional-values Christians — excuse me, but aren’t they in charge? The second-class citizens aren’t the heterosexual Christians, after all.)
Don’t take their crap. Trust me, you’re doing them a favor in the long run by setting them, er, straight (and, no, I don’t mean that in a Joe Nicolosi sense). Sooner or later, certain Christians must realize that the world does not revolve around them. If the nation’s founding documents say we are all equal, the law should reflect it. Otherwise, the country is an inhumane, lying sack of shit. (Which, presently, the US is. Better to take the proverbial highway, if that option is open to you.) And yes, if we have to cope with their First Amendment expressions, they must deal with ours. It’s only fair.
Of course, be as gentle as possible when bursting their ecclesiastic bubbles. Personally, I have never been more than a second-class citizen, but one would imagine it must be tough for people who have always been the top dogs to even consider settling for “mere” equality.
A big tip o’ the baseball cap to JN for passing this on and for giving me a big grin. And thanks to the the divine Dan Savage.