“Gay Rights in the Desert”

January 31, 2007

From Monday’s Austin American Statesman:

Gay rights in the Mexican desert

Border state of Coahuila passes law recognizing gay unions.


MEXICO CITY BUREAU
Monday, January 29, 2007

SALTILLO, Coahuila — San Francisco this isn’t.

Here on the outskirts of the forbidding Chihuahua desert, where ranches sprawl for miles and cowboy culture rules, life is marked by a conservative streak that dates back to the Spanish friars of the 1500s.

So, many residents in the border state of Coahuila were surprised this month when the state legislature approved civil unions for gay couples, instantly placing Texas’ neighbor on the vanguard of gay rights in the Americas. Coahuila joins Mexico City, Buenos Aires and a southern state in Brazil as Latin American locales approving gay unions.

Click here for the rest.

And my commentary:  The town of Piedras Negras, which I wrote about here, is in Coahuila.  If the conservative deserts of Mexico can be transformed by the ever increasingly revelatory picture of just how big God’s love is- from the days of the friars’ colonization and imposed culture upon the indiginous people to today when we GLBT people are now free of legal discrimination there (unfortnately, just across the border in Texas that is not true…yet), there is truly hope for freedom for everyone in God’s vision which continues to unfold before us.

j

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11 Responses to ““Gay Rights in the Desert””


  1. Hi Jeff,

    I was wondering. Do you use the Bible in your understanding of the God you mentioned several times?

    Do you find a way to explain away the Biblical preclusion of homosexual activity? And how?

    Does it matter to you what the Bible says about homosexual activity? Do do you press ahead seeking acceptance for this behavior in spite of it?

    Thanks for this post.


  2. By the way, I’ve never asked these questions of Christian gay before.

    I have had running discussions with gay men about the choice to be gay and the like but the reply was were here, were queer, get used to it.

    I’ve not spoken with a man who professed the Lordship of Christ and was openly gay.

    Thanks

  3. Jeff Says:

    Thank you for posting, icanplainlysee.

    There is plenty of information all over the place to open up the text of the Bible, which does not, as you say, preclude homosexual activity.

    First, the word “homosexual” only appears in English translations. The original Greek and Hebrew does not contain this word.

    Before going on to more resources, I want to continue reframing your question. You say that I “continue acceptance for this behavior.” We have a misunderstanding here; let me clear it up.

    My sexual orientation is not a behavior; it is a part of my identity, just as your sexual orientation is a a part of your identity. Just as I do not care what happens in your bedroom, you need not care what happens in mine. This is not about sexual activity; this is about two committed people in love sharing in the joys and sorrows of a relationship. If you take it into my bedroom then that is your decision, not mine nor the gay and lesbian “agenda.” Why are you so curious about our sex life? We are not curious about yours.

    Third, you call it a “choice to be gay.” I have spoken to very few men who consider being gay a choice. See previous comment about identity versus behavior. That is probably the reason for the response you get.

    There are plenty of gay and lesbian Christians. Many of those to whom you spoke are likely Christians as well, although I am not here to judge their behavior nor yours– hard as it is for me to refrain from having seen the tone of your blog.

    Now, onto the Biblical resources. There are resources at integrityusa.org, episcopalchurch.org, claimingtheblessing.org, and many, many books on the subject– including this one. None of these resources are hard to find– especially the books– and I recommend doing some research if you are to take your research seriously. I think that the Christian position at least takes an examination of all points of view to heart first before deciding a group of people should not be welcomed into the Body of Christ.

    Peace,

    j

  4. FrMichael Says:

    Leave it to the corrupt PRI that has raped Mexico for 90 years to pass such legislation. Hopefully this legislation leads to a PAN takeover of the state government in the next election.

  5. John Says:

    1. It’s very hard to get around the claim that the NT reseves sexual relations for marriage between a man and a woman as the ideal(Consider the official teaching of the Anglican Communion) though I do think homosexuals could offer one another emotional support of an intimate though non-sexual kind.

    2. To say ‘my orientation is not a behavior’ doesn’t advance things or speak to the point, Jeff. You do this often. The point is not that homosexuals are not oriented toward members of the same sex, nor that the orientation is a surface thing as opposed to a deep structure or fixed way of being. The point is however one is wired, so to speak, there is still the issue of how one acts on that, lives that out, and puts a lifestyle into motion. Many Christian homosexuals do not retreat, as you do, and say ‘get out of my bedroom’ but say, instead, ‘Difficult as it is, I see the need for celibacy as the way to admit the Lordship of Christ, or as the way filled the most wisdom given my situation.” Many of us on the so-called traditional side are convinced that celibate homosexuals live more fully up to what we know from Scripture, Reason, Tradition, and Experience. We can admit, however, that this is a difficult path and one that the Church has not enabled people to follow as best as the Church could. Perhaps it takes a huge amount of vigilance to live a celibate life when marriage is not an option; perhaps it takes just the right group of friends and a certain kind of society. I am sorry that so many in ECUSA do not consider the option of helping gays to consider the chaste alternative and sorry that things are so polarized. –John

  6. Jeff Says:

    John –

    Thanks for posting.

    1) There is much literature on NT Biblical scholarship in support of what we now call modern gay and lesbian relationships. There isn’t time here to go through an entire historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, but if you are interested the material does exist.

    2) I completely disagree with you on the second point. Those who take the position of “requiring my celibacy” but not requiring their own in relationships of similar stature fail to understand the point, as you clearly demonstrate in your post. I am grateful that you seem to have a genuine remorse for the polarization this issue has caused. However, asking us to remain celibate because you are uncomfortable with our identity based on your exegesis is simply not an option for us. As with many other oppressed people, we have developed a hermeneutic of suspicion for the exegesis of the established hierarchy, and respectfully but frankly I am not interested in what a straight, white man has to say about my oppression when he likely has not encountered any oppression at all in his lifetime. (If I have mis-generalized you, then forgive me. If you have suffered from oppression than your comments certainly seem to indicate otherwise.)

    I am, however, completely interested in talking about how we can live together in our differences; I will not, however do that in the context of me having to give something up to do it while you do not.

    j


  7. Hi Jeff,

    Im sure your a nice fellow and all, but I seem to sense less religious conviction in you and more political activist.

    So, your position is that you feel the NT gives license to all homosexuals and your not going to refuse yourself unwed sex because that would be suffering that which others are not required to make?

    If other words, the unmarried members are doing it, so your going to do it too.

    And, you’ve adopted the language of victimhood and I assume have placed gayness along side blackness and identified as an opressed minority.

    So, your not trying to seem proper, correct or Godly, just satisfied with your feelings about being gay and have seared your conscious with desire.

    Thats ok, but I still don’t get the church life. Why not just admit to creating your own understanding using church talk to elevate your condition? Why not skip the church attatchment or is this your place in radical gay politics?

    Let’s face it, until very recently, gayness was hidden and shame and embarrassment followed discovery. Now, no shame, in fact celebration just by insisting it was so.

    Political correctness and the lies it’s told are seriously damaging the nation.

  8. Jeff Says:

    icanplainlysee,

    How ironic your name is.

    There are many points of view contained within the Bible.

    Jesus was a very political figure. Jesus sided with the marginalized.

    If you take a few minutes to read some of my posts on this site that are not related to my sexual orientation you may find some of my thoughts that you may consider “non-political”.

    But frankly, and as I have said, I am not going to take an apologist position.

    The Jesus I know and love is a political figure. The Jesus I know and love fights for those furthest from the center of society. The Jesus I know and love calls us into freedom even as he saves us.

    I have given you resources. This site isn’t provided for me to give you detailed information for your growth. It was, perhaps once, for that journey. I have provided you resources for your own growth. The choice is now yours– it is between you and God. You can choose to grow with God, to open yourself up to the wonder of a God who provides great diversity, community that appreciates and celebrates difference in a way that is wonderful. Open to the possibilities of an infinite God whose bounds we can never know, but whose plan for us is to be found in the journey.

    Or you can close yourself off and stay in a narrow world. Doctrinal and absolute, sure that it claims an exclusive grasp on the truth. Judgmental and condescending, those in power remain in power– afraid to let go.

    The choice is yours.

    As for me, I am no victim. I simply claim my identity, with all of the history that goes along with it.

    You may call that a victim. I call that moving from victim to victor.

    j

  9. Mark Says:

    Much admiration, Jeff.

    You reply with a Christlike patience and compassion I could never muster for such attacks.

  10. John Says:

    Thanks for responding, in part, to my post, Jeff. I think I am familiar with the attempts to a basis for same sex marriages in the NT or church history (Boswell comes to mind) but think none of them are convincing. That doesn’t mean there might not be basis for promoting the same, but the Bible is fairly clear in its prohibition against homosexual activity, and consistent throughout its history. But, that aside, you never really say why we on the so-called traditionalist side should ignore the testimony of gay Christians who live into the celibacy and chastity that the Scriptures commend and which the Christian tradition has commended virtually always in favor of your testimony and advocacy? I have two very close friends, one an activist like you, very bright, upper crust WASP (and I don’t mean that to be derrogatory) on the left-wing of the church so to speak and another–bright, Ivy league prof–who thinks that gay sex just isn’t on for Christians, and he seems to talk alot about the distinction you deny, that between orientation and behavior. There is also Jeffrey John who seems to be saying that celibacy within a gay relationship is the way to gp. Again, I am sure it is very difficult. But there are many who are trying to live out their discipleship in this way, too.

  11. Jeff Says:

    John –

    Yes, I’m sure that there are variations within our group.

    The power of the establishment is great. The power of the closest is great. I do realize that the language I am using sounds militant and jarring, but it is for a purpose.

    When we choose our identity, when we claim to be who we are, we are in a unique position. We can either assimilate into the mold that hetero-normative society puts forth for us- including Scriptural theology, or not.

    Living into our identity is a developmental spectrum, not a single stereotypical point. There are those of us who may choose to call ourselves gay because of our sexual attraction, but choose celibacy because of the guilt that our religion has instilled within us about it. I don’t believe that is truly claiming our identity as gay and lesbian.

    Truly claiming our identity as gay and lesbian means coming to terms with all of the differences that make us distinct and different. That means also identifying those differences within society which must be reexamined as hetero-normative teaching from a different perspective.

    Most of Pauline theology has a very definite cultural context. Understanding that context deepens and broadens the theology of the Epistles so that we open up God’s will for us– deepening our call to love each other and God.

    Does everyone agree on the interpretation? Of course not. But it is certainly their perrogative. Just because you find one or two who have not fully claimed their identity does not make the rest of our identity invalid.

    You can find a few African-Americans who assimilate into anglo-American society in the U.S. That does not mean all African-Americans want to lose their unique perspective on society, including the unique way they read the Bible. (Remember you are only likely to hear “I am color blind” from a white person.)

    j


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