Dysfunctional Family Values: Blind Faith, Blind Obedience, Blind Hateby Beverly Greene
The hardest part of coming out is dealing with the prejudices you've been taught all your life. I'm not talking about these attitudes from other people, I'm talking about having to work through them about yourself. All lesbigays have to deal with the stupid stereotypes we were taught as children. So, why is it that other people don't understand that?
My mom took the news of my coming out relatively well. In fact, she took it much better than I thought she would. My wife was not so lucky. She comes from a Catholic family where homosexuality is viewed as a choice, a mental illness, and just plain sick. Her family believes that homosexuals will go to hell for denying God and going against His teachings. Her family believes that she has been seduced (yeah, by me!) into this type of "lifestyle."
These same feelings that her family have, Jamie grew up with as well. So, when she started coming out to herself at age 20, she went through strong feelings of guilt and shame. She feared something was wrong with her. She went through this for eight years alone, feeling ashamed and unhappy. When we got together, I encouraged her to be proud of who she is, not just a lesbian, but a person who deserves respect as an adult from everyone she encounters, including her parents.
When Jamie came out to her parents, I was already living here. She had tried to do it months before I moved in, but she was just too scared. Finally, she did come out to them after much support from me and a lot of insistence from her siblings. They claimed it was hard on them not to be able to tell their parents about Jamie's homosexuality.
Her brother went months without answering his phone. When he finally came to BC to talk to Jamie and her sister, he told her that the reason he would not answer his phone is because he was having trouble dealing with this. He didn't know what to tell people if someone was to ask about how Jamie was. He was polite to me, but when we all started talking about this, he told us that it was just wrong for two women to be married. When I asked why it was wrong, he couldn't give me an answer other than "It just is!"
This is the kind of blind faith her whole family seems to embrace. They can give no reasons, no specific passages in the Bible where God comes out and says "Homosexuality is a sin!" This is the kind of blind faith that certain religions encourage, and the kind of stupidity that breaks families apart.
The Bible is a simply a book. I, as a Christian myself, do believe in the validity of some of the statements in the Bible. However, why is it that we think we should believe every word in a book that was not put together by God Himself? It is rather commonly known that the Bible was put together by monks. They decided what went in and what didn't. They translated it for centuries by hand. Many different monks with strong, strict Catholic backgrounds wrote the Bible by hand in high Latin. Only church officials were allowed to learn to read and write, so the only influence in the Bible is Church oriented.
Now, I don't know about you, but I can't even write down net addresses right all the time, much less write something as long as the Bible without making any mistakes. We do not actually know what God intended through the stories in the Bible, and let's face it, that is all the Bible really is anyway, a story book.
I really don't have a problem with other people's beliefs. I do not have a problem with people believing the Bible is infallible. I do, however, have a problem with people who use it against other people and presume to know exactly what God meant. The Bible can be interpreted in hundreds, if not thousands of ways -- but theirs is the only RIGHT way?
In the Bible, it plainly says we will never really understand God because He is beyond our level of comprehension. So, if someone believes the Bible word for word, why is it that they think they can understand what God thinks is right or wrong?
If people are going to believe the Bible, then why do they pick and choose what they will believe and live by? In the Bible, there is a story about a man who gives his daughter over to some traveling strangers. These strangers rape her so brutally that she dies on her father's doorstep. I do not know anyone who would think this was right or what God wished for us to do. The Bible also tells men that if their brother dies, it is their responsibility to marry his widow so that she may conceive and bear children. (You know, the go forth and be fruitful thing.) If someone was to do that now, they end up on Sally Jesse Raphael!
The Bible is filled with inconsistencies. Adam and Eve's children married to have children, yet later Christ says it is wrong to marry close relatives. So why didn't He just make two families to begin with?? Women whose husbands claimed that they were not virgins upon their marriage were stoned to death, yet later Christ says not to stone anyone. Early in the Bible God called for sacrifices, yet after Christ died on the cross, he was the last sacrifice that needed to be made. The Bible is not consistent throughout and can not be what God had planned. My God does not think so disorderly.
But still, Jamie's family insists on throwing certain Bible passages in her face. Yet they, and all others like them, neglect a few that I think are extremely important in understanding God and living like He wants us to, like these:
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be the children of God. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." --from The Beatitudes Matt. 5:3-11
"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." --Matt. 7:1
When Christ was asked what the "great commandment in the law" was, He answered:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind./ This is the first commandment./ And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself./ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." --Matt. 22:34-40
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly" --Romans 12:3
"Be kindly affectioned to one another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" --Romans 12:10
OK, I know what you're thinking and I agree. No more Bible quoting. Back to our regularly scheduled story...
Well, Jamie's parents came to visit for a week in early March. Her parents have refused to even talk to me on the phone. So when her mother called one day to speak to Jamie, I did not recognize her voice. I politely asked "May I ask who is speaking please?' as I always do when I don't recognize the voice and her response was a very rude "It's none of your business!" 'Why this anger?' I asked myself as I handed the phone to my wife, who was lying next to me the whole time, as I fought off tears. But, I knew the answer.
Her family can not deal with her sexuality, so they blame me for it. This is an unfortunate truth that a lot of lesbigays have to suffer through. Her family simply can not give me the respect they would give a stranger that they know nothing about, such as myself, because they feel like I made their daughter a lesbian, a sinner, and condemned her to hell. They feel like it is something that is wrong with Jamie, so they have to blame someone, and they refuse to blame themselves.
Her family has said that they have nothing against me, yet her mother told my wife that she did not want to ever speak to me, much less meet me and really get to know me. She thinks that gives her the right to call MY home and be rude to me. Her sister says that she does not have a problem with Jamie being a lesbian, yet she is extremely bitter towards me. Jamie's sister even told her parents about Jamie making me toast for breakfast sometimes. Apparently, this makes me a controlling, using bitch who never does anything for herself. Her sister never told them about the things she knows I do for Jamie. I clean the apartment, I make Jamie's bagel for her to take to work with her every night. I cook dinner most of the time. I take care of Jamie when she is sick. I hold her when she cries. I run her a bath when she has had a long, hard day at work. I get her undressed and ready for bed when she's too tired to do it herself. I do special little things for her just because I want to show her that I love her, just like she does for me. Yet none of this was discussed.
The point of this is that sometimes people do not want to admit it to themselves that they are holding these stereotypes and such bitterness. They are angry that Jamie is a lesbian. They do not want someone who is "mentally ill" in their family and they just can't admit it, so they take it out on the next logical person, the partner. They use whatever they know (true or not) about that person to make them evil in their eyes so that they will have a place to lay blame. This is a sad truth which is important for lesbigays to recognize, especially since our self esteem is lower on average due to just such attitudes. If a lover's family has a problem with you, especially if they don't know you that well, it is probably not really you as a person that they have a problem with. It's the idea of you. In their eyes, you are not a person, you are an abstract idea called "lesbian" or "gay," an idea that they have been taught is wrong and evil. Thus, you become evil and wrong.
We live in a world that tells us something is wrong with us, that we are sick or sinful. The world is much easier to deal with in the bigger sense, but the world gets so much smaller when you find these feelings in the people you thought of as friends, or from your family. We are not sick. This is not a choice. We are what God made us to be. Homosexuality happens in almost every animal species by nature, not nurture.
We are all, unfortunately, going to encounter this type of attitude of resentment and even hate at some point in our lives. It is important for us to remind ourselves constantly that there is nothing wrong with us, that they are the ones who have the problem. We have enough things to deal with in our everyday lives without letting someone else's stupidity and refusal to deal with their own issues bring us down. Remember, they are only human, not God, or even a spokesperson for God. So, be proud, be strong, and be yourself. Always.