29 November 2006

A Convoluted Path to Glory

It all started out, as it so often does, at AlterNet. That's where I found this terrific article about a Baptist pastor musing, "What if we're wrong about homosexuality?" Given the ever-rising mountain of scientific evidence suggesting that being gay is no more a choice than being blond or left-handed. (I am neither of these but I do happen to be gay.)

Anyway, I noticed the article was written by Melissa McEwan, who blogs as Shakespeare's Sister. I've really got to go visit there more; there's some good stuff there. I took a side trip to The Heretik's long enough to become depressed about Pam and Kid's break-up. They say it's a sign of the coming Apocolypse. Phew, glad I'm in good with the Lord! Seriously, I don't follow many B-level personalities but Pamela Anderson's got to be the most tragic woman around. I mean, look at that boob job! I'd be on a permanent bummer following that surgery, too. I hope things start looking up for her soon.

Anyway, A link in the Pam Anderson story led me to the Boston Globe online. While there, I noticed a headline in the sidebar which read, "The Anti-gay Obsession." Well, of course I had to go check that out. Well, this wonderful op-ed piece "highlights" some of the recent activity among religious types with regard to homosexshality. I'd highly recommend it.

But one part stood way out for me and that is this. South Africa voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

While all this nuttiness was going on here, the South African parliament this week voted 230-41 to legalize same-sex marriage. This vote came after South Africa's highest court ruled that existing marriage laws discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. The post-apartheid South African Constitution passed about a decade ago was noteworthy for being the first in the world to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

South African Defense Minister Mosuia Lekota was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, "The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us."

The tone of affirmation in South Africa had been set years before by the likes of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who lost a son to AIDS, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, who has repeatedly criticized homophobia in the church. "This is crazy," the retired archbishop said eight years ago. "We say the expression of love in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship is more than just the physical but includes touching, embracing, kissing, maybe the genital act. The totality of this makes each of us grow to become giving, increasingly God-like and compassionate.

I want you to pay particular attention to this part. Read it again:
"The roots of this bill lie in many years of struggle. . . . This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us."
Are they not the most glorious word combinations you've ever seen? "Timeworn prejudices." "Modern society." Leave our community a better place than when we came into it. Isn't that what's it's all about?

I'm very heartened to hear and read more about the rising social consciousness of many Christian movements, even some evangelicals. (These are not the first stirrings I've heard. When I'm off on Thursday, I'll have to research some more...a recent interview on Radio Times here on Philly's NPR station. Tonight, I've got to get to bed! It's 2 AM now.) This is what it's all about. Leaving the world not only unspoiled but better in some ways than when we were put here. Like packing out your hiking trash, moving or cutting that log in the tail.

This coming from Africa. If there's one place on earth that is still perceived by the "western world" as primitive, dark, dangerous, backwater it's Africa. Asia is garnering her respect via India and China. South America has its bright spots. But Africa is still widely viewed as more 'uncivilized' than we Eurocentric snobs here in the good, ol' US of A. Yet they've gone ahead and done the "right," the "progressive" thing. And we in the US lag far behind even the "darkest continent."

We should hang our collective head in shame.

tags: Christianity / classism / discrimination / gay marriage / glbt / linkage to come at a more reasonable hour...

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