A while back I said I'd share the real reason for which I think people get so insane about homosexuality. So lemme do that now. (And then on to all things Christmasy!)
The reason is power. It's all about power. The problem Christians and others have with homosexuality isn't about sex. Nobody cares that much about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Sure, it says in the Bible that homosexuality is bad. And of course that matters. As a Christian, what the Bible says certainly matters to me. But the Bible also says that slavery is good, and that women shouldn't speak in church, and that Christians should never eat shellfish, and on and on an on. We've long ago made our peace with the idea that sometimes we have to modify our understanding of Biblical texts---especially when (as is true with the Pauline proscriptions of homosexuality), there are sound reasons to question the way the text has been translated.
What fuels the fiery hatred that so many Christians and others harbor for gays can't be explained by pointing to the Bible alone. Clearly something more visceral is going on with that.
And for so many people, that something is everything.
When you hear the word homosexual, what's the first thing that comes to mind? A gay man. It's always a gay man. It's gay men that get people out on the street waving signs and screaming. It's gay men about which people tend to get so emotional; in the main, that's what all the hate and anger is about.
Zillions of people are a long way from being okay with lesbians; I don't mean to in any way minimize the bigotry against which lesbians constantly fight. But generally---on an instinctual, immediate level---the lion's share of the rabid anti-gay energy is focused upon "fags."
And so that becomes the $83 million question (which is how much total was spent to promote and pass California's Proposition 8): Why are we, both personally and societally, as reactive to gay men as we are? What is it about them that we hate so much?
And the answer to that question is simple: they threaten the traditional power base of men.
I may not be much. But I'm a man. And that entitles me to a lot.
Two women together? That's kind of cute---sexy, even. But it doesn't scare me. Because neither of those women can threaten my power. They can't undermine the truth that, as a man, I'm still (figuratively and literally) on top. Two women together doesn't change the fact that it's still a man's world.
But two men together? Yikes. That's a problem for me. That's when all the walls in my world begin to crumble.
Each of those men is my equal, my peer; they're my kind. If it's okay for them to be romantic with each other, then, for me, everything gets upended. [Oh, will you just stop already?!] Because where the heck does that leave me?
I'm a man. I get to be a man. That means I'm ... the man! I'm in charge. I'm at the head of the table. I make the money. I have the muscles. I build the castles. I'm number one! But I can't be number one without people below me to be number one over. You're not a boss unless you have subordinates. My whole organization---my entire power structure, everything that keeps me being The Man---absolutely, 100% depends upon me---and, by extension, upon my kind---being in charge.
And what we're in charge of is women.
Hello? Muscles. Castles. Food on the table. Conquering hero.
Swinger of clubs. Thruster of weapons.
Head of household.
That's how it's been. That's how it's supposed to be. That's my goddamn right as a man. And if you try to take that from me, I will do everything in my power to make sure that you fail.
And we're not joking now. I'll beat you. I'll make sure my kids learn to hate you.
I'll have no pity for you when you commit suicide. I'll happily supply the gun for that. Or the pick-up truck and the rope, if you're having a problem with gettin' her done.
You're screwing with my life now, you see? And I will see you in hell before I'll sit back and let that happen.
And that's how that goes. That's how that's always gone.
And it's hardly men alone who have invested their all into the traditional patriarchal power hierarchy. There's much in that power structure that has always worked for women, too.
It's traditional for a reason. Men are stronger than women. They do have to go out and hunt, and chop down trees, and build homes. Women do have to stay home and have the babies. Nobody wants to see a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy trying to chase down a delicious animal. That's just wrong.
Gender matters. It's real. And it's sure mattered in the past.
But today? When meat's for sale at any grocery store, and most guys wouldn't know an ax from a fax? When women can tap a keypad with the best of 'em? When it's brains that matter, and not brawn at all? When the winner is the one who is the most creative, the quickest to adapt---the one who's best at relationships?
Today, the ground beneath the personal politics and power of gender is shaking like a California earthquake.
And grabbing onto your Bible won't stop that movement. Nothing can.
Men are going to kiss men. And that will always seem intensely weird to straight people---just like men and women kissing will always seem intensely weird to gay people.
It's a new world, y'all. And it's time to be brave about it.
And mostly, of course, it's time to realize that when it comes to men loving men and women loving women, straight people have nothing---nothing---to fear but fear itself.
John Shore also blogs on JohnShore.com (where you can read more of his writings on Christians and gays). He invites you to "like" his Facebook page. He also invites you to check out the Thruway Christians.