December 04, 2004

Does an "alternative lifestyle" have to be alternative?

I just watched a taped episode of CBS's "Cold Case" from three weeks ago. The episode centers around a young gay man who is murdered in 1983. I won't give away "who done it," but I will divulge that the episode unabashedly depicts gay men touching each other, hugging, cuddling -- nothing more "racey" than if the people involved were male and female. Holy Rollers, hold onto your bibles! I was very glad to see such a progressive approach to homosexual couples on what is a very good television show, but I didn't really think anything was up at first. It took me a few minutes to realize that stations don't usually nonchalantly show gay couples being affectionate or end a show with a gay wedding, especially not at 7:oo p.m. in the Heartland, especially not a network that just rejected a commercial showing a church that accepts homosexuals as just as good as you or me. It then occured to me that CBS did something great three weeks ago, then regressive this past week. Why the change in temper? I was tempted to just write off CBS as a network of hypocrites. They know that young, "progressive" people watch "Cold Case" and might be turned off if the show held back or otherwise implied that a couple consisting of two men ought not to be able to hug one another on network television, when a couple consisting of a man and woman can. But, they have to look out for "families" and cannot allow acceptance of homosexuals outside of "Cold Case." But that's not it. CBS rejected that commercial -- while producing and airing that episode of "Cold Case" -- for another reason. I think that it is hard for people with "family values" to swallow that a person can have an "alternative" lifestyle and still have faith or be a good Christian. It is inconceivable that a person can be homosexual and still be a "good" person who attends church and loves Jesus. The alternative lifestyle must be an alternative to the kind of lives the rest of us lead? I don't think people are willing to accept that being homosexual is a sexual orientation and not necessarily a different kind of lifestyle. What's the difference between me and someone else working on a PhD in philosophy who happens to be homosexual? Does he or she necessarily hate God's people? Is he or she more promiscuous than I am? Is he or she a threat to "our values"? Will he or she getting married ruin the "sacred institution" of the American family? Two PhD students in philosophy will do many of the same things and live very much the same lifestyle, even if one prefers members of the same sex. It's plainly stupid to think that someone will live a totally different, totally alternative lifestyle just because of who they prefer sexually. Is academia that different? Would not the same be true of other "lifestyles"? Are not homosexual and heterosexual people very much the same, save for our sexual preferences? What makes a homosexual: preference for the same sex, or promiscuity and moral uncleanliness? What makes a heterosexual: preference for the opposite sex, or family values and Christian love? Cannot homosexuals love God, God's people, Jesus and all the rest the same as heterosexual people? I don't think that the American public is ready to accept that. They think that homosexuality is really an entirely alternative lifestyle -- wholly unlike our own safe and tame heterosexual adventures, right? The fact that, when I have sex, I can maybe "make a baby" makes me more able to love Jesus and to embrace some kind of family values, right? Sheerly by virtue of the fact that I prefer women to men, I am capable of living a normal life? If everything about me stayed the same, but I suddenly preferred men, all of that would change? Because sexual preference determines everything, right down to your ability to love Jesus and your neighbor, right? Bullshit.


Stasyna said...

If you take a second to analyse it though and break down to what a 'homosexual' is, it's basicly a war of words. Not to get technical, but the process in which gay couples pleasure themselves is what defines this word. With that in mind, whatever is done in those acts can be done by heterosexual couples as well, proving that the only distinguishing factor is that two males/females are doing it. So if a male and female do the same act, it's considered fine and clean since it adheres to the definition, or the 'war of the words' that defines sexual orientation.

It's quite stupid, and I agree, personal faith has absolutely nothing to do with who you decide to go to bed with, or admire. Perhaps your intentions while you worship will reflect your sexual orientation (i.e praying for lover, gay rights, etc), but the individual himself isn't going to pray a certain way because he's gay.

Jesus teaches us NOT to discriminate, but love our neighbour as ourselves, yet we alienate gay and homosexual people. So really we are infact going against the church while adhering to it - quite the paradox.

Anywho, good article and an interesting topic.

Neighbor Girl said...

I think this is just another example of christians using the bible as a self-serving device. The chapter that talks about homosexuality and shunning it also speaks ill of dead pigs- dear god don't touch them, clothing with more than 2 types of threads- gasp" polyester!!, and working on the sabboth- shut down the retail stores it's Sunday. Christianity had turned into more of a political motivator, than a doctrine of love and faith intended to serve a higher power. God instills fear, and today, fear motivates the people toward atrocious political decisions, so therefore god has been welcomed into out government.

The media continues to boggle me every day. They won't run the add from that church, but they continue to air Will and Grace. There is no coverage of election fraud in this country, but every Tom, Dick and Harry can read about the election fraud in the Ukraine. I fear for our future.

Pragmatik said...

Stasyna, you're definitely right. In my experience, some of the worst Christians are the very people who introduce themselves as, "Hi, I'm Ted. I'm from Philly, and I'm a good Christian." Maybe it's some weakness that plays itself out as a need to pigeon-hole oneself (defining oneself by such a narrow aspect of oneself as one's religion) and in keeping everyone who is not totally like one away.

This is, of course, not to say that I have anything against Christians per se or Christianity. My beef is with what SOME people do with it and in the name of it.

Pragmatik said...

Rach, I'm scared, too. Really.

Alcarwen said...

Agreed, and more power to you for posting on it... That's part of the problem I have with so many insitutionalized faiths... I was under the impression that "Christian" teaching was all about recognizing and appreciating love and loving relationships... and instead of that, perfect loving relationships are being met with hatred. Sigh.

The only reason it has been made a "lifestyle" difference is b/c much of the American populace has forced openly homosexual couples to seek refuge in the only community that accepts them: other homosexuals. It just flat out isn't right to ostracize based on sexual preference. Period.

As for gay marriage... if it's going to be outlawed, well, then shouldn't they outlaw marriage for couples who have no intention of having children? Same sin by their own definition isn't it? Not exactly a perfect happy Christian family. It makes no sense for the government to intrude on peoeple's personal lives.

I wholeheartedly echo you: Bullshit.

Stasyna said...

The thing you also have to take into consideration is the fact that Christianity allows for the questionining of one's own faith. Jesus teaches that it's good and even expected to revolt teachings of the church, for the answers will strengthen you once you find them.

The paradox I mentioned above is probably one of the hottest topics in religion and politics/society today.

Pragmatik said...

True, the openness to questioning one's faith could be a part of some Christian denominations. I was raised Roman Catholic, and we were always taught the opposite, not to question our faith. This, despite Catholocism's somewhat unique position on the relationship of reason to faith (that the former can strengthen faith, such as Augustine's "faith seeking understanding"). I don't really think that a lot of Christians are encouraged to question their faith -- or that it would solve this particular problem.

But I don't think most Christians would be adverse to _examining_ their faith (though not necessarily questioning it). I don't even think people like Pat Robertson need to question their faith in order to see that their practices are contradicting their Savior's message of love and human unity. All someone like that little punk (Robertson, not Jesus) would have to do is examine the teachings of Jesus and their own actions, to see how inconsistent and hypocritical their own divisive tactics are.

Why people can't do something so simple and so easy is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Hello John

Nice post. One thing - the assumption that the "American Public" is simply a hetrosexual one that can accept homosexuality or not is one that ignores the fact that in part it IS homosexual. Being gay isn't something that is separate or alternative, it is part of society. We're everywhere - be afraid, be very afraid :-)

Best wishes


Neighbor Girl said...

I think that for christians to question or examine their faith would require a level of introspection that scares the bejesus (no pun intended) out of the average joe/jane. A large part of the population has become very comfortable with the cloud of ignorance and laziness they've fallen under. Well, that, and the social ostrasization which would ensue keeps the lemmings in their flock. I believe Arthur Schlessinger said in the '50s that we have entered an era of "private opulence and public squalor." Did we ever pull out of that material-based, personal betterment phase? Is this why we have stopped listenening to our fellow man/woman? Does this explain the lazy attitude towards intelligence and exploration?

(PS- I really do know how to spell, although it's not evident from these comment posts- I get so excited/infuriated/befuddled that the words come out faster than my brain can handle)

Pragmatik said...

That's an excellent point, Michael. I hadn't thought about the generalization I was making.
But don't worry, I'm not afraid of homosexuals being everywhere at all. Glad is more like it:)

Pragmatik said...

Rach, you're onto something. Maybe people are just too afraid to examine the premises of their own faiths. I wouldn't think it would be as scary as actually questioning one's faith though, which is why some of these crazies have me so damned confused.

Hey, sppelinng is nothing I've ever especially treasured or valued anyway. I still can't help but hand in papers with mistakes in them, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

Stasyna said...

I think we don't venture into the unknown because we are incapable of dealing with the outcome. People ARE scared of the unknown, and not having learnt the nessasary tools (i.e critical thinking) we're unable to analyse a situation correctly.

Education is a joke these days, they're teaching us ideals that catch up with the times, which are already corrupt, making the system corrupt. Education run by politicians who obviously don't give a shit isn't how the 'future' is supposed to learn. It's brainwash and complete nonsense.

Alcarwen said...

I think that's entirely dependent on *where* you get your education and what you're taking out of it. it's all about the attitude, friend. Not *all* education is "nonsense" any more than *all* christians are uber-conservative. Being both christian *and* bound for a career in the educational system, i resent both sweeping generalizations made by the masses.

Critical thinking and questioning of faith aren't things that are coming strictly from institutionalized education though anyway... but I agree that there's a downslide on the majority of people demonstrating its use;-)

Pragmatik said...

Definitely, Alcarwen. Definitely.