This week I’m reading Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.
Also this week, I came across a news article in Pink News about the Nashville Statement.
The Nashville Statement is a declaration, a manifesto of sorts, written by conservative Christian evangelical ministers to define what they collectively agree and disagree with about marriage, homosexuality, transgendered people, and sex.
The synchronized timing seems divine and connected in a way that I normally wouldn’t see.
I’m not surprised by the manifesto.
As a resident of Indiana under the government of the now Vice President, Mike Pence, I’m very much aware of the mindset and anti-gay/anti-woman agenda of Christian Conservatives. I also am aware of how damaging it can be to allow such radical views determine laws and allocate funds.
For that reason, I’m feeling pulled to share my own differing view point on some of the Articles in the Nashville Statement.
I don’t expect any of the signers of this declaration to stumble upon my words, nor do I expect to change anyone’s mind. However, if you continue to read this article, I ask that you entertain my ideas to the end before you pass judgment.
Aristotle has been quoted as saying
“It’s the mark of an intelligent mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
I’m asking that you entertain these ideas before accepting or rejecting them. Just try them on, see how they feel... but before you accept this challenge, I must offer another warning I know to be true.
I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who noted,
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimension.”
He may have been paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr from Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,
“A man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”
Both men are saying that ideas have a way of changing you. They open possibilities, offer hope and sometimes elicit radical transformation in a single person.
I know this has been true for me. I just want you to be warned so that you can make an informed decision before you accidentally read too much and are forever changed without your consent.
With that warning, I’ll embark now on what has really been swirling in my head today.
From the very beginning of the manifesto, it is clear that these evangelical preachers are afraid.
They’re afraid their lifestyle is becoming obsolete and will pass the way of the dinosaurs.
From the Preamble:
“This secular spirit of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age?”
I feel like we can’t really see the solutions when our sights are narrowly focused on our fears. I feel like these men (and they’re all men) are afraid that they will become obsolete.
They’re afraid that their biblical view of life won’t continue past their generation and their legacy will be lost. It’s an ego trip. They feel threatened by the idea that their belief system will no longer be accepted by the majority. And when people feel threatened, they feel out of control. When they feel out of control, they try to control others. Hence the Statement.
Unfortunately, they won’t be able to address the issue until they no longer fear the consequences.
In my world, this fear-facing is called shadow work and the one thing I’ve learned in the shadows is the only opinion that matters is mine. I don’t need others to agree with me or live their lives as I dictate.
This is incredibly liberating. It releases me to allow others to be who they are and enjoy them, love them, help them and learn from them. I wish every man behind every signature that kind of freedom.
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.
I don’t even want to address the myth of Adam and Eve.
It’s been overdone. I’ve come to my own conclusion that despite what the Old Testament says and the two different stories that contradict each other (Gen 1:26-31 and Gen 2:15-25), Adam and Eve were not the first human beings on the Earth.
Maybe they were the first people Jehovah claimed, but they weren’t the only ones on the earth.
The Bible tells us this in Genesis 4:16, when Cain went to live in the land of Nod and married and had kids….or actually, I should point out that he had sons because only men mattered in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament was the bible of the Hebrew people, it was their history, their law book, their culture, their God…the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.
My ancestors are from a much more northern place; Ireland and possibly Nordic cultures. My Gods were the Gods of the Celts, the Vikings, and possibly Siberians (if you follow the genetic traits)
Now, since I’ve started this non-Christian journey, I’ve only ever worked with Goddesses. And in my experience on this non-Christian, Goddess centered journey, All Goddesses have been available to me. They‘ve all welcomed me; some with open arms and exuberance, some more reserved and wary.
But just the same, All Goddesses from All cultures offer help, support, and blessings in spite of the fact that I’m not descendant from their people.
I say this to point out that we can choose who we worship
and I hate the word worship…it implies groveling and I believe we’re all divine; we’re all Gods and Goddesses in the making, therefore, we shouldn’t have to grovel. But sometimes we need Godlier Gods to help us on our journey…Kind of like my kids need adult-i-er adults to help them figure out life.
These men, many of them, white men, with fair skin and pale eyes have chosen to worship and obey a God of Middle Eastern descent.
And it makes sense if you think about that God as he is depicted in the Old Testament; as he’s been portrayed from the pulpit for the last 200+ years. That God was an angry, violent and vengeful God. He was all-powerful and Omnipresent.
God made man in his image, says the bible and man modeled himself after God.
So when the Nashville statement denies inequality of dignity and worth between man and woman, I snorted.
Mostly because I choked on my coffee.
If a woman is equal in worth and dignity then why is she encouraged to ‘submit to her husband’? Why is domestic violence still the biggest killer of women in the United States and abroad? Why do Christians shame rape victims? Why are the churches still lobbying to deny a woman the right to make her own medical choices?
It goes back to your bible and the belief system that it has been perpetuating and imposing upon the world for the last 2000 years.
Article 1 and 2 affirm the one man/one woman ideology that you hold up to, the ideology you impose upon the country as a reason to deny marriage equality.
Yet, if you read your bible, Abraham had a polygamous relationship and fathered a child with his wife’s slave, Lot screwed his daughters, Issac had concubines, etc. etc. etc……
Women were property in your bible, they were bought and sold, beaten and murdered. They were slandered and erased by the early church. They were denied property, education, and respect.
Even today, in many of your churches, women are denied the right to lead spiritual services. They are denied the right to counsel the lost and relegated to the position of leading the choir or Sunday school lessons.
In “Men Explain Things to Me” Rebecca Solnit talks about marriage equality and how it’s treated as a threat to the Conservative Crowd.
As we can read through the Nashville Statement Articles 6-14, homosexuality and transgenderism is a HUGE threat. They are very afraid of anything outside what they consider a normal traditional marriage
Rebecca suggests that maybe it should be a threat because a marriage between two men or two women would be more equal than what the Christian conservatives consider traditional.
In the Traditional Christian one man-one woman marriage, the man is the ‘head’ of the household and the woman is pushed into a supporting role.
This might work well for some couples. I’m not saying it should never exist, but we all know that couple that doesn’t fit that mold. Maybe he’s better with the kids and she’s more talented in the business world. Are they to be shamed? Scorned? Excommunicated? If they’re white and wealthy, probably not…
But what about the slightly unstable guy with the drinking problem? If you throw that model of marriage on the couple, guess who gets the crap beat out of her? He doesn’t even need a drinking problem, just a sense of entitlement, an understanding from birth that he’s the man; the king of his castle and what he says goes….
Instead of telling women what they should do to please their husbands, how about you teach men how to treat their wives as equals even if they don’t fit the ideal. Teach them that all women are worthy of dignity and respect, no matter what. It looks like you might be trying that in this Statement and I look forward to seeing the results of that effort.
A same-sex marriage could truly be an equal marriage, where the two people can play to their strengths; where the roles and responsibilities are fluid and flexible and both parties are truly equal.
This is a threat to the signers of the Nashville Statement because it would demonstrate a sharp contrast to the picture of their own lives. Their wives might get funny ideas.
And while we’re on the topic of homosexuality and transgendered people, I must expand on my understanding of the divine being inside our human bodies.
I’m concerned that preachers, ministers, pastors, and priests spend so much time studying the bible to understand the Word that they forgo seeking answers from the Higher Being itself.
I believe the purpose of our lives is to experience emotions on a physical level.
It’s part of our spiritual evolution and offered to us by God, Allah, the Universe, the Creator….whatever terminology works for you.
In the Bible, God gave man Free Will, the ability to make choices and to decide for himself what he’ll do. (guess what, women have Free Will, too!) The Old God wasn’t too happy with man’s choices but by the time Jesus came around, he mellowed out a bit.
So the God who offered us the opportunity to take on a human life in an effort to evolve and educate us, lets us choose our path.
Free Will starts in Heaven. I believe He/She/It assigned us Guides and Counselors to support us and help us make educated choices to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves but ultimately it’s our choice.
I also feel like our Spirit Beings, or our Souls if you will, are a reflection of the Higher Power, perhaps a facet in the Gem.
The Higher Power is a perfect Balance of male and female energies. Our Souls reflect a fraction of that balance. Some of us have a more feminine spirit and others have a masculine spirit, most of us fall somewhere on the spectrum.
The energy of our Soul falls somewhere on the spectrum between feminine and masculine.
When we sit down with our Guides and Counselors to determine what kind of life will most likely offer us the lessons we need to learn, we get to decide what form we take, (male or female) our strengths, weaknesses, interests both intellectual and physical and what kind of trials we will face.
The purpose is to create a physical life with an adequate amount of emotional triggers so that we can experience emotions on a physical level in an effort to develop our Souls and learn to love anyway, without conditions.
Sometimes more masculine energies take on female bodies and vice versa.
There’s nothing unnatural or immoral about that. To claim that there is would be, in a Christians terms, blasphemy.
These choices we make in the Spirit Realm are approved by our Guides and God. We are all okay. We are all Holy and Divine.
I’m afraid that in all your years of studying the Bible, praying and contemplating what the message is, you’ve collectively overlooked the message that wasn’t written in the Bible.
It seems that you dismissed the knowing placed in your hearts because it wasn’t confirmed in a 2000+-year-old manuscript that was shared orally for 300 years, then pieced together, voted on by a majority, translated in to every language, handwritten, word for word, by men, under the authority of other powerful and sometimes menacing men.
Jesus isn’t gone, as I’m sure you know.
He’s alive and well in Spirit form waiting for you to listen.
And he’s telling you it’s okay if other people choose a lifestyle different from your own.
He’s telling you that you have nothing to fear from same-sex marriage, that you might even have something to learn from it.
He's suggesting that in all your pride and wisdom, that maybe you should try on some humility.
He’s telling you it’s not your business to label other people’s choices as sinful, that’s between them and God.
Your job is to love them anyway, just like He did.
I have to say now that I’m not a big fan of the word ‘sin’.
It's wrapped up in a thick, sticky, smelly, goo. The word itself is derived from the Greek word hamartia, which roughly means ‘to miss the mark’… as in archery. In that respect, to ‘sin’ is to make a mistake, which shouldn’t hold as much guilt and shame as it does in the Christian church.
I mention Greek because that was the first language that the Bible was translated into after Hebrew, after which it was translated into French, Germanic, and English, etc. Other translations of the word sin will have the Christian interpretation attached to it and is, therefore, in my opinion, not accurate.
Our purpose here is to Love, unconditionally.
To live our lives following the path that is right for us, making the decisions that we know in our own hearts, is right for us while doing as little harm to others as possible. To love ourselves as we are so that we are free to love others as they are, unconditionally.
As Spiritual leaders, it’s your job to model that behavior. Especially the part about not harming others.
I feel like your Nashville Statement is sinful; it’s missed the mark.
It’s okay.... but how about ya’ll reflect a little more on unconditional love, listen to what Jesus and your Spirit Guides really want you to hear and try again.
As Sophocles wrote in the play, Antigone: