Friday, December 15, 2006

Evangelicals Concerned

Neela Banerjee, “Gay and Evangelical, Seeking Paths of Acceptance,” The New York Times, Dec. 12, 2006, p A1, discusses Evangelicals Concerned, and mentions some personalities, such as Justin Lee. It also mentions (and shows a photograph of) a stable male couple, Martin Fowler and Clyde Zuber, who lead a Bible study group in the North Carolina home. I knew them when I lived in Dallas and attended some of their Evangelicals Concerned sessions in their mid-Cities home in the mid 1980s. There was a teacher in the group who would have to be satisfied with “I have gay friends,” a kind of “don’t ask don’t tell” idea for teachers. (My blogspot article is Is there a don’t ask don’t tell de facto policy for teachers?). For one session Ralph Blair actually attended and mentioned Paul Rosenfels and the Ninth Street Center in New York, which he credited for keeping gay men in monogamous relationships and in a safer situation with respect to potential HIV exposure.

Andrew Sullivan, in his book The Conservative Soul, characterizes much of evangelical christianity in terms of fundamentalim, and the need to have an external reassuring truth. It's instructive to go back and recontruct the "zero tolerance" idea in "christian" opposition to homosexuality of past generations. The concept can be understood as a kind of existential argument that comes from man, not scripture. Christian morality is concerned with taking care of and saving every member of the group. Early Christianity was socialistic. With the family, the idea of a kind of individualism and self-promotion in terms of providing for and "protecting" other blood family members in one's domain was introduced. The "morality" comes from maintaining an obligation to provide for others. The male homosexual, in particular, is seen as the purveyor of the perception of "the knowledge of good in evil" in labeling some men as more desirable than others. The upward affliation, paradoxically, reflects the value of another person as a potential father of a family, and (to anti-homosexuals) looks like a deliberate repudiation of one's own blood and lineage (because of a lack of interest in giving the family children). The homosexual is still seen as promoting the idea that power and merit "matter", but spurs resentment in straight men who feel belittled and feel like they are being told that they would be undesirable fathers. The "homophobic" community will retaliate by taking away the homosexual's freedom, or by trying to challenge the gay man to "act like a man" in the terms of the straight world. I call this the "father role model paradox."

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