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Sarah Colegrove Majority/Minority Relations 12/4/2012
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. I understood. and the Church It’s Christmas time and almost all of the radio stations are playing Christmas music. and the Church Sexual Minorities. Long lay the world in sin and error pinning. Christ is the Lord! Then ever. It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth. our weakness is no stranger. that was written over 150 years ago. O Holy Night. Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. His law is love and His gospel is peace. it was a hymn that I had heard hundreds of times and I started to sing along. Fall on your knees! Oh. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. The traditional version of O Holy Night started playing. He knows our need. written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847 goes as follows: O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining. In all our trials born to be our friends. The King of kings lay thus lowly manger. I suddenly had a moment of perfect clarity. shows us how majority and minority relations should look on that glorious morn where “all oppression shall cease”. and how we should practice social justice by . O night divine! O night. O Holy Night.Sexual Minorities. O Holy Night. As the song neared the end. With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. is a beautiful summation of the gospel. The third stanza. Chains he shall break. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. Law. the radio was tuned into a station that was playing Christmas music. O night divine! Led by the light of faith serenely beaming. ever praise we. hear the angel voices! O night. Law. in particular. for the slave is our brother. His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim! (O Holy Night Lyrics) 2 This amazing hymn. Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! Truly He taught us to love one another. With all our hearts we praise His holy name. And in his name all oppression shall cease. O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming. On my way home for Thanksgiving break.
differences in sexual orientation have existed since the beginning of humanity. Bisexual. and the Church incorporating “Truly He taught us to love one another. One of the pervading issues that have been presented is whether sexual minorities should be given the same rights and privileges that the sexual majority (those who fit within the heterosexual norm) has. and even violent action? Sexual minority groups should be given full and equal treatment under the law. Over the last few hundred years. which often lead to the suppression and oppression of the minority. it was originally coined in the mid to late 19th century. and Transgender. how do we address the issue when the Christian Church has played a role in shaping the minds that continue to suppress and oppress sexual minorities through their words. If so. the United States is a very fragmented society where clear distinctions have been made between the majority and the minority.Sexual Minorities. society has been less accepting (up until the last thirty years or so when some areas have gradually started to be more welcoming) towards anyone who does not fit the heterosexual norm . Sexuality The term homosexuality is relatively new one. Law. have become an increasingly hot-topic issue over 3 the last forty years or so. and the rights of those whose sexual orientation fits into the minority group. and the church needs to step up to be the instruments of change to turn hate into love and acceptance.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) Unfortunately. doctrine. One of the initial meanings of homosexuality was that it was a mental illness that could be cured to change the sexual preference of the individual who was a deviant because they liked the wrong gender. While the term was not coined until the 19th century. Gay. Sexual minorities (which for the purposes of this paper refer to Lesbian. although there are more sexual minorities).
Law. Sexuality as a Weapon “Long lay the world in sin and error pinning” “Chains he shall break. Once these groups are created and distinguishable from the other. because it is not as obvious as skin color. However. ethnicity. Denying yourself. “Melaesia. and the Church 4 of the day (Andersen & Collins 2010). sick. Of all prohibitions. In ancient Greece. there must be arbitrary prohibitions. for the slave is our brother. of human history. these same-sex sexual activities were even a part of their worship. In the past. this is damaging. Now sexual orientation has been used to dehumanize the other. the other is evil.Sexual Minorities. age.” (Anderson & Collins 249) Sexuality. class.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) Majority superiority and minority oppression have existed throughout much. things were quite different. can be hidden from society. “In order for a ruling class to rule. godly. That distinguishing factor can be race. same-sex sexual relations were accepted. One team is good. gender. sexual orientation. straight. vicious. The desire for power and influence has given rise to one group distinguishing themselves from the others. A same-sex marriage was recorded during the Ming Dynasty Fujian. This history of being open to same-sex sexual relations is not just part of the West’s history.” (Donnelly 2003:233) This has changed. to be something that you are clearly not. South Aisia. Those within the minority would be able to become part of the majority if they pretended to be straight. sexual taboo is the most useful because sex involves everyone…We have allowed our governors to divide the population into two teams. sex. and the Muslim Near East also have traditions of male homoerotic relations. if not all. In some areas. China and Japan have a history of being open to same-sex sexual activity. does not promote your own good or the good of . which is the majority. the very core of who you are. the group with the most power determines the rights granted to the other groups (Andersen & Collins 2012). etc.
Therefore. the thought that they might go to hell because they are “despicable sinners”. Others have hidden their sexuality because of fear of how their church will react. I did not even try to think about the fact that there was a very real possibility that I might be attracted to women. perverts. but I do know many people who “came out of the closet” that were terrified to admit to themselves that they were not what society labeled normal. or the violence they may face from society (Cobb 2006).Sexual Minorities. middle class. how would pretending to be straight help me? While being heterosexual is more socially acceptable. deviants. We do not ask people to change their gender or race. rapists. Those in the LGBT community. They are especially punished by God because they often contract HIV/AIDs. Law. This is a result of the fear and hatred of the other in our society. Some argue that we should not be concerned about rights and equality for the sexual minority because it is such a small group. so why would we think that pretending your sexual orientation to what society wants is a good thing? There are a wide variety of arguments against sexual minorities that wish to keep the status quo and distribution of power the same. or to change society’s perception of my gender. and the Church society. it is also more socially acceptable to be a white. We don’t know how many people fit into the sexual minority. and incredibly promiscuous. It is statistically inconsequential. educated. I grew up being told that I had no other option for sexual orientation than the heterosexual norm. to women and men. If I were a lesbian. They are pedophiles. let alone tell others about their realization. Others have argued that those in the sexual minority are less than human. that unfortunately happen to contract HIV/AIDs are severely stigmatized and thought to be . and male. What if this hatred and fear of the other was removed from society? What if power and influence was no longer a concern? 5 How many people would admit that their sexual orientation does not fit the heterosexual norm? I don’t know how many.
It is their fault that they are dying.Angels in America (Cobb 2006) This hatred and fear of the sexual minority has serious implications when it is in found in the government. Up until 2003. as a result of the U. Louis. He set the word “free” to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. It’s just big ideas. same-sex sexual activity was finally legalized throughout the entire United States. any sane person would not choose to become homosexual. this would be comparable to the apartheid in South Africa. they could have chosen to be straight (International Lesbian 2012). In the United States. and people like you. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Law. bisexual. there has been hatred and discrimination put into law against sexual minorities.Sexual Minorities. In 2003. “I [we] cannot be opposed to racism. I’ll show you America. Government and Discrimination “And in his name all oppression shall cease. 2012). still keeping African Americans segregated from the rest of society. in which people are discriminated against as a result of something about which they can do nothing…and then accept with equanimity the gross injustice of penalizing others for something else they can . or parts of. and people dying. You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital. fourteen states still outlawed either all. stigmatization. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me. women from voting. or transgendered because of all the persecution. crazy and mean. Sexual orientation is a choice. I hate this country. Not being able to openly love and have communion with another takes away some of our humanness. oppression. and the Church 6 promiscuous and dirty (even though HIV/AIDs can be contracted through more than just sex and people who only engage in sexual relations with the opposite sex can contract HIV/AIDs). and criminalizing interracial marriage. and stories. In a way.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) Belize: Well I hate America. . in particular anal sex. what is considered same-sex sexual activity (sodomy. and hatred that they would face. Texas.S. The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. The last I knew. was the most commonly outlawed activity) (International Lesbian. Terminal.
if that couple were to move to state where same-sex marriage is banned. life support decisions. 2012). that prevent an employer from firing an employee if they found out that person was not the heterosexual norm. and appreciation towards another through sex. It repealed the destructive “don’t ask. and the Church do nothing about. a law allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military was finally passed. Same-sex couples are prevented in most states from adopting children (Human Rights Campaign 2012). 7 In 2011. Prior to the repeal of “don’t ask. Maryland. pedophiles. without criminalizing the act. be able to claim marriage on taxes etc. Recent victories in Maine. and sexually promiscuous. deviants. Why? Does being homosexual all of a sudden make you a terrorist and a subversive? Does it all of a sudden turn you so weak that you cannot carry a weapon? Will you suddenly decide to go around raping everyone just because your orientation is different? Same-sex marriage is only available in nine different states while over thirty have bans on either same-sex marriage or civil unions. commitment. don’t tell”. don’t tell” policies that had been in place since Clinton’s administration. you were allowed in the military but you could not tell anyone your sexual orientation. states are not required to recognize same-sex marriages in other states so while a homosexual couple can marry in New York and get certain rights and privileges (examples are inheritance and estate laws.). were harmful and helped to reinforce the idea that homosexuals were perverts. Washington. .” (Tutu 2004:48) The laws that did not allow individuals to express their love. you would be discharged (Human Rights Campaign. rapists. in most states. those rights and privileges could disappear.Sexual Minorities. and Minnesota give some hope for the future. As of now. if you were homosexual. If your orientation was not the heterosexual norm and word got back to your commanding officer. Law. There is not a law. next of kin.
” (O Holy Night Lyrics) 8 There is the overwhelming fear and distrust that has entered the Christian society – that “homosexuals and other deviants” will utterly alter and destroy our society.Sexual Minorities. actively goes around the United States protesting the fact that the United States allows homosexuals to exist within its borders. and that we will all be forced to become a deviant. In 1999.” (What the Bible Says) In 2000. “I am a Christian soldier. I have followed a higher law…I just plan to defend myself from the scriptures. I felt I was supposed to. oppression. rather I am a part of the LGBT community and work to remove the hate. to attend . Law. My father had invited an acquaintance of his. and stigmas that penetrate deeply in society. I no longer am homophobic. I didn’t want to do this. Ronald Gay. who was angry about his last name. Matthew told his mom. and the Church Christianity and the Reinforcement of Homophobia “Truly He taught us to love one another. throughout the United States that actively protest against same-sex couples. Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. who claim to Christian. Matthew and Tyler Williams killed Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder. Our children will never be free to grow up in a safe environment. Homophobia (expressed through both words and actions) has been very much a part of the area.” (What the Bible Says) My dad is a pastor in a conservative denomination in rural northern Pennsylvania. working for my Lord. The church uses derogatory language and offensive signs and tells homosexuals they are going to hell (Cobb 2006). shot seven homosexuals. I changed (and have helped to facilitate change in my nuclear family). who is openly homosexual. Through transformative dialogue and meaningful discourse. Gay was heard saying. I remember an experience that my father shared with me. There are groups. one of whom died. “I had to obey God’s law rather than man’s law. Mike (named has been changed). a gay couple.
are typically very protective of their understanding of Christianity.Sexual Minorities. this tradition is open to differences in sexuality and does not require the priests to be celibate (Simpson 2006). Why do we live in a society where Mike was shocked at my dad inviting him to church? Where the spirit (or soul) cannot feels its worth? Bishop Bruce Simpson shared his experience with homophobia in Diary of a Gay Priest. Simpson is a bishop in the Old Catholicism tradition. Simpson was checked in on several times while he was still at seminary after that conversation because that archbishop had had a student under his care who had committed suicide because he could no longer hid away his sexuality. Currently. Mike was flabbergasted and nearly in tears. the archbishop told him that would not be able to ordain him. Mike had experienced being kicked out of churches in the past because he was homosexual and could not believe that my dad would allow “such a sinner” in his church. he discovered that he was gay and that many of the students at the seminary were also gay. there are several people who are openly homosexual that attend the church where my dad pastors. That makes us family as we are each other’s brother and sister in . Law. Simpson entered seminary to become a Catholic priest. When he confessed his sexuality. He repeatedly asked my dad if he was 9 serious that he would be allowed to attend his church. Today. While he was there. and can seek to implement their morality on the nation – this religious right has long been the majority in the Church) in the Christian church has killed my family (Cobb 2006). We are all made in the image of God and are described as being his children. and the Church church. Simpson ended up being honest about his sexuality to an archbishop which prompted his exit from the Catholic Church. Religious Right and the Death of My Family “for the slave is our brother” (O Holy Night Lyrics) The religious right (those who have a very literal understanding of scripture.
not only is the community that we were designed to 10 thrive in destroyed. Anna. This bullying from peers and the societal pressures have been applied not only to those who they knew were homosexual. Anna committed suicide (What the Bible Says). because she was a lesbian and that did not fit with scripture. “I just don’t know how else to fix this. When the violence is coming from within the church because someone’s sexual orientation is different. Matthew Shepard is just one of many different examples where homosexuality has been an excuse to inflict violence on another. Mark B. committed suicide because of his sexual orientation. another one of my family members is gone (Tutu 2004). and the Church Christ. In all our trials born to be our friends. Shepard had done nothing wrong except be honest about who he was. Every time another member of the human race is killed.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) This suppression and oppression of sexual minorities has far-reaching consequences for our society. That “glorious morn” feels farther and farther away (O Holy Night Lyrics). Law.Sexual Minorities. Shepard was violently attacked. The father of one of Shepard’s killers said that what they did was justified because Shepard had come on to one of them (Teunis & Herdt 2007). When this utter denial of humanity comes from the religious right and violent action is taken against our fellow human beings. but our family is decimated. it makes it just that much worse. There are a significant number of people that belong to a sexual minority that have committed suicide as a result of societal pressures and bullying from their peers. beaten.” (What the Bible Says) Mary Lou Wallner initially rejected her daughter. He was told that there was no way he could be a Christian and gay. his suicide note said. What? I am than . tortured. and died from his injuries just because he was gay. What are the Consequences of the Suppression and Oppression? “The King of kings lay thus lowly manger. but also to anyone who stepped or appeared to step outside of gender norms.
The irrational fear and hatred of anyone who might be different has permeated all ages. The acts of gays are so abominable to God.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) Desmond Tutu. in his book God Has Dream. Two of my coworkers were openly gay and struggled for the entirety of the summer. the boys at camp would consistently say “that’s gay” or “no homo” meaning that while they might be doing an activity or holding a conversation that may be bending strict gender norms and expectations. Even if Sheppard had hit on this man’s son or had been flirting with him.” (What the Bible Says) I worked at a small camp in rural Virginia whose campers came primarily from the Washington D. The oldest of the campers who expressed overt homophobia was only twelve. . “Gays are under the death penalty. and the Church justified to go out and kill every man that might come on to me? Or would a man than be justified to go out and kill every woman that hits on him? It is absolutely absurd. area. while the youngest was just eight. I remember hugging one of my coworkers as we cried together. His blood is guilty before God (Lev. mentions the concept of Ubuntu. why would this constitute 11 enacting a death penalty? A pastor from North Carolina wrote an open letter about the Matthew Shepard cased that said. they did not have homosexual tendencies. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices… His law is love and his gospel is peace. This hatred of the other has penetrated every level of society. 20:13). one of the campers used the words “fag” and “faggot” in a very demeaning and derogatory way. What Should be Done? “Till He appeared and the Spirit felt it’s worth.Sexual Minorities. the gay’s blood is upon the gay and not upon the hands of the person doing the killing. If a person kills a gay. While there is not a literal translation in English. Law. During one session. His Word is there and we can’t change it. During another session.C. it can be boiled down to “I am because You are”.
There are a few denominations . and path chosen for how those individuals feel about an issue or the actions that they will talk. who has conversation with another. remove that which is festering. cleanse and cauterize. and confession is based on penitence. Transformative dialogue and meaningful discourse among the factions in society can help to mend the wounds and bring about reconciliation. We start at the roots. evaluated. If we are to 12 oppress a group in society. We go to the root. to understand and to apply that understanding to the relations between minority and majority groups. “True reconciliation is based on forgiveness. and forgiveness is based on true confession. is through reconciliation. change is possible. and society as a whole. Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. no matter what the topic is. and then a new beginning is a possibility. Ecumenical Catholic Church. Law. “We must be radical. it can allow for ideas and opinions to be shared. When those in the conversation. but how do we reach the point where we can start the process of reconciliation? Conversation is the key concept to resolving conflict. (Tutu 2004:53) Tutu argues that when an issue is so public and prominent. go and have conversation with another. such as apartheid in South Africa. from growing up as homophobic to being a part of the LGBT community. We are able to recognize that those on the other side are just as human as we are and that we are both loved by God. The change I have experienced.” (Tutu 2004:53-54) Tutu says that. Desmond Tutu’s solution is great. and the . on sorrow for what you have done. we are oppressing ourselves. to address the issue of minority oppression and suppression.such as the Affirming Pentecostal Church International. and the Church Ubuntu is an important concept for the church. we are oppressing more than that group. on contrition. and so on. When we hold conversation on an individual or small-group level. is a direct result of transformative dialogue and meaningful discourse. who has conversation with another. have a public reconciliation process can help the entire society to forgive and heal.Sexual Minorities.
the workforce. to God it is all love. It is through us. our ethnic groups.” (O Holy Night Lyrics) “These endless divisions that we create between us and that we live and die for – whether they are our religions.” (Anderson & Collins 2010:524) As this change towards love and acceptance slowly starts to ripple across the United States in churches. and the Church Episcopal Church – that have started to take the first very necessary steps (Welcoming 13 Denominations). that God will appear and the world will rejoice as reconciliation. to make us all equal. The children in these churches will learn about and understand a God that does not hate people who are different. acceptance. Long lay the world in sin and error pining. I’m convinced that has turned out to be the real key to being able to hold this diverse group of folks together. condemning the love of gays and lesbians. Church. it speaks hope for the future of this majority/minority issue. and to love each other for who we are. Many. and God smiles whenever . “We don’t say we are a black church. our nationalities – are so totally irrelevant to God. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. as a socializing agent. Law. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. God just wants us to love each other. however. love. and the government to redistribute the power. or a woman loves a man or another woman. we don’t say that we are a gay church or a straight church. equality are sought and granted to all. will help to influence future generations as they society. say that some kinds of love are better than others. Conclusion “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. we don’t say that we are anything other than a church that celebrates our oneness in Christ. “A new and glorious” age in human history will be upon us. But whether a man loves a woman or another man.Sexual Minorities. (O Holy Night Lyrics) We are the agents of change for our world.
and even ourselves will be truly free. thoughts. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. Through this freedom our actions. O Holy Night! I dream of one day being able to sing that song around Christmas time and know that all of us truly do love each other. This needs to change. “This incredible work – requested by a forgotten parish priest. for the slave is our brother. That the chains of oppression have been removed so that our brothers. ever praise we. Christ is the Lord! Then ever. And is his name all oppression shall cease. given soaring music by a Jewish composer. we too might survive the oppression of sexual minorities. His law is love and His gospel is peace. This oppression needs to turn to love and acceptance. it is a song that survived banishment by the French Catholic Church. and the Church 14 we recognize our need for one another. written by a poet who would later split from the church. This oppression can be seen in the Church and the laws government enacts – both of which the majority can control. I end with the final verse of O Holy Night: Truly He taught us to love one another. sisters. Chains he shall break. With all our hearts we praise His holy name.” (Tutu 2004:47-48) Sexual minorities have always been present throughout history and have been oppressed for centuries. Law. His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim! (O Holy Night Lyrics) . it is the story of diversity behind the music.” Its beauty is so much more than just the words. It brings hope that maybe. lives – our very essence – screams the perfect love of God for all of society.Sexual Minorities. and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior – has become one of the most beautiful. inspired pieces of music ever created.
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