Saturday, February 2, 2008

Do You Hate My Monkey,
Or Do You Hate Me?

Okay, so my public relations manager is on my back at the moment--"I don't know why I even have a computer if, when I turn it on, there's nothing new to read here!"

My apologies, Mom. Here, here's a post that's been brewing, been rewritten at least three times, and I finally feel merits a publishing... :D
We've all heard the phrase, "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."

As a gay man, I hear this statement more often than I care to even think about, but it must be thought about if one is to understand the mindset that not only brings forth these snippets of "deep thought," but the need to even have it said (sometimes quite vehemently!).

When I typically follow up with the quizzical eyebrow raise and the "And...?" question, I'm met nine times out of ten with the response, "How else am I to let you know I love you but don't approve of your lifestyle?"

So you see, dear reader, it stems from the need of the individual in question to make it quite clear they are aware of what they perceive as my sin, and wouldn't want me to dare think that just because we are eating a meal together (or riding in a car together, or waiting in the same dentists office for an appointment together) that the sharing of this experience should in any way be considered an "OK" of my homosexuality (as I often tend to confuse shared moments of laughter or food as an expression of total 100% backing of every decision I've ever made in my entire life...)

In other words, somehow the need to remind me of my "sinner" status is more important than just appreciating each others company, conversation, or other shared experience. Of course, this causes me to ask, "Does this mean you are constantly pointing out to fat people their obvious sin of gluttony? Or wealthy people their obvious sin of greed? Or the winners of contest their obvious sin of pride?"

No, dear friends, of course not! We gays are a special breed of sinner (if one is to take the constant barrage of sermons and pulpits of any given Sunday morning as any type of endorsement...). Perhaps we appear stupider than your average sinner (for, after all, all have "sinned"), but we're the ones who hear this phrase in an attempt by the religious right to save our souls--after all, you can continue to be glutinous, or proud, or wealthy and be a Christian--just not gay.

I, of course, have yet to meet a homosexual and have them tell me their story of concern and care for what others think about them in religious circles. I know I personally don't ponder how people who are triathlon winners live with themselves when the Christians aren't pointing out their "sin" every day. I'm pretty sure it's common knowledge in our day and age of the popular "interpretation" of bible believers and what they think of homosexuality. You'd have to be living in a time-lapsed bunker on the Lost island to have no clue as to how they "feel" about our lifestyle (if it could really even be called such). Do fundies really all wander around worrying that the gays think that they, the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian, might "approve" of our daily lives? I mean, I certainly am under no presumptions!

If truth be known, I could give two shits. How does their belief really and truly affect my life? None whatsoever (except when said beliefs are attempted to be enshrined in law). Just as I have to wonder, "Does my 'lifestyle' in any way truly impact upon their daily lives?" Of course the answer is no, unless one takes into account strange obsessions and irrational faith in the intangible fears of slippery slopes.

So what is this statement really about? This declaration of "disapproval," I believe anyway, is stemming from the need to make it clear that they have no clue with how to deal with "willful," or rather "on purpose," sinners, people who know what fundamentalists think but reject the message they are trying to force on everyone. It is an attempt to coalesce their god-given duty of warring against "wickedness" to their also god-given command of "live at peace with everyone."

Trying to have the best of both worlds in the midst of a perceived battle for eternal souls.

I'm also wondering if it is an attempt to absolve some form of guilt they feel: being unable to convince us that what we are, what we do, is sin, perhaps they feel repeating this mantra will go from their lips to god's ears, and thus it may be known by all the heavenly hosts that they tried, and they shouldn't be held responsible for this "willful" sin.

Regardless of the reasoning behind the sentiment, I must now make it abundantly clear my huge issue with the phrase to begin with, this whole "Love Sinner, Hate Sin" thing:

First off, the "Love the sinner" line: How can you love me if you don't know me?

Love comes from a knowledge of person: What do they do, what do they like. As any couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary would most likely say, "I love ____ more now than I did fifty years ago!" Why? Knowledge of who that person is has deepened over the years, and they like what they have learned. Love comes from experiences, moments, small actions and large emotions. It doesn't stem from a chance meeting outside of a gay bar in Allentown in which you are handing out pamphlets titled "The Truth about Homosexuality" and "God's Plan for Man."

This "love the sinner" stems more from a small dose of good intention, and a large dose of loving the IDEA of loving the sinner (and hence, loving everyone, who are all "sinners"). And indeed: loving everyone in the world is a noble idea in its own right, if a bit far-fetched and unattainable. It is nice to think we could "love" everyone in spite of "what they do," but ultimately, if you are to "love" me, you have to get to know me, and beyond that, getting to know me and love me will entail getting to like most of the things that make me me. My love of gardening, of reading, of quiet moments in the night listening to the rain, of my love for a certain man, and the idea that I say blue is my favorite color only out of habit, as in practice it turns out to be red. Being me is to be out in the dirt planting bulbs, or watering the annuals, moving and reshaping the mulch; sharing titles with friends of books I enjoyed and seeing what they have been reading and why; sitting with me in the dark, watching the lightening and hearing the rain patter against the windows; of acknowledging my partner in life, and getting to know him, his concerns, cares, likes and dislikes; and of complimenting that shade of red I chose for the bedroom curtains. This is knowing me, and to love me means you have to like (though certainly not "agree with") how I live my life and how I spend my time. For to know those things is to know me, and without knowing me, you cannot love me, although you can certainly like the idea of loving me; Hell, you can even delude yourself into thinking you love me without loving me if it makes you feel any better. But to "love" me would certainly entail a knowledge of what you believe, like and dislike, and a general knowledge that of course you disagree with such-and-such, and a love for me, and a likewise love of you, wouldn't need to entail the phrase, "You know I love you, but..." If indeed, we share a love, be it brotherly, erotically, mutually or what-have-you, it would entail those words not needing be said.

Indeed, this leads into the second half of the phrase, "Hate the Sin." A knowledge of me, a love of me, would be an acceptance of who I am. No, the act of having sex with a man doesn't make me gay, it is my choice of sexual partner which makes me so. Much like the act of sex with a woman doesn't make men straight, it is their choice of woman which makes them so. It's what they find attractive, what makes them lust for it--the so-called "basic building block of society, the nuclear family" is based on sex, based on the intrinsic personalities and characteristics of most people in society (straight persons). If the basic building block of society (if it can accurately be interpreted as such, which I believe to be false in and of itself...) were based on women giving birth only to girls, about half our population, through nothing they could really and truly control, would be ostracized and called "sinners" (much like the basic building block for Chinese society, among others, for centuries was based on giving birth to boys...) due to what some people thought was important and "right" for society.

You cannot "love me" yet hate who I am, what I do, as my actions are direct representations of who I am: it is a mutually incompatible statement! Saying "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" already obligates me to reside in the category of "one who commits sin," and unless you feel you need to tell me only because of my homosexuality, I have also now been elevated in status to "sinner that needs told so as opposed to everyone else on the sidewalk," which also gets you nowhere fast.

Why the need to make it clear you don't "approve" of my lifestyle, when honestly, it isn't even my concern that you do so? Especially in light of the fact that your OT god himself, who is no respecter of persons, and Jesus, who just wants you to love god and love your neighbor (the good Samaritan comes to mind), what is the need to let me know that my life doesn't "mesh" with your beliefs (as if we didn't know already?), and how does this in any way correlate or impact how we interact already? What is the purpose of yelling "We love you, but hate your sin"? Is your fear of your god's wrath so great, you feel that if you don't tell me, you will be punished for my actions? (Which, in all honesty, should have you questioning your belief in his omnipotence...) Is it that you fear if other people see us eating together at a diner, you might be mistaken for "gay"? Or is it simply something you parrot out with no thought or regard to what you are saying?

Tell me, in practical terms, how do you justify saying you love me, but hate who I am?

8 comments:

Sylvia said...

Hey Ja!
I just wanted to let you know that I loved this blog today. It turns out that I see your point. I understand completely what you're saying.
But, if I may...
I can see the other side as well.
I hear it alot. Not the "gay" thing...But, every now and again John will say..."I love my dad and all, but I hate his piss poor attitude." or "I love my brother, but his lifestyle is so misguided."
So, you see, everyone does it.
When someone tells you that they love you, but hate your gay lifestyle....that's exactly what they mean. They just don't agree with it. Love is something that we feel. When one is genuinely loved, it doesn't matter what they do for a living, how much money they make, or what their sexual preferences are. Perhaps the last part of the statement - "I hate your sin" shouldn't be said at all. In my opinion the words "I love you" should be kept at that. There's no "buts" in love. You either love or you don't.
Love is a verb that people use way too much. I really like the word "Like" alot. Although in some dictionaries love means to like alot.
Love is warm affection and strong tenderness. It has nothing to do with the lifestyle one chooses.
So, I'd try to ignore the ignorance that some people impose on you when they say they love you but hate your sin. They are in no way trying to offend you. They're just saying how they "feel".
anyway, sorry for dragging this out....I love ya lots! LOL see, even I use the word love too much!
Sylvia

mom said...

hello jason! we all waited this long for this!?! :) you had to write something that lets me know again that its all the moms fault! :) this is a very interesting post and i am glad you wrote it. sylvia and i seem to have the same thoughts on this, but don't have time to comment right now since cleaning my house is more important that commenting on love the sinner hate the sin thing. :) you really should of been a lawyer. love and prayers

Jason Hughes said...

Hello family member-type people... :D

About "piss-poor attitudes" and "misguided lifestyles"--there's something to be said for environmental actions and personality traits, and the distinction between the two. Certain things (such as hair color, a jocular predispoition, sexuality) while being things that can be changed in outward action, generally can't be changed witin personal confines--i.e., while it may be possible for someone to change their hair color by dying it red or blond, it doesn't change the actual color of the hair, and thus, chainging one's hair color to fit within norms of society (while one could speculate on peer pressure, motivations, lying, and such and such), these are still things that are unchangeable at the root (haha! no pun intended!) Simply hiding one's personal personhood for the sake of pleasing others notions of right and wrong (for whatever reason) when there really isn't a victim (whether specifically or in general) speaks to fscism-type controlling...

Also, in regards to John's statements about his family, he knows them, has lived with them and around them for the entirety of his life--thus he has a knowledge of who they are, knows what they can and can't be as people, what comes naturally to them and what they simply lack in the way of personal will power or action to better themselves and their lives. And while something could also be said in their environmental issues (being monetarily challenged, perhaps, or other factors), simply having a "bad attitude" isn't necessarily a wrong, or even a sin, but a point of view. Not everyone is an optimist. :D It is how that "piss-poor" attitude is acted out, and how John knows his father can change how he acts out his world view that John has issues with--much like I could have issue with someone bad-mouthing someone all the time--they have a reason for viewing things the way they do, but it isn't that they hold the view, it's how they act on it. And neither one truly speaks to loving someone just for being who they are, but speak to actions brought about by who they are.

I suppose to clarify, you can hate a person's actions while loving them, but to hate an inherent part of a person while claiming to love the person is an inconsistent stance. Perhaps I could be wrong no this (it happens once in a while!) :D, but the post really speaks to those persons who have no clue about people, don't know people, but run around claiming to love them and have deeply personal insight into another's actions all the while NOT knowing the person from Adam (or Steve), and ultimately serves no practical purpose from a fundamental Christian point of view...

Am I making sense?

Oh, and Mom? Glad to see Dust Bunnies rank higher on the importance scale than me...

:D LOL!

Love to you both!

mom said...

hello jason! still don't have a lot of time to comment but i love kids but don't like all kids but i would put my best foot forward in trying to love that kid that might not be that easy to love. some people have a real concern for others that they feel are going down the wrong road and that is why they are out there to give out tracts. everyone is different and maybe you really shouldn't judge the book by its cover so much. i am sure some doctors get into being doctors for some real good reasons and after they get there they hate what people do to themselves when they see what a bad lifestyle can do to the body. i think you know what i mean. i don't know come up with another post. this is getting old. :) love and prayers

elj377 said...

Hey I knew you as a person before I knew you were gay and I will tell you that I like you...whether you like men or women! (Not that I liked your choice of women at ABC!) I will still be your friend and treat you with all affection and love!

Jason Hughes said...

LOL! elj377, you aren't the first person from ABC to tell me so! :D

Good times, though...

Jason Hughes said...

LOL! elj377, you aren't the first person from ABC to tell me so! :D

Good times, though...

Sylvia said...

Hey Ja!
I just wanted to let you know that I loved this blog today. It turns out that I see your point. I understand completely what you're saying.
But, if I may...
I can see the other side as well.
I hear it alot. Not the "gay" thing...But, every now and again John will say..."I love my dad and all, but I hate his piss poor attitude." or "I love my brother, but his lifestyle is so misguided."
So, you see, everyone does it.
When someone tells you that they love you, but hate your gay lifestyle....that's exactly what they mean. They just don't agree with it. Love is something that we feel. When one is genuinely loved, it doesn't matter what they do for a living, how much money they make, or what their sexual preferences are. Perhaps the last part of the statement - "I hate your sin" shouldn't be said at all. In my opinion the words "I love you" should be kept at that. There's no "buts" in love. You either love or you don't.
Love is a verb that people use way too much. I really like the word "Like" alot. Although in some dictionaries love means to like alot.
Love is warm affection and strong tenderness. It has nothing to do with the lifestyle one chooses.
So, I'd try to ignore the ignorance that some people impose on you when they say they love you but hate your sin. They are in no way trying to offend you. They're just saying how they "feel".
anyway, sorry for dragging this out....I love ya lots! LOL see, even I use the word love too much!
Sylvia