SILENCE = CONSENT

Posts tagged “book

Nature or Nurture (Romans 1)

It’s been argued that the first time homosexuals, or homosexual acts are addressed in the New Testament is in Romans the 1st chapter (mainly verses 26 and 27). That is if you disregard the two occasions that eunuchs are mentioned (sorry, that’s another Bible Study). And like other scriptures, this one has been misinterpreted, taught in error, and caused much spiritual and emotional harm to same gender loving people.

The thing most people who erroneously teach this scripture seem to forget is, when interpreting scripture, you cannot just take one or two verses of a chapter, build a sermon, teach it as “God’s Word” and live it as a doctrine. You have to carefully see what the scripture (and all others relating to it) is saying. It’s been advised that we read the chapter before, and after the chapter we are studying so that we can get some type of contextual view of what the author was talking about. In this case, we are dealing with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. In fact, the text in verse 7 says it…”my dear friends in Rome” (New Living Translation). Since that’s who he was addressing, we have to infer that he was dealing with their situation. Am I saying that he couldn’t have any relevant truth for 21st Century America? Not at all. I AM saying that if we are going to correctly interpret what is being said, we need to understand that first and foremost, who Paul was addressing was 1st Century Rome. Let’s take a closer look and find out what that truth is.

The first thing we need to address is the cultural climate of biblical Rome. It was a societal norm for people to be bisexual. And with that being the “normal” sexuality that society ascribed to, it was expected for everyone to be that way. Since now we know that all people aren’t bisexual (in fact most are heterosexual), we can understand how pressured a heterosexual or homosexual person would be to engage in acts that weren’t “natural” for him or her. The definition of the word “natural” in this text comes from the Greek word “phusikos”, meaning instinctive or native disposition. If a person is a native to some place, they were born there. So, a native disposition would be how a person is born. The word “nature” in this text likewise comes from the Greek word “phusis”, which means production or lined descent; growth by germination, or native disposition. Just keep “instinctive/native disposition” in mind.

When Paul talks about the “natural use” of the woman, he is coming from several different places. First from a place of male dominance that thought that the only use a woman has is having babies to continue the man’s lineage. That’s all. A woman was a man’s property (paid for with a dowry)…his “baby maker” per se. So any sexual deviation that would produce offspring was not looked upon favorably. In fact, not until this century did some in the church start teaching that sex had more that just a procreative purpose.

Secondly, Paul was coming from a sexual orientation angle. He was not making a blanket statement of what is and isn’t “natural”. He couldn’t have been. Science has proven that in all species of animals, homosexuality is present (ref. “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity” by Bruce Bagemihl). So, since homosexuality occurs in nature, it cannot be considered unnatural. And since most people are instinctively heterosexual and that is their native disposition, it IS highly unnatural for one to do otherwise. In this scripture, Paul is telling the Romans that it is unnatural for a person to go against their “native disposition” or what is “instinct” for them and do something else with their bodies to fit in. Now, we can jump on the ex-gay and DL thing right here, but we don’t have the space or time. But do you get the point? If your nature is heterosexual, be that. If you are born homosexual, be that. If you indeed are bisexual, then that’s you. Don’t try to change who you are to fit societal norms. It’s like telling God that He made you the wrong way.

Next, Paul was dealing with some religious issues as well. Paul in fact is saying homosexual activity is not a sin, but a punishment for idol worship and faithlessness. It is a result of heterosexuals not worshipping God but His creation. Turning the truth into a lie. Denying God. His argument is, if a man (being straight) is SO confused and faithless that he cannot discern who God is when creation even tells of His existence, then it’s not so far fetched that that same man (being straight) would be confused sexually and do what is unnatural for him to do. These verses couldn’t be an blanket indictment against homosexuality in that most of the most highly anointed, profound, gifted, talented, and FAITHFUL Christians are homosexual people.

Finally, Paul was dealing with what was going on in Rome from the standpoint of a Jew. There were just some things that were not customary or “natural” for a good Jew to do. Not to say that there are no homosexual Jews, there are. But one must remember that Paul was a very well educated and respected man in his time. He was a good Jew who knew and tried his best to live by “the law” according to the Torah. So to be in another land (not native to Israelites) and submerged into another culture (Rome) trying to live according to how Jews “customarily” or “normally” lived, it must have been hard to do since the society was so different.

So, is Romans 1.26-27 a blanket indictment against homosexuals? With the information we have, we can say no. Paul was more than likely addressing cultural, religious, and orientation issues in this scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, the theme of this text isn’t homosexuality. In fact it isn’t about sexuality at all. It’s about people keeping in mind who God is. It’s about understanding that humanity is without excuse when it comes to reverencing God in that creation itself tells of His glory. It’s about understanding the truth and the fact that it comes from God. And lastly, it’s about not being judgmental or hypocritical. Remember when we said that one should study the chapter before and after the text being focused upon? Well, Romans Chapter 2.1-7 Paul gets on people who are pointing at those who have forgotten God and saying how wicked they are, yet are doing the same things. Bottom line, God judges sin. It doesn’t matter who you are. Make sure you are right with God for yourself. Let God handle the rest in His own way.

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Realness

GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES, AND MAY THE BEST WOMAN WIN!

RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite shows on television.  Anyone who knows me will be able to attest to that fact.  I’m always intrigued by the Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent that most drag queens possess.  Their being able to transform and create the female illusion is the ultimate for me.  One of my favorite contestants this past season was Mariah Balenciaga.  HUN-T WAS FIERCE!!!  Mariah captured everything that is femininity and presented it with class, elegance and REALNESS.  To me, she pays true homage to the feminine.  To me, the realness factor is paramount.

One thing most drag queens have is quick whit and sharp tongues.  It’s really an endearing quality.  And I love the ones who “keep it real”.  Keeping it real, one would assume would be defined as one always having the courage to be truthful, to walk in integrity.  “Realness” would be a good thing.  In a perfect world, whether in full geech or in real life, being able to truly serve realness should be something we all aspire to.  But more often than not, like good drag, what is perceived as “realness” is just an illusion.  For some people, their realness is just as deep as the makeup and costumes they would wear to lipsinc for their lives.

In this day and age, it seems like people actually prefer illusion to realness.  What does it say about us?  Have people become so jaded that we’d rather present and celebrate illusions than living authentic lives?  Has “keeping it real” become an illusion itself?

Too often in gay culture, we see people say and do mean and hurtful things to other people.  It’s normal.  In fact the arrogance and cattiness is expected and seen as just a part of being gay.  But does it really have to be that way?  It’s one thing to read someone for pure filth because they are coming for you and you haven’t sent for them… that’s merely self defense.  But it’s quite another to just be mean and hateful.

Usually the mean and hateful queens are truly insecure little boys (or girls) who are trying to present the illusion that they are grand.  People who are ALWAYS in “reading mode” or are always catty are trying to hide something.  They are trying to hide the fact that what they are presenting is not reality.  In fact, their reality is too hard for THEM to deal with, so they treat others badly trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives.  It’s really sad when you think about it.  When it’s easier for a person to attempt to live their illusion than present a real person to the world, there’s a big problem.  It’s dangerous for the lines of realness and illusion to be blurred.

One thing about drag, when it’s done well, it’s very entertaining.  Being able to serve realness is indeed a beautiful thing.  And from what I understand, one can make MAD coins.  But when the music stops, when the deejay and the crowd goes home, and the lights go out, the illusion stops and real life begins.  Sure, we all have a persona that we present to the world.  Thing is, what we present to others should be the real us, not an illusion or a character we’ve created.  If one truly has the courage, keeping it real is more beautiful than any illusion will ever be.  If only more people understood that.

In the classic movie “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, the late Ms. Vida Boheme taught us one valuable lesson that everyone must learn to live… REAL queens always use their powers for good, and in every situation, seek out the opportunity to help others.  THAT my dear, is better than the best illusion.  It’s realness at its finest.


Cabin Trip

This weekend I am out on a retreat in the mountains.  Me and Hubz in a luxury log cabin, and the view outside our bedroom makes me celebrate how BIG GOD must be.  It’s just so quiet out here.  No sounds of the city, no sirens, no trains, no traffic… just peace.

Last night, it was so dark outside with no street lights or anything to illuminate the roads.  In fact, it was so dark it made trying to drive through the mountains to reach the cabins very dangerous.  No guard rails or anything to keep you on the road should you swerve or take one of the too many curves too fast.  And it was so quiet my spirit couldn’t help but be quiet and rest.

This morning, WAY before I wanted to wake up, I went out and walked Lady Savannah, and for the first time, I felt dew between my toes. There must be at least 100 types of trees right out here.  All of them speaking to how glorious diversity is.  If only human beings could learn how to live and thrive together like the trees.  The sun seems to shine a little bit brighter out here than in ATL.  All the colors I see just seem so vivid.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  Breathing and relaxing seems to be a lot easier.

Right now, in this moment, looking at all the trees and the mountains, allowing myself to take in all this nature, I am in awe and asking GOD, “What lesson am I supposed to learn from all this?  What are you going to teach me”?   I am hearing Spirit say, “Uncover your light.  Uncover your light”.

Inside me lies the same power that spoke into darkness and created everything that I am seeing here.  I can create not just beautiful things that speak to the spirit, but entire environments that can inspire and bring peace.  Somehow the light within that makes all that happen has been covered.  Though covered, I’m thankful and relieved to know it’s still there.


Liberation

It’s not an act of liberation to lead a person

From one plantation to another and “call” them free

Yet it seems that is exactly what religion has done so effectively

People put a new spin on old dogma and “call” it liberating theology

The leaders and the people who follow it without question

Are bound in the worst type of slavery

Slaves unaware they live so unashamedly

Thinking they are free living lives without real integrity

Not knowing that if they continue in it

They will be destroyed in entirety

For slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

Slavery destroys all who participate in it

 

Truly liberated people do not

Or cannot lord over another

In an attempt to control their

Thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, or money

Truly liberated people understand the essence

Of love and truth

Both are free

Therefore they are free-ing

They exist without bondage

And bring liberty to those who seek and walk in them

Truly liberated people only seek

To free others in the name of God

The Great Emancipator who made them free

From the beginning

 

From “Little Brown Boy’s Blues.”  Get your signed copy at http://www.tuanngai.com

 


Relevance

I no longer feel comfortable with organized religion. It’s nothing against Christianity as an ideal or any religion for that matter.  It’s just, I feel that the black church as we know it is either dead or on life support at best, and there is no need to resuscitate.  I am at a point in my life where after doing research, and living most of my life within the institution, I am beginning to wonder, other than being a quick moneymaker for people with pimp mentality, is the church really relevant?  Is the black church as we know it really relevant as far as building communities of strong people?

The church has become a social network I’ve often called a “religious country club/cult of personality.  I think one of the easiest ways for a black man with any type of charisma or leadership ability to get credibility is to say he’s a pastor.  Nowadays is not just good enough to be a pastor, you have to be a Bishop or Apostle.  That’s where we get into the danger, because if all these young men and women who are “called” to be bishops and apostles, and they are not going to do anything different, but continue the sickness they’ve been taught, what good is it to anybody to have a church on every corner, led by bishops and/or apostles who have twelve members each?

And this is not just a problem with the mainstream church.  It’s the problem with these so-called gay affirming churches as well.  They look like Church of God in Christ, they sound like the Apostolics, they behave like Catholics and Baptists, they have your methods like the Methodists, but the only thing different is, “over here it’s okay for people to say that they’re gay.” You can come to church with your lover and not be judged.  Other than that, they’re just like the churches they came from.   So are they really doing any good?  Or are they just continuing the same emotional and spiritual damage that the mainstream church has been perpetrating for so long?

For many of us who have fled the mainstream church to find sanctuary in the churches on the margins, the most hurtful experiences we’ve had in church is at the hand of gay clergy. When the oppressed becomes the oppressor, they are more dangerous than the person who oppressed them.  It’s sad to think we’re no different from the white slave owners who oppressed and abused our ancestors in the name of GOD.  And we think we are really doing a good thing!

I think the church at its core, at its very foundation was evil from the get-go.  Don’t think for a moment that you can get good fruit from a bad tree. The things that are taught, and how scripture is manipulated is so damaging that the effects are irreversible.  The organized church has had every opportunity to evolve into a place of social responsibility. Clergy has had every chance to preach and live the truth.  Ministers have Sunday after Sunday to teach how we ALL are inextricably connected to GOD as our life force, and that is what makes us equal.  Yet consistently we hear false religious rhetoric while people die hungering and thirsting for the truth.

All my life, I’ve tried to be that nice, politically correct Christian guy that that tried to work within the system. I wanted to be a part of it, but the more I tried to fit in, the more they push back and say I don’t fit in.  In fact, the only way I could fit in is to do what they say, as they say it, how they say it, and deny myself.   What I got from the mainstream church is that I’m going to hell.  Yet I could serve in the church, and I could sing in the choir.  But in the end, because I’m openly a same gender loving man, and I refuse to “turn from my wicked ways,” I’m going to hell.  In my experience, the affirming Church has been even more elitist. It’s more classist.  To some extent, it’s worse than the mainstream church because you can’t even go to an affirming church and serve in ministry unless you are “qualified.”

Can the church really preach liberation without living social justice?  The church really doesn’t believe that everybody is created equal, and everybody can experience liberty in Jesus as they are if it doesn’t.  Look at how they don’t want to engage either the unchurched or people who don’t necessarily believe like they believe.  Church folks often don’t want to have seemingly difficult conversations with people who at their core that gays and lesbians are going to hell.  They are more comfortable preaching to the choir and surrounding themselves with people who think like them, act like them, and talk like them.  If the church is going to make any ground toward true liberation for all people, it cannot be afraid to engage people who believe differently.  If we could learn to communicate with one another, we might discover that our differences are not meant to separate us, but be teacher to us.  We may find that we are more alike than we are different.  Then we will be able to work together to heal the ills of our community and continue in the great legacy our ancestors left for us.

There is just something my grandfather used to say when I asked him I told him that I was called to preach.  He said, “you know when you are called to ministry when you cannot help it.  You try to run from it like Jonah but something inside you won’t let you go.  Your desire is to serve people and show them the love of GOD.”  The church has to go back to the place where we are asking the world, “How can I help you?” instead of saying “you’re going to hell unless you convert.”  Sometimes, I think we miss our blessing by standing in judgement in an attempt to make ourselves feel important and trying to be right.  The real joy of ministry is having the opportunity to serve people.  Our joy is in trying to enrich the lives of everyone we meet by showing them the love of GOD.  The church, affirming churches and mainstream alike, has the opportunity to really change the world for the better.  Hopefully, it will not die before realizing its true calling.

 


Liberating Oppression???

I really have issues with church people who always thumping their Bibles, because they come across as morons.  They just go about spouting whatever they’ve heard their pastor say, and it’s often without the benefit of scholarship.  Meaning, they take scripture at face value without thinking.  They call it “walking by faith”.  For instance, if they’re reading the book of Romans, they take no account of what was going on in Rome.  They don’t consider who wrote the book to see if what was written was due to an eye-witness account or if they are writing about what they were told.   They often don’t seek God for the spiritual application of what they’ve just heard or read.  Unfortunately in most churches it is “the Bible says, the Bible says, the Bible says,” and that’s it. Is it not the responsibility of the pastor to equip their people with the tools necessary to not only study the good book, but to think critically about what they are reading?  Isn’t the preaching of the Gospel supposed to evoke a hunger and thirst for the truth and righteousness?  Shouldn’t the preaching of the Gospel challenge one to seek knowledge of the truth for themselves?  In other words, question everything!  Nothing should be above questioning.  I mean, if you’re going to try to live you life according to what you are being taught, doesn’t it make sense to have a good understanding of those principles?

The church should be teaching people how to know GOD for themselves.  The church should teach people that GOD’s Word is relevant to their personal lives, and the Bible is a map that if used properly, can lead them to the truth.  It shouldn’t be forced on people and crammed down their throats like the so-called “Christian” founding fathers did to the Native Americans and African slaves.  Yeah, I said it!  The Bible is a book that was forced upon people in order to keep them afraid and under control.

It’s like this, when America was “discovered” and slaves brought over from Africa, the Native Americans and Africans had their own language, culture, and understanding of God.  But white supremesists felt their understanding of GOD was better than that of the “savages” they both kidnapped and were colonizing. So with their guns and whips, they punished or killed people publically in order to convert the “savages” so they could easily steal their land and rob them of their resources.  Eventually, the witnesses of this brutality decided to not accept this new religion, but said, “Okay Mr. white man, I’m going to make you believe that I believe what you’re saying about this person named Jesus even though I’ve never heard of Him, nor do I have proof that he existed.  I just want the beatings and killings to stop.”  Upon their profession of Jesus,  magically the beatings stop, and the scary white man isn’t so violent. That’s how the “good Christian colonizers” got the Native Americans and Africans under control.  That SAME agenda is being pushed on Africans today.

So let’s approach the Bible with the understanding that it (and Christianity) was forced upon Native Americans and Africans who accepted Christianity as a means of survival and obtaining freedom from enslavement, not necessarily because they really believed it.  And ANY and ALL documentation of the Native American or African cultures or religions were destroyed in an attempt to obliterate the fact that they existed as credible faith based systems.  Is it really okay to take a book that doesn’t speak very favorably about anyone but “white people” as the cornerstone of how we live our lives?  Is this really a credible reference to lead us to GOD or lead us to a better understanding of who GOD is?

The Bible itself says nothing clean can come from  unclean things.  Jesus said a tree is known by fruit it bears, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.  So if what was forced upon us was oppressive in nature, can we really have liberation or salvation?  Or is this really just an oppressive system that we we bought into just to “make the beatings stop”?

If Christianity is all about liberty and freeing people in Christ, I think it is safe to say one  can’t honestly call themself a Christian if total liberation it’s not the fruit of their labor.  And not just liberation from sin, because Jesus took away the sins of the world when he died and rose again.  I think we need to talk more about being saved from poverty.  What about being saved from abuse?  What about being saved from oppression?  We can’t talk about those issues because the church system as we know it, by its very nature is oppressive.   We say we believe that there is freedom in Christ, but we don’t live it.  We don’t really believe it.  That’s why the so-called “lost people” see our lives and call us hypocrites. Our lives don’t speak liberation.  At the very core of our spiritual walk is opression.

 


Pimpin’ (from “Little Brown Boy’s Blues”)

The most impressive pimp is a preacher Who has made the church his ho
She works hard for all her money Can’t pay her rent, but pays for
His expensive clothes
He makes her build impressive houses While slowly, she will die inside it
He uses God’s love letter to gain power Sermons on prosperity and guilt trips
To abuse her very soul I mean, when men who can’t even sing Gets rich and wins Grammy Awards and Nominations off the talent Of singers who “do it for God” without due compensation…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man builds a school with other people’s money, And charges them tuition for their child to get an education…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man can fl y in private jets and live in lavish luxury
While his congregants barely make ends meet…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man gets thousands to give until their broke Then confuses them more by teaching them that being broke isn’t God’s will…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man can send his kids to fi ne colleges with his 37
followers’ money While His followers themselves can’t buy their children
winter coats…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man convinces you that he loves you and has you calling him
Your spiritual father, but he doesn’t even know your
name…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
When a man convinces you to give your money to support the kingdom of God
And God doesn’t need your money because he already
OWNS EVERYTHING…
THAT’S PIMPIN!
If you’ve found yourself in situations similar to these
There’s one thing I hope you’ve come to know…
Baby, your pastor is a big ol’ PIMP!
And you…you are just one of his HOES!