A bad.hack (read more about it here) is a manipulation of a Christian system either using illicit means to achieve an end, or achieving goals that leave the system worse off and less open than before. Read on for the hack!
Homophobia leads to weakened witness against sexual violence.
Hear that again: Homophobia in the United Methodist Church has weakened our witness against sexual violence.
I was having dinner with T.L. Steinwert and she alerted our table to this fact. I’m gonna post it here before her to steal her thunder. 🙂 As a result of our denominations’ fear of gay people, we voted in a weaker stance on sexual ethics that does not give words or power to those who suffer from sexual violence.
We get our stance on sexual ethics from the Social Principles. The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church are our stances on social issues, such as war, the environment, politics, democracy, abortion, and…homosexuality! Indeed, we have an entire section devoted to human sexuality.
Anyway, other blogs have written much about the lack of changes to the homosexuality prohibitions. I’ll leave that to them. I want to write about how our fear of all things gay has removed the language against sex acts of violence.
Anyway, here’s what the Social Principles say now about sexual violence.
Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are only clearly affirmed in the marriage bond. Sex may become exploitative within as well as outside marriage. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.
Here’s what was removed at General Conference 2008.
Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are
only clearlyaffirmed only within the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage bond. Sex may become exploitative within as well as outside marriage. We reject all sexual expressions that damage or destroy the humanity God has given us as birthright, and we affirm only that sexual expression that enhances that same humanity. We believe that sexual relations where one or both partners are exploitative, abusive, or promiscuous are beyond the parameters of acceptable Christian behavior and are ultimately destructive to individuals, families, and the social order.
Notice what is missing?
You can read it again here, it wasn’t put in elsewhere.
Here’s what the 2008 Social Principles will NOT say about sexual violence.
- No words of prohibition against marital rape
- No words of prohibition against improperness in marriage relationships that are outside of legal codes.
- No words of comfort to those who are troubled by their partner’s demands of them in sexual relations.
I know when we get hurt we turn to the bible for comfort. As sick as it sounds, some pastors and even lay UMs turn to their Book of Discipline for our stance on deeply personal issues. If they don’t see their issue reflected back at them, if a woman being raped by her husband doesn’t see words to give her power, then the United Methodist Church’s stance on sexual violence has been weakened.
The minority report tries, it really does. Here’s its reference to violence in sexuality.
All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured and to be protected against violence.
Weak. Way to replace a well-written sentence that acknowledges the messy humanity of relationships with an ambiguous one that does not speak truth to power.
This is a bad.hack. We have replaced language that gives power to people with language that does not empower people. It’s like saying “We are against snowcones” without condemning those who make snowcone machines or the funnel-sized cups. There is no substance behind our witness, and indeed the substance that was there was removed, making the system of symbols less effective in social witness. By this change, we have made our system of social witness weaker and less relevant.
There are always unintended consequences to our actions. In our homophobia and zeal, we forget the humanity of those whom we wish to strip rights from, and unintentionally remove language of power to those who suffer from sexual violence. In other words, by focusing so much on sexual relationships, we have given power to those who commit sexual violence.
May the God of broken bodies forgive our church for our homophobia, and may we look in the mirror and realize that the one who is broken by homophobia is ourselves.