This post from John Shore is a few weeks old, but I hadn’t seen it, so I figured y’all might not have either. In it, he goes directly to the heart of why so many fundamentalists are so virulently anti-gay. It, of course, has nothing to do with the Bible, no matter how much they protest that it does — that’s all a smokescreen that they use to convince themselves and others that something much deeper isn’t going on. This is also why the word “homophobia” is so excessively appropriate to describe the condition exhibited by anti-gay activists:
The reason is power. It’s all about power. The problem Christians and others have with homosexuality isn’t about sex. Nobody cares that much about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Sure, it says in the Bible that homosexuality is bad. And of course that matters. As a Christian, what the Bible says certainly matters to me. But the Bible also says that slavery is good, and that women shouldn’t speak in church, and that Christians should never eat shellfish, and on and on an on. We’ve long ago made our peace with the idea that sometimes we have to modify our understanding of Biblical texts—especially when (as is true with the Pauline proscriptions of homosexuality), there are sound reasons to question the way the text has been translated.
You see, fundamentalist Christians have no trouble finding easy rationalizations for the Bible verses they don’t personally like or that don’t fit in with their own worldview. Indeed, if you browse John’s comments section, you can easily find ten examples of fundamentalists doing just that. John goes on to explain what he means by “power”:
And the answer to that question is simple: they threaten the traditional power base of men.
Here’s the basic run of it inside a man’s brain/heart/subconscious:
I may not be much. But I’m a man. And that entitles me to a lot.
Two women together? That’s kind of cute—sexy, even. But it doesn’t scare me. Because neither of those women can threaten my power. They can’t undermine the truth that, as a man, I’m still (figuratively and literally) on top. Two women together doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a man’s world.
But two men together? Yikes. That’s a problem for me. That’s when all the walls in my world begin to crumble.
Each of those men is my equal, my peer; they’re my kind. If it’s okay for them to be romantic with each other, then, for me, everything gets upended. [Oh, will you just stopalready?!] Because where the heck does that leave me?
I’m a man. I get to be a man. That means I’m … the man! I’m in charge. I’m at the head of the table. I make the money. I have the muscles. I build the castles. I’m number one! But I can’t be number one without people below me to be number one over. You’re not a boss unless you have subordinates. My whole organization—my entire power structure, everything that keeps me being The Man—absolutely, 100% depends upon me—and, by extension, upon my kind—being in charge.
And what we’re in charge of is women.
Hello? Muscles. Castles. Food on the table. Conquering hero.
Swinger of clubs. Thruster of weapons.
Head of household.
That’s how it’s been. That’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s my goddamn right as a man. And if you try to take that from me, I will do everything in my power to make sure that you fail.
And we’re not joking now. I’ll beat you. I’ll make sure my kids learn to hate you.
I’ll have no pity for you when you commit suicide. I’ll happily supply the gun for that. Or the pick-up truck and the rope, if you’re having a problem with gettin’ her done.
You’re screwing with my life now, you see? And I will see you in hell before I’ll sit back and let that happen.
And that’s how that goes. That’s how that’s always gone.
This is a point that feminists have been making for decades, and it’s refreshing to see it stated so bluntly by a straight, Christian man. [It also suggests that John Shore is more secure in his manhood than many of his co-religionists.]
It all goes back to the simple question of “Who am I better than? What do I control?” Deeply ingrained in our society is the notion that Christian men are The Deciders, and many of these men, having embraced this status through no merit of their own, are deeply fearful that one day the emperor will be shown to be quite naked, indeed, and that their fragile pedestal will crumble to the ground, forcing them to exist on the same level as everyone else. So they are indeed threatened by the idea of men who disrupt their patriarchal power structure, on whatever side of the spectrum it’s happening; they might be deeply threatened by a man, straight or gay, who is deeply in touch with his feelings/his “feminine” side [see: sneering about “metrosexuals”], and they might be even more threatened by a gay man who is very obviously stronger and more masculine than they are.
But it’s not just gay people that set them off in this way. When Republican politicians scream out “baby killer!”, most rational people can tell that they’re not really talking about babies. The entire idea of reproductive rights for women essentially says to these men, “You no longer have the final say over what does and does not happen to women’s bodies.”
Another piece chips away from the pedestal.
When teabaggers wail about “wanting their country back,” as they make up truly bizarre fantasies about who the president really is, where he really came from, what he really is, what he really wants to do — it’s disrupting their white, male patriarchal power structure.
And so on. It’s no coincidence that the virulently anti-gay are also virulently anti-choice, and often “want their country back,” etc. On a deeper level, they’re yearning for a time when women, gays, minorities, etc., knew their place. On an even deeper level, these straight men [and the women who, as John Shore points out, are often just as tied up in that structure as their men are] are yearning for a time when they knew their own place, and were secure in it.
Those days are gone. We’re a better society for it, but that’s, at heart, what scares the everloving shit out of the Bryan Fischers and Tony Perkinses of the world. There was a time in Bryan’s life, and probably in Tony’s father’s life [and certainly within his worldview], when men like they had the last word and it was unquestioned, no matter how stupid or ignorant it was. These days a smart, overqualified, more outspoken woman, gay person or minority can look guys like that in the face and tell them to go to hell, and then carry out the ultimate revenge by having a happy, fulfilled life that, by its very existence, negates the worldview they use as a blanket for their deep insecurities. I imagine it’s hell, because such people have been raised with a privilege they did not earn, and that they do not deserve. But to have privilege ripped away like that, to have society roll its eyes a little more each and every day at such provincial thinking? Damn.
I’m glad there are straight Christian men like John Shore who are willing to step up and state the frightening truth to their own compatriots.
Remember that, though, when you’re dealing with people who have nothing of any substance to say to you beyond “It sez in the Holy Bubble!” or some derivation of that. It has nothing to do with the Bible, and everything to do with deep insecurities and fear.