There was a point in time, not that long ago, when our ancestors stood on the same ground that we stand on today, and they looked towards the sky and they pointed and they said, “There is the sun. It circles around us.” Today we know this to not only be false, but to be foolish. Today we understand that the Earth along with all of her buddies circle around the sun in a great big dosey-doe.
The sun sits at the center of our universe and burns bright. The sun does not set. The sun does not rise. The Earth spins, both on its axis and rotation. The sun rising and setting is an illusion. This is not news to either you nor I. I am not breaking new ground here. We were all raised in a world where we understand this to be true. We are operating out of fact.
And yet, at one point, not long ago, the whole of our planetary culture would have told you differently and some of them might have even used the bible as a resource to back their argument since Ecclesiastes says The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.
The sun hurries through the sky.
No, it doesn’t.
Everyone would have stood against you, hand in hand, and told you how absolutely ludicrous you were for believing in what I am suggesting above. There was a planetary belief held by almost every inhabitant of Earth that the sun spun around us in orbit.
Don’t just brush over that. Think about it. We did not understand how our universe worked and then we made very basic assumptions about the principles of it. We jumped to conclusions based off of pre-conceived notions. Those notions were that god created us and so we were at the center of the universe and everything revolved around us because we were the most important things.
This, for a person of that culture, of that era, made sense. And in some regard, I can appreciate their logic. Airplanes, televisions and calculators were not invented yet, let alone to say anything of space travel, quantum physics and DNA.
That’s very heavy. Their worldview was crafted more by what they did NOT know than by what they did. In other words, they were not operating off of a provable scientific platform. They observed with their eyes and then made a call without further research.
You can take this back a little further to discuss how the Earth used to be flat. Human beings, not that much different from you and I, believed that the Earth was flat and that you could fall off into some kind of dark oblivion if you got too close to the edge. Again, these are people speaking from a place of the unknown. This wasn’t based on any kind of proof but was rather based upon a kind of UNproof. A table is flat. If you push a bowl to the edge of the table, it falls off. This makes sense. The Earth is a great big table.
You can appreciate their viewpoint. You can say to yourself, yeah, I can see how they thought that. I don’t agree with it because I am smarter than that, but I can see why they would believe this with their limited view of knowledge.
So then, let’s turn the camera around and point it back at ourselves. What is it that we see in our culture that future civilizations will raise an eyebrow at? What will future generations give us the sympathy sigh for? Ah, simple people of the twenty-first century.
Right now we believe that beyond our galaxy is just more galaxies and that space continues on forever and I guess this makes sense. But maybe not.
Right now we believe that time travel is a near impossibility and that it’s something out of science fiction movies. But maybe not.
Perhaps the next level of science we’ll push into is not the cosmos nor time hopping. Perhaps the next level of science we’ll push into is the human brain. There’s this gray mass living inside of our skulls and we don’t fully understand how it works.
I want to reiterate that last line. We do not fully understand how our own brain works.
That thing inside your head that secretes chemicals that makes you happy and that thing that holds all your memories and controls your breathing. We have no idea how it works. It may as well be alien technology.
Just like the Earth circling the sun. Just like people falling off the edge of the planet. We do not fully understand how it works.
And sometimes we jump to conclusions based upon what we believe to be true over what is yet to be proven to be true. Even today we are not so different than the people of hundreds and thousands of years ago. We still make the same, short-sighted mistakes.
What does it mean to be a homosexual? Do you know? If someone asked you to describe why an individual aligns themselves with homosexuality, would you be able to answer in a way wherein you would not sound like a “Flat Earth” person? Would you be able to answer at all? Could you speak with a sense of truth that is provable – like the Earth revolving around the sun – or would you speak with a sense of belief?
We look at the world around us and we see male and female. We see the majority of people on Earth operating in a very specific fashion. Male paired with female. But because a majority of people do a thing, does that make it so? Does that make it the only way to experience life? Because most people do something, does that mean that the minority are not only marginalized, but cut out completely?
Perhaps science will one day dissect the human brain and it will understand how it fully works. Perhaps one day we will understand the homosexual brain and the asexual brain and the transgender brain and the unisexual brain. But until then, how can we speak with knowledge on these things without understanding the truth of them?
How can we, as people, make judgment calls, moral or otherwise, on a people group that we do not understand? This is to say nothing of understanding them emotionally or having empathy for their pain in a world that tends to shun them, but to speak strictly of the neurological ramifications of what it means to have a brain.
We do not understand the human brain. To make definitive statements about a person’s genetic make-up without understanding their brain is like making definitive statements about someone on trial without listening to their court case.
At one point in my life, not that long ago, I was a staunch opponent of gay marriage, gay people and the lifestyle that they represented. It was a sin against God and it was damaging our traditional sense of marriage. In the simplest sense, these people were wrong. About everything. Gay people either made a choice (probably subconscious) or were raised to be gay by either a lack of a parental figure (probably a father) or some kind of molestation event.
Maybe you think this. There are, after all, a considerable group of people that do.
But what if… (ah, two of my favorite words) what if someday we do understand how the human brain fully works and functions? What if someday we do learn that gender binaries (strictly male / female), are not the absolute end of the line in regards to sexuality? What if science expands our minds and our culture and we understand that people are born with a very specific bend and to go against that is to go against all that is natural for them.
What if we learn that your belief does not matter because it is definitively wrong? Imagine the mobs that must have occurred when the philosophers said, “We are not the center of the universe. God did not put us in the middle. We are circling around the sun and the sun is not god. We are just drifting in space.” BOOM. Their faith has been not only questioned, but crushed. They could still believe in god but they had to go back to the drawing board to figure out what the new model looked like.
They had to re-define how they saw and experienced god.
God had to change.
That’s a scary thing.
It’s scary to question our belief of how god relates to us, especially when we think we are in proper standing with god. Justice and justification are very dangerous things when we wield them ourselves. When we believe that god is on our side and that we are doing his work, they can become lethal.
Let’s each of us remember that the KKK is a Christian organization.
Let’s each of us remember that the Westboro Baptist Church, those fine folks that picket at soldier’s funerals and hold up the God Hates Fags signs, are a Christian organization.
Let’s each of us remember that ISIS, who is beheading children and raping infants, are an organization dedicated to doing god’s work.
You are probably not like any of these things. These are big picture problems. And I’m not suggesting that Christianity or other religious groups are all like this. They aren’t. People of all faiths do absolutely amazing works of humanitarian service. But remember that each of us are capable of being blinded by our own passion for justice by the almighty hand of god. And what we think that god thinks is right, is not always so. And we must question our own motives. It is imperative.
It is easy for me, for you, for all of us, to point at a minority and say, “They aren’t doing it right.”
But it isn’t very easy to sit in the quiet – to intentionally, literally, go into a room by yourself in the absolute quiet – and to think about our own shortcomings. It is very difficult to pick apart ourselves and accept how fucked up we actually are as individuals.
I’ll end with this. God is a tool. Like a hammer. And that hammer can be used for good things and it can be used for bad things.
In 1994 a hammer was used to build an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda that has housed over 3,000 abandoned children that would otherwise be dead.
In 2002 a man bashed his wife’s skull in with a hammer after he caught her having sex with one of his friends.
And keep in mind that the Bible condones this behavior. It doesn’t call it out with a hammer but it condones stoning your wife to death if you catch her in the act of infidelity (Leviticus 20:10). And guys, that one goes for you too. If you’ve ever cheated on your wife, the old testament god calls for your blood. You can make the argument that Jesus came (new testament) and all of those laws are now moot but once they did matter. Once god told a group of people to bury a woman up to her neck and smash her face with rocks. Once that is how people viewed god. God was on their side and their acts were just.
We can say “That doesn’t count anymore.” But it did. To someone who was placed in a pit and buried, screaming for help, screaming out to god to help, screaming at her husband to please forgive her before he splattered her brains all over the ground, it did matter. Because it happened a long time ago, does not negate its reality.
Even the holocaust is in the past.
But that shit matters.
Remember that our perception of god has changed more than once in the course of human history. Remember that the way you view god today is not the way people will view god in a thousand years. Remember that the way people viewed god in the past is not the way you do today. Remember that everything, including the unchanging god, does change. Or at the very least, our perception of god changes.
Remember that you are broken as well. And remember that you’ve done things that might require you to someday be buried up to your neck and have your face smashed in by rocks.
God is a hammer. Be sure you’re using it properly.
I hope your take away is this.
Our world changes (science, technology, war, peace, providential boundaries). Our moral code changes (as an adult I drink alcohol but don’t eat meat, the opposite of my childhood). Even our moral code in accordance to god changes (where it was once acceptable to kill someone for adultery, today we think it barbaric). Our science has changed. Our perception of the universe has changed. And even if you believe that god does not change, our perception of god does. And it is our perception that we act upon. It is our perception of god that gives ISIS their justification. It is our perception of god that gives us our bearing for right and wrong.
Everything changes. It is unstoppable.
And so let’s remember that human sexuality will also change. It will change. Or at least our perception of it will change. The reality is that it was probably always here, muffled and quiet and now we’re finally speaking about it. And the only thing that is in our control is how we handle it – how we perceive it. The LGBT community is a hurting and broken one.
I won’t touch on the current transgender bathroom topic because I believe it is one of simple logistics. There is a solution that will be enacted and then it will be over. This is not about the bathroom topic. This is about the heart in which we approach it. Our world is about the heart in which we approach it. God is about the heart in which we approach it.
This is our opportunity, as human beings, to pick up the hammer and repair or destroy.
How we use it is up to each of us.