Until that moment, my evangelical, conservative upbringing had been dictating what I could and could not wear. Anything deemed immodest, anything that could cause lust in a Christian brother (blood relative or otherwise) was to be avoided. But, with one V-neck T-shirt, I realized that most of what I’d learned about modesty was wrong. That shirt may have been “immodest” by my Christian standards, but no one came running after me in lust. I began to see that modesty rules were a barrier to understanding myself; I had neglected to learn about my own body because I had been so afraid of what might flatter it. So many things had been “banned” in my life — tank tops, spaghetti straps, V-necks, low-rise jeans, and, yes, yoga pants.

I have an article up on Refinery29 this week about yoga pants, modesty, and Christian blogging.

Kindness does work as a strategy to an extent – for some, making that sacrifice is necessary to pushing people further on into radical advocacy. But there is a point beyond which kindness becomes a detriment rather than a virtue. In a world where black children are gunned down in the street for the supposed crime of being insufficiently deferential to white authority, where transwomen are assaulted in a McDonald’s bathroom for the crime of simply existing, where disabled children are charged with crimes for acting out in school – this is a world in which kindness has a limit to how well it can solve conflicts.

We spend a lot of time talking about “kindness.” So what does it mean for our praxis?

How It Is, Or, Life as a Queer Christian - A Response to John Shore

  • [Written as a response to this post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2014/09/how-its-been/]
  • ...
  • Me: Hi! I'm really nervous about this, but, hey world, I'm a queer person and a person of faith!
  • Christians on the Right: Well. You're going to hell. We'll pray for you to see the light of straightness.
  • Me: I don't think so.
  • Progressive Allies: Yay! We're so proud of you for coming out!
  • Me: Oh! Hey! Allies! I had something I wanted to talk to you about. You see, some of the things you do as "allies" are actually pretty harmful to LGB people - and you don't even talk about the "T" at all, so let's not pretend with regards to that, eh? I think you need to improve.
  • Allies: But we're your ALLIES! We've been working on this for so long! Who are you to tell me how to be an ally?!
  • Me: Well. As a member of that marginalized group, I think I'm pretty well positioned to notice when your straight, cis privilege is getting in the way of actually-
  • Allies: WE'RE ALLIES! WE'RE ON THE SAME SIDE. WHY NOT CRITIQUE THOSE CONSERVATIVES?!
  • Me: I do critique them. But it's important to me that my allies be willing to listen. It makes me feel safe to share who I am - I won't get sold out.
  • Allies: *blocked*
  • Me: Oh. Okay. Heyyyyyyy secular feminists and LGBT organizations! I'm a queer Christian! How are you?
  • Secular Feminists: Wait, how does that work? Doesn't your religion say you can't exist? Aren't queers and Christians in a dichotomous position?
  • Me: Well, no, see. There's this thing called queer theology that's really revolutionary and really interesting and I can tell you more about-
  • Secular Feminists: Never heard of it. I don't think your religion supports that, so you should probably leave it behind if you want to really commit to feminism. Religion is oppression!
  • Me: But. It's not... I get a lot out of it and I don't think I could ever leave my faith...
  • Secular Feminists: THEN YOU ARE AN OPPRESSOR! *blocked*
  • Me: Hm. Hey, God... You still love me, right?
  • God: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am love, and whomever abides in love abides in me. Even the hairs on your head are numbered and you are more valuable than many sparrows.
  • Me: Okay, the sparrow thing's a bit weird, but I'll take it.


fearfulwonderfulmonster
 said:*rimshot!* Ah of course, the “No true Scotsman” clause… “No true Christian would think legalistically within our legalistic framework!”

____

Yup, it’s a tried and true strategy that I see come up again and again. Those who find themselves damaged or hurt by purity culture are simply interpreting the doctrine incorrectly or failing to live up to God’s will properly. It can’t possibly be that there’s something wrong in the doctrine itself! We’re simply not being pure enough/making purity an idol.

The reality is much messier - you cannot drill it into someone’s head for years and years and years that being a virgin is the most important thing about who they are when it comes to a future (heterosexual) marriage and that marriage is the bedrock of Christian faith without that resulting in people with a totally disordered view of sexual experience and an inability to engage in healthy sexual activity. It is a logical, sociological consequence of the overemphasis on purity as morality that we see throughout the evangelical church. And it is not “attacking the church” to point out that something is wrong.

fearfulwonderfulmonster asked:

Have you heard "The Loophole" by Garfunkel and Oates? "A song about Christian girls who stay virgins until they're married but have anal sex instead." I found it to be an amusing critique of the Christian culture's arbitrary sexual ethic.

Well now I have!

Warning, said song is EXTREMELY NSFW.

Purity culture logic, of course, would point out that girls who use such “loopholes” aren’t really pure because they’re legalistically adhering to the letter of the law instead of the spirit. Unfortunately, the way purity culture operates can create this kind of legalistic thinking and it’s often a problem within purity culture itself that the standards for what is and isn’t sex are quite…shall we say, slippery?

*ducks*

Anonymous asked:

I wanted to go ahead and ask this...I've grown up a heteronormative "purity" culture, but I like a girl. It's hard for me not to feel a little guilty about my sexuality, like when I believed I was impure and sinful because I used to masturbate, for instance. I've also never even been in a relationship before. So I'm kind of anxious. I'm also pretty sure she's straight. :( How do I approach this?

This is a complex situation that depends on a number of things - is she single? Is she into girls? Does she know that you’re into girls? Would she be receptive to a relationship?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of huge risks that come along with having crushes on the same sex - not least of which is the double risk of both coming out about it AND telling someone you like them. Honestly, combining those two would be a terrible idea - “Hi friend, I’m into girls and you’re one of them!” would create a situation where it feels like if she’s rejecting you, she’s rejecting your whole identity.

And from the sounds of it, this is all very new to you, in which case, you need to work on coming out to yourself before you do the whole relationship thing. Ask yourself: what does it mean that I like this person? Do I feel the need to put a label on it? Is it just this person or is it more? What does it mean to me to realize that I’m queer? You’re beginning to ask those questions already, by asking me, but only you can answer them.

I will tell you though that I realized I was bi when I realized my wanting to hang out and be with a female friend was more than just a “friend crush.” It was the real freaking deal. And that scared me a lot because I wasn’t yet okay with those feelings myself - which sounds like where you’re at. And so my advice is do not act on the crush. It’s a hard thing to do even in the best of circumstances, but one in which you’re unsure about what this means for your sexual identity and you’re surprised? That’s not a good, stable place to enter a relationship from.

I’m a firm believer that you should know who you are before you enter into any kind of romance with another person, because unstable identities lead to confusion and heartache in relationships. You need to do the identity work yourself before you involve someone else in your exploration.

Anonymous asked:

This is not an "ask", per say, but a very deep, heartfelt thank you. I have been following your blog and reading your articles all summer long, and so many things you have said have changed my life and opened my mind to more fully receive and want to give the love of Christ. There is so much I could say, but I will simply state that you have spurred me on desire the grace and love of Christ more and more. Thank you for your honesty, thank you for your love. May you continue to speak the truth!

This is amazingly good to hear. I’m so glad. <3.

Lots of supposed allies to the feminist movement think that there is something to be gained from engaging our ideological opponents at every opportunity – if we don’t spend our time arguing with them over this, how can we possibly affect change? And that’s a legitimate argument in some respects – ideology enacted in isolated groups is quite dangerous, cultish behavior. But it’s also an argument that frequently comes with an unwieldy burden on marginalized persons – this is how educating our oppressors about our oppression becomes A Thing. It forces us to justify our existence to people who don’t give a rat’s ass about it one way or the other.

Sex liberated me from my puritanical judgment and strict ideas about what’s right and wrong. It taught me to meet people where they are – just as Jesus did – and in that way, it became a different kind of sacrament. I judge people less now. I don’t wrap my faith up in whether or not I’m performing the rules in the right way. And I understand God’s love for God’s people on a deeper, more personal level than ever before.

I’m ALSO over at The Frisky today with an article I’m really nervous about. I’m talking openly…about my sex life.

(Some people have been having trouble accessing the article via mobile devices, so try it on a computer or in Safari if you can!)

This is the theological basis for denying the rights of real people who survive in the real world: that they don’t match up with an eschatological conception of life without sin, and therefore should be rejected and discriminated against. Any person who is unrepentantly trans*—who does not flagellate themselves before the altar of the binary and biologically determined gender—is therefore acting in open defiance to God’s good law about gender. And sinning so openly means discrimination is the only holy response.

Over at RH Reality Check today, I’m discussing the theological basis of transphobia in conservative evangelicalism.

Praxis, as an ally, involves much listening and waiting and taking our cues from the marginalized. But that doesn’t mean we never act – indeed, this is a point where a loud response from both allies and marginalized alike can help create change. This is where the action part of our praxis comes into play – we must not simply stand by and say, “Not all Christians believe this.” We must actively dismantle and protest against people who assume they speak for Christianity. We must protest against hate speech by actively calling it out as bigotry and violence.

Today’s post on praxis involves some current events in the evangelical world.

In American culture, we think nothing of a handshake or a pat on the back – indeed, these are often social cues of acceptance. In churches, we “stand and greet one another,” which can mean anything from a hug to a high five or a handshake. It wasn’t until I’d become involved in victim advocacy that I realized how incredibly hard such moments can be for survivors. It’s utterly terrifying to walk into a church on a Sunday morning and have to steel yourself for a potential panic attack because someone decided to hug you without your consent.

A short Friday post today about consent!

Anonymous asked:

I know it's not Ask Away Wednesday yet, but I wanted to go ahead and send this to you while it's on my mind. I'm a single woman, evangelical Christian, grew up in purity culture (went through the True Love Waits program and everything). I've been considering buying a vibrator and starting to "own my sexuality", but I just can't seem to get over the guilt I feel about having any type of sexual feeling outside of marriage. Any suggestions?

I’m going to give you a new word here - I don’t think it’s guilt you’re feeling. I think it’s shame. Purity teachings are based on the idea that our bodies are shameful and should be hidden and unexplored like an area of a map that is left undefined. We are not allowed to be adventurers for ourselves, but must place the knowledge of our bodies into the hands of others. This, in turn, creates a lot of shame when we want to explore things for ourselves.

And this shame is really hard to get rid of - shame sits deep in our gut and hangs around our neck like a millstone. It convinces us that we are somehow committing some mortal sin by desiring to know our own sexuality and to understand ourselves. Sometimes, the way to get around this shame is to start slowly. Become comfortable with just yourself before you introduce any equipment into the conversation. And that often means just practicing - realizing that the world doesn’t fall apart when you explore yourself, that you aren’t going to get struck by lightning by knowing what you want.

After you’ve grown comfortable with just you, just yourself, you can try out new things. All of this circles back around to treating yourself well, to seeing yourself as someone who needs to be taken care of just as much as everyone else. And the best person to take care of you is…you!

But when enacting a feminist praxis, being aware of those power dynamics that cause that inertia can be a freeing movement. When a man acts entitled to my time and conversation now, I’ve become practiced at setting a boundary, at saying, “I don’t really want to talk about this” and walking away if that boundary is not respected. A major part of the praxis of feminism is becoming practiced in no longer caring what other people think.

Today, we kick off the praxis series with a discussion of humility and deference.