October 24, 2011

Anonymous Posts (10.17.11-10.23.11)

Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks, hate speech, or express or insinuate that one is at risk for hurting themselves or someone else. Please read this for an explanation of this policy and seek help if your or a friend find yourself in that position. With those exceptions aside, please feel free to submit your thoughts and questions. :)

Wazzzuuuppp, readers!?

I hope a ton of you were able to make it to the faculty/staff student reception on Friday! I was in DC doing research for my thesis and sadly was unable to attend. BUT, while in DC I was able to get to the new MLK Memorial, which was pretty sweet. I was sad to see that my favorite quote did not make the cut ("Our lives [woo! BDU BLOG! ha, jk] begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."), but there was something really special about seeing a ton of five year old Black children running around, smiling, and posing with the statue.

Other noteworthy things: Huffington Post celebrated "Ally Week" this past week, and featured a column by the founder of Athlete Ally. Elsewhere, the founder of Outsports commented on Rick Welts' (newly out, former Phoenix Suns President) hiring.

Even more noteworthy...Anonymous Posts below!

I hate how cynical I have become about possible hate crimes such as the one at the NCSU GLBT-CA Center. The hoax this spring at UNC and this past summer at Iowa are two examples that have made it harder to instantly believe any new event that comes up. What is the best way to show solidarity and support while the facts are not yet known?

In all the discussion following the repeal of DADT, I somehow completely forgot about this article, which I've always found fun: "Why Gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group)" by Stanley Hauerwas. It can be found in the Hauerwas reader pg 519-522. Duke readers go here and type "519" in the upper right corner. Non Duke readers you can get part of, or the full essay, here, depending on how merciful Googlebooks feels like being at the time. It's a slightly satirical treatment of the discussion, especially directed against the Conservative Christian groups. It was written in 1993 by Stanley Hauerwas, a renowned theologian who currently teaches at Duke Divinity School. Perhaps it's a bit dated, but it certainly is thought provoking. The first part is probably the most pertinent to general readers of this blog; the second part tends to be of interest to Christians in particular. Anyway, thought I'd throw it out there for those who wanted a bit of a different perspective on DADT, and my personal opinion is that some of the general critiques Hauerwas touches on would be just as pertinent to Prop 8 and the North Carolina referendum coming up.

A while ago someone wrote a blog post about coming out to god. This post really resonated with me because I am a questioning Christian mainly held back by the fact that God might not approve of homosexuality. The author of the entry seems pretty confidant that gay is ok...and so was I until I read 1 Corinthians 6:9. Now, I want to make it very clear I am not attacking anyone. I would just like to know how one could explain this verse and come to the decision that its ok for Christians to be gay. I just want to know so I can be myself (lately I've been stepping further and further out of the closet but also feel that God may be punishing me for it as my life has been significantly rougher recently) or come to terms with the fact that I might just have to stay single for life.

Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over breaks and throughout the school year. If you or a friend are experiencing thoughts or urges to harm yourself or somebody else, please reach out to the following resources: In an emergency, please don't hesitate to call CAPS at any time, including "after hours" at (919) 966-3820. Ask to speak to the advice nurse and tell them you are a Duke student. You may also call the Trevor Project, a national hotline specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning youth (college students included). Their number is 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).


  1. #1:
    Honestly, the best thing that you (and everyone, this isn't just for you) can do is to express support for the individuals involved. Rather than expressing hatred/anger at who the perpetrator could be, support the individual/s who have fallen victim. I tentatively take it as truth because it is terrible for someone to have made something like that up, but if it proves to be false then I'll be hurt but I wouldn't have burnt any bridges with people by coming to quick conclusions.

    As for the incident at State, something just makes me feel like this one isn't false, but that's a conclusion I've come to which you don't have to agree with.

    Just try to keep your mind open.

    I'm not a Christian and I don't claim to be incredibly well versed in the Bible, but upon looking up the Corinthians verse I found translations from the original "effeminate" to "male prostitute" and "homosexual". I can't help but feel like it's not about getting caught up in specific verses,
    but rather embracing the message as a whole and taking a modern angle to it.
    That's my understanding, but I'm sure Dan and Jonathan (and so many other people) could give you so much better advice from first hand encounters.

  2. #2 I understand what you are going through. Coming out and retaining your Christianity is often very difficult. My faith is what kept me in the closet for so long. My advice to you as someone who was once in shoes, is to research a wide rang of discussions on Homosexuality and Christianity. I would personally recommend the movie "for the Bible tells me so" It is a great documentary that i think you will find very helpful. You can check it out from the LGBT center. It is also available in Lilly if you don't yet fill comfortable going to the center ( but the center is great, and you should try it out). The Movie "fish out of water" is also a very good, and chronicles the coming out of a Christian college student, and how she found peace. Not sure if the LGBT center has this one, but i watched it on netflix.

    I Regards to your question about 1 Corinthians 6:9, i want to remind you not to put to much weight on a single verse, i'm sure you have heard the whole- not wearing mixed fabric argument (Leviticus 19:19). But to comment on this specific verse, take this into consideration. The term homosexual was not "invented" until 1869 and there is no equivalent word in Greek (the original language of the bible). Paul would not have been talking about to consenting adults in a faithful relationship. This really didn't exist in the ancient world, most same sex relations were either between and older man, and a pre pubescent boy, or with a prostitute. The Greek word Paul uses is "arsenokoitēs" and it was used in the ancient world to describe a tot of different things including incest and rape. Plato used the term to mean temple prostitution in his Symposium. And 1 Corinthians is one of the very few places that modern people have translated the word to mean homosexuality. It doesn't make more sense because that Greeks had words that would fit better if that was hat he was referring to.

    But here is the key: God loves you, he knows your pain and will never forsake you. 1 john 4:16 tells us that God is love. Never forget that. How could Love hate you for things beyond you control. oh, and i just remembered another movie. "prayers for Bobby" its about a Christian mother who has to come to terms with her sons homosexuality. Really powerful. But i hope this helps, and it does get better.

    God Speed, and i will pray for you.

  3. #3:
    I'm no more a Christian than Swati, but my parents have made me go to church my entire life and there was a time that I was very religious. From that experience I picked up quite a bit about the Bible and ways of interpreting it. The way I would phrase how it's acceptable to be gay and Christian, regardless of any Bible verse, is as follows:

    Alright, essentially what we have here are a few problematic verses that seem to condemn homosexuality. Putting aside the debate about whether or not they are accurate translations, I see a different way around the problem. There are many Bible verses that condemn a great many things, premarital sex, marriage after divorce, female priests, the eating of shellfish, and the cooking of a goat in its mother's milk. (I'm not kidding, these are all in there) The bible also says that if a child is rebellious or does not bend to their parents' wishes, they should be stoned to death. What am I getting at with all of this? Essentially, many of these things are no longer viewed by the church as such bad things, or in some cases, even considered immoral at all. Many churches ordain female ministers, shrimp is enjoyed by many of even the most conservative Christians, and I haven't heard of Leviticus being invoked to stone a child for not taking out the trash. So this clearly shows that Christianity is capable and willing to bend to the times and modify itself to more align with changing human experience. So why can this modification not apply to homosexuality? I personally think it does.

    Even the conservative Christians that might call you out using the very verses you referenced probably practice habitually and most likely acceptable many practices the Bible denounces as sin. Basically, faith is not so cut and dry as the book on which it is based. So do you. You don't have to deny yourself for God.

  4. #1- As someone intimately connected to what happened at UNC in April, I find myself sharing your cynicism at times. That being said, I'm confident that what happened at State was the act of someone seeking to express hate against the community, especially given the fact that it's happened there twice now. I want to echo what Swati said but also add to it. We need to create a culture where we take accusations of hate crimes and incidents seriously no matter what. It's not our job as individuals to be investigative agents. That's what we have police for. What we do need to do is make sure that resources are available for survivors of violence and that investigative agencies take the allegations seriously. That's why we have a special designation for hate and bias crimes; historically, allegations of violence and discrimination towards minorities haven't always been taken seriously (even though it's not technically a "hate crime", though I think you can make a case it should be, I include rape in this description as well). It's sad that it has to be like this and hopefully it will change over the coming years, but is better that we have a few false stories come up than to have a culture where EVERYONE affected suffers in silence.

  5. #3 - I am a Christian and a member of the Episcopal Church. As a matter of official doctrine, we interpret the Bible spiritually, not literally.
    Also, as a major in the Religion department studying the formation of the Church (THE Church = the Catholic Church) I will tell you that every major theologian in Early Christianity emphasized love. They had very different ideas about what showing love meant, but the core idea was the same. The job of a Christian is to show love. A holistic interpretation is key (Especially in our translated versions! The Bible wasn't written in English!) to ensure the New Testament is viewed as an ethic, rather than a rule-book. What guides this interpretation? Christ. Assuming you belong to a faith that upholds Trinitarian theology, ((Father=Son=Holy Spirit)=Love) Cool huh?
    You should read some of the crazy anti-legalistic stuff the Patristics wrote. They really hated legalistic (literal) interpretation of Scripture. Paul too! (Now we're getting meta.) God also doesn't "judge" despite the frequency with which that word appears in the Bible. God is pretty freaking awesome, but we are limited by our human sized brains in our ability to comprehend and describe him so we have to do our best with words we use for his creation. (We even need gendered pronouns.)

    At risk of ruining my entire argument by using a single passage I would sum it up with this one regarding legalistic interpretation of the Old Testament: "For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Corinthians 3:6)

    Or, you know, you could go against millennia of theology with the WBC's interpretation that the Bible should be interpreted through the knowledge that God hates.

    P.S. If you're interested in talking about it more feel free to come to one of our services at the Episcopal Center at 4pm on Sundays. Our priest Nils is super awesome and would love to talk to you. I know Andrew at Duke Lutherans and Katie from Westminster Presbyterian (PCUSA) would too!

    P.P.S. If you haven't read #2 - do it! Shane knows what he's talking about.

  6. #3: I think denzell hit it on the head--those verses that have been translated and wholly re-interpreted in the modern 20th century context don't reflect the authors' original intentions and meanings. The same-sex intercourse that is referred to in the Bible is likely not the loving, committed, emotionally invested same-sex relationships that gay people talk about today. I think it can be helpful and encouraging to talk about the "greater spiritual message/intent" of the Bible, or about its quirks and inconsistencies (i.e. the Leviticus passages in their entirety), but when it comes down to it, the strongest counterargument remains that the Bible does not say what you think it says in those few and sparse lines on homosexuality. If you accept that real people wrote the New Testament about real events, then you also have to concede that they were writing within the constructs and circumstances of their own time period which is radically different from ours today.

    Or, if all of that was way too long and boring, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND _The Good Book_ by Peter Gomes, the late (and long-time) minister of Harvard Memorial Church.

  7. #3: You raise the question of Biblical evidence against homosexual acts. Does the Bible come down against homosexual acts? I'm sympathetic to Richard B Hayes' (current Dean of Duke Div and New Testament Scholar) chapter in his book Moral Vision and the New Testament that basically says that yes the Bible does consistently hold homosexual acts are probably not a good idea. So you're right: I don't see how one could hold the literal truth of the Bible, but fortunately I'm Catholic and the Church finds interpreting the Bible literally to be rather absurd.

    However, with the Bible clearly coming out against homosexual acts, does that mean we as Christians must conclude God created us somehow incapable of love? I'm reluctant to think this. I think this past week's Gospel from the Catholic lectionary helps out a lot in this instance. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked to identify what the most important law is. He famously replies love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, and you neighbor as yourself. But note what he says after that: "The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Jesus sets up a hierarchy of laws, where the rest of the prophet's laws are based on those two commandments. This gives a great way to understand how moral law--which is supposed to be eternal--can change from "don't eat pork" to "Wait...what's wrong with pork?"

    Imagine that God when giving Moses the commandments: "Hrm...there is this law I have of 'your body is a temple of the Lord' and it's wrong to hurt that. And they have absolutely no clue how to prepare pork such that they don't get sick and hurt themselves. Aha! I shall reveal to Moses 'microbes' and 'bacteria' and my people shall glory in my revelation to them!"

    Moses: "God...I thought all the illnesses I had was cause my parents displeased You."

    God: "Erm.... *thinks how to explain this to Moses* Well I am present in many

    Moses: "You mean to say...you're a bunch of microscopic...animal-like-thingies?"

    God: "Dangit. Okay, Moses. Just say it's 'unclean' and I will strike down anyone who eats pork. Same thing, really."

    Moses (grumbles): "Oh! I see! Well why didn't you say that in the first place!"

    And then Jesus comes. And He sees pork can actually be maybe prepared a bit better, and so the Law of your body being a temple of the Lord is not really broken by breaking the derivative law of not eating pork. But He's remembered His Father's conversation with Moses, and when his Apostles talk with him, He skips the microbe step.

    Peter: "That looks yummy. But I will be a law-abiding Jew and refuse to eat such unclean things as pork."

    Jesus: "I am freedom! You are free from that crazy rule! Who thought that one up, anyway...oh, and who am I again?"

    Peter: "Clearly You are the Son of God! Only the Son of God could liberate me from that rule!"

    Celebration ensues.

    (Please note: this is a highly stylized, playful version of the facts that is intended with 100% reverence for Moses, God/Jesus, and Peter, as well as for all Kosher laws. Anyway, God is omniscient and this conversation never would have needed to happen yada yada. But you get my point.)

    To be continued. I am far too loquacious I apologize.

  8. Continued from previous post:

    The idea is that Christianity believes that the NT is the fulfillment of the OT. But moral laws are eternal and shouldn't be able to just change should they? Well fundamental Laws don't. But we don't get all the fundamental Laws and all the derivatives and how they would apply in every case. Thus God has had to give us derivative laws we don't necessarily understand. There was a change of situation with the pork.

    I would say there's been a similar change of circumstance with homosexuality. How did homosexual acts occur at the time Corinthians was written? Well Corinth was in Greece, and homosexuality was

    I would say the fundamental Law is that sex is a selfless act of union based in love. That means that Christianity is incompatible with hooking up, looking at sex as "harmless fun" or any number of things. At the time Paul was writing, the concept of homosexual acts be "selfless act of giving" wasn't going to really be understood.

    Plato: "But....of course this is a selfless act of giving! Children are the most giving of all, and Alcibiades is only 14! But I'm freely giving him knowledge of virtue, and he's freely giving me sex! We are in a very selfless giving relationship here!"

    Pederasty was common in Greece, and my understanding was that homosexual sex was pretty much extramarital adultery in the time of Paul and the writings in the New Testament. So, God could tried to have explained to Paul (who, btw, didn't seem all that hot on sex to begin with....see 1 Corinthians 7) "Well...as long as sex is only done in a monogamous relation between two men who truly love each ether..." etc etc. I just don't think it would have gone as well, either with Paul, or with the society as a whole, who probably would have corrupted the teaching. Instead, until society got to a very different point, God allowed it to be said "Don't have gay sex" as a derivative of the Christian view of sex as an extension of love. I would now say that LGBT relations can be legitimate extensions of love, and thus homosexual relations can't be categorically excluded by moral Law.

    This is a particular topic I've explored a lot. Feel free to email me at sah37@duke.edu if you want to talk more. Or if you want to yell at me for my literary renditions, I can give you more traditional theological exposition. I just thought this way might be a little more enjoyable considering how long I kept blabbering on :-P.

  9. I love the solidarity on this page and that so many people reached out to give such amazing advice to #3.