Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Education and Sexuality

One of the perks to gaining significant and life-altering experiences is that you begin to amass this sort of catalogue of reference material. Or at least you do if you're like me. Things just all start to connect after a while in various and sundry ways. One connection I've made lately, actually about 30 minutes ago when I woke UP thinking about it, is the similarity between the way people speak about subjects like education and sexuality.

My first 14 years of teaching were spent in first and second grades. Those are the tender years when parents hold many beliefs about their offspring very similar to that very same child's belief in Santa. Somehow what looked like "genius" sort of behavior in those early years begins to swiftly deduct I.Q. points around 7th or 8th grade. I speak from experience here. When you teach first and second graders, every parent is an expert. Their credentials are nothing more than the fact that they've managed to produce said offspring and that they themselves once attended a public school of learning. And many of these parents will speak with great authority. Much of the time it was profoundly stupid authority, and yet they were certain beyond any doubt, of their knowledge of education in general. Their opinions would run the gamut from "kids need to sit down, be quiet, and read and write all day long" to "children need to be free to express themselves, move about freely, and be always and forever active in their learning." There's some wisdom somewhere in-between all that, yet many first grade teachers have to spend as much time educating parents as they do children. By the time the kid gets to middle school, most parents seem to throw their hands in the air then get down on their knees and thank God there's a place to send that little darling every day where other adults are willing to spend some time with them.

I'm finding that folks speak with a similar sort of self-appointed authority about the subject of sexuality. Now that I'm going through this ordeal, it seems everyone and their pet canary has an opinion about "the gays". Unfortunately, most of the canaries only know the words "queer" and "faggot"....but still, that says something. (i'm being outrageously sarcastic here...sorry...it's very therapeutic for me) It does amaze me though, how people with nothing more than sexual body parts and the blessing of never having had to deal with any of this crap in any really meaningful sort of fashion, speak as if they've got it all figured out. Heck, I've practically read a library on it, spent countless hours ruminating, reflecting, and discussing it with all SORTS of people, attempted to literally LOVE someone through it, and I still don't have it much figured out. Oh to be so wise.

And here I find myself at yet another point of compassion for gays, ex-gays, or anyone considering anything remotely like any of the above. Goodness gracious me.

love and grace,
pam


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9 comments:

Another Angie said...

I was encouraged to check out your blog by a friend of mine and have been following it for the about the last month. Let me tell you, though...I started from your first post and read everything so I could catch up. Ha!

Thank for you posting this! I was just having this conversation (why people think they know everything about sexuality). What occured to me was revelatory for me.

As long as people are "certain" they know the answers to this, more division occurs. Is that what God's opposer would want? (Whether we refer to it as Satan or evil or whatever.) What if all of this "certainty" really just serves to keep an entire population of people from knowing the hope of Christ? This may not sound mind-blowing to anyone else, but for me it was. I was thinking: What purpose comes out of all of this disagreement? And when I answered that question, I thought: Who's "agenda" does that fit? Just questions...

I'm long-winded, it's true. All of this to say, though, that it infuriates me to no end that so many Christians (of which I am one) claim to be authorities on this subject when I've also read volumes on it and am just as confused as ever!

Keep blogging, lady. I love reading your stuff and finally feel I've found someone who understands where I'm coming from on this. You're amazing!

grace said...

Wow. Thanks A/Angie. I'm guessing you were sent my way by the other Angie or someone who's a part of that network? :) I love that! I'm humbled to death that you'd take the time to read the whole thing.
I quoted this verse to a friend in an email yesterday....you know how at different times God will send you a sort of "word" from the WORD?
Mine right now is...2 Corinthians 4:8 "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." Thanks to Tin Man for being my own personal Biblegateway.com in helping me locate it's exact spot. I appreciate you and look forward to getting to know you more as we journey on together.

love,
pam

FeatherIron said...

Good stuff Pam. By the way, Istayed up till 11pm last night reading Velvet Elvis (I got home @ 9pm) I haven't finished it yet but so far it is really good. Makes you think, which I like.

grace said...

Carole,
I knew you'd like it....and I'm certain (aren't you?) that making people "think" is his entire point.

love,
pam

Another Angie said...

No, I just saw that you have an Angie as a blogging friend, so I thought I'd be Another Angie. I don't know if my friend posts or not. I'll check with him first. I'm really looking forward to journeying on!

Norm! said...

". . . It does amaze me though, how people with nothing more than sexual body parts and the blessing of never having had to deal with any of this crap in any really meaningful sort of fashion, speak as if they've got it all figured out. Heck, I've practically read a library on it, spent countless hours ruminating, reflecting, and discussing it with all SORTS of people, attempted to literally LOVE someone through it, and I still don't have it much figured out. . . ."

Me too!

In grade school, I remember being told that "I don't know" was not an appropriate answer. However, "I don't know" is a certainly an appropriate answer when discussing sexuality/theology/morality. Sure, I have experiences and ideas, but in the end, I really don't know. The first experts I seek are those who are willing to admit their knowledge of sexuality is limited and there are many aspects of sexuality that are a mystery.

grace said...

Well cool another angie! It's just always interesting to know how these connections and relationships begin and grow, ya know?

Norm!: Yet another reason you should seriously consider reading "Velvet Elvis". It's pretty easy to infer (and maybe he comes right out and says it) that a big part of the "problem" with Westernized Christianity is the way it's appointed itself as the final say on a bunch of stuff that was possibly never meant to have a "final say" put upon it. At least I'm getting that from it. I really think you'd enjoy it.

love,
pam

Brady said...

Great post, Grace. Luckily, once some people sit down and listen instead of believing they have all the answers, they begin to realize how non-expert they were. If only everyone could have that kind of a mindset!

Peterson Toscano said...

Pam! How did I miss this post of yours??? Too much stomping about the Scottish Highlands and not enough time on-line.

Great thoughts here. It comes at a time when I am thinking very much about these same issues.

A friend of mine, a very active member in his church, part of the church board, regular speaker and doer, recently came out as gay to the congregation. The pastor knew for three years, but as long as the man was silent about his same-sex attractions, it was a none issue.

In a matter of two weeks this gay man, once called upon to do all matter of service at the church, has been asked to step down from his positions, told that he cannot lead the pre-Christmas service he has been planning for weeks, and has been encouraged to not preach at a sister church this week. The ELDERS want to meet with him to correct him.

Days before Christmas and these wise men, who typically have no time to meet with anyone without at least 4 weeks notice, suddenly need to meet immediately to sort out this one gay man. They have answers, actions, solutions, but so few questions. Merry Christmas, Faggot!

Just like we parents and other adults who assume that by virtue of the fact that we've been to a school at some point, we automatically know about the needs of young people, these straight male leaders assume they know what is best for the church and this gay man without being willing to joureny with him in the process. They must contain the "evil" and deal with it. No matter that he is a brother who has ministered alongside of them for years.

I see a great deal of hubris on the part of some religious leaders who make decisions more out of the need to keep peace than to advance the kingdom of heaven.