Friday, May 25, 2012

Living In Two Paradigms

This is the second part of a two part post on paradigms.

Pete and I met on line a year or so ago. Pete is what I commonly refer to as a "good guy." In fact, Pete is a very good guy. Like myself, Pete is a high profile man. By that I mean that Pete is in a job that makes him well known to a great number of people around the world that he does not necessarily know. In that regard, Pete has a higher profile than I do. I'm well known to people in Texas and around the country that I don't necessarily know because of my career. (For more thoughts on bisexuality and high public profiles see the April 4, 2012 post "What If You are Both Bisexual and A Public Figure?")

As I suggested in part one ("Wanting vs. Having - Finding Personal Peace") of this discussion of paradigms, building new paradigms is never easy. It's even harder for high profile men who must maintain old very public paradigms while building and living new private paradigms and make sure that the two paradigms coexist in some sort of harmony.

A conversation with Pete caused him to make the suggestion that I write something about bisexuality and public figures. The April 4th post was the result. More recently, Pete suggested the title for another post and even provided the name, "Living In Two Paradigms." Pete also provided me an outline of his thoughts on the matter as a public figure, living in two paradigms. Keep in mind that while living as a bisexual man is harder for a public figure, much of what Pete experiences applies to men who lead private lives as well.

"Living in two paradigms of thought is like living on two tectonic plates," says Pete. How true it is. Sometimes it is as if one is strataling the San Andreas Fault. The fault shimmers and shakes and one struggles to maintain his balance. Worse yet, sometimes one plate moves north while the other moves south and one must quickly adjust his stance or loose his balance and fall into disaster.

As Pete puts it, "Sometimes I'm on Plate One where I experience certain emotions, thoughts, perspectives and motivations. Sometimes I'm on Plate Two where I experience other emotions, thoughts, perspectives and motivations. And when I'm on Plate One, it makes perfect sense; and when I'm on Plate Two, it makes perfect sense. And [as] I move back and forth, I must cross the fault line. Sometimes I get stuck there for long periods of time. Much of the time I live on the fault line … and that is where the earthquakes occur. Sometimes the clash is just too great, and I retreat to Plate One, as far from the fault line as I can get. Other times, I move … into Plate Two where I explore, investigate, feel, and wonder. At this point in my life, it is important that I be able to retreat to Plate One for peace and security when I need to. There are intermittent times when Plate Two provides the same, but not nearly as often or [for] as long. I'm not sure if Plate Two will ever offer … peace.
The challenge presently is to live on the fault line with increasing peace with the ambiguity and tension that living in both paradigms causes, to feel okay about the ambiguity is a challenge. For so much of my life…, I have lived in Plate One, as far from the fault line as possible. To be venturing onto Plate Two and enjoying it is a very scary thing. It goes against everything I've believed …, thought, and worked toward. Living in two worlds seems to be easier if you can retreat easily to either one when necessary. Getting stuck in one world seems to create its own issues." 
As are so many of us, Pete is a Christian man. He's happily married and enjoys his sexual relationship with his wife. The last thing he wants to do is hurt her.

Pete is active in his church. In fact for much of his life, his faith and his church have largely defined him as a man. Its not that he hasn't always felt the difference in himself, he's just pushed it away. Like so many of us, he has pushed it away for so long that the constant pushing has exhausted him. And in his exhaustion he has begun to wonder more and more if personal fulfillment doesn't demand the forming and the living of new paradigms and the modification of old ones.

In his struggle for self fulfillment and personal peace Pete has given a great deal of thought to living in two paradigms. In his notes to me, he actually constructed an outline of the competing paradigms. The outline was divided into three columns. The left column with his older paradigms has a yellow background. The right column with newer paradigms which are presently forming have a green background. Dividing the two is a red column representing the fault line. Perhaps I read more into it than I should have, but the fact that the left column was yellow and the right column was green suggested there may be some unconscious motivation in Pete's mind. I think it would have been more traditional to put a green background beneath the present accepted paradigms representing acceptance and ease and to put a yellow background beneath the new forming paradigms representing caution and wariness. But then again, maybe his conscious or unconscious motivation for the colors was correct. Maybe he does see the old paradigms in yellow representing that he must cautiously change and modify them. Perhaps he sees the new forming paradigms with a green background beneath them representing a new chance for personal fulfillment and peace of mind.

Whatever the significance of the colors, or the possibility of no significance at all, Pete has filled in the left (present paradigm) column and the right (forming paradigm) column with their various components. They are as follows:

"Any male to male activity is sinful, wrong and degrading --- Men are wired for bonding, male to make is common and okay.
Anyone having these desires or attractions is sick, perverted, and only redeemable through intense and supervised spiritual accountability --- There is a range of sexual attraction between completely homosexual and completely heterosexual. Bisexuality lies in a range along that continuum. Any place on the continuum is okay.
Any sexual expression outside of heterosexual activity (including masturbation) is wrong  Male to Male desires cannot be fulfilled by my wife; therefore, it is a need to be filled elsewhere.
Anyone exposed as sinning in a male to male way should be … put under church discipline until they are 'healed' --- Male to male [relationship] is a private activity that is between the individual and God.
Living in Plate One is safer --- Living in Plate Two is interesting.
Plate One living brings acceptance by others --- Living in Plate Two is risky - I could lose all my friends, job, family, position in the community, respect….
Plate One living takes the Bible literally --- The Bible is a collection of people's writings about  how they characterize experiences they have had with God.
Every word of the Bible is written to me --- Words written in the Bible were for specific people in a specific time, in a specific context.
There is no leeway regarding homosexuality in the scripture --- The original words and contexts of the passages regarding homosexuality have different meanings than we have assigned to them.
I pledged my faithfulness and love to my wife for life. Male to male is breaking that pledge --- It is simply men bonding in a different way. It is not the same as the marriage bond."
Pete says, "living in the red zone is where so much stress occurs," and he's right in that, I believe. The red zone is where old paradigms scrape against new paradigms and keep wounds open and emotions raw.

"As one changes paradigms, or even begins to consider changing … the change is not only … how you view homosexuality, but what you will do with it in your own life. The fault line is dangerous. It is frightful, especially when this 'sin' has been preached as the ultimate degradation," says Pete.

Correctly, I think Pete feels one must combine the competing paradigms into a new paradigm that brings the most peace and contentment.

Until very recently, all of this was just a mental exercise for Pete. He had never acted on his desires or feelings. But recently, the chance to act came with a man he knew he had reason to trust, and he took the chance. It was a good experience for both men and both enjoyed it greatly. Pete has this to say after the experience, "When I was only riding on Plate One, there was little clash, just an occasional bump. Today, the clash is constant and I wonder if it will ever stop shaking."

Frankly, that is a question Pete, and every guy, must answer personally for himself. There will always be those who want those they feel are "sinners" to suffer. They consider it their place in life to help God punish those they feel are guilty of some error. Unfortunately, fundamental Christians are the poster people for this kind of thinking.

Opposite that are those who accept the paradigm of reality, and the paradigm of reality is that the question of sin is more difficult to master than funda- mentalist would have us believe. In reading the Bible and studying the three year ministry of Christ, one never once finds Christ shaking his finger in people's faces and telling them they are on their way to Hell. Instead of talking about sin and spending hours and hours defining sin, Christ chooses to talk of love and spend three whole years defining love as something that can never be changed because of anything we think, say or do. That message explicitly laid out in the eighth chapter of Romans is not taken very literally by fundamentalists who insist that every word of the Bible must be taken literally.

Fundamentalists say they believe that gay people have an agenda to change the world, to recruit people into the ranks of gay society. I don't think fundamentalists themselves really believe that, except for those who are truly sick; but it makes a talking point for them and gives them reason to hate.

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. Gays have no such agenda. Some of my closest friends are openly gay. They want nothing but the right to live their lives as they must live them, to build an estate with their partners that one or the other partner can control after the passing of the other, to have the right to exercise all the common rights that are guaranteed to citizens of the United States of America under the Constitution including the rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If one carefully reads the Bible, he finds that in the sight of God all sin is equal. There are no big sins and no little sins, just sin. He also finds that some things the churches and religious people define as sin are not sins at all. Drinking alcohol is one such thing. Dancing is another. The first miracle attributed to Christ was making wine for a wedding out of water and letting people enjoy same. Yet fundamental Christians say it is a sin to drink alcohol. Fundamental people say dancing is sinful, yet Christ says in the Bible that He, himself is "Lord of the Dance." And all through the Bible people dance to honor the Lord and demonstrate their joy in the Lord.

Homosexuality, as we know it today is never once referred to by Christ in this three years of preaching the Gospel. Evidently it was not a sin for which he had any great or specific concern. Perhaps it is not always a sin in and of itself at all.

Fundamental Christians and even some of  us who are gay or bisexual get really upset over our sexuality, but we don't get all that upset over telling a white lie. We don't get that upset over cheating on our taxes. We don't get that upset over working on Sunday. We don't get all that upset over any number of things that the Bible says specifically are sins. Why then do we get so bothered over something that the Bible does not even identify directly as sin?

The answer is that we have been taught a paradigm about sexuality all our lives. We have been taught various paradigms of what one must believe to be a Christian. The truth is, God doesn't care about what we think or do as much as he cares about us and having a relationship with us. That is a new paradigm for most of us and most of us need to learn it promptly and keep it in mind always.

Thanks Pete for sharing your thoughts on living with two paradigms. I think it will be helpful to others to think about what you've shared.

Jack Scott

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wanting vs. Having - Finding Personal Peace

An old Chinese proverb states, "Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome."

By that definition far too many of us are insane! We live in a world where change is constant and moving at light speed. Information and knowledge are increasing exponentially. The rate at which knowledge is increasing as affected all segments of our lives.

When I was in school in the 50's and 60's schools, like most other parts of our society, worked. Education was under control and had been for quite some time in the United States. But then suddenly over the last couple of decades schools and our educational system seemed to just stop working. How could we loose control of a system which had served us so well for so long? I think the answer lies in the Chinese proverb. We kept on doing the same thing we'd always been doing in a world that was no longer the same. In this changed world, we needed our educational system to give us a different outcome; but we tried to keep doing the same things we'd always been doing.

When I was in school we were taught to read and write as basic skills. Beyond that, educations consisted largely of the intake and recall of bits of knowledge considered to be the knowledge that an educated person should have. We were also taught how to reason through this knowledge base using critical thinking to apply the knowledge to life's situations and philosophies.

Only now are schools recognizing that in the world we now live in, the very definition of education has changed. To be educated now means one is an expert not at remembering bits of knowledge but instead expert at finding bits of knowledge at the time he needs it and plugging it into computer programs to manipulate it into something that helps him do what he needs to do at the time.

Unfortunately, it is not just education where many of us are thinking and doing the same things we've always thought and done, yet hoping for different outcomes. Many of us are being sold a bill of good by people with agendas, false ideologies and narrow minds. In the worst of circumstances, we ourselves are often all to willing to enslave ourselves to our own false ideologies and narrow minds.

No where have I seen this model exhibited more than in the arena of male sexuality. The post modern view of sexuality has changed, but many who should be taking advantage of the change have been left far behind in their own thinking and their own view of the world. That is a tragedy for homosexual and bisexual men who continue react to their sexuality and to view their sexuality in the same way they have viewed it for the last 20 - 30 years.

I've had the good fortune as a guy who talks to a huge number of men to have crossed paths with several guys over the years who have changed my life and to have crossed paths with several other guys whose lives I've changed. In one unique ten-year long relationship, my buddy Mike and I managed to change each other's lives.

To change a life for the better is an awesome thing whether it's your life that is being changed or you helping someone else to change their life. I spent the day with that ten-year buddy yesterday helping him do some work on his house. We're no longer sexual buddies. He's partnered now to a friend of mine I introduced him to. But he and I will always be soul mates. I couldn't help but think yesterday as we worked together that when I met him close 20 years ago, he had scheduled his suicide and fully intended to carry it out on schedule. That would have been such a waste.

We had a good time yesterday working together on his do it yourself home improvement project. It's not that his life is perfect now. It's not. He knows me so well, and he trusts me so completely that he doesn't hold anything back from me. I know what his problems are. I know the challenges he faces. But, as I told him yesterday, I can listen to anything he wants to share with me as long as I know that at the core of his mind, body and soul he's happy. And he is happy. It's not just his problems we talk about, but how utterly happy he is for the first time in his life. His problems are just the seasoning of his life these days, certainly nothing that causes him to reschedule his suicide.

To me, our relationship is a God thing. We met, when there was no way we should have met. He is more than a decade younger than I. We had nothing in common. We had nothing on which to build a friendship much less to support each other as soul mates. Yet, I came to see that my whole life, up to that point had contained a subplot I never knew about. My personal experiences and interests had all been preparation for meeting Mike and talking him out of suicide and pointing him to new ways to view and evaluate his life. To put it another way. My whole life of personal experiences and exploring interests had been preparation for convincing Mike to change his philosophical and religious paradigms about life.

Suffice it to say he was not always a willing participant in the task. We spoke yesterday as we worked of the number of times he told me to get the Hell out of his life. I lost count actually. I'd retreat from his life, give him a few days (one time I had to give him 6 months) and be ready to resume where we left off when he'd come back. I never let him off the hook though. When he'd come back, I knew he was coming back because he had to. It was his destiny (and mine). I'd take right up on whatever issue it had been that caused him to tell me to get the Hell out of his life and have another go at it with him. What I discovered with Mike is that changing one's philosophical and religious paradigms is very very difficult even when you understand that the old paradigms not only failed you but led you to the brink of suicide. What I also discovered is that Mike would continue to argue even after he understood and actually accepted the new paradigm. In fact, every time he ever told me to get the Hell out of his life was at the point I finally got through to him on the need for a paradigm shift in his life.

Getting angry (at himself for not seeing it earlier) and blaming it all on me and telling me to get the Hell out of his life was his way of resisting the implementation of the new paradigm he now understood and knew he had to implement. It was his last show of resistance, his last stab at trying to say to himself that he didn't need help and that he could be a man and damn well make it on his own.

Except he couldn't. And he knew that too. But the important thing is he did embrace new paradigms and today he is not only not suicidal he is happy and loving and productive and whole. He is loved by every person who knows him and none would ever believe the Hell he and I went through together.

There have been others who I was privileged to help understand new paradigms, Mark and Dean are on the more current list. Mark had simply given up on life and happiness and was prepared to live out the rest of his days in a world he was simply resigned to. Dean was struggling, doubting and scared of what he didn't understand about himself. He had turned his enormous intellect into a weapon aimed at himself and his vulnerabilities. It is a scary thing when one takes deadly aim on his own vulnerabilities.  Today both men are on the verge of one of life's greatest mile stones and looking forward to new lives. Both are happy beyond what they once thought possible because ultimately they were willing to expend the energy and take the time to understand and embrace new paradigms which changed their lives.

These three men are the major success stories that I am personally acquainted with. There are several stories other men have told to me that I celebrate though I had nothing to do with their successes. And celebration is the appropriate word; for it when one comes to see that ideas and ideals, philosophies and beliefs can (and often should) be modified.

But celebration is not always warranted. For many guys I've met, the need for a paradigm shift is simply not something they can or will understand. What would those who know them best think? How could what they have been taught to believe all their lives be wrong? It is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is a phenomenon that is mentioned explicitly in the Bible in the 2000 year old story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18: 18-23. That is appropriate for it is religious paradigms which are the most difficult of all to change.

Even life long Christians continue to think they can and must earn redemption. Those who speak the loudest about every word in the Bible being divinely inspired continue to fail to understand that no one can be good enough to deserve salvation nor can anyone be bad enough not to deserve it; for salvation is a gift, a gift of love.

But religious salvation is not the only salvation we are speaking of here. Religious salvation and the rewards of that salvation are matters of faith, not fact.

My friends Mike, Mark and Dean may or may not have been concerned about their religious salvation. But each one of them was greatly concerned with his current salvation in the real world. Despite his scheduled suicide, Mike wanted to live and he wanted to live now, not in some future world. Mark was willing to live the rest of his life in despair and frustration, but he dreamed of living in happiness and meaning something to someone who loved him and whom he loved. Offered it in the present world, even at a stiff price in the acceptance of philosophy directly opposite from what he had once embraced, he grabbed for it eagerly. Dean was damned to suffer thoughts and fears he could not control about feelings and desires he did not want to embrace. Once he did embrace them, he found the feelings and desires much less fearful and much more manageable.

In short, each of these friends of mine were faced with a thing in their lives which they could not change. Their one shot at happiness and wholeness was their willingness to change what could be changed even though it would take great effort, the paradigm they held about what couldn't be changed. Again, the problem is not new. The words, "paradigm shift," may be new to some of you but the concept is as old as man. Since 1943, the "Serenity Prayer," attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr and popularized by its use in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA),  has perfectly illustrated the concept:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
As bisexual or homosexual men, we simply cannot change what we are. We can change the way we think about it, the level to which we accept it as a part of our real selves and how we feel about ourselves as homosexual or bisexual men. We can also change how we think about those who choose to disagree with our personal thoughts about our sexuality, and refuse to give others control over a part of our lives that are as much a part of us as other's heterosexuality is part of them.

The only question, we need ask ourselves: "Do I have the courage to form and hold new paradigms?"

I, personally, have never met a man who changed the way he thought about his own sexuality who was not happier and more secure in himself than he was before. I have personally met a great number of men who, refusing to embrace new paradigms, remain unhappy, frustrated, angry and even suicidal.

Which is it with you? Are you sticking with the old way of thinking, with the despair and  self hatred; or are you willing to embrace new paradigms and find peace and a sense of oneness with yourself?

Wanting to change is not enough. You must be willing to have change in your thinking take control. Wanting something is one thing. Having it is quite another.

Jack Scott

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Was Jesus A Fundamentalist?

One of my long time friends is a gay man. He has not always accepted his homosexuality. In fact he was once married and is the father of two children. Facing his homosexuality, accepting his homosexuality and having the courage to live it was a long process for him. It was also a difficult process emotionally, socially and religiously.

Although he had the good fortune to have been born an American, his family comes from a culture in which homosexuality is considered to be unacceptable and punishable. It was not easy for my friend to make his personal journey into acceptance of his homosexuality; but he did it. 

Now he is having to relive some of that journey as the man he hopes will one day be his partner deals with his own homosexuality. Unlike my friend, the man he is involved with has always known he is a homosexual man. He had never married and he has no children. What he does have is fundamentally religious parents who have not been told of their son's homosexuality, and he carries the guilt fostered within his mind and soul from years of fundamental teaching that he must be "good enough for God."

His guilt has risen to the level that he is belligerent with my friend whenever my friend even tries to talk with him about overcoming his fundamentalist heritage and coming to a new understanding of the God of Grace.

It is easy for me to understand his belligerence. This young man is well educated. More than likely, he understands his homosexuality is not his choice, but his birthright. His belligerence is the only way he can defend himself from allowing his own mind to assault the false teachings of his fundamentalist upbringing and from allowing others to attack it by encouraging him to examine other views of God.

The problem is not just this young man's belligerence. The real problem is his pain and his anguish and the resulting depression which destroying his life. Further, the problem is that it doesn't have to be this way. Fundamental Christianity is as much a lie as is Fundamental Islamic teaching or any other fundamental religious dogma.

I'm not an expert on the Prophet of Islam. He may have indeed preached a fundamentalist message to his followers though I doubt it was the same message that allows many who say they are his followers to kill innocent people throughout the word.

What I do know is that Jesus was certainly not a fundamentalist and condemned the fundamentalist of his day and would condemn the fundamentalist of the present day. Michael Savage says that liberalism is a mental disorder. Fundamentalism is a spiritual disorder of the first magnitude. Fundamentalist simply fail to grasp the teachings of the very book they would have us believe is the inerrant word of God.

The following blog piece by Aaron Taylor is in the May 15,  2012 Huffington Post. I have reprinted it verbatim below. I know that unfortunately it is not just my friend and his friend that are suffering from the ravages of false dogma which surrounds Christian Fundamentalists. There are tens of thousands of people throughout the world who are suffering from the lies of fundamental belief systems. Many of them are not homosexuals but ordinary Americans who are trying their best to live good lives, but always seeming to fall short by the fundamentalist's measuring stick.

God doesn't love us because we are good enough. He loves us because he created us and he understands our strengths and our weaknesses. He loves us simply because it is His nature to do so no matter what.

I urge you to read Mr. Taylor's blog piece thoughtfully. If you are bold enough, ask yourself in what ways might you be wrong spirited.

Jack Scott 
Was Jesus A Fundamentalist
by Aaron Taylor

When I was in my early 20s, a Bible teacher by the name of Dianne Kannady posed a rhetorical question that continues to haunt me to this day: "If Jesus was your only source of information about what Christianity should look like, how would you live your life?"
That question has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years.
Consider the three things that instantly come to mind.
1. Jesus preached nonviolence.
2. Jesus was a faith healer.
3. Jesus challenged the religious fundamentalists of his day.
Take any of these three statements, declare that followers of Jesus should do the same thing today, and somebody's going to get pissed.
Preaching nonviolence may win you accolades in certain circles, but there are an equal number of people who will hate you for it. And who in their right mind would want to attempt a ministry that revolves around the miraculous today? With the exception of people who watch TBN, everybody despises faith-healers -- at least here in America.
It's rare enough to find a person who embodies the values of preaching nonviolence and faith-healing simultaneously, but the real contradiction seems to be between faith-healing and challenging religious fundamentalism, because the kind of certainty that it takes to say to a crippled man "rise up and walk" doesn't lend itself to the kind of nuance that it takes to challenge religious fundamentalism.
Yet, that's exactly what Jesus did.
Take this story for example:
"When Jesus was about to be received up (into heaven), he set out for Jerusalem, bound and determined to get there. So he sent some messengers before him, and the messengers entered a Samaritan village to make things ready for him. But the Samaritans did not receive Jesus, because Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. And when his disciples, James and John, saw what the Samaritans had done, they said to Jesus, "Lord, would you like us to call down fire from heaven and consume them, like Elijah did?"
But Jesus turned to them and rebuked them, saying, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of. The Son of Man didn't come to destroy people's lives. He came to save them!" (Luke 9:51-56, rephrased from the King James Version)

Some background information is in order.
Jews and Samaritans despised each other in Jesus' day. Jews said that the proper place to worship was in Jerusalem. Samaritans disagreed. Which is why they weren't jumping for joy at the opportunity of hosting a Jewish rabbi on his way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans had a fundamentalism of their own, which said that if you don't worship at the right holy place, you can't be a true messenger of God.
So they rejected Jesus.
Then there's James and John. Not only were the Samaritans of the wrong people (strike one), and the wrong religion (strike two), they had flat-out rejected Jesus (major strike three). James and John knew that rejecting Jesus is a big no-no, so they must have assumed that Jesus felt the same way about the Samaritans as they did, otherwise why would they imagine that Jesus might go along with their plan to call down fire from heaven and incinerate them?
And notice the way they asked the question, "Do you want us to call down fire from heaven. ... As Elijah did?"
In the Bible that they read -- what Jews today call the Hebrew Scriptures, and what Christians call the Old Testament -- Elijah really did call fire down from heaven to consume his enemies. They weren't making that up. The Bible really does say that! (For the curious, the story is found in 2 Kings Chapter 1.) But the disciples took the story literally, meaning they believed that the story applied to them in their day in the same way that it applied to another people at another time and place.
And Jesus nailed them for it.
Jesus said, "You don't know what kind of spirit you are of."
We see many rejections in this story. The Samaritans rejected Jesus because he worshiped in the "wrong" holy place. The disciples rejected the Samaritans because they rejected Jesus. And Jesus rejected the way his disciples used the Bible to shore up their rejection of the Samaritans.
The disciples read the Bible accurately, but with the wrong spirit. As Jesus said, "The Son of man didn't come to destroy people's lives, but to save them." Is it possible to read the Bible accurately, but with the wrong spirit?
How might people do that today?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Same Sex Marriage - Politics and Dogma

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I generally try to stay away from politics. My goal is to reach people and to get them to consider new paradigms about their sexuality that lead to happiness and fulfillment rather than strife and fear. Any discussion of politics, especially in a country which is so woefully politically polarized as ours, can quickly turn into something that pushes people away and causes them to close their minds rather than make them at ease and ready to consider new ideas.

In a perfect world, I would like to avoid the topic of religious dogma too, but while dogma can be just as polarizing as politics, if not more so, unlike politics it simply can rarely be set aside. It is an ever present part of most of our lives. It is inculcated into us beginning at a very young age and we find it almost impossible to examine unemotionally as it has always been a part of us, and in many cases a part of our parents and grandparents before us.

The only thing touchier than discussions of politics or dogma is the discussion of a matter which is entwined with both. Same sex marriage is one such present day hot button.

Unless you've been living in a cave or unconscious for most of the past week, you know that Vice President Joe Biden began the week by announcing on a Sunday morning talk show that he was very comfortable with the idea of same sex marriage. Evidently, this was, as is so often the case with Biden, an example of his mouth getting ahead of his brain. His announcement caused a commotion in the White House as the Obama administration, by their own accounts, was surprised and unprepared for Biden's blockbuster revelation of his own personal opinion on the volatile issue.

There was also great commotion on the presidential campaign trail, in the lesbian and gay communities, in the press; and, of course, in the temples of Fundamental Christianity. Conjecture and hyperbole immediately began to flow over the airways and into the newspapers like hot lava out of an erupting volcano.

Perhaps, not since 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mildred and Richard Loving in Loving vs. Virginia thus recognizing Mildred Loving's (a black woman) marriage to Richard Loving, (a white man) as legal had there been such an outpouring of contempt, horror and howls of coming doom from the dogmatic pits of Fundamental Christendom. With the Court's ruling in 1967 racist Christians proclaimed that marriage had been irreparably corrupted and that civilization, as we had known it, was at an end. And in a way, thankfully, I guess they were right (more on that in a paragraph below).

From 1962 - 1965 as a teenage high school student, I worked in a local soft serve ice cream and hamburger shop which would not serve black people. This hamburger shop which was located on the fabled Rout 66 where it sliced across the Texas panhandle was a very busy place. I remember to this day how embarrassed I always was to have to tell black people who came into the shop to eat that they would not be served. It just didn't make sense to me. I didn't understand what the color of one's skin had to do with their sitting down in a booth to eat a  hamburger.

I was a married college student in 1967 and I remember the Loving case and the headlines in the newspapers and on the television. I remember being confused about that issue too. How could the present disputed marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving have any bearing on my own marriage or the marriage of anyone else? I was married to my high school sweetheart. Life was tough for two young people like us who were barely 20 years old and working to make a living for ourselves while I attended college at the same time, there was no doubt of that. But damned if I could see any way whatsoever that the Loving's were making either my life or my marriage any less than what it was or should be. Actually, in spite of the never ending hard work, my new wife and I were very happy. Being 20 years old, there was more than enough energy to meet the needs of long days of work, school and the pleasures of nightly sex. It was all pretty rewarding actually. I sure wouldn't have wanted the State of Texas digging into the validity of my marriage. Why should the State of Virginia be digging into the legitimacy of the Loving's marriage? It didn't make sense to me. I didn't feel threatened in anyway by the Loving's marriage.

This week, more than 45 years later, the same old arguments, the same old predictions of disaster and the same old warnings of an angry God began to flow forth because two politicians happened to announce they, personally, were in favor of allowing same sex marriage. This led other politicians to proclaim anew their abiding rejection of same sex marriage, but there was a difference implied in the statements of these responding politicians. Biden and Obama had been careful to say they were speaking of their personal opinions. They were in no way suggesting that others didn't have the right to think differently. Not the case with the radical Republican politicians. They not only disagreed with Biden and Obama on a personal basis, they renewed their opinions that the government should be used to stop such same sex marriages by passing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America forbidding the marriage of same sex couples. Why? Well, because marriage has always been between one man and one woman! What other reason need one have to try to bring the full force and authority of the Government of the United States of America against a large segment of its own people who are just trying to live their lives?

The Fundamental Religious Right was quick to answer that last question. Well, because God Himself is against same sex marriage! God sees same sex marriage as an affront to His will and as an abomination! And if that isn't enough, allowing marriage between same sex partners will destroy the whole institution of marriage itself! So much for separation of church and state! It seems that Fundamental Christians only want separation of church and state when someone is trying to interfere with their celebration of Christmas! When someone is doing something they personally find objectionable, they are more than ready to use the State and all its force and authority as a weapon against their fellow citizens.

I know I seem to be confused a lot, but I'm confused again. When all the same things were being said about marriage and God and the country going to Hell back in 1967 over the Loving's marriage I was a newly married 20 year old myself having been married just over a year. Forty-six years later, I'm still married to the same beautiful woman, we're still happy, we have kids and grandkids, our lives together have been blessed beyond measure, not to mention beyond our wildest dreams back in 1967. Yet, wasn't the Court's blessing of the Loving marriage supposed to destroy all marriages? Wasn't civilization itself supposed to end? Wasn't an angry God supposed to wreck vengeance on the nation?

Well, a lot of marriages were wrecked over the last 45 years, that's true. Many of them were marriages of Fundamental Christians themselves. I know some of those divorced Christians personally, some of them are even (gasp) preachers. We've reached a point in this country where more than half of all marriages end in divorce. And since more than 75% of the country claim to be Christians (more or less), many of these broken marriages are broken Christian marriages. It's gotten to the point where young people are not marrying at all. They just cohabit together and let it go at that. Now let me see, are young people today abandoning marriage because the Lovings destroyed it back in 1967 or are they abandoning it because they see what their parents and the parents of their cousins and their friends did to the institution of marriage in the last 45 years? Hint: most young people today don't know who Mildred and Richard Loving were. They just see what happened to their parent's marriage and in some cases what happened to their parent's marriages (as in two or more of them, none of which really seemed to work).

And isn't God just an unpredictable one? All these marriages of all these God fearing people who were doing God's work by predicting the end of marriage because of the Lovings, God let their marriages fail. But heathen me who never saw the Lovings as a threat and who didn't see God as mad or threatening either, well God let my marriage not only survive for 46 years but blessed it beyond my imagination (oh, and we'll keep it a secret just between us that to add to all this, I'm a bisexual guy).

And here is another secret to consider. Back in 1965, I was just a kid working at a burger shack doing what I was told to do even though it embarrassed me to tell black people they wouldn't be served. It didn't make sense to me then. And as it turns out, it didn't make sense to a lot of other young people either; and now, we live in a world where no one would ever think of telling a black person they couldn't be served in any restaurant in the land. And you know what? All these politicians and Fundamental Christians of today are pissing into the same winds they were pissing into in 1967 because telling same sex people they can't be married makes no sense to young people today. Forty-five years from now, the young people of today will have changed the world. Same sex marriage will be no bigger a deal than black people sitting down to dinner in a nice restaurant. It will just be the way it is supposed to be!

And what of God? What will God think of same sex marriage in the year 2057? Well with any luck at all by that time the spiritualization that young people are embracing today instead of fundamental dogma will have finally brought us to the point that we understand God as the God of Grace He truly is. A God who does not hate for any reason. A God who loves without reason. A God whose hand is always stretched out to us with an eternal unmerited offer of redemption, no matter who we're married to and no matter who we love!

That God has always existed and He exists now. Fundamental Christians just don't know Him because they continue to have the audacity to impose their own faults and prejudices on God. What a shame. And, if you're really scared of God, what could be more scary? If you're a Fundamental Christian, think about that and get back to me on it. Oh, if I'm slow to reply it may be because you caught me away. Two of my guy friends are getting married this summer. My wife and I are invited to the wedding! You think being in such close proximity to a gay wedding could ……….?

Jack Scott

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dealing With Male Sexuality

It takes a certain amount of self confidence, in fact, a certain amount of audacity to write a blog for the purpose of helping others to avoid some of the pitfalls of life that I've stumbled into. My personal friends who know me well would be quick to say that audacity is my middle name. I guess the noun does apply to me, but not in an impertinent or effortful way. Rather I see my audacity more along the lines of possessing an intrepid spirit, a certain courage to boldly suggest to others life is best when lived to the fullest extent possible. I am fortunate enough to have discovered this through my own personal experience. For years I struggled with my sexuality. I denied it. I tried to will it to be gone. That struggle did not invalidate the other parts of my life, but it sure did have an impact on my happiness. As the old saying goes, I didn't know how bad it hurt until it stopped hurting. I came to see that it had hurt pretty damn badly and the realization of my personal pain spurs me to try to help others avoid their own unnecessary pain.

My Mom has been dead for more than twice as many years as I knew her. Yet, in the few short years she had to share her own wisdom about life with me, she had a tremendous and lasting impact on my life and my outlook on life. It was she who taught me that I should be audacious in the best meaning of that word. She felt that one should think deeply and have the courage to stand by the convictions they came to embrace. Never let anyone discourage you from reasoning out your own philosophy, she would say to me. But never be afraid to carefully consider new paradigms either.

My struggle with my own sexuality began to ease when I applied my mother's advice to the problem. First, I began to reason out the facts as they were, not as I wished them to be. I began, in other words, to deal with the issue realistically instead of wishfully. I searched for allies in literature and found there were many who had written pertinent things about the kind of struggle I had been facing. This surprised me because had thought all those years that I was the only married guy in the world that had sexual thoughts about men.

Over time, I became comfortable with my sexuality. The thing which had pained me for so many years became an accepted part of me. For the first time in my entire life, I was happy in being me and all that it meant to be me (even my bisexuality).

The next thing I had to tackle was building the courage to stand by my new philosophy in the face of those who choose to see bisexuality and homosexuality as perversions. Here again, I found allies. Psychologists  have long recognized bisexuality and homosexuality as normal expressions of human sexuality. They have long recognized bisexuality and homosexuality are not choices but genetic and environmental predispositions. Speaking from a religious viewpoint, they are gifts of God; and I found that even my bisexuality could be reconciled within my faith. Significantly and unexpectedly, I found that embracing my bisexuality actually brought me closer to God in my own personal life.

Before, God had always been almost an enemy because He would not answer my prayer that He take the thing away. Having embraced it, I came to see it rather quickly as something that would give purpose to my life through helping others deal with what I had been forced to deal with all alone. If I had had someone to talk with, I could have cut a number of unhappy years of struggle from my life. By having the will and the courage to talk with others about my own experiences, I found that sometimes I could give those years to other men. God became my helpmate and a true part of my life.

Living with a psychotherapist is an experience most people never have. In a way that is unfortunate. It is a fascinating experience. Psychotherapists are, of course, bound by strict ethical rules which forbid them from breaking the confidentiality of their patients, and my wife holds fast to those ethical standards without fail; but, as with any married couple, we know a great deal about each other and each other's lives. One of the things I have come to be aware of through my own life experiences but which has only been put into full perspective by my wife's experiences is how much unhappiness there is in the world. True happiness in life is a very rare thing. Unfortunately, it is something that relatively few people ever come to know. That is a tragedy of devastating proportions bringing untold human misery and other consequences.

We Americans live in one of the richest and greatest countries the world has ever known. It is not that there are not other great countries in the modern world. There certainly are, but I believe that American exceptionalism is simply a fact. In its relatively short history, America and its people have saved the world from Naziism, Communism and imperialism. We are currently working with other first world nations to save the world from terrorism. It is certainly true that America did not do all these things on its own. The courage and the will of the British people during World War II exhibited in the person of Winston Churchill played a signifiant and vital role. The unyielding French resistance fighters who refused to yield French sovereignty to Adolf Hitler and his hordes also played a vital role. But it has been America with her vast resources in the will of her people and the bounty of the country that have time and time again been the catalyst for spreading freedom throughout the world.

Yet, in arguably one of the greatest and richest countries ever to exist on the face of the earth, too many people feel a sense of hopelessness and unhappiness. In the midst of our busy and successful lives, many men still feel something is missing. Even men in loving and emotionally strong marriages too often feel something is missing from their lives, something they cannot lay a finger on yet know the feeling of need. And this vague feeling of unease, of something missing, is not getting better. It is getting worse. It is becoming more and more prevalent.

There is no lack of reasons for this discomforting reality of modern life. We live in the best of times. We live in the worst of times. We communicate with almost any part of the world instantly. We outlawed slavery in this country more than 150 years ago, yet the average American has the equivalent of many slaves making our everyday existence comfortable. Our morning coffee is ready for us when our alarm clock informs us it is time to get up each morning. Our clothes are washed and ready to wear courtesy of our machines and our chemistry. Our automobiles carry us to work surrounded by creature comforts such as hands free cell phone communication, air conditioning or heating, comfortable leather seats and FM, AM and Satellite radio. Throughout each day, our machines do much of our work for us easing our burdens and making us more productive than any people have ever been in the history of the world. For this productivity we are paid relatively well with the medium family income approaching $60,000 a year. Yet, in the midst of all this productiveness and income, too many of us are unhappy.

Human sexuality is complex. Male sexuality is exponentially more complex than female sexuality. And being males, we don't often willingly make use of directions though we live in a world where information of every sort and type are literally at our fingertips. And way too often when we do listen to directions, we listen to the wrong directions. I'm a firm believer in women's liberation, but somewhere along the line women's liberation took a devastating and unfortunate turn. Somehow as a people we became mistakenly convinced that the liberation of women could only take place if their liberation was extracted from the liberties of men. It's as if we somehow came to believe there was only so much liberty to be had and women could only get their share of it out of the liberty men had been hoarding for millennia. This is not the truth of the matter. Liberation is not a zero sum game. Liberty for women does not have to be gained at the loss of liberty for men. At some level, I think we all know this, but we don't act like we do. We often see very powerful and successful women in our country. There is nothing women are not doing. They are CEO's of our biggest companies. They are helping to fight our wars. They are successful entrepreneurs. In today's world women are more highly educated than men and educated in greater numbers than are men. They hold a very substantial part of the total wealth.

Yet women and far too many men continue to believe that women can be successful only if men let them be or unless they are given special help to give them a leg up on the system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women have long since reached the point in this country that they can do whatever the wish without help from any man. They are full and equal citizens and they assert well their rights and privileges as such. The trouble is men are more and more yielding their own rights and privileges. Men are now obtaining college degrees in fewer numbers than women. This will ultimately lead to the pendulum swinging back too far and find too many men making less money than their wives. I'm all for equal pay for equal work for men and women, but I also understand the reality that dictates that the person who makes the most money in a relationship generally has the greatest control of that relationship.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying men should always be in control of their relationships. Largely, I think control should be a mutual thing. In some issues in some relationships men would be smart to submit to the control of their wives. In other issues in other relationships women would be smart to submit to the control of their husbands. The thing that disturbs me is that more and more in America men are abdicating not only control but also responsibility for everything other than bringing home a paycheck. He brings home a paycheck. Everything else is deferred to his wife. That is not the way it should be.

In another time, not all that far back, things were much different. Most people lived on family farms. The only thing is they weren't really family farms. They were owned by a family but the family accepted help from others and provided help to others to make the system work. Farming is a labor intensive proposition and one man, even one man along with his wife and a number of kids can't  handle the labor burdens all the time. In times gone by there were times when several men from several families had to combine forces to meet the labor demands.

If one looks at historical records closely he will find there were many cases in which different families were bound together for their common good. These families would occupy adjacent farms and help each other to successfully farm their acreage. When it came time to move further west to take advantage of new lands and new opportunities these families would all move together as an expanded unit. In such an atmosphere men worked together for much of their lives. They formed common bonds and common attitudes and common outlooks on life. Civilization itself would not have progressed and the human species would not have survived with out the proclivity for male bonding. Male bonding provided labor when labor was hard and necessary. Male bonding provided for the defense of one's home and the fruits of his labor. It was a vital part of life.

Today, that is not the case. Somehow along the way, male bonding became a suspicious thing. Not so for female bonding. Females still bond quickly and easily with their peers and more importantly females defend their right to bond with other women vigorously.

Not so with men. Men no longer bond easily. It does not appear to be a necessity any longer. Labor  these days means sitting at a computer or standing on a manufacturing line doing one's job. Labor is a solitary thing with occasional highly structured group meetings and consultations. Worse, because male bonding has become suspect to women, too many men no longer even try to defend their right to bond or understand why they need to bond with another man. This is most unfortunate for men are genetically wired to run in packs and to bond with other men

The number one most read blog post I have ever written is "Frot and Frottage." I wrote the blog post in August, 2011. Every week since it was posted it has been the number one most read post. I think that say a great deal about men, what they want, what they fantasize about and what they need. I believe the male need for male comradery is so basic that many men fear themselves to be bisexual or even homosexual simply because they misunderstand the needs they are feeling. What they are needing is a male friend, not a male lover. Sometimes close friendships between males lead to frot activities. This is just another part of male bonding. Simple frot has no bearing whatsoever on how a guy feels about his wife sexually.

My own needs and my own life are what I know best of course. I have had great success in finding and maintaining great guys for long term relationship. This is what a huge number of men want to achieve. A few of these relationships have had a sexual component to them. A greater number have not had a sexual component. I find both types of relationships enhance my life and my sense of well being. However, while one of the relationship has lasted 16 years and for the first 10 years had a very active and highly satisfying sexual component, the truth is I have never found a male buddy who could come close to taking me to the sexual heights that my wife could take me. Given the choice between sex with a great buddy and sex with my wife, I'd choose my wife every time.

My experience tells me that it is not just the sex with a guy that is the need. Rather it is the relationship, the sense of comradery that is important. Men simply have to have this male/male companionship to feel whole. Yet at the same time women have come to feel that their husband should be their best friend and have no need of other friends. If other friends are needed, wives often feel their husbands need for friends can be met by sharing her friends. This just isn't the case. Each guy needs to find his own friends and be allowed time in his life to associate with them. It is a basic need of every man, and too many men are either forbidden to for some bonds or feel guilty about forming then  and do not.

I can tell you that I was never truly fulfilled and at east inside my own skin until I found a buddy to share with. If you have not found your own buddy I recommend that you do so.

I talk with a huge number of men. Many of these men have ended up changing their lives for the better. Several of them have found happiness they never thought they would find, some as gay men, some as bi men and some as straight men.

The simple truth is it scares guys to think about their sexuality. They shy away from thinking about it and they certainly shy away from discussing it. Some that do get up the courage to talk about it don't give themselves time to bring about a change in the way they have been thinking. They want instant results and instant results are just not possible. Before one can change paradigms, he must understand both the old paradigms and the new ones. That takes some time. But taking the time to think things through is worth it. Take it from me. I've been satisfied with my own life for more than a decade now, but through this blog and through conversations with the many guys I talk with, I'm always learning new things that help me to  understand myself better.

Guys can and do make all kinds of excuses for refusing to try to get to know themselves, their wants and their needs better; but the truth is a guy can never be everything he needs to be to his wife and to his family until he is everything he needs to be for himself.

Jack Scott

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Who Does God Hate?

I'm very open about the fact that I'm a Christian and view life from a liberal Christian perspective. I'm also very open about the fact that I was raised in a large fundamental denomination. By the time I was 10 or 12 I knew that church held nothing of value for me and that I would never be an adult member of that church.

I left this particular denomination when I was 18. In the years sense it has become more and more fundamental in its view of God and what it means to live a Christian life. It has become more and more focused on religious law and less and less focused on the Grace of God.

Unfortunately this denomination is so large and so akin to other evangelical non-denominational churches that are springing up all over this country that fundamental Christianity has become the face of Christianity for many believers and for most non-believers. This is most unfortunate. If I hadn't taken the time to learn for myself that there were alternatives to fundamental Christianity, I'd be an atheist now. I got pretty close to it before I discovered there were such things as reasonable Christians.

Reasonable Christians don't care that  you've been divorced other than to regret the pain it must have caused you. Reasonable Christians don't care that you had an abortion when you were a young unwed mother other than to sympathize with the burden of that decision you've had to deal with. Reasonable Christians don't care that you are a homosexual man living with a male partner other than to recognize that you're a child of God just as you are.

But somewhere along the line, fundamental Christians lost track of what Christianity is all about. They lost track of the fact that the word "gospel" means "good news" and they long ago started spreading the bad news that, as they see it, God is an angry old man who is taking names and kicking asses into Hell for any reason he can find to do so.

Somewhere along the line, fundamental Christians quit seeing themselves as sinners; and in their own minds became God's helpers. They help God identify the people that need to go to Hell, the people who perform abortions, the people who prescribe or use birth control measures, the people who are homosexuals, the people who don't go to church or go to the right church or the people who don't call God by the right name.

Fortunately, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is still there to be found by those who will find it. It's in many verses in the Bible and it's in many lives of people I personally know. One of my favorite descriptions of the Grace of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found in Romans Chapter 8, verses 38 - 39:
 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To me "anything" means "nothin at all" can separate any one of us from the love of God, nothing in heaven, nothing on earth, nothing in all creation, not even your bisexuality or your homosexuality. Some Christians won't tell you that. I'm a Christian just did. It's not just my idea, I hear it every single Sunday in the Methodist Church I attend.  It's in the book (though not that all things in the book are true or apply to me and you or any of us).

As it turns out God actually hates small-minded bigoted, blind fanatics!
In another blog that I read the blogger posted this cartoon recently. It was just too good not to share with my readers, so I borrowed it.

It's a great cartoon and it made me laugh because I personally know some of these (self described) Christians, the ones who think you're going to Hell because you're a Fag. I think it would be the irony of all ironies if these Christians were in fact met not by St. Peter at the pearly gates, but by the Devil himself at the gates of Hell.

But that's just the human side of me. The reasonable Christian part of me knows that (fortunately for fundamental Christians) God does not hate anyone. In fact God loves everyone just as they are. I sincerely doubt that homosexuality is a sin in and of itself. But whatever our sin, (and we all have em) it is not only forgiven, but forgotten by God because He simply loves each of us too much to let our human shortcomings get in the way. That is the true Gospel of Christ. That is the real good news. God does not have a book. He's not taking names and kicking asses into Hell.

And just to cover all the bases, what if you're an atheist? Well, I can't blame you for the opinion. If all I knew were fundamental Christians I'd be an atheist too. But what if you're right? What if there is no God. Well, we can't know that for sure can we? You simply have an opinion, a belief that there isn't. Maybe you hope there isn't. If you're right, you die and you cease to exist. You rest eternally in the oblivion of death. I can think of worse things.

What if you're wrong? What if there is God? Well, we can't really know can we? It's a matter of faith, not proven fact. But if there is God, the good news from Romans says nothing can separate you from the love of God, not even your atheism! So, either way, it doesn't matter, God understands how difficult it is to believe in the absence of solid evidence. He understands how hard it is to sustain faith in a word that seems to be going to Hell. So he loves you anyway.

That, my bisexual and homosexual friends is all you really need to know about Christianity in plain and simple words that are understandable to everyone.  I guess I could call it "Christianity for Dummies"  but that wouldn't be very nice, and after all Christians themselves have been arguing about this for 2000 years now. How could you be considered a dummy for not figuring it all out in your short life time?

Now, the fact that they are plain and simple words and understandable to everyone does not mean everyone believes them. Even the fundamental Christians that say every word in the Bible is true don't like this simple little message. You see, this simple little message puts them in a box because it conflicts with other words in the Bible that appeal to them more.

Fact is fundamental Christians kind of like the idea of an angry old man God who is taking names and kicking asses into Hell. After all they sacrifice to live a Godly life. Those asses that belong in Hell can't be loved by God as much as they are. Really now, they are in church every Sunday. Some of these people God hates have never set foot in church. They belong in Hell!

Only problem is, that's not what it says in Romans Chapter 8. Maybe its just my eternal optimism, but given a conflict between no God at all and a loving God that loves us no matter what, I'll choose to believe in that all loving God. Given a conflict between a loving God that loves us no matter what and an angry old man God that is taking names and kicking asses into Hell, I'll take the loving God. After all He is described right there in the Book in the 8th chapter of Romans. I didn't see an "if," "but," or "unless" in that verse at all although the fundamental people, as the sinners they don't see themselves to be and the helpers of God they do see themselves to be, have added those ifs, buts and unlesses right in there just to help God out.

Fact is no matter what, God loves you! Never forget it. In fact, give it some thought. It might change your life.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott