WHERE SEXUALITY IS GOING: Bishop Robinson Predicts the Future "Conversation"
By Gary L'Hommedieu in Indianapolis
Special to Virtueonline
July 6, 2012
"As strange as gay felt, transgendered feels even stranger."
As I stood chatting at the exhibit for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, I heard a voice over a portable PA system at the Integrity exhibit directly behind me. The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson had just begun a speech promoting a new Integrity video -- "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" -- described as "a groundbreaking documentary giving voice to the witness of transgender people of faith courageously sharing their stories of hope, healing and wholeness."
A small crowd of admirers sat or stood with star struck expressions and knowing smiles, certain that they were sharing in an epiphany privy only to souls on the cutting edge of history.
Bishop Robinson shared off-the-cuff reflections on the place of the transgendered community in the unfolding "conversation" on human sexuality. He recounted the evolving "alphabet soup" of sexuality: first the Gay community came out calling for acceptance; then the Lesbian community demanded similar recognition. Not to be left out of the mix, the Bisexual community added itself to the ranks of the sexually alienated.
The recipe had gotten as far as L-G-B. Still missing was that population whose heartrending story of alienation and victimization trumps all -- the Transgendered community. The story of sexualities unanimous now reaches a crescendo with the acronym LGBT.
Bishop Robinson related some of his recent adventures in the busy world of sexual politics. He shared a recent phone conversation he had had with a leader in the Presbyterian Church USA congratulating them for "confusing the Presbyterian Church" in their recent approval of the ordination of gays.
He said, "People aren't so sure any more" about things they took for granted only yesterday. "This is the way change happens. People are exposed to the experiences of others that can't be accounted for in their worldview. This causes confusion and chaos. Then they come out of the chaos with a revived worldview."
Having to take LGBT stories into account created confusion causing people to question their worldview. "It doesn't feel like a kiss," he added. "It takes a while to appreciate that confusion."
This apparently is Bishop Robinson's version of hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To me it sounds like Saul Alinsky's rules for "organizing" the Spirit for a strategic response.
The Bishop went on to reflect on his recent retirement. He recalled how the Anglican Communion was supposed to end in 2003 following his consecration, then in every other year after each meeting of the Primates, and then after each subsequent General Convention. "I wanted to remind you all that the Anglican Communion is still there."
Regarding retirement: "I am not going away peacefully into that good night," he said, slightly misquoting Dylan Thomas. He has recently joined a liberal think tank in Washington the Center for American Progress consulting on a range of worthy causes from Occupy Wall Street to health care and immigration reform. He has become involved at St. Thomas' Parish, a church that was burned to the ground back in the 60's for taking a stand against the Viet Nam War. The parish has only recently agreed to rebuild on the place where the original Gothic structure once stood. In its place is a new structure conceived as "a school for nonviolent conversation."
Heads nodded approval and half-smiles signaled the awareness that here was one Progressivism's undisputed prophets.
Bishop Robinson then offered his take on present movements in sexual politics. He sees conservative Christians, "the forces of darkness," using religious liberty as a mask to impose their will on the general population. Since he was allowing for questions and comments, I spoke up and said I had seen a number of exhibits in the hall with literature referring to the religious right in obviously pejorative terms. I asked if he equated "the forces of darkness" with the religious right.
He backed off gracefully, adding that he did not mean his comment as a pejorative. (He had made the comment with a twinkle in his eye, trying to make it almost a joke.) He said he had real concerns about some conservative groups that he thought really had a theocratic design. Referring to banning gay marriage he said he thought they genuinely wanted to impose their view of what God commanded on the secular state. He said he advocated for a separation of church and state.
The bishop's presentation shifted gears again, now back to sexuality, or, rather, to "sexualities."
The transgender issue is unique in the extent to which it embodies the "confusion" of human sexuality, according to Robinson. "We're so diverse," he said. "There are as many sexualities as there are people. Each one of you is absolutely unique.
"This is an expression of God's love of diversity."
He said the next phase of the sexual "conversation" would be for the straight population to begin talking about their own unique sexualities. He did not go into details as to what this might mean but acted as if everyone knew. Was he referring to the sexual fantasies of individuals, which by necessity would be unique to each person, just as each person's fantasy home or fantasy vacation would be? Was it the sexual practices, habits or hang-ups of heterosexual couples, which again would be unique to the circumstances and tastes along of each, with everything else in their lives?
One striking point, at least to this writer, was the fact that there was no reference in any of the Bishop's comments to the one aspect of sex that is relevant to the survival of the human species, namely, human reproduction. For all we know every other aspect of "sexuality" is purely the result of human socialization.
That is the assumption of what is now called "gender," which has taken on the meaning of what we used to call "sex roles," knowing full well that these roles were customs inherited from previous generations and were more or less arbitrary, except once again for the "custom" of heterosexual copulation for the reproduction of the species. Now the expression of one's unique "gender" is a central theme in a society where everything is about "me."
Here's the difference between a Marxist and an upper middle class American "Progressive." A Marxist would ask what sort of economy has such a surplus that its decadent bourgeoisie had nothing else to think about but their "sexualities," going from one to another as if in search of the Holy Grail. A sexual Progressive, on the other hand, has the luxury to explore sexual license while recasting it in the jargon of the People's revolution -- thinking their obsessive narcissism is the very soul of the oppressed crying out for liberation.
Even the Gospel can be recast as a myth of sexual alienation and "redemption," revealing the God of diversity, or, as Gene Robinson very nearly said, revealing God as diversity.
"Transgender will move us farther in that direction," said the Bishop, with a nod to the divine spirit of Confusion.
The Rev. Canon J. Gary L'Hommedieu is Canon for Pastoral Care at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando, Florida, and an occasional contributor to VOL
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