Monday, March 08, 2010

When ignorance is a terrible thing to waste

"Ignorance is the state in which one lacks knowledge, is unaware of something or chooses to subjectively ignore information."

Something I hear pretty regularly from friends, colleagues and parishioners is "why do you even READ that stuff?" ... in reference to some of the "other side of the aisle" blogs, commentaries, rants and raves.

There are a couple of answers to that question:
  • Sometimes it's about looking for the ways and places we can connect across differences -- the delightful "ahas!" of finding that those we disagree with on one "issue" may in fact be allies or resources on another.

  • Sometimes it's about staying on top of the news cycle and checking other sites to see what link or article or feature or blog post that might have escaped my attention has captured theirs.

  • Sometimes it's about getting rebuttal arguments ready for the "talking points about to come." (Understanding your opponent's rhetoric is the first step to rebuttal!)

  • And sometimes it's because you find something so amazingly ignorant that it's on a silver platter labelled "Teachable Moment" ... and in that case, ignorance -- like a teachable moment -- is a terrible thing to waste. (And yes, I'm getting to my case in point!)

It comes from "Virtueonline's" latest rant -- this one aimed at the newly launched "Believe Out Loud" campaign ... a national project to encourage inclusive congregations to make their welcome to LGBT people explicit -- not just implicit. (Kind of like the "Episcopal Church Welcomes You" signs that hang out in front of so many of our churches as intentional Welcome Mats.)

It's a "same-'stuff'-different-day" rant for the site -- which is a charter member of the "Sky is Falling/World is Ending/Church is Splitting/Communion is Ending Society of Schismopalians." And I might not have even read through the whole thing if I wasn't home today killing time waiting for the next load of laundry to dry.

But I did. And I'm glad I did. Because that's when I found the "Silver-Platter/Teachable Moment/Ignorance-is-a-terrible-thing-to-waste" quote:

Gone too is the talk of "monogamous same-sex couples" to the inclusion of bisexuals who, if sexually active, can't possibly be monogamous.
So here's how that logic works: if the "B" in LGBT is included then monogamy is excluded -- based on the astoundingly ignorant misapprehension that those who identify as bisexuals (in his own words) "can't possibly be monogamous."

Boy howdy, do I have a "teachable moment" for YOU!
And it comes from an actual, bona fide bisexual -- on the blog "The Sweet Bi and Bi" in a post written to answer the question:

How can a person who is bisexual be married (and monogamous)?
And the answer starts with the writer's:

... definition of bisexual. For me it means that I am able to be in a sexual relationship with a person regardless of their gender identity or genitalia.

This ability however, does not equal necessity. Or even desire. It does not even mean that because I can, I should. It only means I am able. Gender, sexual organs that accompany a person, are not a factor in who I find attractive–sexually or otherwise.

Let me say this as clearly as I can: being bisexual (in and of itself) does not affect ones ability to be in a monogamous relationship.

One (being bisexual) just is, it is not a choice or preference or request. It just is

The other (monogamy) is about a choice and commitment, fidelity and honoring an agreement.

I would contend that anyone who wants to choose monogamy, can. I did not ask, choose or request to have the capacity to love—sexually and emotionally—anyone. I do however, consider it a gift and blessing.

So there you have it. A "teachable moment" in the reflections of a woman describing her own reality as a bisexual ... not the rantings of a man dealing with his own fantasies about bisexuality.

And that's why sometimes ignorance is a terrible thing to waste -- because it can actually ask the questions that lead to knowledge.

And because the good thing about ignorance is it CAN be cured. In fact, one could think of "teachable moments" like this as a kind of reparative therapy that actually makes sense ... for ignorance that doesn't.


Wormwood's Doxy said...

Bisexual or not, we ALL have to face the fact that monogamy is a choice and a commitment. The statistics I've seen indicate that a large percentage of self-identified heterosexuals in committed relationships are not monogamous--and that includes people who claim an affiliation with Christianity.

Until ALL the Christians start living up to their calling and honoring their vows to their partners, I think Mr. Virtue should leave the bisexuals alone. Logs, specks, and all that....


Michele said...

Thank you.

I get So. Very. Tired. of people who identify sexual *behavior* with sexual *orientation* -- as though you couldn't possibly recognize your own desires until they were expressed (behaviorally) with another person. (Oddly, these people never question their own early awareness of having been heterosexual - usually long before they became sexually active.)

The idea that it would be impossible for me to know I'm bi unless I'm actively, at one-and-the-same-time, having sex with each of the generally recognized polar genders, is ludicrous and aggravating, and some days it's hard to figure out whether it's more ludicrous or more aggravating.

(I wonder how closely in succession I'd need to do this for them to be convinced I'm bi? Does it have to be a threesome???)

Or is the problem that they fail to recognize that it's no more unlikely for me to make a commitment to one person and keep it than it is for them - after all, all it takes to break a promise of monogamy is to act on a physical attraction to one other person, and surely there's one person in the universe other than their spouse they might possibly be attracted to -- even if they are limited to one gender.

Meh. I rant, and apologize for it.

I do thank you for this post. I appreciate it more than I can tell you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Reads. Thinks 'There are none so ignorant as those who refuse to learn.' Walks away sadly, knowing that, in this case, ignorance is one person's 'virtue'.

Ann said...

I don't much read DV but glad someone does. No wonder you are the queen of sound bites - you are prepared. I appreciate Sweet Bi and Bi's points -- they are so obvious but some just don't see it. We all have multiple attractions depending on our orientations - we just don't necessarily act on them. But DV wants to fantasize about what others do -- it's pathetic really - if people did not read and believe him.

Jim said...

Unfortunately, the odds on bet is that the writer on Virtue-less won't get the point. They know that only holy people like them are capable of moral choices. ;;sigh;;


Blogger! said...

Thanks so much for this post. I have learned from your teachable moment.

nycjoe said...

Susan, I found this post very helpful, because I feel like I struggle with reading too much "across the aisle" information, specifically the site you mention. I'm often asked--and often wonder--why I read it when there is so much positive, inclusive content to keep me fed. Now I realize I read it for the same reasons you do, and now I can understand and articulate the "whys" a little better. Balance is key. Lenten Peace!

LGMarshall said...

This blog site, seems so entrenched in the ways of the World.... which by the way is currently ruled by Satan. [Fine fellow , he is. ]

Adultery & Fornication are clearly defined in God's Word. Whether, you are bi, straight, gay or other, it's moot. All of us on any given day could give in to any one or all of the above temptations. Congrats-- you've signed up for the easy thing.

God's Faithful, are called to be different. Do the impossible. [with Him].

You cannot call yourself Faithful to the Lord until you give up adultery & fornication both.

MarkBrunson said...

Did you even read it, LG?

Is English your first language. I would get tired of embarrassing you publicly, but your tireless devotion to darkness and innocence means you do it to yourself. At least I don't ignore you.

Probably should. God does.

uffda51 said...

LG, if you feel the need to lecture others on being Faithful to the Lord and on adultery and fornication, perhaps you should direct your comments to Mark Sanford and John Ensign. It's worth noting that the party of family values has not asked either man to step down. It's also worth noting that both men belong to the "C" Street "Family," who are behind the Ugandan legislation.

This site, to use your word, is entrenched in monogamous marriage.


Quite honestly, if the Judgement Day Test is "Pass/Fail" on "adultery and fornication" then I'm lookin' pretty darned good to go.

However, if it's an essay test on "when you did it unto the least of these" or multiple choices on doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly then I've still got work to do.

Which is what I'm striving to do. And what this site is about. An inch at a time! :)

MarkBrunson said...

Susan, you know, I've often said that if the conservative vision of God is the right one, it still won't matter, because no one will get into Heaven.

There'll be some little sin this vengeful, hate-filled, legalistic, parsing God will find to keep anyone and everyone out. That includes Bob Duncan, Jack Iker, that Scott-Joynt person, Peter Akinola, even the great and holy LGMarshall -- all right there with us.