Friday, December 20, 2013

On Phil Robertson and What the Bible Says

Image courtesy of Us Magazine
This week, A&E suspended Phil Robertson, star of Duck Dynasty, from the show, following remarks he made about homosexuality. Fans have responded with outrage, although some fans applaud A&E's decision.

So I want to speak directly to those Christians who think the following: first, that Robertson's right to free speech is under attack, and second, that he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs. I know there are many of you. I hope you'll hear me out.

To the first point: freedom of speech. The American Constitution guarantees citizens the right to say whatever they like (within certain limits) without fearing prosecution or imprisonment. That's it. Robertson hasn't been arrested; there's no discussion of taking him to court. The protected right to freedom of speech doesn't at all mean you will face no consequences or judgment for what you say. It doesn't mean others won't condemn you, or that you won't be held accountable for your words. It just means you won't go to jail. So, no, Robertson's freedom of speech is under no threat.

As for the second point: Robertson is not expressing a belief outlined in the Bible. At least, not one consistent with the entire text.

Yes, the Bible does say that it is "detestable" for a man to "lie with a man as [he] does with a woman." (Leviticus 18:22) But that same chapter also has quite a bit else to say, which most Christians seem to have no problem with. The Bible instructs Christians not to eat "unclean" animals, which includes pigs (Leviticus 11:7-8). It also warns against wearing "clothing woven of two kinds of material" (Leviticus 19:19) and having tattoos (Leviticus 19:28).

Getting a bit tricky, isn't it?

Christians all over the U.S. spout bigotry, as Robertson did, in the name of their faith, claiming to be clinging to religious beliefs. Yet many of these same people watch football at least once a week, where players from both teams wear uniforms made of Spandex, a blend of natural and synthetic materials. Lots of these folks order pizzas to enjoy while they watch their sport, eating sausage and bacon, made of pigs. A few of them even get images representing their beliefs inked on their bodies. Wow, what sinners!

The entire list of things you shouldn't do is quite long, actually, and most of us violate them on a fairly regular basis. So really, unless you're spewing as much vitriol about people frying up bacon and eggs for breakfast as you are about them having gay sex, you're cherry-picking the bits of the Bible you want to uphold in order to justify your bigotry.

All of this ignores the entire point of Jesus. I'm not Christian now, but I once was, and as I understand it, Jesus existed only to make sure you're still okay if you do all the stuff God said not to do. You can stop burning your offerings and paying penance because Jesus did the hard part for you. All you have to do is apologize. This, and only this, separates Christianity from Judaism. The Christian messiah has arrived. There is no more need for atonement of sin. Christians are saved. They are forgiven. Even if they keep sinning, which the Bible guarantees they will do, they are still forgiven if they believe Jesus is the son of God.

The things Jesus really told Christians to do were to love each other (John 13:34-35). Not "tell each other how bad they are and how they're sinning." (It's actually pretty explicit about that part, that whole "judge not let ye be judged" in Matthew 7:1.)

Jesus himself kept much closer company with the worst of the sinners than with the highest of the clergy. He surrounded himself not with the most righteous and holy people, but with those society had shunned for their sin (Luke 7:36-50, Luke 19:1-10, Mark 2:13-17). His message was one of love and compassion, not of judgment and condemnation. He practiced unconditional love, and told his followers to do the same. Indeed, to stand out from followers of other religions, they were to love more, not less. They were to love not just each other, but absolutely everyone (Matthew 5:43-48).

Jesus' message was abundantly clear. Love each other, without condition, without question. A person's sins determine nothing about their value. All people are worthy of God's love, and Christians are called to mirror that love, to show compassion for others. "Love the sinner; hate the sin" does not mean "tell the sinner why they're doomed and try to convince them to change."

Other people's sins are simply not your business. Let them speak to God on their own about their struggles. It's not your place to intervene on God's behalf.

If you truly hold Christian beliefs, what you should say to gay people is, "I love you." You should say, "You are welcome in my home. No one here will judge you." Not only will you be doing as Jesus commanded, you will connect with those you love. You may even bring them into your faith. Isn't that what you really want?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have Sex on the First Date If You Want to, Obviously

Photo by Kena Sen
This blog post is called "Why You Should Always Have Sex on a First Date."

My answer: because you want to. That's pretty much the only answer that matters. And for that to work, you have to strike the "always" from the title, because I have certainly been on first dates where I had absolutely no desire to have a second date, much less fuck the person.

But let's pick it apart, shall we?

Sexually Compatible

Trophy Wife (that's the author, for those of you who aren't clicking through the link) says it's important to establish sexual compatibility on the first date so you can "get the fuck out of there" if your date has a weird fetish like plushophilia (completely ignoring the fact that the reader may, in fact, have this fetish).

Well, first of all, sexual compatibility is far less about sharing the same fetishes and far more about having roughly equal desires and levels of comfort with experimentation. It's also a little bit about an indefinable "chemistry" or some intangible thing that I've never quite been able to nail down.

And knowing whether your sex drives are similar, whether you enjoy similar positions, whether you read each other's cues well...that takes time. It doesn't matter if you have sex on the first date, you're going to have to do it again and again and again before you can determine if you really will fuck amazingly well together.

And if you don't share the same fetishes? Oh well. I'm sure your date will be fine if you don't indulge their quirky kinks, especially if you don't mind them finding other partners who do.

Maybe you're going to discover that you really don't mesh well in bed and sex for the two of you will probably never be great. But why is this vital to learn before going on another date or two? Were you having such little fun with this person you can't stand being in their presence unless it ends in a wildly pleasurable fuck? I dunno about you, but I don't really want to take those people to bed in the first place.

Penis Size

Okay, just shut up. This isn't middle school. The size of a man's penis doesn't really matter. If it's too small, he can use his mouth or fingers instead. If it's too big...he can use his mouth or fingers instead. This really isn't an issue.

Also, welcome to 20fucking13, where some people date women. Some women even do this. Shocking, I know. Trophy Wife is laughably oblivious.

Avoids Awkwardness

Trophy Wife thinks sexual tension makes things awkward. I think it makes things hot. I know I'm not alone in this; TV shows have been continually failing to let their costars hook up for years so they can draw the sexual tension out and create endless "will they/won't they" scenes.

Those first, tentative moments of wondering whether that look means something, of discovering yes, it really is okay to put my hand there, of those nearly electric sparks that pass between you when your bodies get close? You will never get those back. Savor that shit. Enjoy it.

The real kicker in this bit is this line: "Not sure about who is going to pay the check? Feel free to push that bill right over to him because, guess what? You sucked his dick last week. He can at least pay for dinner."

What the actual fuck? Presumably you didn't suck his dick as part of a business transaction (by the way, if you did, we don't really call that dating). Also, I expect he probably did some nice things for you too. Let him pick up the check if he offers and you want him to, but don't pretend you deserve dinner because he got sex. You got sex too.

And again, Trophy Wife seems to have forgotten all about lesbians. Who picks up the check when no dicks got sucked?

Investment of Time

To Trophy Wife, dating is only worthwhile if it's leading to something more. Apparently, sex is a gauge of this somehow. Never mind that you can't really tell that much from sex about compatibility about anything except sex. I have been with some people who were fantastic in bed and were downright awful as boyfriends. Plus, two or three dates doesn't seem to be much of an investment, but maybe that's just me.

The only time she really nails it is when she says, "If it feels right, do it."

That's all you need, really. If you're on a first date, and you want to have sex, and they want to have sex, go right ahead. Enjoy yourselves. Don't feel guilty afterward; you've done nothing wrong.

But don't let this woman lead you into believing you're doing dating wrong if you're not fucking everyone you want to have a second date with.

Personally, I fucked my boyfriend Ryder on the first date, and it was awesome, and I really wanted to keep seeing him for that and a pile of other reasons (like having multiple shared interests, and he made me laugh, and we had similar outlooks, and I had a great time being with him). And I went on something like twenty dates with my boyfriend Rusty before we had sex, and I still found out that we were compatible in multiple ways, and he was kind and generous, and he makes me laugh, and I have a great time being with him. Also, we have great sex.

So, wow, relationships can go really, really well if you have sex on the first date. Also, they can go really, really well if you don't have sex for many, many dates. They can be a shitstorm of hideousness that no amount of good sex can save, and they can be just sort of not exactly right but wow was the sex hot.

Sex isn't a gauge. It isn't a checkbox. It isn't a favor or an obstacle. It's just itself, and the best reason to have it is because you want it.

So yeah. Have sex on first dates if you're both into it. Or don't. It's okay to wait if you're not sure. It's okay to wait if you really, really want it but your date doesn't. It's okay to wait if both of you really, really want it but you're shy and awkward and that would make things difficult for you. Or if you just want to draw out that buildup and make your first time incredible.

There aren't rules to this stuff. And if you take advice from someone who tells you it's important to know the size of your date's dick so you can determine if he's worth your time...well, don't expect brilliant results.