Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paradigm Shift

A couple of weeks ago I went to a party where I know the hosts pretty well, and had only met some of the guests once, at another party earlier this year. One of the guys who had come alone last time was now there with a partner--a young man from out of state.

The partner and I were probably the two guests who knew the fewest people, so we had a pleasant chat together about travel in Europe, and then when we ran out of things to say about that, we noticed that all the rest of the assembled guests had, indeed, assembled--around his boyfriend.

The boyfriend was recounting how his younger sister is now engaged, and how everyone in his family has been acting happy for her, but how he just can't because he doesn't think it's right for her. Apparently she started going to Bible studies with this guy, and now she shares his faith and they are talking about going on the mission field. They also, evidently, are not living together, because they believe in waiting to have sex until marriage.

This revelation was met with gasps and snickers somewhere in between horror and scorn, and that was when it hit me: virginity is the new homosexuality. To the majority, it's scandalous. What person in his or her right mind would wait around and just hope all aspects of a relationship were going to be okay without checking it out first? Not to mention that the drive for sex is natural and surely depriving oneself of it is unhealthy on a whole lot of levels.

The entire scenario suddenly seemed utterly familiar--and yet utterly surreal. It was like going to a party full of evangelicals, where one of them, with deep sorrow and genuine concern, related that their younger sibling had come out of the closet and was now living with a partner of the same sex. The reactions from the listeners were identical. The story was almost identical. It was only the roles that were reversed. No one was trying to be unkind. They were sympathising with their friend, who clearly was both distraught over and resigned to what he saw as his sister's poor decisions. Some allusion was made to a parent's unwise decisions, too. I imagine most of the people thought how fortunate it was that at least one of the kids had turned out okay.


dave grosser said...

Wow. That is an interesting analogy.

chris said...

Yuh - the comparison is something i first picked up when reading William Murray's book (son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair). Unintentionally, I'm sure - as he was describing the bullying he received when his mother started her famous court case.

So. That's the easy thing. It's past. How does it manifest itself today, in our little evangelical world?

Both extremes are equally unthinking.

Annelise said...

That was a powerful post, Jenn. I could totally imagine it.

Jenn said...

Dave--that's what I thought, at the time. "Hmm. This is an interesting analogy."

Chris--I had to reread your comment about three times to fully understand what you meant, and now in order hide that I still might not know, I am going to say: Yes. You are right.

Mom--thanks. (Reading you saying "I could *totally* imagine it" is also something of a paradigm shift. As was the cyber-thanksgiving-card . . . ;)

The Cubicle Reverend said...

I remember people saying to me how they had wished they had waited. Yet it never stopped them from going down that path. I know people laugh at our choices to remain celebate or to not live with someone before marriage.

Heather said...

I hadn't thought of it that way before, but so true!
Interestingly, another friend just posted a youtube of Woody Allen interviewing Billy Graham about this very issue:

GreekGeek said...

I'm noticing that over here, too... And I find myself hiding, nodding, smiling, staying quiet, and then wondering when I should speak, if I should speak, if I am somehow failing to confess Christ in my silence, or if my silence is more powerful than "judgmental Christian" words..... I appreciated this post tons, though! Thanks.

Llama Momma said...

Great analogy!

I was at a wedding a few years ago -- the couple was getting married to celebrate their 25th anniversary. The funny thing was the tittering in the crowd:

"Why do they feel like they need a piece of paper to validate their union?"

"They're giving in to the other side."

It reminded me of evangelical weddings where the couple HAD been living together; and now the tables have turned.

And, yes, people thing it's crazy that my husband and I didn't live together (or sleep together) before marriage. "How did you know it would work?" the ask.

Um. Well. If it doesn't, you just practice.

Isn't that half the fun? The practicing?

But I digress. Great thoughts here, Jenn.

Llama Momma said...

(Blushing) Did I really write that bit about practicing?

Jenn said...

Thanks for the thoughts, everybody. I don't think I usually feel the need to "say" anything about it. I honestly don't think that celibacy makes any sense at all unless you are trusting Jesus to help you do it, and looking at Him as the example (and even then it doesn't always seem to make sense). So I don't feel like there's a whole lot of point to arguing with people of a different worldview about it (although I have--but usually in a one-to-one context). I was just struck by the sense of complete bafflement and "something is REALLY wrong with this picture" vibes that I got, which I think are the same vibes evangelicals often also give off regarding other issues.

LM--hee hee. Do you want me to delete that comment for you? ;)

Inihtar said...

I struggle in situations like this where the world feels like it's turned upside down. I often don't say anything. But then I wonder, am I not saying anything because that would just get me labeled as a "judgemental Christian" (when I'm not really judging), and wouldn't help anything, or am I keeping quiet because I'm ashamed to be (probably) the only one who disagrees? Maybe a little bit of both. . .