Being effeminate

Years ago, while living with my grandparents for a short time, my grandfather and I were driving home from work when he took the opportunity to bring up some things about me that he had issue with. As he drove, he lectured me about helping them out more financially before getting to the heart of what he really wanted to talk about.

He started by telling me I needed a hair cut. I had been letting my hair get sort of long. It wasn’t even shoulder length, but was several inches long on the top and sides. Although having short hair was a requirement for men in the Holiness faith, this wasn’t exactly the reason he brought it up. As he talked, he recalled a verse in the Bible about being effeminate.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Now we were getting to the root of his issue with my hair. It wasn’t just that it was longer than normal for men in our tradition, it was that he thought I was trying to look like a woman (I was really trying to look like Michael Jackson, but whatever).

Not sure how to respond, I brought up two highly-respected men in the Holiness community who were very effeminate. Both had soft voices, had never married or exhibited any interest in women, and were perfectly manicured. “No,” he said, “They are just different.”

I began to get angry, more at his refusal to admit these men fit the very definition of effeminate than at his insistence that I did. Surely he could see what I saw, but just refused to accept it because these men claimed to be holy. My anger took a more personal slant when he told me I was being a bad influence on the younger males in our church. I realized this talk we were having was more about his fear of me being gay than the length of my hair.

When I get mad, I usually clam up and stew in it. That means I have to find other ways of releasing my anger. When we arrived home and he finished belittling me, I decided to go for a walk. I removed the cap I normally wore to work and let the wind blow through my hair as I journeyed down the country road in front of our house. I always loved the feeling of having my hair in my face, so I enjoyed it as long as possible. Then I returned home, grabbed the clippers, and shaved my head in the bathroom. From my perspective, this was an act of rebellion. If I couldn’t have long hair, I would have barely any hair at all.

After showering and getting dressed for church, I walked into the kitchen. My rebellious act wasn’t seen as such, but was embraced as me having finally seen the light. Both of my grandparents exclaimed how much better I looked, but the damage was done. I knew I no longer wanted to live with them, and I moved out a few weeks later.

It is worth noting that a couple of years later while visiting a local gay bar, I bumped into one of the effeminate Holiness men that I had mentioned to my grandfather during our conversation. That was definitely an enjoyable moment for me.

The other man never married, but maintained a close relationship with a single Holiness preacher. Apparently they traveled around the country together and often slept in the same bed. Maybe they were in love, maybe they weren’t. It was a long time ago and doesn’t really matter anymore since they have both passed away.

So, what does that verse in Corinthians really mean? I don’t know. Some newer translations have changed it to “men who have sex with men,” but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Perhaps the Apostle Paul just had a problem with women, and by extension, men who looked or acted like women.

Misogynistic, if you ask me.

Stephen Colbert on evangelicals voting for Romney

I don’t understand someone who believes that the Bible is inerrant, and every word is straight from the mouth of God would then vote for somebody who believes that after Jesus rose from the dead, he took a hard left and went to America. Because that’s not our tradition, that’s not in the truth of our book.

Stephen Colbert

The end of seasons?

Four-Seasons
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When I was a child, I remember hearing dire warnings during church services about how the seasons would get mixed up in the End Times. These End Times were always discussed as if they were going to start within the next five minutes. We all, children and adults alike, lived in utter fear of the coming apocalypse. Most of our beliefs about The End of the World as We Know It (or TEOTWAWKI) were based on the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. My fear created a fascination that caused me to read the book several times during various church services. Much like watching a scary movie, I was terrified but couldn’t tear my eyes away.

For many years I just took it for granted that Mother Nature would get confused in the end (sort of a global form of dementia), and we would lose our four clearly-defined seasons. What I failed to consider is that many parts of the planet don’t have spring, summer, fall and winter the way we do here.

I, like most people, used to read the Bible as if it were written directly to me without regard for historical or geographical context. You can imagine my surprise recently when I discovered this teaching about the seasons isn’t even in the Bible. Apparently it originated in the prophecies of Padre Pio, a Roman Catholic priest, when he included the following line: “You will know when that time is approaching because the seasons will change so the only way you will know the seasons is by the leaves on the trees.”

As it turns out, such beliefs actually contradict scripture.  Genesis 8:22 states, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  Matthew 24:32-33 explains, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that the end is near, right at the door.”

So, yeah. We might still have to worry about other End Times scenarios like a biblical Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse, or even a robot uprising, but we can (hopefully) depend on Mama Earth continuing her various cycles through it all. If she doesn’t, we are probably doomed anyway.

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It’s that simple

I believe in the Bible and I try to follow the Bible. I know I’m an imperfect person. I’m not making myself an angel because I’m not an angel and I’m not a devil either. I try to be the best I can and I try to do what I think is right. It’s that simple. I don’t just pray at night. I pray at different times during the day. Whenever I see something beautiful, I say, ‘Oh, God, that’s beautiful.’ I say little prayers like that all through the day.

Michael Jackson