Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spiritual Violence

Michael Adee's lastest article, Re-Imagining Marriage, Gender, and Confronting the Religious Violence of Defending Marriage has received some response. Michael links to this article by Jon Pahl of the University of Chicago Divinity School. Pahl writes that the Defense of Marriage Acts, passed now in 37 states are a form of religious violence.
The rationales for such defensive laws are often couched in neutral, "secular", or "naturalist" language. But the move to establish such laws came from religious groups, notably conservative Protestants, Catholics, and Mormons. And the logic and appeal of these laws also originates in religion, and functions as a form of violence.
He offers six theses to "clarify the contours of the religious violence embedded in these laws."

1) DOMA Laws violate sacred texts.
2) DOMA Laws elevate heterosexual marriage to idolatrous status.
3) DOMA Laws scapegoat gays and lesbians.
4) DOMA Laws sacrifice homosexual rights, and damage civil society, in the interest of religious purity.
5) DOMA Laws confuse legislation with religion, and violate the First Amendment...
6) DOMA Laws perpetuate an association of sex with power, and thereby do damage to any sacramental sensibility that might remain in association with even heterosexual marriage.

Read the article for an explanation of each thesis.

What raised eyebrows among some is the use of the phrase "religious violence." The article (and posting by Michael Adee) has received some response, here and here. These two respondents take exception to the term religious or spiritual violence.

What is spiritual or religious violence? If you go to Soulforce and search "spiritual violence" you will come up with 429 hits. The first is from Rev. Jimmy Creech. He writes:

I believe the greatest injury done to lesbian and gay persons is caused by spiritual violence. Spiritual violence is assault upon the integrity and dignity of a person when that person is told that, because of who she or he is, she or he is not loved and accepted by God, and is in fact rejected and condemned by God. Damning, judgmental words cause massive and deep wounds that are hard to heal. I believe the spiritual violence must stop.
No one likes to be told that their religious beliefs are violent. These religionists go to great lengths to show that their reasons for discriminating against gays and lesbians and calling them sinners and whatever else isn't their decision but comes from some supernatural authority to which they think they have unique access.

What I find astounding is how quickly these people hand over personal responsibility for their beliefs and actions. It isn't me! It's God! It's as if they are saying, "I am actually a decent person who wants to love everyone. But my imaginary, invisible friend who controls the planet--he wants to kill you."

I personally think the term "spiritual violence" is an accurate one. I think Jimmy Creech defined it pretty well.

Damning, judgmental words cause massive and deep wounds that are hard to heal.
Yes, they do.


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