Why Some Christians Are Anti-Gay

I was raised at church. I spent Sunday mornings there, as well as a few days during the week for youth programs and the like. I consider the people from my church to be my extended family. They are good people. And, in fact, I consider many—probably most—Christians to be good people with good hearts. But some of them are anti-gay or anti-gay marriage (which, in my opinion, is anti-gay). People often assume it’s because these Christians think being gay is “icky” or they claim these people are just secretly gay themselves. No one seems to be talking about the real reason:

Anti-gay Christians are scared.

Being raised at church means I learned about Noah, Jesus and the Ten Commandments at the same time I learned how to spell and count. All of these things were taught to me by adults I revered, because you revere just about every adult as a child. This reverence translated to inherently trusting everything adults were telling me without question. 1+1=2, cat is spelled C-A-T, and God created the Earth. Fact, fact, fact.

One thing I was taught as a child was that God was spelled with a capital G. I’m not sure if an adult told me this was important or if I surmised it myself, but I became very afraid of accidentally spelling God with a lowercase g. Not afraid that I would be hit by a bolt of lightening, but afraid that I’d go to Hell. Spelling God with a lowercase g meant I had sinned. And because I was also taught that every sin was equal in God’s eyes, I knew that spelling it g-o-d was as good as murder to the Lord. I lived in perpetual capitalization terror.

Some Christians are taught from babyhood that the Bible is inerrant, that it is 100% true and free from error of any kind because God oversaw the writing of the Bible (some even believe he took over the authors’ hands and wrote it Himself). It’s very hard to let go of that idea when it has been taught to you as fact since the time you were learning nursery rhymes, and were also told that it was a sin to question this fact.

So if these people start believing that homosexuality is not a sin, it forces them to admit the Bible may have mistakes, which means either God made a mistake, or God didn’t oversee the Bible. (There is another option here, which is to learn about historical context of seemingly anti-gay passages, but some Christians are either opposed to learning historical context [yes really] or their leaders have neglected to share this context with them). You see the problem: if the Bible has mistakes, how do we know what to follow? Which parts are the mistakes and which are correct? How do we ever know if we’re doing the right thing? What if there’s no Heaven? What if there’s no God? Things can spiral out of control pretty quickly if you let it.

This is a terrifying idea. Some Christians are afraid, like my God/god fear, that one misstep will be enough to land them in Hell. Since God knows what you’re thinking, He’ll know you’ve sinned if your mind strays just the tiniest bit from what (you’ve been told) is correct. He’ll know you are questioning the Bible and therefore you are questioning God. Basically, you’re done for.

There are plenty of other reasons people may be anti-gay. But for some anti-gay Christians, it has nothing to do with “ickiness” or “secretly being gay themselves.” It has everything to do with being terrified of going to Hell if they admit that being gay is okay and the Bible may be wrong.

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6 Well-Meaning Things People Say To New Parents That Already Annoy Me

A note: I’m not pregnant, nor am I about to be. As a 28-year-old woman about to talk about babies, I know I have to make that caveat before your imagination starts to run wild.

I hear that pregnant people get a lot of unsolicited advice. A LOT. And from what I see on Facebook and hear in real conversations, I know it to be true of pregnant people as well as new parents. I’m sure these advice-givers are trying to be helpful, but honestly it already annoys me (God help me if I ever have baby hormones coursing through my veins because the phrase “I will cut you” is likely to surface). So instead of letting this rage quietly stew, I thought I’d share a few things that irk me when it comes to sage advice for the newbies.

Exercising Baby

1. Appreciate this time!

When my sister had her first child, it seemed like every picture she posted to Facebook came with at least one comment to appreciate her baby. I understand why people say this: the time goes fast and yet sometimes you just wish your baby could do things on its own. Then later, you long for those adorable, squishy newborn days. I get that. But guys, let’s just assume that new parents already know that time only goes in one direction and that human beings get older with time. Let’s assume they are appreciating their own children, because that’s what good parents do. Or at least, let’s assume that someone’s already reminded them to appreciate their baby today, so you don’t have to.

2. Wait until they’re a teenager!

Teenagers are the worst, amiright?! You know, I hated when people made fun of teenagers when I was one, and I still hate it. Teenagers are not all universally terrible. Yes, they have lots of issues to work through. Yes, the parent/child relationship goes through strain and will likely be different from the other side. But can you please not be such a Debbie Downer and let me pretend I am going to have a Lorelai/Rory relationship with my child? Maybe instead of just saying, “wait until they’re a teenager,” give me suggestions of ways to improve my relationship with my teen. What do you wish you had done? Talked to them about sex? Family dinners? Asked different kinds of questions? What can we do better except brace for impact? (Which is something new parents are already doing, by the way, so you don’t need to remind them. Just smile and nod when they talk about temper tantrums.)

3. You’ll never sleep again!

Won’t I? Golly. Thanks for letting me know; otherwise I never would have heard this one. Can I be honest with you guys and say that lack of sleep is seriously #2 on my reasons to not have a child (#1 is money)? I get real cranky without much sleep, and a future of sleeplessness freaks me out. Of course everyone also says it’s worth it, and I hear your hormones help you out here–good for many moms, but dads and adoptive parents don’t get to enjoy that one. But it’s #2! That’s how scary people have made this issue sound! Lack of sleep should not be a valid reason to not create/adopt a human life. So please, for my sake as a potential future parent, please stop talking about sleep and how little or how much you so happened to get. Instead of terrifying others with hyperbole about your zombie state, give tips and tricks on what helped you (remembering that people are different and just because it helped you doesn’t mean it would help me).

4. He/she’s already such a little heartbreaker!

Let’s not sexualize children, please. They have, like, 9 years to actually NOT be little heartbreakers. Let’s give that to them. Besides, calling babies heartbreakers is usually really heteronormative, which makes me uncomfortable. Also see: referring to a baby’s boyfriend or girlfriend. Especially see: referring to a baby’s adult boyfriend or girlfriend. Don’t be weird.

5. Your social life is over!

Basically, see #3. Again, instead of hyperbole and projecting your personal regrets, give suggestions on how to keep a good social life going. Or better yet, offer to babysit.

6. My daughter won’t meet men until she’s forty because I have a shotgun!

This one is less about advice to new parents and more about parenting in general, but I think it fits into this list. I understand you’re being cute about protecting the little ball of adorableness that is your daughter. But here’s my issue: I am a daughter, so I ask that you spend less time joking about my protection and more time teaching boys how to not be terrible. That way I can meet boys without needing a mercenary to protect me. I actually just read an article at The Good Men Project about this last week from a dad who put it well by saying, “Because consensual sex isn’t something that men take from you; it’s something you give…And anyone who implies otherwise is a man who probably thinks very poorly of women underneath the surface.” Besides, this joke is TIRED. A man wrote a book about it, they made a TV show about the book, the main actor died, the main actress has been on a new show for 7 years, and you’re STILL making the same joke.

To be clear, this post is not my cry for further advice on parenthood. I’ll ask that advice from those I trust when (or if) I actually need it. I’m a little worried about posting about parenthood because I know it can drum up a lot of big emotions for people. But I did it anyway, so there you go. Now, this list only scratches the surface of well-meaning-but-kinda-annoying things people say to pregnant women or new parents. If you know any others, feel free to talk it out in the comments. (And if you’re looking for non-terrifying new parent discussions, start here.)

Goodbye, Saugatuck

Every summer since I was born, my family spent one weekend in Saugatuck, Michigan, at a private camp on Lake Michigan.

Emily 1.5 years

My first year at Saugatuck

Over 100 years old, the camp is made up of a few dozen wooden cabins filled with bowed twin beds. The cabins sit amongst dune grass and trees. Mosquitos and Daddy Long Legs run the place and there isn’t a square inch of the camp that’s free of sand, inside or out. It’s awesome.

My sister, my friend Elizabeth, my super awesome Tamagotchi, and me in front of our cabin

My sister, my friend Elizabeth, my super awesome Tamagotchi, and me in front of our cabin

It’s a church-affiliated camp, technically called Presbyterian Camps. The church I grew up in would go together. But my family always just called it “Saugatuck,” as if the whole town was contained within the boundaries of the camp.

The year my brother and his friend, Ben, shaved their heads

The year my brother and his friend, Ben, shaved their heads

The place holds years of fond memories for me. My brother (now 25) buried his last pacifier there. We would sing songs around a bonfire on the beach, staring at the stars we could never have seen from home in the suburbs of Chicago. We woke up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach only a few yards away.

My siblings and I outside our cabin, Rose 2

When I left for college, I stopped going to Saugatuck. At first because none of my friends were there any longer, and later because I was too busy, I suppose.

My senior year and second-to-last year at Saugatuck, sitting with my friend Sara

My senior year and second-to-last year at Saugatuck, sitting with my friend Sara

I hadn’t been for ten years when they announced they were closing. The Presbytery needed the money, and the camp was worth a lot. So my older sister emailed the family, asking if we’d like to go one last time. She brought her husband and daughter. I brought Joe, my boyfriend of 4 years, who happens to be from Michigan and has a deep respect for its Great Lake.

family at saugatuck

The camp hasn’t changed much since I left it—a fresh coat of paint and a refurbished cabin or two. I had expected the camp to seem smaller, and it did. But I hadn’t expected it to seem…less adventurous. As a kid, I was endlessly entertained by the camp. Running down the dune, digging a giant hole in the sand, running back up. At breakfast they had hot chocolate, and I was allowed to drink as much as I wanted. As much as I wanted! Me, a middle child! It was heaven.

My and my friends, digging another hole (I have a lot of pictures of me and sand holes)

That’s me with the short hair (of course)

But as an adult, I suddenly needed more to entertain me. A book, a deck of cards, a beer. Suddenly, grabbing a Sassafrass leaf and smelling it to see if it still smelled like Fruit Loops (it still does) wasn’t quite as awe-inspiring as I once thought it was.

My brother, getting ready to canoe

My brother, getting ready to canoe

It’s strange being able to visit a place that holds such strong memories of your childhood. I got to show Joe places that I barely remembered myself, and these memories were still so perfectly preserved: the dining hall still had the same brown tile. The walkways were made of the same wood. The smells were still there, right where I’d left them. It’s the closest to time travel I’ll probably ever get. I can’t show him my first day of high school. I can’t show him my 8th grade bedroom filled with newspaper clippings of Freddie Prinze Jr. I can’t show him what it was like to climb the apple tree in my best friend’s backyard. But I showed him Saugatuck and he knew that it was almost exactly what I experienced every year. This is where I played. This is where my memories are.

My younger brother and sister outside the camp's crafting area

My younger brother and sister outside the camp’s crafting area

It’s also strange visiting a place and knowing it’s the last time you’ll ever see it. That doesn’t happen often. Leaving old homes for new ones, maybe. To save myself from the sadness of finality, I always tell myself I’ll be back for some reason or another. I visit a new city and talk about all the things I’ll do next time I go. At least in America (and in Terminator movies), we don’t often say goodbye. We say “See you later!” But the truth is, there are some places you’ll just never see again. Saugatuck is one of those places for me, and I know that without a doubt. And it’s weird.

Me and my older sister, in a hole at Lake Michigan

Me and my older sister, in a hole at Lake Michigan

As we were leaving, I watched two people hugging goodbye. One person was a returning camp counselor; the other was the camp’s cook. It was the longest hug I have ever seen. They didn’t move, they didn’t sway, they didn’t pat each other’s backs. They just stood there. It was the hug of two people who knew they’d never see each other again. Is that sad, or happy? I’m still not sure. We don’t always get to know that this is the last we’ll see someone, but these two got to know it. Would you want to know if it was the last time you were going to see someone? That it was the last time you’d be back?

Would you make the time count any better?

katie kite

I don’t know if I made the most of my final weekend in Saugatuck. My adult brain, in its need for something more to create an adventure, kept wondering what about me had changed. Maybe it was the years of feeling self-conscious in a swimsuit that kept me from digging a proper sand pit. Or a deadened imagination that required outside entertainment. Or maybe I’m just remembering my childhood in Saugatuck with rose-colored glasses, weeding out all the adventures from the small moments of boredom and quiet.

My sister, Hannah

My sister, Hannah

But however I remember it, that’s where Saugatuck lives now. I won’t be able to bring my children there, as so many generations have done before me. It’s part of my past, along with all the other experiences that only live in my head, never to be seen or walked through again. When the person who bought the camp tears down the cabins and puts fresh new homes in their place, Saugatuck will live only in my memory. I will show my children photos and describe those memories to them:

“Here’s the place where my dad showed me how to fly a kite.”

My dad (on the right)

My dad (on the right)

“Here’s the porch swing where my sister and I would sit for hours.”

swing

“Here is the village that raised me.”

adults

And my kids will see it, and Saugatuck will still be there, breathing deep gulps of air that smells like sand and sunscreen and oak.

That’s where Saugatuck will live.

lake michigan sunset

Gifs for the Heartbroken

How your heart (and brain and stomach and kidneys) might feel right now:

What you probably feel like doing when someone says “Just be happy!”:

You may think, how long until I get to feel okay again?

It might even feel like everything is crumbling and no one gets it and no one has dealt with what you’re dealing with.

But in truth, everyone has been there. Even people who are happy right now have been there, too.

And they all can tell you that it’s absolutely acceptable to feel however you feel. Whether it’s:

or

or just

Because we’re here to pull you up out of the mud when you’re ready.

Some people will be better at comforting you than others.

Just surround yourself with those who only make you feel awesome.

And one day your brain will be normal again.

You’ll look back and think, why was I even sad?

Then you can go seek out a love interest who makes you feel awesome, too.

In the meantime, seek shelter with those who love you most.

For we shalt protect you from harm.

And we will also sing as much karaoke with you as necessary.

Because that’s what friends are for.

Trust me.

On Gender Roles For Kids

My first published piece is on Role/Reboot!
I’ve been thinking a LOT about my childhood, in which I had spiked hair and a tail (oh yes, a tail. In my defense, it was 1991 and 3/5 of the New Kids on the Block had them). I think I’ve finally figured out what it was all about. (Click the screengrab below for the full post.)

Image