Are We Actually Adults Here?

I have to wonder as my nation gets older, if the so-called adults in the country are becoming less and less “adulty.”

Why?  Because the so-called “tolerance” on BOTH sides of situations seems to be being defined as “you have to agree with me.”  And, the only places where it is actually APPROPRIATE to choose intolerance – those cases where tolerance of an action or choice is a “clear and present danger” because the choice or action ARE a “clear and present danger” –  are being excused and justified.

Look, I don’t hide my “otherness.”  I’ve posted about all of the differing ways that I am not “mainstream.”  I’ve also posted very clearly that I belong to a family who is – by all current definitions – “mainstream.”

My father is a pastor of a fairly conservative form of Lutheranism.  My mother and sister are very clear about their morals and ethics (as am I, even if they differ from my family).  My eldest nephew is seriously considering whether or not he feels a call to the ministry of the same fairly conservative form of Lutheranism that the rest of the family espouses.  One of my other nephews is fairly clearly choosing a very conservative political stance (he may change as he gets older, but this is his current leanings).

One would think, based on the actions and choices of those who are similar to them in ethics, morals and religious views, that I would be considered not only a sinner, but that any support of my life up to and including my living situation would be anathema to them.

Their consciences VERY clearly call for almost every choice in my life to be a sin.  And I know it.  I know it not only in my heart, but in every moment of my life.  Obviously, my own conscience does not see my choices or lifestyle to be a sin.

Yet, not only can I live IN the house of my sister, but I can do so with a minimum of interference in my own life choices from ANYONE in my family.

There is real tolerance on both sides of our divide in conscience.

I am a sexually active and sexually liberated woman.  I choose with whom I will be intimate, and when.  Beyond the base understanding that they do not approve, my sister and I have come to an agreement which I consider to be fair, since it is HER home I am living in.  She will not tell me with whom I can or cannot have intimate relations.  But, IN HER HOME, the only intimate relations must be with someone with whom I am in a committed relationship.  And her preference is that it be mostly only when her youngest is out of the house, since she shares custody with her ex-husband, unless such relationship is not only committed, but a LONG TERM relationship.  And, as a polyamorous woman, she does not limit that interaction to only ONE single long-term relationship, but to any long-term relationship I may have.

Because it is her home, a space SHE has control of, I am fully accepting of those limitations.  Why? Because she has a right to define acceptable behavior in any space she has full responsibility (fiscally and morally), just as I have the right to define acceptable behavior in any space I am fully responsible for.  In our entire lives, this has been a basic understanding between us.  She has never attempted to make rules for me affecting any home I live in (other than basic rules of what her children can and cannot be witness to – which if I had chosen to have such an activity, she would not bring her children to it), nor have I attempted to make rules for her home.

As a polyamorous woman, I have defined other people as part of not only my family, but my marriage.  And, although having made it completely clear to each person who has been introduced as part of my marriage that they do not morally approve, they have accepted those individuals as an intrinsic part of MY family.  They never treated any of those individuals as less than human, nor less than accepted as an extended part of the family.  I, personally, have some serious moral objections to my sister’s ex-husband.  But, as her ex-husband AND as the father of her biological sons, I accept that he is an extended part of the family as is his current wife (someone I also have serious moral objections to), and as is his step-son.  I treat him with courtesy, and try very hard to tolerate his choices as they impact his sons.  In fact, if I feel I cannot tolerate a certain choice, or a certain act, I simply remove myself from interaction with him.  Why? Because that is the tolerant thing to do, and there is no excuse for me to claim to my sister that he must be denied such choices simply because I have a moral issue with them.

As a Wiccan, and as a minister of Wicca, I have certain spiritual duties and choices that I feel are a requirement for me to live my faith.  Yet again, my sister and I have come to an agreement as to those requirements.  Again, the deciding factor comes down to the responsibility of the space.  I have promised not to worship in specific ways inside her home.  She has agreed that while she is still responsible for the land upon which her home stands, she does not deny me the choice to worship on her land, and fulfill those duties and choices outside.

The reality is, my family is LIVING the Christian stricture of “love the sinner, hate the sin.”  I am fully conscious that almost every choice I make is a sin in their eyes.  I am fully conscious that they, because of their faith, CANNOT ever approve of any of those choices.  But they do accept I have the right to make those choices.  They may describe it as “everyone has the right to go to Hell in their own handbasket,” but it STILL is the same thing.

It IS tolerance.

The issue with a Christian parent throwing an LGBT child out into the streets is NOT the fact that their faith will not allow approval of the child’s choices.  The issue is that that parent (or those parents) are ABANDONING their child, someone they have a MORAL requirement to succor and love.

My parents and my sister could have stood on their morality and looked at me with sympathy when I left my husband.  They COULD have chosen the path to deny me the physical and fiscal support, while still offering me the mental and emotional support.

Except, the problem there is that for my parents and my sister, it is ALSO against their conscience and their moral code to ABANDON a family member in need.  For them, there is only ONE reason to abandon a family member to their own choices:  If that family member chooses repeatedly to commit actions and behaviors that are a clear and present danger to the other family members.  And even then, it is not a “forever abandonment.”  It is ONLY as long as that family member insists on making the choices and committing the behaviors that are a clear and present danger to the members of the family.  THIS is what I learned that “tough love” is.  THIS is how I learned what unconditional love is.  There are people in our family who have forced the family into tough love choices – including some of my own.  Those family members, including myself, were NEVER told they were unloved.  And yes, they were unconditionally loved every minute.  It was only their choices and their behaviors that were the problem.

Tolerance IS a two way street.

BOTH sides must be willing to agree that each side has the right to make their own choices based on their own moral convictions and upon their own conscience.  BOTH sides must agree that within certain LIMITED areas, each side is able to demand certain standards of behavior.  And NEITHER side can require the other have specific feelings in regards to either side’s choices.

My family does NOT expect me to feel shame for my choices or behaviors.  They are occasionally confused as to WHY I do not feel shame, but they do not require it of me.  I do NOT expect them to feel either approval or pride in my choices.  I occasionally feel confusion as to why they cannot approve of some of my choices, but I do not require it of them.

And the confusion?  My family and I are willing to discuss the confusion.  We’re willing to converse about those choices in a non-judgmental fashion, so that the other side of the debate can understand the basics of “why.”  I’m not offended if they bring out one of the multitude of Bibles my family owns (seriously, my family owns a huge range of Bibles.  Some are differing translations, some include assorted apocrypha depending upon the denomination that espouses that particular translation, some include the original Greek and Hebrew, and some are commentaries).  Why am I not offended?  Because I know, and have known my entire life, that my family bases their lives upon the Bible.  Most of my confusion as to “why” comes down to not understanding a particular interpretation of certain Bible verses.  And when Dad pulls up the Greek and Hebrew (giving me the words he is translating, because with Google, it’s not THAT hard to check out differing translations of each word), it usually allows me at least a base understanding of his stance.

Of course, there are times when both sides consider the explanations of the other to be sheer sophistry.  And on those issues, we can do no more than to agree to disagree.

Same sex marriage?  Those for whom same-sex marriage is against their conscience are welcome to that consideration.  They are allowed to make their life choices based on their consciences. But they CANNOT force all individuals to live by THEIR conscience, meaning they do NOT have the right to enshrine their conscience into law that affects ALL in this nation.  They must allow others to live by their own conscience.

Sexual promiscuity? You have the right to your promise rings, to your vows of chastity.  You do NOT have a right to endanger the lives of others by allowing your children to be ignorant of the BASIC responsibilities of sex.  This does not just cover the argument between “abstinence only” and other forms of sexual education.  This INCLUDES teaching your children that they have body autonomy, and so does everyone else.  This includes teaching your children they do NOT have the right to force another person (of ANY gender) to have sex with them.  This INCLUDES teaching your children to see other human beings as no different from themselves, that just because they may be a different gender or a different race or any of a number of other differences, that they do NOT have a right to treat those individuals as “less than human.” This includes teaching your children about sexually transmitted diseases AND how to avoid them (in other ways than just abstinence – because even spouses can share an STI/STD with a virgin), and how to realize that their beloved may not have been as “pure” as themselves.  This includes teaching them about ways to avoid pregnancy, which ALSO gives you a perfect chance to discuss the morality behind abstinence as well as any faith-based issues with contraception.

And those of us who do not have a moral difficulty with the above?  We must allow them their opinion, AS LONG AS they do not attempt to enshrine their morality into law.

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Categories: Christianity, Paganism, Religious Ruminations, Sexual Positivity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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