I tried coming up with a
Tall Story with Christ Church as the background...back in the shelter they couldn't get enough of the "gay church" I attended. "If they can bless a gay marriage," Nilda remarked "what's stopping people from beating their children?" Some people said they'd feel uncomfortable there, though I couldn't see how -- we've only had one cross-dresser there, and that was for a Twelfth Night Pageant (s/he was one of the Founding Sisters of the Church, in the garb of the 1850's).
I tried thinking about “the ultimate gay church” in terms of music: of course, they wouldn’t keep to the traditional Latin Mass, they’d have something written, sub rosa, by Cole Porter, or maybe, some disco entertainer....but then, you’re talking Donna Summer, which brings us back to gospel singing with modern instruments which is no news at all. I couldn't go too far with decor either: Gothic Revival or Baroque, Anglo-Catholicism is a case of "been there, done that". Pink hangings and vestments? Check. (We do that twice a year.) A rainbow? Not here, but they might show up. And besides, everyone's wearing albs anyway...
So I played it dirty, and as dirty as it gets: acolytes giving blowjobs to the Bishop, all the standard Satanic moves, and yet I just couldn’t make it into what traditional Christianity is: a routine that is ever new, no matter how many times you experience it. (Kind of like sex with someone you like...)
Basically, I think the anti-gay marriage thing is an attempt to keep a semblance of “traditional morality” while distracting attention away from the real villains in the unraveling of the working class family: cohabitation and unwed motherhood. Simply put, childbearing and marriage have become reversed: instead of marrying (because 'everyone does') and having children as soon as you can afford them, having sex is considered 'simply natural', and marriage postponed as a statement of Having Arrived, with a large ring, lavish wedding, and all that entails. In this view, abortion and even birth control are considered wanton: it's his call whether to wear a condom or not, I was told, and if you get pregnant, even if he deserts you, you must bear and at least try to raise the baby.
Now, all this would work out if there was a huge pool of nice working-class people who would love to adopt. Or if somehow, all these women got married, maybe not by their baby's daddy, but by a nice guy who's willing to go to City Hall, and make an honest woman of her. You know, for the children's sake. Unfortunately, both of them are in short supply, leading to all the problems of the inner city.
This might look, on the face of it, that I'm trying to impose the illusory "nuclear family" on a part of society that has never really held with it anyway. This hasn't been borne out by statistics -- fifty years ago, working class women may have been less likely to be married when they got pregnant, but they were a lot more likely to get married when they were. And I'm being terribly judgmental about poor black people because perfectly OK white upper-class women have kids out of wedlock and their kids don't grow up on streetcorners. Actually, this is increasingly happening in poor white families as well -- the real problem here is not race or culture, but class. Upper class people can afford to play fast and loose with family structure because a) they can afford to have someone else raise their kids for them, b)the kids learn pretty quickly that the way to please Mommy is to be hard-working, smart, and good in school and c) Mommy is under a huge amount of pressure to produce a kid with great self-esteem who'll graduate from Yale Law School. At fifteen. Also, Mommy is more than likely to be somewhen in her thirties, with a successful career and a ticking biological clock, not a sixteen-year-old with a Bella Swan fixation, whose employable skills extend to doing hair and singing kind of like that girl on American Idol. What's keeping Bobo Mom from beating her offspring is not Fear of the Lord so much as Fear of the Other Moms in Playgroup if it's leaked that she ever raised an angry hand against him.
So how does this reflect on poor conservative Protestant churches? Well, for them to make marriage a priority, they have to contrast it with non-marriage. The classic way of doing this is to shame and shun the girl once she starts to show. Unfortunately, few poor neighborhoods are as devout as they once were, and all this will do is get her angry and resentful -- after all, Deadbeat Dad may or may not be even around, and they've got to fill those folding chairs somewhow. So they don't talk much about cohabitation or single motherhood as such.
Gays make more than an acceptable straw man, in this case. While on the dollar side of the tracks,'gay couples' connote that nice pair of old guys who adopted that adorable little mixed-race boy (he's as cute as a button! and so smart, too!), on the fifty-cent side, gays are either those guys in beards and dresses in the Jack Chick cartoon who chase after cute little brownish boys, or those awful men who molested Uncle Hector in prison. As for your friendly neighborhood gay guy, the fellow you know from the Art Department with the apartment to die for and the killer brunches, he just doesn't exist. Lesbians do...but they're virtually indistinguishable from other single moms, and as we've seen, pissing off single moms just doesn't work.
But, doesn't this contribute to homophobia? I can't say that it helps. It hardly changes minds when I point out that Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery is a commandment, and "man shall not lie with man like a woman" is down there under small abominations, such as wearing two different kinds of thread and mixing crops in a field. Actually, while you can find plenty of support for enlightened childrearing in the Bible, rebellious children are to be stoned to death. If you look far enough, you can find reasons for all kinds of people not being allowed inside the Temple, including impotence, having a broken hand or foot, and the old favorite, leprosy, but if Jesus is supposed to be a role model here, we're supposed to have some kind of tolerance and pity. As I hope I am showing them, for their trouble. Amen.