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On Josh Harris’ IKDG “Apology.”

Two days ago, Josh Harris–the infamous author of purity culture books I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl–issued a statement. That statement can be found here: 

Long story short: he “regrets” some things, but didn’t act on those regrets by pulling these damaging books from shelves until this week, in a run-up to the release of the documentary that centers his journey later next year. 

(Joshua Harris is a content strategist now, by the way.)

This is not commendable. 

There’s more to be said, but I’m not the best person to do it. Here are some comments on Twitter from women far better qualified than me on this topic.

From Emily Joy

From Jamie Lee Finch:

From Laura Polk

From Tori Douglass

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The Burden of Faith, the Lightness of Belief

Producing Exvangelical can take an emotional toll. It is taxing to hear the stories of how so many people have been hurt in God’s name. 

People are hurt in all manner of ways. They were told they can’t lead because they’re a woman, and their primary role was to support a man. Or they were damned because of their sexual orientation. Or they did not receive opportunities because of their race. They were taught their virginal purity was the most valuable thing about them. Their reasonable doubt was questioned. Their politics weren’t acceptable. Often, it’s some combination of those things.

I don’t see Jesus put value on any of those things. He treated women with respect and dignity; women were the first witnesses of the resurrection, and women were showed the greatest acts of love toward Jesus in the Gospels. 

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus portrays a member of a marginalized ethnic group as the best example of neighborliness and mercy. He does not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He does not condemn Thomas for his doubt.

Jesus has hard sayings, yes. But his priorities are different than the ones the American evangelical church has had for quite some time.

Through Exvangelical, I share these stories of people who have been hurt by the church. Often, I feel a deep sense of shame. These good people have been hurt by my people. These are not sensitive snowflakes, as conservative trolls would have you believe–these are the most resilient kinds of people you will meet. My shame is rooted in the fact that they have been hurt by people like me: white, evangelical Christian, privileged people who have systematically taken advantage of other groups for generations and centuries, by defining them as other, dangerous, inferior, wrong.

I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m not owed that. What I am looking for is some peace. 

I’ve found a starting point, I think, and it’s by bifurcating faith and belief. I’m providing my own definitions. Faith has an historical aspect. By ascribing to faith, I throw my lot in with the whole “cloud of witnesses” that has gone before me. It’s something I do, but don’t do lightly, and something I have to parse over and over: What do I affirm, what do I reject? 

Faith is a burden, an expectation, a boundary. Faith is a mighty fortress, but from time to time its foundation must be shored up, and on occasion the stones come loose and threaten to crush me. 

Belief, on the other hand, is light. Belief is a joyful, careless night watchman, striding atop the parapet at the edge of the fortress like a balance beam–testing boundaries and unafraid to fall, because belief knows it can fly.

Belief is an exploration of ideas. It craves space. It sees the open fields beyond the fortress of faith. It wants the fortress to open its doors, because it knows the fortress needs new builders and craftsmen with new perspectives and new techniques–or else it will crumble and become a ruin.

So I will remain in this faith. I will help rebuild it in the best way I can. But I will take my cues from Belief. Because I cannot fear being crushed any longer. 

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Link: Impartiality or diversity. Pick one. | Fusion

This article strikes at the heart of what many people within the evangelical community do not understand. Impartiality is no longer a pre-requisite–or even a possibility–for political discourse. Indeed, for many people groups such as the African American community, it never was. But through a broader understanding of sexuality, gender, and an increasingly ethnically diverse and interconnected populace, the number of folks who are concerned about these social and political issues grows larger every day.

A second point: everything now has a political dynamic. If you are against same-sex marriage or believe homosexuality is wrong, that is making a value judgment on a person. Those judgments lead to harsh policies that affect a person’s life in real, tangible ways.

The key quote from the article: 

Impartiality, meanwhile, is an ideal whose time has gone. Imagine a political debate, perhaps in an old-fashioned chamber like Britain’s Houses of Parliament. Facing each other across the aisle are two middle-aged white men, wearing suits and ties. You can look from one to the other and back again, and have no real idea what they believe in, what they stand for. Then they open their mouths, and lay out their respective political agendas, in a back-and-forth exchange. Up in the press gallery, a third middle-aged white man, also wearing a suit and tie, might privately agree with the man on the left, or he might be more partial to the arguments of the man on the right. But when he reports the debate, he puts his personal opinions to one side. He simply reports the facts of the debate, along with whatever facts on the ground might be germane. That man, up in the press gallery, is being impartial.

That is not the world we live in.

Today, the personal is political; identity politics is politics. Political stances aren’t just something that we choose to express when we open our mouths in a certain way; they’re a way of living in the world. If I am a gay Yemeni immigrant, or a black trans woman, or a Muslim trans man who’s a survivor of sexual assault, then to be open and unapologetic about my identity is to be a partisan in the most urgent political debates of the day.

— Felix Salmon, Fusion

Finally, one more quote for the cishet white men like me: 

These issues are largely theoretical for straight white cis men like myself. Sliding behind a veil of journalistic impartiality is no great hardship for us–in fact, it’s something we have a tendency to quietly congratulate ourselves on. Just look at how we rise above the fray! We are safe in our unthreatened identity. For us, being self-effacing is a little bit of a humblebrag: we get to bask in our privilege without calling any particular attention to it.

For our colleagues who are female, of color, and LGBTQ, however, the calculus is very different. For them, being self-effacing is to deny the fact that their own faces, their own bodies, are politically valent. Impartiality, for anybody but a white man, is literally self-defeating.

— Felix Salmon, Fusion

I urge you to read the article, and consider this point of view. I am not impartial. Neither are you.

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Link: An Open Letter to Conservative Christian Parents from Your Liberal Children | reclamationforce.com

This really hits the nail on the head in a lot of ways. 

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Welcome to the new exvangelicalpodcast.com!

Hello! Welcome to the new website! 

Late last year, I ran a Twitter poll asking folks what they’d like to see more of. I was humbled by the result. 

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So, since you all asked for it: I’ll be writing about culture, politics, faith (all familiar topics from the show), as well as some more off-topic stuff from time to time. 

Through the top navigation, you’ll find links to subscribe to the podcast, sign up for the Exv Reader newsletter, and info about why I do the show and how you can support it.  

I invite you to look around. Kick the tires. Let me know what you think of the site via Twitter; I’m @brchastain. The site was built on the iterative model (for all you agile methodology fans out there), so things are bound to change over time. 

I can’t wait to hear from you! Here’s to what’s next.