Tag Archives: LGBT

Rising From the Ashes

In Greek mythology there was a bird, the Phoenix, which was always reborn out of its own ashes. This image of rebirth, especially out of difficult circumstances, is not new in religion. Almost every major faith tradition shares this imagery of death and rebirth. However, the story of the Phoenix is particularly appropriate for the story of Ash Wednesday that I would ash-wednesday-usalike to share with you today.

Like the Phoenix, there are times when we need to be reborn out of our own ashes. There are situations and events in our lives that could feel like fire burning, destroying, razing with every part of who we are. Nothing can be done… unless you have the drive to be reborn.

The young man entered the sanctuary a few minutes before our Ash Wednesday service began. He came by himself. I was certain I had seen him before. As he found his way into the circle, something told me that this was a special visit for us.

I love planning the Ash Wednesday service, for it gives me the chance to use liturgies that I enjoy and share that with those who come to visit with us. It is also the one worship experience when we get the most visitors. This is always a challenge, as you want to let people know what the ministry is all about but also be true to my liturgical preferences. It is also an important time to acknowledge the truth that both light AND darkness are holy and good.

The young man’s reaction to my mentioning the goodness of darkness was my first clue. He nodded, smiled, and his whole self said that he was feeling comfortable in this space. As the service ended, many of us moved to the foyer to chat, drink some hot beverages, and share stories.

I noticed that the young man stayed looking at our ministry display intently. So I approached him to introduce myself. He immediately opened up. I mentioned that I recognized him, perhaps from last year. He said he had not been here last year, but had been to “other random event here.” Perhaps that’s where I had seen him before.

As he continued to talk, he mentioned that he knew some of the students featured in our display. We chatted about this and how all these other young people of color were involved in one way or another with our ministry. He smiled. He was feeling more and more at home. Then, we talked about the ministry and our lives. He had grown up in church, he said, but things turned bad. He had served in young people’s ministries, had served on the Board of Deacons, had taught Sunday school to children, and had been preaching since he was fifteen. But his was a conservative Baptist church. It is also an African American church, and there were cultural aspects of his culture that were more conservative than what he would like. At some point, he decided to be himself, not to hide anymore. This did not sit well with his congregation. Now, he was church-less. But he had heard about this place, this ministry and safe space for LGBT students. He gave us a chance.

It felt like a rebirth; to find a faith community that is rooted in his faith tradition, one that welcomes him, that offers others like him opportunities for growth and leadership. Like the Phoenix, the ashes brought him back to life.

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Filed under Black, Black History Month, Church, Culture, ethnicity, Gay, Heritage, justice, Lesbian, LGBTQ, Queer, race, racism, Theology, worship

Carta Abierta a la Legislatura PNP de Puerto Rico

Quiero decir esto públicamente con la esperanza de que llegue a los oídos de los legisladores y las legisladoras PNP de Puerto Rico.

¿Han leído alguna vez las Constituciones – de EEUU y Puerto Rico – que juraron defender? Creo que no. Lo más probable es que sean medio analfabetas, porque la verdad que sus acciones no son de personas que tengan una mínima educación. Alguien que sepa leer, no haría las burradas que están haciendo.

Las iglesias – o cualquier otra institución religiosa – tienen todo el derecho de negarle el rito matrimonial a cualquier pareja. (Si esto es “moral” o no es otra cosa. Pero no entremos en eso.) Las Constituciones explícitamente prohíben al Estado el determinar la teología, creencias y prácticas de las religiones. Eso es lo que se llama “separación de Iglesia y Estado”. Les pongo un ejemplo sencillo: la Iglesia Católica Romana NO casa a personas divorciadas cuyo matrimonio anterior no haya sido declarado nulo por un Tribunal Eclesiástico (claro, con las ya sabidas exepciones del Arzobispo de San Juan casando a la Sra. Sila María Calderón o a la Sra. Olga Tañón, ambas divorciadas cuando caminaron por el pasillo de la Catedral en sus trajes blancos.) Este derecho está en la Constitución: es la Iglesia, no el Estado, quién determina lo que es “matrimonio” para quienes pertenecen a esa tradición.

Por otro lado, hay iglesias que definen el matrimonio como la unión de CUALQUIER dos personas. Estas iglesias ofrecen el rito matrimonial a cualquier pareja – dos hombres, dos mujeres, o un hombre y una mujer. Esa es prerrogativa de la Iglesia gracias a la separación de Iglesia y Estado. Como dije, esto está en las Constituciones que ustedes, queridos legisladores PNP, no han leído.

Finalmente, NADIE puede obligar a un ministro, sacerdote, pastor, etcétera, el llevar a cabo un matrimonio entre dos personas que el líder religioso no crea que estén preparadas para entrar en esta unión.

Todo esto quiere decir lo siguiente, queridos legisladores analfabetos: su gran idea de someter legislación para “protejer” a ministros o más bien, para PROHIBIR a ministros seguir su conciencia con relación al matrimonio, es una intromisión INCONSTITUCIONAL en determinar la teología de las iglesias. Es similar a querer legislar a quién pueden o no pueden las iglesias bautizar, ordenar, hacer funerales, invitar a predicar…

Como ministro, me da terror el pensar que la teología de cualquier iglesia pueda ser determinada por cualquier legislatura, es especial una donde ninguna persona tiene la más mínima educación teológica.

Más está decir que la reciente decisión del Tribunal Supremo de EEUU no cambió en nada la definición del matrimonio en ninguna iglesia. Cada iglesia seguirá definiendo “matrimonio” de acuerdo a su interpretación de las Escrituras que determinen sagradas. Sin embargo, es entendible que ustedes, ignorantes legisladores, hayan creído la mentira que tanto repitieran los grupos fundamentalistas puertorriqueños. Tanto repetir la mentira de que una decisión que no tiene nada que ver con teología iba a afectar sus iglesias, ha creado la ilusión de que es verdad esa mentira. Pero no, nada ha cambiado. Lo único que ha cambiado es que ahora las iglesias tienen que explicarle mejor a sus feligreses – en especial a los más jóvenes – porqué excluyen del rito matrimonial a algunas personas. Ese era el único miedo que tenían los líderes religiosos. Pero, de nuevo, eso serán temas teológicos que cada iglesia te drá que enfrentar por su cuenta.

Ahora, queridos ignorantes legisladores PNPs, espero que dejen de tratar de meterse en temas que no les importan y de los que no tienen idea – en este caso, teología – y se pongan a buscar la forma de trabajar junto al otro grupo de idiotas que tienen por compañeros a ver si hacen algo para sacar a la Isla del hoyo que ustedes mismos – penepés y populares – la han metido.

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Filed under iglesia, matrimonio, Puerto Rico, Teología

Obama’s Weak and Timid Immigration (In)Action

On November 20th, President Obama announced executive actions regarding immigration. The provision has been called “the right thing to do”, “timely” and even “bold” by individuals and organizations that portray themselves a progressive. The reality, however, is different. The recent executive action is not even close to the comprehensive reform that is sorely needed by the immigrant communities in the United States. Certainly is not timely, as the President had the chance to act on comprehensive reform when he promised, immediately after his reelection in 2012. Finally, the recent executive action is far from being bold; the action is timid and weak.

According to some experts, about 5 million immigrants will benefit from the executive action. The program has five main focus areas: expansion of the previous Deferred Action Program (DACA) for DREAMERS, allow parents of US citizens to stay in the country for up to three years without fear of deportation, expanding the waiver program that was already in place for unlawful residents, modernizing and clarifying immigrant programs, and promoting citizenship education. Of these areas, two are the most contentious: the expand of the Deferred Action and allowing parents of US citizens to stay in the country for up to three years with a provisional work permit.ImmigrationReformPassedinSenate062813

These actions, while might look like a dim light at the end of a very dark tunnel, need to be taken very seriously and with a grain of salt. Why? These programs are creating large, federal databases with enough information on undocumented residents which can be easily accessed by future administrations that might not be fond of immigrants. Currently, and up to the Election Day on 2016, there is a 50/50 chance of a Republican takeover of the White House. If the Republican candidate runs on the same platform that the party has espoused so far, this means that 5 million undocumented residents will be at the will of a hostile president who might take action in deporting them. We must remember that Obama’s executive action has a three year lifespan. This is well into the administration of the next US President, whoever that person might be.

Moreover, the executive action affects less than half of the total undocumented immigrant community. During a conversation with my spouse, who has lived in the USA without documentation for the past 11 years, we wondered what was going to happen to most of our family. Would they be able to apply for the executive action? What about our friends? The answers were not what we needed or wanted to hear. Only one member of our family, whose son is a US citizen, will qualify for this executive action. Others, such as an uncle who has lived in this country, paid local and federal taxes, worked and invest in the local economy for the past 12 years, would not be able to qualify for the mere reason of not having any children born in the USA. In addition, our friends who are gay or lesbian, who have no children and many of whom never thought of having children, but who have lived in the USA for most of their lives, will not qualify for Obama’s executive action. How can such an action be called “bold”?

Indeed, Obama’s executive action on immigration is weak, timid, and comes with too many risks for the undocumented community. It will be extremely important for undocumented residents to explore what options are best for them. Three years of a temporary work permit, with the possibility of deportation at the end of that time, might not be the wisest movement for many undocumented residents.

There is one thing, however, that has been made clear throughout this process: Obama and his advisors are good politicians. He decided not to push for comprehensive immigration reform before the mid-term elections, thinking that this would give them advantage with the conservative-leaning undecided voters. Somehow, he and the Democrats took for granted the support of minority voters. That, as we have already seen, backfired. By presenting this weak and timid executive action, he hopes to get back the support of the left-leaning voters while at the same time look like a “champion” of the immigrant communities. Of course, the Republican Congress is going to do everything in their power to minimize the effects of this executive order, which will make them look like “the bad guys”, which is exactly what Obama and his party needed to win the next general election. Basically, Obama and the Democrats are using the immigrant community as a weapon in their dirty political game.

Add to this what I have already experienced: the resistance of the – mostly white – liberal voters to acknowledge that Messiah Obama cannot do anything wrong. I have already received messages from friends and acquaintances that ask me to stop criticizing the President’s actions lest the “right” use that as a weapon against all the other positive things that President Obama has accomplished.

But I cannot keep silent. My role in a semi-democratic society like ours is to raise my voice when I see unjust actions that affect those who have no voice within the political structures. The role of any citizen is to keep their government checked lest it lose sight of its responsibility: to look after the wellbeing of all of the people. Just because President Obama has accomplished many great things during his tenure does not mean that I need to stay silent when he does wrong. On the contrary, it is my civil responsibility to call on the government officials who represent me to act according to what is the wellbeing of all my fellow citizens.

Finally, with the reaction I have seen from the – mostly non-immigrant, and mostly white – liberal community, it is my fear that pressure on the Obama administration to proceed with comprehensive immigration reform might wane. It seems to me like the progressive voice has, once again, fall trapped of the “Obama charisma and speech” and is willing to compromise the lives of the other 6+ million undocumented residents who will not qualify for this executive action. If the progressive voice is not heard anymore, neither Democrats nor Republicans will feel the need to move boldly on immigration reform. We have already seen how every progressive voice has been praising Obama for his weak and timid action, calling it “bold” when in reality is not even close to be so. I do not want to be the kind of citizen that serves as a rubberstamp for the political leaders I do support. What I want to be is a responsible citizen who is willing to criticize the wrong actions of any political leader, even if I agree with them in most of the policies that they support.

Mr. President, we need you to take BOLD action on immigration reform. Mr. President, we need you to ACT on immigration reform and not just use our immigrant communities as political weapons. Mr. President, we need you to BE A LEADER and not just a politician. The lives of over 11 million people who live and contribute to this country depend on you.

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Filed under Culture, discrimination, Hispanics, justice, Latino, race, racism

Why I Vote

i-votedThere are people in the United States, especially those – usually young, and white, and from middle and upper middle classes – that espouse “anarchist” and “leftist” views, who say that voting is a waste of time. Why should we vote if the candidates all have the same platforms? Candidates all work for the same corporate interests and look only after their own kind. Why bother with voting?

I do not disagree that many, if not most, candidates are just clones one of the other. However, for me it is still important to cast my vote. Why? Because of whom I am.
It is easy to dismiss your right to vote when you are white, or young, or male, or rich, or educated, or healthy… or any combination thereof. It is easy to dismiss the electoral process and complain about politicians and their work while not wanting to be part of the process. I understand the frustration, because I have felt it myself at times. But when you are not part of the majority, your vote is extremely important.

This is why I vote: because I am not white, because I am not straight, because I am not rich, because I am an immigrant, because my first language is not English, because my spouse can’t vote, because I am a feminist, because I am a progressive, because I am a person of faith, because I am not willing to let others dictate what I think is best for me… Voting allows me to reclaim my space in the public square. Voting allows me to stand up and say that I am part of the process even when the majority of those in power do not want to recognize my mere existence. Voting allows me to stand up for what I believe, even when the politicians making the decisions are those I voted for!

No candidate and elected official are going to share all of my values. However, I feel empowered to raise my voice when I vote. I can tell those politicians and elected officials that I have the power that the US Constitution grants me and I will make use of that power. Voting is not the “fix-all” solution. It is not perfect and it is not going to make the government work exactly as it should. But, when you are not part of the majority it is extremely important to show up at the voting booth (or to mail in your ballot!)

I vote because I am not white, because I am not straight, because I am not rich, because I am an immigrant, because my first language is not English, because my spouse can’t vote, because I am a feminist, because I am a progressive, because I am a person of faith, because I am not willing to let others dictate what I think is best for me…

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La iglesia sodomita

En tiempos recientes no se usa mucho, pero en tiempos pasados era la norma. Aunque aún queda en la jerga legal el término “sodomía”, la verdad es que a la comunidad gay masculina no se le llama “sodomita” muy de seguido. Es de esperarse que ya no se le llame al hombre gay “sodomita”, puesto que la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra nada tiene que ver con la orientación sexual. Pero vamos, que me estoy adelantando a la discusión. La verdad es que la Iglesia – y hablo de la Iglesia con mayúscula, o sea, la comunidad religiosa sin importar su denominación – denuncia la orientación sexual no heterosexual como pecaminosa, sin darse cuenta que al hacerlo, se convierte, precisamente, en una Iglesia sodomita.

No quiero aburrir a mis lectoras y lectores con largas ponencias teológicas ni con apologías. Solo quiero señalar algunas cosas que, en su ceguera conservadora y fundamentalista, muchas personas ni se han dado cuenta. Lo gracioso es que son las mismas personas que gritan a los cuatro vientos que la Biblia es la palabra inerrante de Dios, que debem701070402_origos tomarla a la letra y que es necesario el creer cada palabra allí citada como inspirada sin error por el Espíritu Santo para alcanzar la vida eterna quienes no le han puesto atención a las historias de la Biblia ni a sus interpretaciones… ¡según aparecen en la Biblia misma! Así que aquí les va un poquito de iluminación, para ver si en algún momento se les prende el bombillo y deciden estudiar la Biblia de verdad.

Pues comencemos por el principio: la historia bíblica de Sodoma y Gomorra. La misma la encontramos en el libro de Génesis 18.16-19.38. En resumen, esto es lo que ocurre: Dios visita a Abraham y le indica que ha visto la maldad de las ciudades de Sodoma y Gomorra. Lot, el sobrino de Abraham, vive en Sodoma con su esposa y dos hijas. Abraham, preocupado por el bienestar de su sobrino y su familia, decide interceder por Lot. Dios promete a Abraham que si encuentra el mínimo de personas sin pecado en Sodoma y Gomorra, no destruirá las ciudades.

Cuando Dios miró de nuevo a las ciudades de Sodoma y Gomorra, la maldad era tal, que decidió destruirlas de todas maneras. Así que envió mensajeros a Lot y su familia para que abandonaran la ciudad y se salvaran. En el momento en que los visitantes llegan a la casa de Lot, el rumor pasa a oídos de la gente de Sodoma y Gomorra – o sea, los sodomitas y gomorritas – éstos salieron para intimidar a los visitantes.

Hay varias cosas importantes en la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra que los supuestos literalistas bíblicos prefieren no leer. También hay elementos en la historia que no pueden leerse fuera del contexto de las leyes levíticas bíblicas, algo que los literalistas – quienes dicen que hay que tomar TODA la Biblia de manera literal, que hay que prestarle atención a cada letra, cada palabra, cada oración – no hacen o no quieren hacer. Así que quisiera presentar mis argumentos para demostrar, de una vez y por todas, que los sodomitas (y gomorritas) de la modernidad son, en específico, quienes más condenan a las comunidades gay, lesbiana, bisexual y transgénero.

¿Por qué hago esto? Sencillo. Primero, porque es algo de lo que casi no se ha escrito en español. Existen miles de ensayos, libros y recursos en inglés sobre este tema, pero muy poco existe en español. Segundo, lo poco que existe en español, en su mayoría, son traducciones de los trabajos en inglés (u otras lenguas) por lo que no está escrito desde la realidad del pueblo hispanohablante. Tercero, porque es un tema que me toca personalmente como persona que profesa la fe cristiana, dentro de su forma protestante y de la tradición bautista. Además, finalmente, como hombre gay y miembro del clero, es importante para mí que temas como este se desarrollen puesto que, como dice la Biblia “Mi pueblo fue destruido, porque le faltó conocimiento…” (Oseas 4.6a) O, como nos recuerda de nuevo Dios en el libro de Isaías 5.13, “Por tanto, mi pueblo fue llevado cautivo, porque no tuvo conocimiento; y su gloria pereció de hambre, y su multitud se secó de sed.” Así que, con gusto comparto algo de conocimiento sobre la Biblia con quienes dicen haberla leído y seguir sus estatutos pero que dejan ver su ignorancia acerca del texto sagrado.

Ahora démosle una lectura seria al texto de la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra y lo que la misma Biblia dice sobre ella.

Aunque no pretendo dar una lectura completa, hermenéutica o apologética – o sea, esto no es un ensayo teológico, sino un corto ensayo expositivo – quiero hacer referencias a algunos puntos que los literalistas prefieren obviar cuando leen la historia de Sodoma y Gomorra.

Primero, tenemos que tener en cuenta las costumbres semíticas con respecto a la hospitalidad. Viviendo en lugares desiertos, donde la vida de cualquier persona corre peligro ya sea por la falta de agua, por el calor o por los animales y plantas venenosas del desierto, el mostrar hospitalidad es sumamente importante en la cultura semítica. La Biblia contiene leyes bien específicas acerca de cómo tratar a los extranjeros y las extranjeras que viven entre el pueblo hebreo. Una mirada rápida al Pentateuco nos ofrece una clara evidencia de la forma en que Dios le pide al pueblo que trate a personas extranjeras que vivan o visiten entre el pueblo de Israel. Y, como a los literalistas les gusta mucho el arrojar versículos bíblicos a diestra y siniestra, aquí les tengo algunos con respecto a las leyes de hospitalidad: Éxodo 12.49; 22.21; 23.9; Levítico 19.10, 33-34; 23.22; 24.22; 25.6, 23, 35, 47; Números 9.14; 15.14-16, 26, 29; Deuteronomio 1.16; 10.18-19; 14.29; 16.11, 14; 23.7; 24.14, 17, 19-21, 26.11-13; 27.19. Aunque estas leyes fueron codificadas mucho después de los sucesos de Sodoma y Gomorra, nos ofrecen una visión de lo importante que era – y es – para Dios el proteger a quienes son extranjeros en tierras extrañas.

Cuando los visitantes llegaron a casa de la familia de Lot, el pueblo de Sodoma salió de manera violenta a recibir a los extranjeros. Ciertamente, el pueblo de Sodoma (y de Gomorra) no era parte de quienes llegaría a ser el pueblo de Israel, pero entre ellos vivía Lot y su familia, que, por acción del pacto de Dios con Abraham y Sarah, eran parte del pueblo que Dios escogió para revelarse a sí mismo.

Segundo – y aquí lo más importante de la historia – es que las referencias bíblicas con respecto al pecado de Sodoma y Gomorra es contundente. ¡Nada que ver con homosexualidad! Sí, hay pecado de inmoralidad sexual, pero no es el que los literalistas quieren imponer al texto. ¡El pecado de inmoralidad sexual lo comete Lot! ¿Cómo? Pues así mismo como lee. El pecado de inmoralidad sexual lo comete Lot al ofrecer sus propias hijas a la multitud para que las violen. ¿No han leído esto los literalistas en la historia? Pues le cito, según Génesis 19.6-8: “Entonces Lot salió a ellos a la puerta, y cerró la puerta tras sí, y dijo: ‘Os ruego, hermanos míos, que no hagáis tal maldad. He aquí ahora yo tengo dos hijas que no han conocido varón; os las sacaré fuera, y haced de ellas como bien os pareciere; solamente que a estos varones no hagáis nada, pues que vinieron a la sombra de mi tejado.’” En ningún momento se nos dice cuál era la intención de la multitud con respecto a los ángeles que vinieron a visitar a Lot. La verdad es que no sabemos si la intención era de violarles, de pegarles o de maltratarles; pero de todas maneras, podemos inferir que la intención no era tratarles bien, sino humillarles. Entonces Lot, en se desesperación de que sus huéspedes no sean maltratados, ¡ofrece a sus propias hijas para que sean maltratadas! ¿Cuántos literalistas hablan acerca de estas acciones de Lot? Ninguno. O por lo menos, no he escuchado a ningún literalista condenar a Lot.

Ahora, veamos lo que la misma Biblia nos dice que es el pecado de Sodoma y de su hermana Gomorra… (Si quieren, aquí pueden escuchar los tambores… porque es una de esas revelaciones que, como dicen en mi país, “se cae de la mata”, pero que nadie lee.) Según Ezequiel 16.49-50, Dios mismo nos dice que esta fue la maldad de Sodoma: “He aquí que esta fue la maldad de Sodoma tu hermana: soberbia, saciedad de pan, y abundancia de ociosidad tuvieron ella y sus hijas; y no fortaleció la mano del afligido y del menesteroso. Y se llenaron de soberbia, e hicieron abominación delante de mí, y cuando lo vi las quité.” Les cito los pecados: soberbia, saciedad de pan, abundancia de ociosidad, no fortalecer la mano del afligido y el menesteroso y abominación. (Y aquí, recordemos que “abominación”, según la Biblia, puede ser cualquier cosa desde no limpiarse correctamente, según Levítico 7.21 hasta adorar ídolos según Deuteronomio 7.25).

Es interesante que en una de las instancias en que Jesús utiliza el ejemplo de Sodoma y Gomorra según lo leemos en Marcos 6.7-13, es en el contexto de que sus seguidores no sean recibidos de buena manera en tierras extranjeras. O sea, ¡que el mismo Jesús sabía que el pecado de Sodoma y Gomorra fue la inhospitalidad!

Como dije al principio, este no es un ensayo teológico hermenéutico o apologético, solamente un ensayo expositivo para dejarle saber a los literalistas lo alejados que están sobre la lectura del texto. Así que, entendiendo que podríamos escribir muchos otros ensayos sobre el tema, me adelanto a compartir algunas conclusiones con mis lectoras y lectores.

Entre las conclusiones a las que he llegado al prestarle atención al texto están las siguientes:

  1. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea, en especial la mayoría de las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas, son el vivo ejemplo de sodomía. En ellas no se permiten personas ajenas a su grey (extranjeros y extranjeras). Las mismas no comparten la mesa con quien viene en busca de pan y vino (muchas mantienen la mesa de comunión cerrada, vetada a quienes no sean parte de las congregaciones o denominaciones particulares). Muchas de estas comunidades son soberbias, predicando que ellas, y solo ellas, tienen la verdad inalienable de Dios. Además, practican la abominación de idolatría, al poner a la Biblia – una creación humana – por encima de Dios, de la revelación de Dios en Jesucristo y de la dirección del Espíritu Santo, quien es responsable de “guiarnos a toda verdad” según nos dice Jesús en Juan 16.13.
  2. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea – otra vez, en especial las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas – no son literalistas. Sus líderes y miembros NO toman la Biblia de manera literal. Por el contrario, estas comunidades leen sus propios prejuicios en cada historia bíblica, sin prestar atención a la dirección del Espíritu Santo ni de la historia del pueblo que nos dio las Sagradas Escrituras. De hecho, no hay tal cosa como “interpretación literal” de ningún texto. Toda persona que lee, lo hace desde una realidad histórica, social, religiosa, económica, familiar, geográfica y tantas circunstancias que nos hacen seres humanos.
  3. La iglesia cristiana contemporánea es hipócrita, pues utiliza sus propias bíblicas para imponer sus creencias sobre otras personas, en vez de permitir que sea Dios, a través del Espíritu Santo, quien dirija a los individuos a una lectura bíblica que nos acerque a Dios.
  4. Finalmente, la iglesia cristiana contemporánea, en especial las comunidades evangélicas y fundamentalistas, al tratar de imponer sus propias lecturas al texto bíblico, no dejar que el Espíritu sea quien les dirija y querer añadir y quitar cosas del texto de manera indiscriminada, están cometiendo el pecado que tanto aborrecen: quitar y añadir a la Biblia. Como nos dicen las Sagradas Escrituras, en Deuteronomio 12.32: “Cuidarás de hacer todo lo que yo te mando; no añadirás a ello, ni de ello quitarás.” Y luego nos repite en Apocalipsis 22.19: “Y si alguno quitare de las palabras del libro de esta profecía, Dios quitará su parte del libro de la vida, y de la santa ciudad y de las cosas que están escritas en este libro.” Así que, ¿qué esperan estas comunidades para arrepentirse, para mirar de nuevo a Dios y pedir perdón por sus pecados de sodomía e idolatría y reconciliarse con el Creador? Les insto a reconsiderar sus caminos sodomitas pecaminosos y abrir las puertas de sus iglesias y de sus corazones a recibir a toda la creación de Dios (Romanos 8.22-23), y de esta manera cumplir el sueño de Dios de crear un cielo nuevo y una tierra nueva donde “Enjugará Dios toda lágrima de los ojos de ellos; y ya no habrá muerte, ni habrá más llanto, ni clamor, ni dolor; porque las primeras cosas pasaron.” (Apocalipsis 21.2)

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Filed under amor, Dios, Español, Gay, iglesia, Latino, LGBTQ, Queer, trans

Seeing God in Abuela

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.
Psalm 27.10, KJV

My abuela Palmira left this world on March 30th, 2014. She was the last one of my grandparents to leave us. I had been blessed with three sets of grandparents as my father had two sets of parents, his birth parents, abuelo Quino and abuela Margot, and the couple of welcomed him into their family when he was quite young and working away from his hometown, abuelo Jobito and abuela Ester. My maternal grandfather, abuelo Juanito, left us when I was 8 years old but I still remember him very well. Every Sunday afternoon, when the family gathered at their home, he would sit on his rocking chair and tell us funny stories that would make us laugh for hours. Abuela Palmira would stand next to him and laugh with all of us.

Abuela Palmira   There was something peculiar about my maternal grandparents. They practiced Spiritism, a religion in which every human being is of sacred worth and where spirits guide us to be in communion with the Great Spirit that is sometimes called God. At their home, everyone was welcomed and celebrated. They never rejected anyone. My grandparents believed in serving everyone and in welcoming everyone without distinction. Although I was too young when my grandfather died and thus not even aware of my own sexual orientation, I know that my grandfather would have accepted me and celebrated me. My grandmother, however, had the chance to know who I am as a whole person and she always, without doubt and without excuses, celebrated me for who I am.

When I think about abuela Palmira, the verse that always comes to mind is that of Psalm 27.10: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” When my parents rejected me for being queer, it was abuela who welcomed me. She always supported me and celebrated my life. When I introduced her to my now husband, I was told that she spent months telling everyone who would listen about the wonderful man I had met. Recently, while talking with an aunt, she told me how they found among abuela’s personal items the wedding invitation I had sent her for my marriage. I knew she would not be able to attend my wedding due to health problems, but she had kept that invitation as an important memento. Through these actions, I can say that abuela embodied the Holy One in my life. Thus, when my parents disowned me, God took me up through the love, support and affirmation of my abuela Palmira.

The Sunday before abuela departed this world, my husband and I spent time with her. We had been in Puerto Rico for vacation, and of course I had to go visit abuela. She made us laugh with her witty remarks. This was abuela. She was always making jokes and laughing about things, even when her health wasn’t the best, she always found joy in living. I am not naïve to say that she was perfect, because none of us are. She had her flaws and made mistakes like the rest of us. But her love and support meant the world to me, and it is those values that will stay with me throughout my life. Her love, her support, her laughter that last time I saw her will always be the manifestation of God in my life. I will keep her memory alive as long as I live and I will always share with the world the values that she shared with me.

Abuela Palmira, you are now gone from us, as you would have said, you are now “unfleshed”, but your spirit will continue to guide me just as the spirit of abuelo Juanito has never left me. Gracias por todo, abuelita.

 

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Who Am I to Judge Papa Paco*? A Response to the Media Hoopla on What the Pope DIDN’T Say About LGBT Rights

It is public knowledge that the media tries to catch our eye with interesting – and often times, misleading – headlines. Such was the recent hoopla about Pope Francis’ interview in which he mentioned the word “gay.” I wish I didn’t have to burst anyone’s bubble, and I really wished Papa Paco had said something really, well, significant, regarding LGBT rights; but the truth is that he didn’t say absolutely anything important.

IMAGEN-12955092-2Let us start in the beginning. Papa Paco has already surprised the world with his humility, his openness, and his matter-of-factly attitude. The media world was caught off guard by a Pope that is as open as Francis. In comparison with Blessed John Paul II who was charismatic but reserved, or with Benedict XVI who was as secretive as any Pope in the Middle Ages, Francis’ attitude is something completely new.  Moreover, we do not expect the representative of an organization as secretive as the Roman Catholic Church to be as open with his remarks as Francis has been. Add to this the fact that the US-centric media, with centuries of lay-led Protestantism in this country, has no clue how the Roman Catholic Church operates, nor does it understand the matters of Roman Catholic doctrine, dogma, traditions, etcetera.

When Pope Francis met with the media on the papal aircraft, he was showing his openness. This is still shocking, of course. However, by now we should start getting acquainted with the ways of the new Pope. Therefore, my first call to the US-centric media is: stop exaggerating! Second, please research before you print! Really. A really close examination of the interview and a google search regarding the Catholic Church’s position on LGBT issues should be enough to understand that what Papa Paco said is completely in line with Catholic moral doctrine. He has changed nothing!

To the LGBT advocate groups in the USA and around the world, I ask that, please, for the love of all the souls we have lost to religious intolerance, DO NOT play the game! You are actually doing more harm than good!

This brings me to my second point on this response; namely, that the media totally missed the Pope’s words. If you read any transcript of the interview carefully, you will notice that the Pope, more than once, tells the reporters that the “hot issues” they want him to address have already been addressed by the Catechism of the Church. One by one, he addresses the issues of women ordination (“The Church has already spoken”), abortion and same-sex marriage (“[I ] hold the position of the Church, I am a son of the Church”), divorced people taking the Eucharist (“Regarding the matter of people in second marriages – because divorced people can take Communion – I believe that this is something to look at from the whole perspective of pastoral care for marriages.”), and finally, homosexuality (“The Catechism of the Church explains it beautifully.”)

Given that the Pope wants us to read what the Catechism says about these issues, let us take just a quick look at the one that made headlines: homosexuality.

The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, second edition, Part Three, Section II, Chapter 2, Article 6.II.2357 reads: “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” On Article 6.II.2359 it reads: “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

What does this mean? First, that according to Catholic moral teachings, homosexuality is and will always be a form of “depravity.” Second, that there are no scientifically proven origins for homosexual orientation. Third, that the fact that there are no scientifically proven origins does not take away from moral teachings regarding homosexual orientation since the Church is “Mother and Teacher” in these regards. Fourth, that the Church recognizes this “depraved disorder” as a cross to bear for the Catholic gay man and lesbian woman. Fifth, that the only life that a homosexual Roman Catholic can aspire to is the life of chastity (and yes, that means life with no sex! Ever!)

This is what Francis believes regarding homosexuality. Moreover, he also exposes that the Church is called to act with care and compassion. Again I quote the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, Part Three, Section I, Chapter 1. Article 7.II.1822: “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” Charity is the theological virtue, according to Roman Catholic dogma, which calls us to love God and to love neighbor as ourselves. Those who love God and love neighbor as themselves will not judge. Living by this virtue applies even to the Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ. Thus, when Papa Paco said “Who am I to judge?” he is just reciting the Catechism and even the Bible!

Later on the same part of the Catechism, Article 7.II.1829 we read: “The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion: Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.” Note here that one of the things that charity demands is… FRATERNAL CORRECTION! With that, what Papa Paco actually told the reporters is that, because he loves and cares for the gay and lesbian person, he is called, compelled, mandated even, by Christ and by the teachings of the Church to CORRECT our ways. Doesn’t sound that progressive now, does it?

Perhaps is because I have spent too much time studying Roman Catholicism as a Protestant. Perhaps is because I just can’t believe that the media was so dumb as to be duped by the Pope. Perhaps is because I love being non-celibate, happily married gay man… but I just can’t take the whole hoopla regarding this interview to Papa Paco anymore. But really, who am I to judge Papa Paco? The guy knows what he’s doing and how to play the media! Go Paco!

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* Note: In Spanish, people with the name “Francisco” are called “Paco.” Since both the Bishop of Rome and I are Latinos, I feel like I can call him by his nickname. Hopefully, this will not make headlines tomorrow! (I can see the media frenzy… “Heretic Latino Protestant Minister Does Not Respect The Bishop of Rome!” Or something like that!)

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