“If the gods love something because it is pious, then there must be an objective goodness intrinsic to the universe. If something is pious because the gods love it, then goodness could roughly be seen as arbitrary or subjective.”
Which is quite the conundrum, isn’t it?
Flip it around: if God hates something because it is a sin, then there must be an objective wrongness intrinsic to the universe. If something is a sin because God (or the Bible) dictates that it is so, then wrongness could be seen as arbitrary or subjective.
So much has been left up to humans to decide.
Brian, who has known me for sixteen years, told me today I was looking good. Grounded. What’s different? Nothing and everything. Nothing in that the constant stars in my life have remained: my darling, my cats, my mother, the work-in-progress that is my B.S. Everything in that I survived my mind’s self-destruct sequence yet again, made it to twenty-seven, and managed to have a night out with both of my parents without screaming the pub down.
If you had asked me even five years ago, March 23, 2008, who I would be, I couldn’t have told you whether I would make it this far. I was lost and desperate. I thought I might do something unfortunate with someone equally unfortunate. Out of nowhere: no. No. I no longer consented to a great deal of the abuse I had been heaping on myself. I did not need a lover to be whole, and I saw that I had, if anything, parted with pieces of myself in the drive to get and keep one. And equally out of nowhere: yes. That May, that June, yes to an identity I had struggled with for years, because no matter how fluid your preference in terms of gender, the default in our society is “one at a time”. Prepared to spend time in contemplation (and weeding), that summer I grew. I loved.
Whatever the reason, I became a person I could face in the mirror, and that is who I have remained since then.
I have been building a morality, whether I knew it or not. Harm as few as possible. Love is the law. Communicate openly and honestly. By this morality, I was able to swear the Oath of the Renunciates without any qualms. But by this morality, can I profess a Christian faith?
To some, the answer is “Absolutely! God is the ultimate love.”
To which I find myself replying, “Then why do so many people still feel like they’re doing something wrong when they’re not hurting anyone? Or when they are loving others? Or when they are open and honest?”
If by this morality, which has given me roots where before I felt so rootless, I am still wrong simply because of the gender or the number of people I love, I require more of a reason than “this ancient culture kept certain rules by which you must abide”. I am not of the Hebrews. I am not even of the Romans. I am a traveling daughter of daughters, brought to this place, where regardless of the reason I came, I will speak love and walk in love. I will heal its hurts; I will sacrifice what many consider the American dream, a high salary and a McMansion, in order to work toward the betterment of my communities. (Because who among us only lives in one community? No, we are part of more, if we take the time to count them all.) It’s an easy sacrifice. I never knew material wealth. I lived in someone else’s home for several months and I loved it. I have no desire to develop any innate aptitude for business or the hard sciences. I have no particular wish for fame, though I admit it would be nice to give my mother a night at the Oscars. Or the Globes. She’s getting less picky with time. I want her to be able to tell a fashion reporter, “Oh, this? $4.99 at Charming Charlie’s.”
If by this simple morality, I am still wrong because I am willful, let my will take me to Hell. I’m sure I’ll find something to do down there, someone to love who wasn’t reachable in life for whatever reason. Let me burn with the rapists and the murderers. Let me burn instead of someone who is trying to fit in and being thrown out because she is still somehow not right. Let someone who is actively pursuing Heaven have it, then, someone who cares. Let me love forever, even if that love is a hedge of thorns turning some divine will away from my soul. Divine will, if it is just and right, corrects what is ungracious about us, not what is finally able to love and to treat others as they deserve and better even than they deserve.
Let me see farther than the end of my own nose, into the repercussions of my choices for others. But O Most Merciful, is it required that I take serious damage in that cause? If I was made this way, to love who I love the way I love, why should I relinquish what has spurred me on to a higher law than my own whims? If that love taught me a greater love, why would I give it up without a fight?
I am a survivor of a great many fires. I am a tree in a forest that burned. No. I am the forest. All my mast and greenery is scorched away, but the roots I put down won’t give up. They’ll grow again, depend on it. I know this fire was not the last. My roots reach deep enough that I can endure whatever comes —
— just don’t bulldoze them because you think you can build something better in their place!