One of the ironies of being told that I’m going to Hell (for being a lesbian) is that it takes away the threat of Hell for my other sins.
My irreligious friends:
Please bear with me over the next few posts.
You might find this interesting, too.
In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck travels down the river with Jim, a runaway slave. Jim is captured. (He is held by a man named Phelps!)
Helping Jim escape would be a sin. Jim is property. Freeing him would be stealing. To prevent himself from that sin – to save his soul – Huck writes a letter to Jim’s owner, telling her where to find Jim.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now.
Before Huck sends the letter, he thinks about all the things Jim has done for him. He starts to think of Jim not as property, but as a human being.
and then I happened to look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
“All right, then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up.
It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
I’ve not read much literature (that’s my Love’s department), but I’ve read Huck Finn a half-dozen times. Children of an impressionable age – say, younger than 30 years old – should not be permitted to read Huck Finn. Other than the Gospels, it may be the most subversive thing ever written.
We see the screaming irony here: Huck thinks he’s going to Hell for freeing a slave?
More to my point: Huck decides that, if he’s going to Hell anyway, he’d just as well “go the whole hog” of wickedness.
I, a gay Christian, am in Huck’s shoes.
If I’m going to Hell anyway, what incentive do I have to be good? Atheists (gay, straight or other) don’t have any religious incentive to be good, either, but Hell doesn’t frighten them (or Heaven tempt them). When they’re dead, they’re dead. For a Christian, it’s more fraught. There is a real consequence to sin: Hell.
Why should I be good at all? I’m going to Hell anyway. If I obey the civil law (or don’t get caught), what difference does it make how good or bad I am?
It’s bizarrely counterproductive to tell me I am going to Hell. My lesbianism hurts no one, but if I have no fear of Hell, I have no religious hesitation about hurting others.
In coming episodes, guest appearances by
Immanuel Kant, Martin Luther and Fred Phelps …