Monday, December 19, 2011

Conditioning

Ten years ago, we'd have had a heart attack if we were expected to pay $3 for a gallon of gas. Here we are, just a few years later, conditioned to the point that many people will drive miles out of their way (and probably burn up the difference in cost) to buy gas for $3 a gallon. These days it's a steal.


conditioninga process in which a stimulus that was previously neutral, as the sound of a bell, comes to evoke a particular response, as salivation, by being repeatedly paired with another stimulus that normally evokes the response, as the taste of food.


Watching my last post being interpreted, both here and as it made its way around the interwebs, was fascinating and telling. I didn't write about homosexuality. I wrote about a friend and about hypocrisy in the political and social realms, as well as within the Christian community. I didn't write in support of homosexuality. In fact, I took no moral position on the issue of homosexuality one way or the other (other than saying it isn't a black and white issue within the comment thread). I wrote in support of a friend, and I wrote in opposition to hypocrisy.


I've written and posted right around 200 pieces since beginning this blog a little over a year and a half ago. In the course of those posts, I've delved deeply into some ugly, abusive stuff. Ugly. Things that turn humans into human debris. Things that often destroy the heart, mind, and soul. Belief systems which are blatant idolatry and horribly abusive - sometimes emotionally, sometimes mentally, sometimes physically, always spiritually. Then, a couple of days ago, I wrote a post that wasn't even about homosexuality, but highlights a guy who just happens to be homosexual, and within the (as of now) 20 something comments there's more discussion of "sin" than on the rest of my blog combined.


That's the result of conditioning.


Fungelical Christianity has its own set of buzzwords, just like the Christian homeschooling cult does. It would tell you that it doesn't have pet sins, that all sin is wrong, and that it treats all sin equally. That's blatant dishonesty. I would agree with most that some sins are more overtly harmful and destructive than others. That said, homosexuality, sin or not, isn't any threat to the greater good of American (or international) society. Personally, I feel that lying is the most destructive thing an individual can do (it always tears down) - but no one has made a political issue out of that, have they? People seldom get emotional about that, do they? How often does the topic of "lying" cause a debate about "sin"? Not very. But somehow, homosexuality/gay marriage and abortion are on the verge of destroying us all! Right?! A lot of people seem to believe as much - and they're the victims of conditioning via thought reform.


Homosexuality is mentioned even in passing, and it's sin, sin, sin. Abortion comes up, and suddenly Christians become staunch and unflinching advocates for society's most vulnerable. The irony is, if Christians really want to be advocates for the vulnerable, it seems they'd be advocates for people in the homosexual community. Also, this passionate defense of the unborn is hard to swallow for some, being it can't really be supported from the pages of the bible, what with OT accounts of a God who ordered the killing of live babies. These issues - from homosexuality, to abortion, to the bible, to our understanding of God - aren't black and white issues. Conditioning takes what is truly gray and places it in forced tones of black and white. The fungelical community has become quite good at this.


triggeranything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.


When you add the element of emotion to the definition above, you get a passionate version of "Loaded Language", thought-stopping terminology, #6 in Liftin's criteria for Thought Reform.


Fungelicals have for so long, and so repeatedly, told us that homosexuality was an abomination, so utterly depraved, and a choice made only by lustful, depraved, perhaps even reprobate, minds, that now, when we even sniff the word "gay", our first thought is "sin!". When we hear the word "abortion", our first thought is "murder!". The result is that few even bother to think about these issues anymore.


We've made our spirituality, our "Christianity", and our politics into nothing more than being emotional sports fans. We've picked our teams, and we've bought all the assorted paraphernalia, and our rivals are the devil. What depth we have!


In the greater Christianity community, there's been greater condemnation of my friend Lucas - who's a man of honesty, character, and integrity, and just happens to be homosexual - than there'll EVER be for my former future in-laws - who have no integrity, don't know what character is, and are allergic to honesty, but who own the right paraphernalia. That's pathetic. People can argue that this isn't really the case, but you'll just be spitting into the wind. I know this to be the case.


Terrible things have been said to and about Lucas on the interwebs over the last few days. Terrible things. By Christians. Again, he lives honestly, with integrity and character, and just happens to be a homosexual. By the same token, even today, I've seen Christian people on FB livid over the "abuse" Tim Tebow is getting - and Tebow goes about his faith in just about every possible way Jesus said not to. The thing is, Tebow owns the right paraphernalia, and he'll show it to you at every available opportunity...whether you want to see it or not.


Since writing the post where I mentioned and supported Lucas, I've been asked and told things like...



  • How can you be a Christian and support homosexuality?
  • You aren't a real Christian.
  • How can you waste your gifts to promote such a thing?
  • Are you a fag too?



And, once again, I didn't even write about homosexuality, by default taking no position on it! Although it always happens to varying degrees, that post was a masterclass of an example of people reading in to what I wrote rather than reading it. What a shame. 


Being a product of thought reform isn't a good thing. It's one reason for my own continual examinations.


Let's shed the conditioning and develop some depth to our spirituality, shall we? Count me in.

19 comments:

  1. Well said, Lewis. I applaud what your friend Lucas did and the way he exposed the hypocrisy in the Religious Right. It's high time we started treating the GLBT people among us like human beings for whom Christ died. Whether they ever change or not.

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  2. "The irony is, if Christians really want to be advocates for the vulnerable, it seems they'd be advocates for people in the homosexual community."

    You said it well.

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  3. This kind of post gives me hope that not all Christians are assholes.

    Well said, Lewis.

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  4. I enjoyed the previous post and this one as well. I have a unique perspective on this due to someone very close in my life, and I've struggled to understand how it can be so easy for so many Christians to make it a black and white issue when it isn't. Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to tackle the hard stuff. Your blog is one of the reasons that I've become a more compassionate Christian.

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  5. "How can you be a Christian and support homosexuality?
    You aren't a real Christian.
    How can you waste your gifts to promote such a thing?
    Are you a fag too? "


    I don't think Jesus Christ would say these things? I think he'd ask did you feed a hungry person, did you give a person who was cold a coat, or did you aid someone who was in pain? That's the Christ I believe in, not the judgmental neener neener one.

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  6. Anon...Thanks for the comment. Very encouraging.

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  7. So well said, again, Lewis. It's such a shame that people have to make an issue out of everything. Like you said, they read into things rather than actually reading it for what it says. You didn't put anything between the lines, so there's nothing to find there.

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  8. Well I certainly agree with the point that the heart of this discussion is not sin (though I guess I am one who used that word or went in that direction) but the cowardly hypocrisy of those who condemn others for sin while leaving the plank in their own eye.

    It seems to me that all sin comes from a separation from God- and so the root of it would not be found in behaviors or actions so much as a kind of attachment disorder that humankind suffers from ?

    I don't think that abortion should be lumped together with homosexuality though. One does not have to go with one side of the debate on both. The fundamentalists have attached them together but I don't. I really think that mainstreaming abortion is a tragic thing. As an adoptive and foster mom, I also have seen where abused and mistreated children are a tragic thing. I can't think of a solution...other than to look at helping one life at a time. But I don't think that abortion is the answer, though I know that there are sensitive people who strongly disagree.

    It is very strange that homosexuals are treated as the untouchables of our world, when all around there are also gluttons, liars, backbiters, adulterers and on and on...

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  9. Interested bystanderDecember 20, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    I didn't read this post until this morning but last night I was thinking how preposterous that one mention of homosexuality was enough to hijack a post that wasn't about homosexuality. The ability of "Christians" to condemn so forcefully a sin (not making any judgement here) makes it hard to take them seriously. I vividly remember a sermon from my childhood (late 70s) where the priest went out of his way to tell us that we must "love the sinner, but hate the sin," letting us know that no matter what we may think of the way someone behaves, we must act in love toward the person. My favorite hymn from those days was "They'll know we are Christians by our love." That's the way I want to live.

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  10. Thanks so much for this Lewis. I have found, since becoming friends with men/woman who are homosexuals, that the response you have gotten from your post is the same I have gotten in my real life from Christians. It honestly makes me sad and disgusted. THANK YOU for writing this.

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  11. Interesting that I don't think I saw even one Bible verse in either the article or comments.

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  12. Yikes. Good catch.

    Matthew 1:7 Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
    Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
    Abijah the father of Asa,


    Fixed it.

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  13. Off topic fyi: In my experience, calling gays "homosexuals" perpetuates a more formal us-vs-them. Try subbing "heterosexuals" in place and see how it sounds...my gay friends simply prefer to be known as gay, if it must come up at all.

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  14. I used to think "gay" was derogatory, and "homosexual" a more connotation-free word.

    Now that I actually have gay and lesbian friends, I perceive "homosexual" as having a cold, formal
    (homeschoolers have a better vocabulary)
    didactically aloof connotation.

    /2¢

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  15. It's definitely more clinical.

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  16. Thank you, Lewis, for that Bible verse. It speaks to me. ;)

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  17. Thank you for this post, Lewis. There is such hatred towards gay people in the Christian community - surely they are "the least of these" in America today.

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  18. The stuff about the price of gas in the first paragraph confused me. People replying "sin!" when someone says "homosexual!" is an example of Pavloviqn response conditioning....ok, fine, I get your point. However, people being calm in the face of 3.00 gas when previously they got very upset is desensitization, not conditioning. It's exactly the opposite of conditioning.

    I thought maybe you would tie the gas in with the conditioning later in the post, maybe by suggesting desensitization as a remedy for conditioning, but that doesn't seem to have happened. I think I've seen it happen in real life, though. I think the reason gay marriage has been an issue these last few years is that many people have been desensitized from their previous knee-jerk reaction of hatred to homosexuals.

    Although, come to think of it, maybe the gay marriage issue is an example of the idea that scientific revolutions don't actually happen because the evidence convinces scientists to change their mind but because the older generation of scientists die off and the new generation, who haven't yet been conditioned to the proper beliefs, pick up the new belief. That would be depressing. That would suggest that conditioning runs deep into the brain and doesn't ordinarily get cured..

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  19. @Happy Spider...In the first paragraph, I wasn't speaking of people who are "calm", but rather people who look at $3 gas irrationally, as a "steal", willing to drive considerably out of their way to purchase it, even if it only saves them 2 or 3 cents a gallon.

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