To ponder: Can ‘The Law of Unintended Consequences’ be a profound grace?
Both sides of the ‘way forward’ debate are demon possessed.
Mind you, when I was in seminary no one would have suspected, or even imagined, I would be using spiritual warfare language in my writings. Ever. However, Life Conditions [LCs] stymied my abilities to adequately explain the gaps between people, between groups, and society’s ascendant disunity, polarization, and indecency. So, demons? Yes, set in the context of a developmental anthropology.
Last week we talked about how Green [FS] is creating harm through the outworking of shadows through a control spirit (overreaching Red [CP] power values). Shadows and overreach are a boon for unwanted, unintended consequences. With the UMC‘s GAMMA-Trapped LCs [see “Being stuck“], there are two sides to the toxic harm coin.
Blue [DQ] creates harm
So, before we begin any consideration of specific harms, I recommend a quick refresh of the Blue [DQ] values attractor in general—please review “Unpacking Blue a bit” (in “Will Blue hold?”). It’s also important to recognize the baseline of Blue harm. When we talked previously about DQ (see Solutions || Dissonance) we had to admit (in general terms) its lack of agility [e.g., inflexibility of rules, regulations, laws, etc.] can cause many problems with respect to appropriate fairness in practical application. Pick any instance in which common sense plainly reveals the call for an exception to apply—for reasons of fairness, mercy, humanity, compassion, expediency, scale, or so forth. We looked at a cause for outrage to the tune of President Trump’s Travel Ban (see Change Condition 4: INSIGHT). Sadly, rarely does DQ have the flexibility to accommodate much notion of timely forbearance. By virtue of Blue‘s blunt-instrument nature, the potential for local instances of injustice must be acknowledged as an ever-present concern, and vigilantly guarded against.
The Law of Unintended Consequences?
Traditionalists in the United Methodist Church [UMC] overtly intend to stand by the biblical definition of marriage, e.g., being a covenant between a man and a woman. This is a norm shared by religions of every description and the vast majority of human beings on planet earth. The intended consequences of taking that stand could easily be quite narrow and limited to simply marriage. In the UMC, however, whether the result is of overt intention, or not, the traditional stand extends well beyond the definition of marriage to include demonization of minority sexual-identities. This move conflates two distinct issues and is, I think, a rather difficult stretch on Biblical grounds. I will leave it to the good work of many scholars over the past fifty years to provide those arguments. They’ve laid solid Biblical grounding for full, unconditional LGBT+ inclusion. Suffice it to say, attempting to export traditional proscriptions against particular sexual identities into many of our contemporary contexts is fraught with problems. Of course, as in Saint Paul’s pederasty concerns, power differentials ought always be the central issue with regard to discerning problematic human relations, sexual or otherwise.
Blue‘s fierce demons
One Blue demon (a control spirit) also has a category designation: homophobia—a particular form of fear/control. First, let’s back up a bit so we can see clearly where lines get crossed. We’ve said that one value of DQ is its ethnocentric orientation—Blue creates cultural communities of insiders and outsiders. Let’s say, for instance, that you are a cisgendered, straight, white male. That is totally fine, many people are. Let’s go another step and claim that it is fine for you to gather these characteristics into a proud, personal identify—to believe it, and to behave it. Further, it’s even fine to gather together into a voluntarily exclusive group with other cisgendered, straight, white males for the purpose of recognizing and celebrating your shared cisgenderedness, maleness, straightness, and whiteness. Narrow perhaps, but still no problem. However, a caution here as a group made of these demographics is particularly vulnerable to a couple of especially wicked kinds of demons—e.g., racism and homophobia.
We’ve looked a good bit at racism and white supremacy (see “Like a rainbow“), so, here we’ll focus on the homophobia demon. The presence and possession of the homophobia demon is evidenced when an individual, or group like the one described above, crosses the control line. Expecting all others to conform to behavioral boundaries native to one’s own narrow identity is an extreme, sinful overreach of control. If a particular set of behaviors helps one to conform to their personal and/or group identity, that’s not a problem: believe it, and behave it! However, expecting others to conform their behaviors to one’s own identity is a sinful overreach of control—in this instance, the tyrannical expression of a homophobia demon. Discounting the native reality of LGBT+ persons, homophobic persons/groups reflect the power of privilege and their’s is the sin of those possessed by a control spirit. Blue‘s neighbor values attractor, Orange [ER], expresses rational, scientific values and loves to empirically study how one thing effects another. Ironically, it was this science that convinced me of demons. Let’s turn to that.
From a 2018 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention entitled: “Association of Religiosity With Sexual Minority Suicide Ideation and Attempt”
Overall, increased importance of religion was associated with higher odds of recent suicide ideation for both gay/lesbian and questioning students. The association between sexual orientation and self-directed violence were mixed and varied by strata. Lesbian/gay students who viewed religion as very important had greater odds for recent suicidal ideation and lifetime suicide attempt compared with heterosexual individuals. Bisexual and questioning sexual orientations were significantly associated with recent suicide ideation, recent attempt, and lifetime attempt across all strata of religious importance, but the strongest effects were among those who reported that religion was very important.
“Religion has typically been seen as something that would protect somebody from thoughts of suicide or trying to kill themselves, and in our study our evidence suggests that may not be the case for everyone, particularly for those we refer to as sexual minority people,” said, John Blosnich, one of the CDC study authors. As I said, this is the point through which I realized that spiritual warfare is perhaps the only way to explain Blue blindness in this instance. We’ve talked about the increased frequency of psychotic response by those in a serious GAMMA Trap. In “Being stuck” I quoted Beck and Cowan:
The GAMMA Trap spawns psychopathic rather than neurotic behaviors, ranging from forms of self-destructiveness (wild-and-crazy acting out and even suicide) to morbid anti-social acts (crime, vicious personal attacks, homicide, and terrorism.)
I wonder, is there any more extreme form of deadly GAMMA Trap that we could possibly lead our children into than, “You will spend Eternity in Hell if you try to be genuine in who you are and in who you love?”
Kodak had a shadow…
Kodak must have had a demon keeping them blind, too. Then photographic industry leader, Kodak, invented digital photography in 1975—Kodak engineer, Steven Sasson, created the first digital camera. One would think that would have insured a very bright future for the film giant. But that’s really the whole point as Kodak is all but out of business today because of its lack of ability to see the future back in 1975. They were very sure of their legacy. They were very sure they were in control and knew how reality was supposed to work. So, they didn’t do anything with digital imaging. Later, Sasson, told the NY Times: “They [Kodak] were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.”
Next week: Do no harm [conclusion]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?