By Noah Manskar
When I first saw the evangelizing subjects of page three’s story at the end of the JAYwalk last Wednesday, I just rolled my eyes.
I would say most of the Ohio Wesleyan community understands the danger of the theology whose signs symbolically equate God’s love to the bloody face of Jesus Christ; and I admire and commend the brave students who stood opposite them engaging in assertive dialogue and soliciting honks from “pro-love” passersby.
But the serendipitous performance of “The Stonewater Rapture” this past weekend showed, to me, how such a doctrine is the social and moral antithesis of the Christian Gospel and how human beings should treat each other.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was the publicity head for that production, and the director, Claire Hackett, is my girlfriend.
In the play, eighteen-year-old Whitney and Carlyle explore their sexualities in a Texas town where a similar doctrine permeates their lives and beliefs.
The belief in an angry, jealous God who punishes sex that isn’t heterosexual and procreative forces Carlyle to cope with a gang rape by interpreting it as a spiritual experience. It makes Whitney hate himself because he thinks he might have sexual feelings toward a man. And it enforces a severe sexual double standard that results in the aforementioned gang rape—the men can take whomever they want as sexual toys, while the women must remain virginal and guilty.
Religion isn’t the only cause of the incredible problems Whitney and Carlyle face, but its dominance in their environment makes fertile ground for their dire situation’s roots. The parodoxical doctrine of internalized hate and judgment resulting from God’s love is the trunk from which the branches of violence and alienation grow in Stonewater.
The play and the pastors’ visit last week make it clear to me that it’s imperative we create a community impermeable to this doctrine’s influence. It germinate division and fear in people of all beliefs and non-beliefs. Neither is a products of love, the glue of true community.