God weeps

Overlooking the ultra-orthodox Jewish girls’  school which is next door to our apartment block, we see a lot of people from that tradition. They are quiet, polite, shy, law-abiding folk who live their lives, and live out their fervent culture, in ways which are distinct from the diverse communities around them.

I know little about their culture, and about the way they manage their lives. They don’t interfere with us, nor we with them. They avoid our gaze and carry on their lives within the strong, supportive traditions they inherited from their ancestors. No doubt they are – as most people are – generally decent people trying to do the right thing.

This morning I happened on a piece in the magazine on the BBC website which reduced me to tears – of sadness, sympathy and a confusion of other emotions up to and including impotent rage. It is so eloquently written that I cannot attempt to improve on it as a cry of pain and a plea for understanding. Click on the highlighted words to follow the link.

It is playtime in the school next door. Soon it will be warm enough to keep our windows open during the day, and we won’t escape the sound of a couple of hundred lively young girls running around playing and generally horsing around. Which of them (for there will be some) will grow up to suffer in the same way as this sad lady? Almost certainly they will get husbands: which of them, too, will suffer the way this lady’s husband must be suffering?

Over the past couple of days, just in the course of two ordinary conversations and for no particular reason, I found myself saying to two dear friends that I believed the most important word in the English language is compassion.

I will return to that theme, but today I feel it even more strongly. See what you think.

 

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10 thoughts on “God weeps

  1. Hi Alan,

    Cultures like this and actually several others treat their members (especially women) so badly in my view that they lose my respect! It is actually not that different in they it behaves to some of the really way out and controlling supposedly christian sects. Bottom line for me is to conform to the laws of the country and to respect what most of the world thinks as basic human rights

    BW

    Brian

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    1. Indeed, Brian – and my underlying emotion is uncontrolled rage. I wrote more temperately because today I can only feel terrible pain for this sad lady and her family in the fearful dilemmas which confront them. The subject is close to home because, as I expect you know, I have for four years now been in a same-sex relationship, in which I am extremely comfortable, and it’s my dearest wish that everyone – in this country at least – should be able to enjoy the freedoms we do. Only very rarely have we ever been led to feel uncomfortable, in company or in front of the general public. When we do, sadly religion is usually involved – and God weeps.

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  2. What is not always apparent is that these cults potentially treat ALL their members badly, in that they have very restricted views about what is acceptable and what is not, in terms of behaviour, dress, sexuality, leisure activity, gender roles,- all are very defined and limited. The cult then reinforces these limits by describing them as religious requirements, and unbelievable threats to those who question, let alone have the courage to leave. The most obvious of these is ” You will never see your children again!”, but also threats to kill, ” when you are in the outside world, they will all laugh at you, you will be despised and mocked,” ” You should commit suicide- it would be better for you and your family”. ( All of these are direct quotations). Unfortunately, most people within have had little real exposure to the outside world and believe the picture painted by “The Controllers”. If people do leave, Court Cases can be very difficult, as there is a lot of deference to the “right to freedom of religion”, so it can be difficult to prove it is better for children to see both parents when it is undeniably true that the children may be bullied- and find it difficult to make a good marriage- if one of their parents has left the community and is gay/transgender/become secular.The fact that this is colluding with illegal discrimination is outgunned by “the Children’s best interests”

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  3. Quite so, Lorna. The dilemmas are multiple, and terrible. I could only feel pain for this couple and the impossible choices they are likely to have to make. It is an appalling form of torture, which – not Jewish but any kind of fundamentalist – people cannot resist inflicting on their fellows. There seems to be no answer, and no end. Pain and rage are very similar emotions, aren’t they?

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  4. Alan

    Coincidentally, I have just read a summary of the piece you must be referring to on the BBC website. Sometimes I despair of what is done or said in the name of religion – and then there is politics, business, society in general. These are all refined (or maybe not at all refined) forms of bullying to grind down the human spirit. They have existed from early times but what is so painful is that they still happen now.

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    1. Indeed. I recommend the article itself as a simple, fearfully painful description of how this lady, and her husband, feel and the dilemmas they know they (and soon their children) face. It is a tragedy that so many people in the world are crushed and controlled by pre-scientific tribal attitudes, which as you say survive in most faith traditions (except Buddhism in this instance), and among people of no faith at all. One has to wonder what happened to people in their lives, and why perhaps they hate themselves so much, to cause them to treat their fellows so.

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  5. I am not from an ultra religious background as this poor woman is. But I was raised Foursquare Pentecostal and I am currently attending a Foursquare church. I struggled for many years with being a Christian and a lesbian. I would hide it and at one point I became “OK” with settling to be with a man or becoming celibate. A pastor had mentioned to my sister that homosexuality needed to prayed for just like alcoholism. After years of trying to pray my gay away, I received an answer I did not expect. My answer was to accept who I am. I was made this way. I have never been closer to God now that I’ve accepted myself. Just like the lady in the story, I don’t believe I should have to give up my God because others do not agree with who I am.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

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    1. Miss Vee, I am not aware of all the “evidence” which forms the basis for the Christian antagonism to gay relationship, but I don’t think it is mentioned at all in the Gospels- perhaps only in the letters? However, On the “Old testament” stuff about lying with a man as with a woman being an abomination , I have heard a Rabbi explain that it is a misinterpretation of the Hebrew, both the translation of “abomination” , and the ” lying with a man as with a woman” being words/phrases that are used in other contexts to have a somewhat different meanings, but these phrases are so fixed in people’s minds that they are unable to recognise that they are mis-translations.

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  6. I have heard of misinterpretations as well. In my lifetime, I have not truly sat down and studied the Bible until I came out to myself. Which I find is another miracle that God has placed on my heart because of my homosexuality. I have read through my studies that Jesus had not once mentioned anything against homosexuals. And also the translations from Greek are not accurate as well. I just feel that many heterosexual Christians can find it easy to say that it’s in the Bible without truly studying it and going to the source. I am very sad when I hear the Bible being used as a weapon to justify hate and discrimination. Which is not the point of Jesus’ teachings at all!

    Thank you for replying to my comment, Lorna.

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