In the world of religion there can be a number of do’s and do not’s, which in a better lack of terms the do not’s are described as sinful. Being gay or lesbian in the Christian community is acknowledged as a sin; God speaks about man and woman, not woman and woman or man and man joining as one. There are so many excerpts stating” thou shall not” –exodus 20:13 The Bible ….well I think you are familiar with that scripture! I took the opportunity to challenge the old saying “come as you are”; in the church, pastors communicate with their congregation that God is a non-judging God and you should come as you are in the house of the lord. Are we welcomed as a lesbian couple, I wonder!
On Sunday, 11 o’clock in the morning, I entered Community Baptist Church in Compton, California. Seniors citizens, sixty-five and older, middle age folk thirty-five and older, with children present too surrounding me. In the morning service, our church choir is present, along with the deacon board and our motherboard. Community Baptist Church attendees are majority African American. This church was the church that I grew up in from elementary thru high school, and occasional visits throughout my adult life thus far. As I am known throughout the church as a heterosexual woman, I make my way into the church of Christ as a homosexual woman in a lesbian relationship, accompanied by my best friend. Something different and sinful is about to enter the church of Christ.
This experiment was chosen to be conducted in the church to prove have hypercritical the church society can be toward Gods children based on the lifestyle that symbolizes gay and lesbian behavior; I also wanted to show that depending the location of this behavior, living a gay lifestyle can be considered deviant; especially in the church. There have been a number of different churches that I have attended.The pastor will speak on being gay or lesbian is a sin, but at the same time, he/she preaches that God does not judge one. Come as you are. In my experiment, my act is deviant because it is a sin to be gay but defiantly displays deviance because, I am exposing my lifestyle to a younger generation, children, who can be very impressionable and confusing, since in a “normal relationship” it is taught that man and woman are joined as one.
As we walked in Sunday morning for our 11o’clock service, arriving to the front porch of the church, the morning seems to begin as any other morning had when I attended church. A bunch of hello’s and good mornings from our sisters and brothers. A change of pace was about to occur. We reached downward, grabbed each other’s hand, with our jackets now removed, and begin to be seated by the ushers. As we began our journey down the aisle to be seated, my best friend notice the old ladies who were directing us, began to whisper; they nudged one another to alert the other one of our hand holding. The next thing we knew, maybe then I was experience some paranoia, I notice people looking back at us. These were looks of confusion and discontent. Reminding you of our symbolization of handholding, this possibly displayed a message of being a lesbian couple. Nevertheless, we would like to mention as I explained the removal of our jackets I fail to indicate, we wore white tee shirts that displayed the colorful rainbow across our shirts. However, we remained content and continue to listen to the start of the message that was communicated on this Sunday morning.
We were whispering from time to time to each other what we both were experiencing coming from different directions of the church. Finally, after about twenty five to thirty minutes, I felt a very gentle tap on my left shoulder; it was a tap from a person that seemed to be older than we were; but unfamiliar to me as a person I had never seen before. She stated to my best friend and I “you are Gods children and God loves you no matter what”- Sister Nalley, I rather chuckled for a second because in that instance I wanted to remind her of different scriptures in the bible reminding us that our lifestyle was a sin. Deviance has many different functions depending on what society considers being normal or abnormal. Based on the location or the situation a person or group is occupying. Being bipolar can definitely be a function of deviant behavior, because it displays a form of dysfunctional by society, because its behavior or actions are not the norm of a functional human being. Another function of deviance, can be a person standing up for what they believe in, at a rally of some sort; that individual can and has displayed animated deviant behavior. Sanctions show to be a reaction to a person or groups deviant behavior.
These sanctions are to communicate with the group or individual that their deviant behavior is either positive or negative. Positive sanctions are accepted within a community as a norm. I chose George Herbert Mead as my theorist to explain my breaching experiment. George Herbert Mead perspectives were symbolic interactionism. I those this theorist because he spoke about symbols, signs, gestures, written language and shared values. I felt that my symbolic tee shirt fit right into the words of Mr. Mead, “in social encounters each person interpretation of definition of a given situation becomes a subjective reality from that persons view point.” –George Herbert Mead, sociology in our times, the essentials, Author- Diana Kendall. I wanted to focus on George Herbert Mead and his concepts and theories because, his focus point was on the micro level, analyzing the smaller group; in my breaching experiment, the church is our focus of deviant behavior. Displaying a homosexual relationship in an environment where it is not warranted; in my experiment, symbols were the key to communicating and interacting with my congregation without verbal communication.
Meads theory states, “Symbols are instrumental in helping people derive meanings from social interactions”-Sociology in Our Times, the essentials 7th edition. At the end of the day and by the end of this breaching experiment, I realize hypocrisy lives by the majority of the micro level society. People tend to judge you, even when not really knowing or understanding the lesbian lifestyle, if that is what we really set out to symbolize. Our pastor who preached that Sunday morning, decided to include in his sermon that”God loves every lifestyle, and if you need forgiveness just pray”! It seemed as though that message was pointed toward the gay couple sitting in the pew. Although I am not gay nor is my best friend, we thought walking in the church and symbolizing our love as friends and representing the gay community, could send a message to the Christian community. Being gay does not display deviant behavior to all, but has been, and probably will continue being conceived as deviant behavior, based on what society considers being the norm.