Podcasts/Sacred Tension-Heavy Burdens FINAL6sv8t

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Heavy_Burdens_FINAL6sv8t SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, sex, sexuality, church, long, luther, podcast, book, gay, sodomy, heavy burdens, celibacy, read, spaciousness, sexually, idea, sexual revolution, understood, world, space SPEAKERS Will, Stephen Bradford Long, Bridget Eileen Rivera

Will 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast. Hey, I'm Will and they call me the doctor. And I'm Joe, the maestro, we host a podcast called common creatives, where we break apart the art, we love to see what makes it tick. Basically, we give you the definitive take on whatever or whoever we're discussing, you don't need to go anywhere else. So check out common creatives wherever you listen to podcasts.

Stephen Bradford Long 00:33 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. Well, as always, before we get started, we just have a few pieces of housekeeping first, one of the best ways to support this show is to leave a five star review on Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth sharing to new people. So I will read a five star review. This is from Grace, ooh, it from Great Britain, on Apple podcasts. And they say really interesting and authentic podcast, full of honesty and heart and quite funny too, at times, explores tension well, and I look forward to every episode. Very sweet, short and sweet. And I so appreciate it. And it if you have just five minutes to write a review, if you enjoy the show, if you look forward to it every Saturday morning, then please consider writing a review. Also, another really great way to support the show is to support me directly on patreon.com You can go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. And for $1 $3 $5 a month you get extra content every week, you get access to my live stream podcast house of heretics with the former Salvation Army officer Timothy McPherson turn to Christian heretic and we talk about all sorts of things from politics to religion to film whatever's going on in the world that week. And finally, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. If you are into the occult, into ritual into lectures, live streams, conversations, there is all kinds of fascinating stuff going on at the satanic temple.tv. TST has an incredibly creative and interesting community. And they're doing all kinds of stuff over on that platform. So you get one month free by using my promo code, sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout. All right, well, with all of that finally out of the way, I'm delighted to welcome Bridget Eileen Rivera to the show. Hello, how are you?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 03:03 I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me.

Stephen Bradford Long 03:07 So, I expect that this might be a different type of podcast than you're used to appearing on, which is great. That's wonderful. So before we get started, tell us some about who you are and what you do.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 03:26 Yeah, so um, well, we already said my name. My name is Bridget Eileen Rivera, and I do a lot of advocacy for LGBTQ issues in the Christian church. So podcasts that I'm used to being on definitely tend to run in the conservative Christian vein of things, because that's kind of my like, my focus is really speaking to conservative churches that are in the more kind of traditional realm of theology and belief and practice. I do a lot of advocacy with churches that are, I guess, kind of just still figuring it out with LGBTQ issues and not quite sure what to do with themselves or what to think or how to do things. So I do a lot of advocacy in that realm. And I'm currently getting my PhD in Sociology and I just wrote a book that just came out in October called heavy

Stephen Bradford Long 04:37 burdens. Am I hearing a creature causing havoc in your room? Right? Oh my gosh, it's totally No, no, no, don't don't feel bad. We adore pets. We love animals on this show. At least once during at each show, an animal interrupts the podcast, so it's great. Anyway, you have a fantastic book It is called heavy burdens seven ways LGBT people experience harm in the church. Did I get the title? Right? Yes. So the title, I have been reading it, I am also in it, I will out myself out myself as one of the people who is in your book. And also thank you so much for you know, being willing to come hang out with a bunch of degenerates like us a bunch of Satanists and pagans and atheists. I really appreciate it.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 05:26 I, you know, I think I told you this the first time we ever spoke, I did not know much about Satanism prior to speaking with you, actually. And then after talking that kind of, like, you know, sparked a lot of curiosity for me, because, you know, I just hadn't really known much about it. But prior to meeting you, the only thing that I really knew about Satanism was just this brilliant thing. And so sorry. Normally, she's normally she's sleeping around this.

Stephen Bradford Long 06:04 It's totally so no, I love Ambien. Ambien Pet Sounds are great.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 06:14 But yeah, the only other thing that I had ever known was this amazing thing that happened in Oklahoma where like Oklahoma had had this like whole thing saying, we were gonna have the 10 command. That's right. Courtroom doors or whatever. And so like the local Satanists, statutes that

Stephen Bradford Long 06:36 was us that was yeah, that was that was bad. That was the Baphomet statue. Yeah, that was us that that's the Satanic Temple. We are. We're known for a lot of our political activism. But yeah, perfect. Well, I'm glad that that left a good taste in your mouth. I'm glad that that you appreciated that.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 06:56 I did. I very much did. And it just in general has like made me I think, just more interested in learning more, I guess,

Stephen Bradford Long 07:04 perfect. Well as as a minister of Satan, I am obligated to answer everyone's questions about Satanism. So any, anytime you have a question, just let me know. But, you know, your book is I just have to say this about your book, it is incredibly lucid, and well written. So congratulations on writing a like an impressively well written book, because I have read an unspeakable number of books in this genre in in kind of this niche sub genre of faith and sexuality, because that is the world that I come from, that's how I got my start as a writer, that's how I, you know, got my name out there as a content creator was covering this issue. So I have read an ungodly number of books. And honestly, your book is just, it's it's lucid, it is to the point it is incredibly well written. So congratulations on having written a very, very good piece of writing.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 08:05 Oh, thank you. I appreciate that.

Stephen Bradford Long 08:08 What is so so you, I think, probably come from a different background than I do. And so you are from, I guess what we would call more of the traditional ethic, traditional Christian ethic, whereas I am not, I'm kind of before I left Christianity, I was fully on board with not with not being celibate. But I think that our principles here kind of unite us in that what we both want, is for LGBT people to experience less harm in religious settings. And so even though we might be coming to this from different theological backgrounds and different different priors, I think that at least the sense that I get while reading your book is oh, we actually have a lot of overlap, we have a lot of shared values and in not wanting to perpetuate harm among young LGBTQ people. So I think that we can kind of move forward with this conversation with that understanding that we have that that those shared values and shared goals. So one of the really interesting things about your book, you start, the first part of the book is about celibacy. And the ways in which the church sets LGBTQ people up for failure when it comes to celibacy. And you you have this approach to it that I haven't really heard before, which kind of ropes in the Reformation and the reformers. Can you talk some about that?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 09:57 Yeah. So that's it. exactly where the book starts. I start with the Reformation. And I kind of take that as Ground Zero to understanding why we are where we are today. And I do that because the Reformation really represents a focal point for how most Protestants and even lay Catholics, not necessarily the Catholic Church. But I would say many, if not most, like Catholics understand sexuality, the Protestant Reformation represents a turning point in that Martin Luther introduced the idea that sex is necessary that sex is an essential part of what it means to be a human being. And that denying someone's sexual activity is akin to denying them food, or water, or the basic necessities of life. This is not really recognized very much in Christian circles, if at all, because I think the focus is typically on this idea that Martin Luther got rid of the requirement for priests to be celibate, that's typically how it's talked about. What's never necessarily acknowledged is that is how Luther got rid of this requirement for priests to be celibate,

Stephen Bradford Long 11:38 really. So in other words, he really launched like a sexual revolution.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 11:43 Yeah, so that's what I call it in my book, reformation. Yeah, I call it the Protestant sexual revolution, because that's what it was.

Stephen Bradford Long 11:51 And so what was the view of sexuality prior to Luther revolutionising the vision of sex, our our understanding of sex as kind of any central component of human nature.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 12:04 So in the West, prior to Luther coming onto the scene, it was very much the understanding of sexuality was very much dominated by medieval Catholic thought. And medieval Catholic teaching, taught that sex was the vehicle through which Original Sin passed down from parent to child to grant child. And so this teaching had evolved over the centuries until it got to a point where such sexual intercourse was understood to be a sin in almost

Stephen Bradford Long 12:50 all states. Even even in a married even Yeah, in the married setting.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 12:56 Yeah, okay. Even marital sexual intercourse was considered to be almost always sinful, unless you could accomplish the sexual act, apart from sexual desire, because if you had sexual desire, then you you were engaging in carnality, you were engaging in the flesh. And so sexual intercourse had to be accomplished, apart from sexual desire. By the time of Luther, there were all of these laws, all of these restrictions, all of these limitations on when you could have sex. When you first got married view, you know, had to have a time where you consummated the wedding vows, but then you were also expected to not have sex for a period thereafter. There were only certain days during the week where you could have sex all other days.

Stephen Bradford Long 13:51 Which which days, which days? Were you allowed to have sex pre reverend? No,

Bridget Eileen Rivera 13:56 I'm not. I'm not recalling Exactly. Because again, it was extremely complicated. And this is one of the things that I talked about in my book. It was extremely complicated to figure out when you could have sex because you could not have sex on any days where maths like was held that you know, the holy service was being held. So Sunday's were off Wednesdays were off. I think Thursdays we're off to probably high holy days as well. And yeah, any any holy day, no sex was allowed because it's a holy day. So you can't be having sex on a holy day. But then there were also like, you know, exceptions to this during certain times of the year. So like during Lent, you could not be having sex at all period. There was just like this whole maze of rules and regulations around sexual activity, again, all to restrict it to the point where sex was not happening unless you were going to have a baby. All to like pro prevent people from having sex to make sure that sex was happening as little as possible. And when you did have sex, you could not actually want to have sex, the purpose had to be just functional just to have a child. And that was it. Now, whether or not people follow these rules is like a whole nother question. I, I think it's, it's pretty well established historically that most people didn't, because it was impossible. However, if you were really trying to be pious, if you were really trying to follow the church, then you would, and when you broke, you would try at least and when you broke the rules, you would just be filled with extreme shame, extreme fear for your soul. And it would be just this very kind of fearful, like, oh my gosh, like, I have sinned, I should not have had sex

Stephen Bradford Long 16:00 and grace. Grace has died within you until your next confession. Yeah,

Bridget Eileen Rivera 16:05 yeah, exactly. And this was the case for everyone. And then it just how it's how it was understood.

Stephen Bradford Long 16:12 No, no, just because I'm curious. And we're kind of going off on a tangent, but I just find this so fascinating. was, I assumed that these sexual prohibitions were applied to everyone, regardless of class. Is that right? So? So everyone, from so theologically, from peasant, all the way up to royalty, everyone had to follow this?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 16:34 Yes. Yeah. From a theological perspective. Yes. You know, I think in terms of in terms of like, how it was actually put in practice, there was, and this is something that Luther criticized a lot, there was a lot of corruption in the Catholic Church. And so if you had a lot of money, then you could pay the church to, like, let you, for example, get married to someone that like you shouldn't get married to, or like, you know, things like that you could pay the church to make exceptions to whatever theological rules you're supposed to be following. So there were things like that going on. Right? Which Luther used as further evidence to show that these rules that the Catholic Church had in place, we're just, we're just corrupt. They were not from Scripture at all.

Stephen Bradford Long 17:24 It's fascinating. So Luther, kind of Institute's this extraordinary sexual revolution, where suddenly humanity and sexuality could be integrated to a degree, it's like, you can, within the context of a marriage, you can enjoy sex, you can indulge in your lust for your spouse, and it is not sinful, you can indulge in that criminality as long as the container is correct. Right. And that is revolutionary for the time. And Stan, you kind of chart how this has continued to the current to the modern day, how you know, Protestants, celebrates sex, and how it is. And kind of the sensuality within the context of marriage is seen as essential. It is seen as wonderful, it is seen as joyous. And all of these great things, all of which I happen to agree with. I think sex is pretty fucking great. And how, how does this get turned though into a weapon against LGBT people? Maybe not deliberately, but how does this end up hurting LGBTQ people?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 18:45 Yeah, well, you know, it's, it's actually kind of interesting, and a little bit lopsided, because on the one hand, Luthor is saying that sex is necessary. And this becomes the logic for why divorce is okay, in situations where a spouse is not able to sexually satisfy you. Because if you're experiencing sexual attraction, you can't be expected to be married to someone that you're not sexually attracted to, like, you know, this. And so like sexual attraction takes this level of importance that had never taken before in marriage. Now, you're expected to actually marry someone that you're sexually attracted to. And that's like seen as normal and like, of course, that's what you should do. And so there's this new understanding of sexual attraction as not just being a good thing, but also being what compels us to have sex. And so you know, all of the like logic and groundwork is laid right then in there for the church. To be like, Okay, well, these people over here aren't sexually attracted to anyone of the opposite sex, they're attracted to a person of the same sex. Okay? Well, we all just said that it's necessary to have sex with someone that you're sexually attracted to. So therefore, it should be okay. All of the logic and the rationale is kind of laid there for people to just be okay with homosexuality. But it actually takes a different turn. And it kind of in a lot of ways gets caught up in a lot of the colonial impulses that were going on. At the same time, a lot of, I guess, scientific racism that was happening at the time. And so because what we see happening is because Luther so intimately connected sexuality to human nature, he he actually was the first to propose this idea that human beings don't act sexual human beings are sexual, like this is an essential component to human identity. And

Stephen Bradford Long 21:21 can I just say, it's sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. It was It is so illuminating for me reading your book, because it it helped me understand where my ideas came from. And what I also appreciate about your book is you don't at least so far in the book, you don't adjudicate as to whether it's right or wrong. Instead, you're it's like, you're a good sociologist, and you withhold judgment, and you and you withhold judgment. And you're just like, these are the ideas, here's where they come from, here are the positive and negative consequences. And, and I just so appreciate that. And so that's a further vote in favor of your book. So no, it's just incredibly illuminating for me to trace these ideas and be like, Oh, that's where because I that was my argument. When I was writing in 2013. That was my argument that celibacy is a heavy burden within the context that we are sexual beings. And so and so it's literally here it you know, reading Martin Luther seydel, like the exact same fucking thing 500 years ago, is, is incredibly illuminating for me. So anyway, I didn't mean to interrupt, but it's fascinating.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 22:35 Yeah. And just to piggyback on that, that's the thing is like, you read some of these arguments that were being used by the reformers. And not just Luther, but Calvin and like all of their process lights, and like, their arguments sound a heck of a whole lot, very similar to the types of arguments that are made today and support for affirming same sex marriage. For affirming same sex relationships and all of these things. It's like, they sound so similar, like almost word for word. Yes. And that's word for word. And I do have a section in my book where I do a comparison. Yes, yes, you do. I remember that. It's so similar. And it's wild. Like if I were to take Luthers words, and like, copy, paste them onto Twitter. And like, in like, instead, like, fill in the parts where he talks about marriage and just say gay marriage, like, it would be like, it would be identical, like people would be like, okay, she's making this argument. But anyhow, um, so to get back to the idea of sexual identity, Luther was really the first one to bring this to the world stage. In the West, this idea that human beings don't act sexual human beings are sexual, this is intrinsic to human identity. And so, that kind of arrived at the same time of colonial expansion happening at the same time as the scientific revolution, and the development of scientific racism. And so, the idea developed, that, if you are sexually pure, then that reflects a pure human identity or a a good human identity. If you are a bad human being in any way, shape or form, then you are going to have a sexually impure identity like you are going to have a sexuality that is perverse in some way. And so this led to the idea that people from the Africa, African region from the Americas indigenous people, were inherently sexually perverse because they were not white. And because they're because their identity was regressive. According to scientific racism, these, these people were regressive human beings in some way, they weren't fully developed as far as the white race. And this was why they were inherently sexually perverse. And so basically a perverted human identity is reflected in a perverted human sexuality,

Stephen Bradford Long 25:46 because, according to Luther, we are sexual.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 25:50 Yeah, because we are sexual beings, your sexuality will reflect the type of human being that you are,

Stephen Bradford Long 25:57 right. So so because of this marriage, between sexuality and humanity, that that Martin Luther brought in it was, you know, brought into existence through his reformation, you know, reformation sexual revolution, that could be twisted by scientific racism, to basically be like, Okay, well, now sexuality is an essential component of humanity. If someone has a sexual, quote, unquote, sexual deviant by Western standards, that means that they are an inferior human being.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 26:34 Yes, yes, exactly. That is exactly what happened. And so that just kind of developed and continued over generations until you get to Freud. And Freud develops his whole conception of sexuality as an orientation. And if you are heterosexual, it's because you developed as a normal human being if you are homosexual, or bisexual, it's because there is something that arrested your development, something messed you up. And that, you know, became the almost unanimous way of thinking about sexuality for many, many years, people just, you know, Freud was so popular, he was so influential, a lot of this stuff just became just taken for granted. And so, this was what ultimately led to the development of this idea that we could cure homosexuality, if we could identify what happened to this person in their development that messed them up and made them you know, sexually perverted in some way, then we can fix them, we can undo whatever that was, and make them normal. And so you know, that led to all sorts of atrocities during World War Two, a lot of experiments on gay people is a lot of horrible things. Love botany is just really terrible stuff were done to gay people in the name of curing them to make them heterosexual. And that ultimately, is the precursor to the ex gay movement, and conversion therapy, which, you know, promised to heal people, based almost entirely on the same film based almost entirely on the same framework developed by Freud, except with the added element of Jesus and prayer and spirituality, and Bible verses. And so it's really interesting looking at conversion therapy manuals, ex gay rhetoric, it's all Freudian word for word, all of its Freud with, you know, added elements of Christianity added on top, you know, like, we're gonna pray or we're going to, you know, ask God for healing and things like that, but at its at its heart is it's all relying upon this Freudian conception of human identity.

Stephen Bradford Long 29:28 So I survived the ex gay world as a teenager and fucked me up massively, as can be expected, but you're exactly right. Like how old fashioned old like It's like old psychoanalysis. painted with a gloss of evangelical Christianity, and contemporary Christian music on top of it, at least that's the way that's the way Exodus International was Yeah. And so one way in which the sexual, the Protestant sexual revolution has shaped, you know, has led to harm can LGBTQ people is, while there was what I think is the positive turn towards humanizing sexuality, scientific racism comes in and lays down the groundwork for villainizing human sexuality. And, and then that gets put on to LGBT people. So there's that way in which LGBT people experience harm. Yeah. And then there's another way, which is, the thing that is deemed essential in the church is cut off from LGBT people. And this was my experience where, you know, I was surrounded by a culture of celebrating marriage, and celebrating sexuality. I mean, the Protestant Protestants have a reputation for being anti sex. They are so very not. Yea, they are, they are the some of the most sexy people alive on this planet, like, they fucking love sex. And so I, I was just, you know, surrounded by this culture of sex, and sexuality and marriage are the most, some of the most wonderful things on the planet. And guess what, by no choice of your own, you are barred from it. And it placed me and not just are you barred from it, there is something fundamentally broken about you, because of your orientation, there's something fundamentally wrong and damaged. And, and, you know, back when I was writing in 2013, I just encouraged people to consider the ramifications of that, like, think about this, you are telling her a population the size of a country and the size of an entire country worldwide? Hmm, do not marry do not date do not have sex? What are the what are the implications of that? Not just for them, but for all of humanity. The consequences are gargantuan for that. And it's, it's cruel, it's inhuman to not acknowledge the heavy burden of that. At least that's my opinion.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 32:57 No, and I agree with you. I agree. Excuse me. I completely agree with you. Yeah, I think you're exactly right. The church has this setup, where what it tells people is the greatest thing in the world is like, you can't have it. And that's just that, and you're just gonna have to figure out how to live and be happy without the thing that makes everybody else happy in their life and gives their life meaning. Because legitimately, when you're in church, that's all anybody ever talks about giving their life meaning they're wonderful husband, their beautiful wife, their children, their grandchildren, and, you know, finding meaning in that being faithful to your family. And you know, that and like family, first, all of these thoughts that like center around being married to someone and having children and like, those things are completely cut off from you, you can't have any of those things that we identify as being intrinsic to human happiness. And we're not going to bother helping you figure out what that means for your life, either because we don't care because it doesn't affect us.

Stephen Bradford Long 34:18 Exactly. Well, it's the end. And, you know, part of you know, I mentioned before we started recording that I'm, I said half jokingly, like I'm teetering on the edge of like a mental health crisis right now. But that's the case. Every winter for me in part because, you know, Christmas and Thanksgiving, we're always holidays, celebrating family. And so it's like I have all of these nieces and nephews and all of my siblings are married and my parents are just like, fawning. And, and every Christmas there was just this deep, deep, deep sense of being cut off. From in a way that just made me want to crawl under the bed and die. And, you know, it was like my, my internalized homophobia and self loathing and shame just would flare up in this debilitating way, during the holidays every single year, because it's like, it was like looking at looking at the world from solitary confinement through a glass window. And it just destroyed me. But also, you know what you were saying? It isn't just the church. I mean, I forget where I read this. And you would probably know more about this, because you're the sociologist, and I'm just an idiot with a microphone. But you know, I've I've read that some studies demonstrate that people who are partnered whether life crises better, that the social ties that come from being partnered, when they get fired, when there's a financial crisis, when there's a death, when there is a whatever people who are partnered tend to have greater emotional resiliency, and bounce back faster. 100%. So, so if we live in a world where that for good or for ill is the case. And then we set up zero support for LGBTQ people while saying you can't have that it. It is the epitome of what Christ said when he said you when he accused the Pharisees of, of laying heavy burdens around the necks of people and then not lifting a finger to help them. It is a definition of that.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 36:45 Yeah, yeah, exactly. And that's exactly what is going on. In the church. Nobody would ever like no straight person have I ever spoken to, would ever agree to the deal that is given to gay people. Yeah, that church, there will, yeah, like I have not yet met a straight person who would agree to the deal that is laid down to gay people. And yet, it is just the status quo for churches to nevertheless deny this thing that they would never accept for themselves to so many people. And it's such a hot now, amazing example of how people are able to just tune out the needs of other people when it doesn't affect them. If I were to tell a straight person, no more sex for the rest of your life, or you will incur God's judgment. If I were to tell a straight person that they and like the straight person believed me, like, they would not be able to, like live with themselves. Like, I'm telling them that their entire life is invalidated. And yet, this is what is being told to gay people day in and day out. And it's just, it just doesn't make sense. And especially doesn't make sense, given the theology that Christians already have, and believe. And that's the thing that I was trying to show in my book is that like, saying this to gay people, like denying these things, does not make sense. If you say that you believe X, Y, Z, like if you believe x, y, z, then how can you say, yep, ABC, to the queer community, like those two don't follow?

Stephen Bradford Long 39:03 Or how can you say that without expecting it to to be catalyzed into ferocious harm and rage in the world, in the LGBTQ community, which is exactly what's happened. And I think it is highly understandable that that there is such rage, it's like, well, of course there is when when there is this degree of when there's this degree of cognitive dissonance, the the end result of that is breaking it there's no other way.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 39:36 Yeah. 100% One of the things that I one of the my favorite parts of the book, and it's I guess it's my favorite part because it was my favorite thing to like, piece together as I was writing it was the section about sodomy, and how sodomy has been understood historically. And it's really interesting to discover that sodomy was not defined as this homosexual act the way it is today, like you hear someone tell someone that they're a sodomite. And they're talking about a gay person. But like sodomy was understood, for the most part is something that like, straight people do. Like that is a heterosexual sin when. And this gets back to the Catholic understanding of procreation being at the center, if a husband and a wife had sex, but subverted the procreative capacity of that in some way to prevent having a child that was considered sodomy. And that's how it was so long until we decided, so like that understanding.

Stephen Bradford Long 41:05 So like, so. So, I mean, like not to get too like detailed, but things like oral sex or pulling out or whatever, anything, or masturbation. Would that all be considered sodomy.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 41:19 All of that was dead. So like, still still is sodomy by the official definition? Just not how,

Stephen Bradford Long 41:26 by? Okay,

Bridget Eileen Rivera 41:28 that's just, yeah, just not how it's popularly conceived.

Stephen Bradford Long 41:32 I always understood sodomy to mean just anal sex, but

Bridget Eileen Rivera 41:37 it ya know, it's all forms all,

Stephen Bradford Long 41:40 any on procreative sex. Okay, God, that's so interesting.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 41:44 Yeah. And so, who are the who are the people? If we're going to go by how sodomy has been understood by the church for most of church history? Who are the people that are sought amaizing? The most regular basis? Well, it's straight people.

Stephen Bradford Long 42:05 Disgusting perverts. Gay people have nothing on them.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 42:10 Yeah, no, it's true. But and like, this just gets again to the double standards. Yes. Any and all verses that had previously been understood to be condemning sodomy, as what straight people would do have now been glossed over. They've been reinterpreted. Like, oh, they didn't like they didn't have the scientific advances that we have today. So now we know better, and it's like, okay, but if a gay person wants to have that same kind of conversation about same sex marriage all of a sudden, no,

Stephen Bradford Long 42:49 yeah, exactly. Exactly. So, you know, I, you are personally committed to a life of celibacy. Am I understanding that that right? Yeah. Do you feel comfortable talking some about your own experience in your own life?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 43:07 Yeah, sure.

Stephen Bradford Long 43:08 What I really appreciate about you, is, you, you seem to and correct me if I'm wrong about this, you seem to say I am personally. I am personally dedicated to celibacy for XYZ reason. And here are the ways in which for lack of a better term, mandatory que celibacy has harmed people. And I perceive you as saying this is people have need to have the freedom to to understand what their own theology is, at least that's the vibe. That's the very strong vibe that I'm getting. I, I think that it would so what do you say? That's correct?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 43:52 That yeah, that's totally correct.

Stephen Bradford Long 43:54 So in your view, would you see gay marriage and gay sex as a disputable matter in theology? And Christian? Oh, yeah,

Bridget Eileen Rivera 44:04 I think it totally is a disputable matter. And I would like I would say that with like, asterisk, because I do think that there are things that are not disputable matters. Like I think that the types of ways that Christian theology has been used to like condemn anyone that is experiences their sexuality different and like condemn them to like, hell, and like beyond God's grace, I think that is such a twisting of the gospel. I don't see that like, beautiful matter. Yeah, like, oh, you know, you can be homophobic if that's what you believe. Like, I'm more see it as you know, when, if you're clear and you're trying to figure out like, how you want to live If your life and you know how you want to express your faith in God, and you know you're a Christian, and you're going to the Bible for guidance, well, you're going to probably land on something that is different than someone else. And that's okay. Because like, to me, the important thing is that a Christian who is queer has the freedom to, like, seek out the wisdom of God's Word and follow God as they understand God to be speaking to them, instead of like, being told that there's only one correct interpretation to this whole, very complex conversation. And if you don't fall in line, then you can't be a Christian, you can't follow Jesus.

Stephen Bradford Long 45:54 And that strikes me as like, especially within within the context of the traditional sexual ethic and Christianity as extraordinarily radical. Like, it might not it, I think that it's consistent. I think it's compassionate, I think it's right. But I also think it is an extraordinarily kind of radical and, and I expect that a lot of conservative Christians would interpret that as, like, actually quite extreme.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 46:26 I think people have a really hard time seeing it possible to, like, follow traditional ethics and not condemn anyone else who doesn't follow those same ethics like, because I think for so long, that way of living has been, like intimately, like, caught up, and all of the toxicity associated with homophobic belief systems. And so it's very hard for people to like, even imagine that, like, yeah, this could like to be something that doesn't require you to condemn other people. And I think a lot of conservative Christians do take issue with it for that reason, because they can't imagine holding a conservative belief in Scripture, unless everybody else is wrong, and not a real Christian.

Stephen Bradford Long 47:27 Right. Right. I think a few years ago, I would have been deeply threatened by it, honestly, and I was I, you know, and I, a because I came out of the traditional ethics. So I kind of moved from ex gay to traditional ethic, on sexuality, committed to celibacy, and then moved to affirming of gay marriage, and got a boyfriend and the rest is history. Right. So I think that I, I was intensely threatened by it, because there was I could not disassociate it, I could not disassociate the concept of, of celibacy, and the traditional ethic from the intense harm that I have experienced. And, you know, I like to think that maybe I've matured and mellowed out some, and I'm very much and a lot of this actually has to do with the influence of the Satanic Temple on me where it's like, you know, dedicated to plurality. And there is a place for everyone, as long as they don't infringe upon the rights of others and the worship of others. And so I as a Satanist, I will never, ever, ever infringe upon the theology, the beliefs of another human being, I will never infringe on their places of worship, I will never try to limit their freedoms, as long as they don't do the same to me. Yeah. And so I'm, I'm just like, you know, also the fourth the third tenet is of TSP is one's body is inviolable subject to one's own will alone. And so as as a Satanist who adheres to the seven tenets. I have to support celibacy, if that is if I value bodily autonomy in the way that I do and the way that is central to my religious identity, then, absolutely, as long as it is not coercive, as long as it is freely chosen. Yeah, as long as someone's bodily autonomy is not being violated in the process of choosing celibacy, then then I am 100% for it, and I want people to have a place where they can pursue that. And so I think you're several years ago I would have just been deeply stressed out and threatened by this entire conversation. But But now, I'm just like, No, you know, I think that there's a place there should be a place for people to pursue their their theological convictions as long as it is not done in a coercive manner. Yeah. And so that's, that's kind of where I stand on.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 50:24 Yeah. And I think, I think we completely agree because, you know, people if people are not given the freedom to pursue their religious beliefs in a way that makes sense to them. That, in and of itself creates so much like mental anguish for people. Yes, it does. And it's extremely hard to live with yourself, when you can't find a way to live with yourself in light of what you believe religiously. And so it's so important to like, provide a multi a multiplicity of pathways for people to live, that also allow them to live in accordance with their faith. And again, apart from coercion, and I think that's probably, I think, one of the biggest challenges to being raised in the Christian church, because it's really so hard to parse out. What is, like, are you really choosing this? Because this is what you want? Or are you making these choices? Because you have been told that you will be in sin if you do anything else, and you could risk God's judgment? And that's actually like, really hard to, like, figure out, like, why am I doing the things that I am doing? Is it because I really want to? Or is it because I'm scared? And I think honestly, if, if a lot of people are honest, I think a lot of people make the choices that they make with respect to their sexuality, especially speaking of queer people in the church, I think a lot that were raised in traditional settings, make choices based initially on fear, being scared of what the consequences will be. And that's, that's really hard to deal with. Because when you've been raised in that setting, like there's so much that has been almost programmed into you. And getting away from that and healing from that can be so challenging. To get to a point where you can actually like, feel like you have some freedom, legitimate freedom to figure out what you want to do with your life.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:04 You know, it's so I often find myself struggling to communicate how deep those beliefs go to my fellow non theists who've never experienced it. Yeah, like know, the degree to which this is reality, the degree to which God's Will it isn't an abstract, it isn't something out in the sky, it is something that cuts to your very marrow it is more real than your own flesh and blood.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 53:34 Yes. And I like I have the same struggle trying to communicate.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:37 Yeah, and and I just like unless you've experienced it, it is it is reality. It isn't. It isn't theoretical, it isn't an idea it is as real as the desk in front of me when you're in it. And so And But you're exactly right. It's like informed enthusiastic consent is really hard in that setting, where it's like the threat of hell creates or or judgment or living outside of God's plan for you creates a stick that under which your it's really hard to reason under which it's really hard to think through your choices and your options. And it everything you're saying really reminds me of a concept that Wendy gritter Vander Waal came up with called generous spaciousness. I don't know if you're familiar with with Wendy but she's fantastic. I'm not so sure. Yeah. Look her up and she has a book called generous spaciousness, which is about this concept and she was a huge influence on me, but particularly pertaining to LGBTQ people how the world What LGBT people need in the church is generous spaciousness and ministry that should be provided to them within the church, especially if they were raised like me in where, where, you know, sexual purity and and God's will for you is as real as the sky above you. Yeah, what people need is this compassionate, generous spaciousness of just being held in this spacious place of non judgement. Yes. And as and the space to be able, the time, and this time is also really important, where it's like, no, this will take time you have, there's no hurry to figure this out to hold that space, that container for LGBT people so that they can actually have consent so that they can actually say yes, or no, in a way that is true to themselves. Yeah. And I And, and so you know, whenever, whenever Christians come to me, because I still I still value my my friendship with Christians. And so occasionally I will have conversations with young gay people who are struggling with their faith and, and they will come and talk to me about it. And I'm always like, you don't have to figure out whether this is right or wrong. today? Yeah, right now, just explore what it feels like to be gay. Yeah, without acting on it, even just what is it like to be you and explore that? You can cross the bridge of morality later, you can cross the bridge of whether it's right or wrong later, for now. Just explore what it's like to be to have these attractions and what does that mean, for you? And just explore that, and there's plenty of time and space?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 57:09 Yeah, I think there can be such a sense of, like, feeling rushed, needing to figure this out. Right away.

Stephen Bradford Long 57:17 There's so much pressure, it is so overwhelming. And yeah, I like go on high.

57:23 Oh, okay. Well, I'll say this. And then I'm curious what you were about to say, I definitely can relate to that need for spaciousness. And that, for me was the biggest thing for me that allowed me to have a sense of freedom to actually approach this question, feeling as if I really, like, could make a choice that was not a result of fear of coercion. And that was having the space and for me, what what gave me space was being was finding a partner. And I'm still incredibly grateful to this day, because when I was like, initially trying to figure out my sexuality, I met the queer community first, instead of dealing with that with Christians, and in a lot of ways that really, really saved me, because the queer people that I encountered, like and just, I am still just so grateful for this gave me so much space to figure myself out. And put so little pressure on me to have to have the right answers to things and like, we're also super super offended by like, everything that was coming out of my mouth. But also were like, not, like, not putting pressure on me to change and not putting pressure on me even to like, have to, like, you know, become this like raging lesbian tomorrow and like, have sex and everything to accept myself. Like, they were just like, your you just whatever. Okay, that was super offensive, but alright, whatever, I'll just kind of ignore it for now. Like, that was like, that was what I needed. At that time, as I was trying to figure myself out was that space, I wound up you know, getting a partner from, you know, all of that and like having the space to like, be in a partnership or even my partner was not putting this pressure on me. And even my partner was like, hey, like, we don't have to have sex like you figure stuff out. That's okay. Um, I was like, wow, Oh, and, you know, encountering that space really helped me to, like, let go of a lot of, I guess, the things that were like, hold, like holding me in chains for so long, and have more freedom to feel like I could explore all of this and like, not have the weight of the world on my shoulders, and not even have the weight of like, my personal happiness and life in the balance. Because, you know, I have a partner, like, I am happy with her, like, we can have a happy life together. And ultimately, what I decided to believe about sex is not going to jeopardize that. Like, that's not going to go away. Yeah. And like that, that just made such a huge difference for me, like just having the pressure off all together so that I could really approach this question from just like, Okay, I'm just gonna figure this out. And you know, what? It's like, if I, if I had one thing today and change my mind tomorrow, that's okay, too. Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:15 it's almost like everyone needs a safe word. Like everyone needs, needs an exit, everyone needs the space of knowing. Everyone needs to know that they have the space and the autonomy to figure this out. And because that was, and what I was going to say earlier was, you know, when I was in college, that was the opposite of my experience, where it became obsessive, I became like a rat just trapped, cornered, where it felt like, every single moment, and every single inch of, of mental space was dedicated to processing my sexuality, because it was so urgent. Yeah. And I remember going to my therapist, and just sobbing and sobbing and sobbing, because I felt trapped. And then the people who really I think, saved my life, were the people who said, Steven, I love you no matter what. And I won't think differently of you, I won't think less of you, because I see how much you're struggling and you're trying to do the best you can I, regardless of where you come on this issue of whether homosexuality is moral or not, I will never think less of you. And I will always love you. And it was those people who really saved my life. And yeah, yeah, so I feel like we could talk so much more about this. Also, we covered one of the seven ways. But honestly, each of you know, each chapter in your book, could just fill an entire conversation. But so. But this has been great. I would love to have you back on again, at some point, because, you know, for several reasons. One is, a lot of people don't interact with people who disagree with them. And don't know and don't actually know what they're like. Yeah, it's true. And so I've been having kind of more controversial, controversial guests on my show lately, like, you know, I had Helen pluck rose on and I've had a libertarian on and just all kinds of different people on the show lately. And the and, and the response that I almost invariably get is surprise, like, Oh, my goodness, this person is so much more thoughtful and nuanced and compassionate than I thought. And I'm like, Yeah, you know, when you talk to people, shit changes, like, when we talk to people, it changes us on a fundamental level. And so I really, really appreciate you kind of taking the risk of showing up on a, you know, this, you know, gay satanic deviance podcast, because it's so valuable. Because having, having conversations with people of good faith, it it transforms us on a fundamental level. And that's what I that is what I want to give to my audience, is them witnessing these conversations, so I really appreciate it.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 1:04:23 Yeah. And I appreciate you having me. And, you know, I think you're a really incredible and amazing person. And I've loved like getting to talk to you and follow you on social media ever since I like ran into you the first time and so yeah, I think you're an amazing person. And I'm just glad to get to chat for a little

Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:46 while. I appreciate that. I think you're pretty amazing too. And seriously, I would love to have you back on again sometime. For people who want to find your work, where can they do that?

Bridget Eileen Rivera 1:04:58 Um, my website It is Bridget Eileen rivera.com And my social media is at traveling none that's my handful that traveling none and I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook, not as much but Twitter and Instagram. pretty regularly.

Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:20 You're a great follow on Twitter too. I I've been stalking you for a long time on Twitter. Cool. I

Bridget Eileen Rivera 1:05:28 don't I don't know exactly when I first started following you. But I know we like back a long time and

Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:34 it was a long time but we run in the same circles like we do. We all know we like no all of the same people we like yeah, we.

Bridget Eileen Rivera 1:05:43 So it was probably just a matter of time.

Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:46 It was just a matter of time. Cool. Well, everyone go read her book. It is called heavy burdens and it is very worth reading. All right, well, that is it for this show. The theme music is by eleventy seven. The theme song is wild. You can find it on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and as a production of rock candy recordings, as always, Hail Satan, and thanks for listening