Why the politics of Gay versus Christian hurts everyone (but the politicians).

Indiana.

Oh, Indiana.

Over the past few days, I’ve drowned in a barrage of posts from my Indiana-based friends expressing outrage and dismay at a legislature that doesn’t represent them.  The comments I’ve heard have ranged from the mild, “I never thought this would go through” to the brutal “I feel like the state senate has turned against us, and they aren’t going to stop until Indiana is stripped down to nothing but spare parts for big business.”  For those who don’t currently live in Indiana and aren’t terribly immersed in state politics, let me just say that Indiana has a well-storied history of it’s people being ignored.  I can’t say precisely why the idea of a representative democracy is so far from a reality in Indiana, but over the past 10 years there have been a number of significant changes to the state’s operations and laws that the people have openly fought tooth and nail, yet have been celebrated in the press and true victories.

So, many Indiana citizens watched the drama unfolding as what would become SB 568 came into being, in horror.

I’ve seen people asking where the Christians who opposed it were.  They were in Indiana, actively fighting against the law being passed.  Many churches, from the Disciples of Christ to the Mennonite Church to the Episcopalians, did in fact organize and fight the bill being passed.  A common fear they expressed was that the bill could not only be used to discriminate against gays but could also be used to discriminate against other Christians.  This may seem like a ridiculous idea, but let’s not forget that the Mennonite church, highly prevalent in Indiana, found itself in the United states after it’s founders were being burned at the stake for heresy by other Christians.  The common idea of “religious freedom” touted in America today may be the freedom to not participate in society at will, or to discriminate when the Bible can be cherry picked in defense, but that isn’t what free religion meant in the days when this country was founded.  There are some of us with a long enough memory to feel like freedom is still the right to not be persecuted by others of our same faith.  

No one has the right to dictate to an individual what their faith should be: not the government, and not other parishioners.

Now, post-passage of the bill, people are asking where the Christians are.  “Business men are speaking out, sports organizations, but where are the Christians?”

Well, for one, they are still speaking out.  Many churches and religious leaders have openly denounced the law, but a google search for this won’t yield much, since most news organizations have focused not on the religious opposition to the bill, but to the possible ramifications as businesses and public organizations cancel events which quickly rack up millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue.  It’s been said before that dollars talk, and that is the same here.

The sad, bitter reality is that no one cares about the spiritual ramifications of the bill or whether or not the religious support that Pence has touted is actually real.  The tone of the story, from the beginning, was carefully controlled.  Yet major news organizations aren’t asking some very real questions about why.

Let’s look at some of that now:

  1. Politicians have, for years, used fear mongering tactics to pose a false “battle” between gay rights and Christian ones.  This is never more apparent than in the tales of poor elderly Christian baker-ladies who are dragged to court and reduced to Victorian-era poverty when their religious scruples don’t allow them to bake a cake for Adam and Steve’s wedding.  While there have been cases of bakers being sued for refusing to make cakes, what is interesting is that we rarely hear about the baker sued for not making an ANTI-gay marriage cake.  Not to mention the fact that these lawsuits are only possible because the Civil Rights Act ensures that any business offering services to the public at large must not discriminate in their practices.  If you are going to make a cake for Susy and Bill’s shotgun wedding, or Mary and Mark’s atheist wedding, or Jane and John’s jewish/Christian wedding (oh, hey, the Bible openly condemns that one) you’ve got to bake that cake for Adam and Steve’s gay wedding, too.  If you don’t want to bake cakes for weddings that offend your sensibility, maybe stick to just baking cookies.  After all, I can guarantee you’ve baked cakes for sinners.
  2. The news media has very little motivation to cease posing any issues over gay rights as a battle.  Conflict sells, and the more heartfelt the conflict, the better.  There’s not much news to be made from stories that read like this:  “Religious leaders form coalition to lobby for equal rights for gay people.”  Why?  Where’s the conflict?  On the other hand, “religious organizations picket funeral of public figure to protest gay rights” almost always makes the headlines, even when numerous groups have condemned such things and even staged counter-protests that outnumber the original anti-gay gathering.  The truth is that even amongst well-established religious communities, support for gay rights has become nearly ubiquitous, but there’s no headlines to be made by saying that religious opposition to gay rights is becoming a minority belief.
  3. Politicians have everything to gain by continuing to monopolize on gay rights as a campaign tactic.  While gay rights may have widespread bipartisan support, the people who oppose gay rights are loud, rich, and politically motivated.  Political science majors the world over are familiar with a very simple truth:  even if the majority are middle-of-the-road, campaigns can be won by a very active minority who feels there is an immediate danger to the other side winning.  No one fights harder than someone who feels outnumbered and as if their way of life is at risk.  So what do we hear from the politicians?  That “sacred” marriage is at risk, that the “family” is eroding, that the American way of life is ending, that society is on the verge of collapse, that homosexuality led to the fall of Rome, and as the numbers become more marginal the rhetoric gets more hateful and louder.  But let’s look at Indiana specifically.  How did this particular bill get passed?  Again, you have a very vocal minority.  The amount of Christians in Indiana who truly felt their personal liberty needed defending from gays may have been minimal- but they were there, and they were loud.  The bill was originally introduced as a necessary protection from contamination by secular sources.  And as soon as the bill was introduced, concerns were raised.  Often by other Christians who felt that the legislation was too problematic and unnecessary.  (A common quote was, “why defend rights that already exist naturally?”)  In order for the legislation to pass and the minority, who have huge political clout, to be appeased the tenor of the debate had to be carefully controlled.  It’s no wonder that even as evidence mounted that Indiana as a whole did NOT want this bill passed, the legislature continued to stonewall and repeat the basic message that this bill was wanted by the people and absolutely necessary.
  4. Once a tone is set, it continues. Like the basic physics concept that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, once something has hit the news the story tends to stay the same.  The people with the loudest voices tend to be heard first, and the people with the loudest voices tend to be the ones with the most political clout or money.  As an example of this, think about the woman who burned herself on McDonald’s coffee.  By the time the story had hit the mass media, it was reduced to a handful of words that made it sound as if someone had spilled coffee on themselves, was annoyed, sued, and somehow wrongfully was awarded millions.  The actual facts in that case (that the burns were so severe they were disfiguring and the woman had to be hospitalized) were overlooked.  The media had decided from the moment the story was first aired that the tone should be that a corporation was being wronged by fatuous lawsuits.  The actual story?  Irrelevant.  There are hundreds of cases of this where by and large the national coverage of a story is one-sided.  That is also the case with Indiana, where the only coverage of widespread opposition to the bill is from small local reporters who know their cities well.  National news coverage doesn’t seem to know, or care, that the people of Indiana themselves feel wronged.  The only local voices being heard in the national stories tend to be ones who support the bill, or gay people who oppose it.  Where are the Christians who oppose the bill?  Unheard of, despite existing.  How can I be so sure that’s the case?  I’m originally from Elkhart county, Indiana, and my friends and family there are deeply concerned that the bill will make things worse, instead of better.
  5. The outcry that Christians who oppose the bill are staying silent is a false story.  Like Muslims who condemn extremism, Christians who condemn extremism in their faith seem to be largely ignored.  Everyone listens to the Pat Robertsons of the world calling gay rights a steamroller obliterating the faith, but when Christian groups band together to support gay people, no one listens.  This is no different than the constant outcry that Muslims don’t condemn extremist Islam.  Muslims do, regularly, both publicly and privately.  So why isn’t it heard?  One reason is because, like moderate Christianity, it just doesn’t make good headlines.  “99% of Muslims go another day without participating in or condoning violent acts” just doesn’t push papers, does it?  Plus, there’s a lot to be gained from continuing to pose the dialogue the way it is.  People who want to remain with their prejudices aren’t going to seek out evidence that they are wrong, similarly, the people involved in the political wrangling between ultra-conservatives groups and gay rights don’t have a lot to gain from realizing that the moderate middle ground is growing.  So what do they do?  Continue the conversation as it is.

One could question if when the Moral Majority first entered politics if they were a majority at all.  What they were was a political powerhouse that monopolized on both a certain brand of politics and flavor of faith.  That amount of political clout has incredible power to guide the national narrative and quash any minority voices.  And while the “moral majority” may no longer exist as such, the truth is that they forever changed the landscape of politics for moderate, socially liberal Christians.

The best way forward, both for gay rights and for Christian freedom, is to take back the power from the political machine.  And we have to do that by partnering together and no longer allowing the dialogue on the national stage to pit us as natural enemies.  After all, we aren’t enemies.  Moderate Christians want the preservation of basic civil rights just as much as gay people do, and we as moderates also have much to lose if moral extremists are the ones making laws.  The same people who want to keep Adam and Steve from marrying have proposed laws that would force me to be investigated for infanticide if I don’t carry my child to term (even if I miscarried naturally!) and have said such vile things as that “rape is like the weather, and you’ve just got to relax and enjoy it.”  (No link, google “republican politicians on rape” if you dare.)  Moderate Christians fear legislation that will punish single parenthood and women who work outside of the home.  Moderate Christians question the logic of tying together religion with lax gun restrictions or other questionable stances.  One of the greatest of these is the policy of rewarding corporations with generous tax write-offs while cutting back social services to the mentally ill, disabled, and poor.  We need to be partners in fighting the political ideology that uses religion as a crutch while spitting in the face of some of the basic principles of brotherhood and good citizenship that Christ so fully embodied. If moderate Christians are going to take their voice back from the politicians who have bent and twisted the faith for personal gain, we need the support of others.  So if you are talking about cases like the Indiana Religious Freedom law, be sure to point out that moderate Christians do not support it.  If you are a journalist writing about divisive politics, bring gay and moderate Christian voices together.  If you want to see more moderate voices in the political landscape, donate to churches like the Disciples of Christ, the Mennonite Church, and the Episcopalian Church, specifically to their political action committees who have a well documented history of supporting gay rights.

We can take back our fair country from the hands of bigotry together.

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What are we fighting for?

I should be working on homework, but I’m giving myself an hour to do this first.  I just have one question I’d like to ask my Christian friends:

What are you fighting for?

In the past week, I’ve seen a number of posts on various social media and traditional media outlets that I’ve found deeply disturbing.  There are times in life where there is a great amount of convergence, and the past week has been one of them.  People have been posting about gay rights.  NPR did a story on trans and gender-queer representations on TV that raised some flags for some people- I had a few queer friends who were like, “oh, hey, an honest conversation about the media!” and of course, inevitably, this raised a backlash of other people commenting about the inevitable decline of a moral society.

‘Cause you know, folks, we can take it for granted that the character of Roscoe on House of Lies is representative of the downfall of society, but the cutthroat capitalist landscape the show is based in is totally cool.

Then I was showed this article from the Christian Science Monitor, about the inevitable decline of the evangelical church.   While I find it deeply resonating and many aspects of the opinion there are undeniably true, I still felt a great sadness.  So many people believe so deeply in something which, for better or worse, society is tired of.  And it is hard, when I see well-meaning people berating queers for being happy that their lives are represented in the media.  I just want to say, “do you know society is tired?  Society is tired of this fight, lay down your sword and love somebody.”

WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?

I know what people say, “The Bible says.”  Sure, okay, the Bible says.  The Bible says a lot of things, folks, and what you choose to focus on really shows your opinion of God.  The Bible says not to be bound by the law.  The Bible says freedom in Christ.  The Bible says that we are not judged by works alone.  The Bible says to balance grace and mercy with adherence to the law.

And where is the grace, the mercy, the love, in constantly choosing reiterating judgment over an honest conversation with your friends?

Oh, and Dan Haseltine (lead singer for Jars of Clay) tried to start a conversation with his fans about gay marriage, and was of course roundly condemned for it.  He really just asked, “what are the real arguments about?” and was lashed out at for even asking that question.

But, hey, I’d like to know the answer:  What are we really fighting for?

There’s something deeply disturbing about a world in which Christians will leap on any opportunity to berate and bludgeon their friends for having the temerity to be gay or want their gay friends to be married, while in the meantime we live in a society that is wholly based off of principles that contradict even greater messages in society.  If you want to think about a secular society that could lead to the downfall of mankind, think about what the American economy would look like if we had another housing collapse, another international banking disaster, another Fortune 500 bankruptcy.  Then come back, and tell me that gay people are the real problem.

I will ask again:  What are we really fighting for?

I don’t believe it’s about gay people.  I believe it’s about living in a world where we lack control.  Living in a society where the messages that blare at us from the billboards and radio and flyers up in stores, the TV channels and magazines and jacket covers of books, the clothing in the store windows, the cars on the street, and the flyers nailed to telephone poles all tear at our insides.  Living in a world where we feel assaulted and unsafe, where we are left with more questions than answers and reduced to tears when we consider the implications of truly following our conscience.

Cause when I read the Bible, I feel a weight of conviction that shakes me from the tips of my hair to the soft spot under my toenails.  And I don’t feel convicted about my gay friends or my own sexuality.  I feel convicted about the way I spend money, the career I have chosen, the way I raise my kids, the coldness I feel about international politics, where my shoes come from.

I feel convicted about myself, and I want to ask myself why I don’t try harder but that hurts.  I feel like there isn’t that much that I can honestly control, as if no matter how hard I tried I would never actually come close to approaching the ideal I feel God has imagined for me.

So I get why it would be tempting to take all of that anger and regret and make gay people the proverbial scapegoat, sent out into the desert to die.

But it’s wrong to do that.  So wrong.

So what are we fighting for?

 

If you’re going to be angry, do it right.

Indiana didn’t just pass a law that makes gay marriage punishable by jail time.

This didn’t just happen.  No, really. I know your gay friends (like mine) are probably linking to posts about that and everyone is angry about being dragged back into the dark ages.  And I understand being angry and feeling like recent victories are pissed on when things like this happen.  I mean, I wanted to be angry too.

Only that didn’t actually happen.

Indiana has had laws for many years that say falsifying information on a marriage application is illegal and punishable by a fine or jail time, and they’ve had a law saying that officiants who sign falsified marriage certificates can also be punished.  This seems, to me, like a perfectly rational law.

Fact number two, gay marriage isn’t legal in Indiana and never has been.

Fact three, when updating their application process Indiana made the boxes for the applicant’s names say “male” and “female” instead of “applicant one” and “applicant two”.

Is that, perhaps, rubbing a poo-covered stick in the eye of the gay rights activists who have been giving their sweat and tears to try to get gay marriage recognized in Indiana?  Absolutely, it’s a crap move.

But…  Gay marriage isn’t legal in Indiana.  So there aren’t going to be any gay couples trying to apply for licenses in the current hetero-based application system, so nobody is going to be falsifying documentation claiming they are a gender they aren’t in order to apply for a marriage license, so no officiants are going to be signing off on falsified certificates, so nobody is going to jail.

And if tomorrow gay marriage was legal in Indiana, a few lines of code could fix the whole problem.

So we shouldn’t be angry about the Indiana government’s dick move.  No, really, friends, we shouldn’t be angry about that.

We should be angry about all of the reactionist bloggers getting us to waste our venom on something that is, at the end of the day, relatively meaningless.   This is like letting the bully goad you with the poo covered stick and bum-rushing him and getting it all over yourself, when instead you should be looking at all your classmates as they sit idly by and either do nothing or point and laugh.  The problem isn’t that Indiana did a dick move, the problem isn’t that gay couples are going to be thrown in jail, the problem is that the fact that Indiana is digging it’s heels in on an archaic definition of marriage and aside from a few reactionary bloggers, nobody cares.

When the bully sticks the poo in your eye, psychology tells us that getting angry at him won’t help you.  If you are in trouble, and there are bystanders around who are doing nothing, what you are supposed to do is call them out. Hey, guy in the blue shirt, I’m in trouble!  Get help!  Hey, girl with the curly hair, can you give me a hand?  Hey, big guy over there, do something!

The same is true of if you are in a car accident, or if you suddenly feel pain, or if you see someone fall into a river and other people keep walking by.  Our natural tendency is to tune out disaster and assume someone better fit to deal with things will deal with things- or to assume that because everyone else is doing nothing that such is the appropriate course of action.  The best move for anyone is to start calling people out, in order to demonstrate that silence is not okay.

So don’t jump on the evil Indiana bandwagon.  Start a conversation. Start calling people out.  “Hey, don’t you want to see the marriage application process change?”  “Hey, look at how entrenched the language is, what are better words to use?”  “Hey, why do you think everyone got so angry so quickly?”  “You over there, why do you think people weren’t more honest about what happened?  Who started this firestorm anyway?”

Cause, hey, the tempest in a teapot doesn’t happen just because.

But let’s not waste all of our energy yelling at bully who only wants to see us angry.  (Because, honestly, isn’t that what some of the other side of the argument really is?  Doesn’t it serve their interest to keep gay couples as angry foaming-at-the-mouth activists ready to tear the jugular out of society?)

There is still a productive conversation to be had, one about the perceptions of society and how long it takes to make the language change, and with it expectations.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be angry.

They should, but they shouldn’t self destruct.

They need to be purposefully angry, pointedly angry.

Properly, productively angry.

They should show empathy to those who profit from their anger, and righteous rage at the ones who can be won by it.

Okay, so she’s gay, what about the frogs?

So today, my kids overheard something on the radio and asked me what gay marriage was and if that was different from what me and their dad have.  I knew that things like this would come up eventually, but still felt a moment of hesitation before answering them.  I told them that gay is a word for a boy who wants to kiss another boy or a girl who wants to kiss another girl, and that gay marriage is for two girls or two boys that want to live together and take care of each other.  Initially, the kids were a little nonplussed.  Alana laughed and said, “all the girls I know are married to BOYS mom, I’ve never heard of a girl marrying another girl.”  I told her that I knew girls that married other girls, and that not everyone was the same, and just because no one in our family is gay that doesn’t mean that being gay is weird.

My daughter thought about that for a minute and asked me if she knew anyone that was gay.  I had to pray about that for a minute, because unbeknownst to Princess her godmother is gay, and I didn’t want to say anything that would change the very special relationship they have.  Fighter was sitting off to the side with his arms crossed and a very serious look on his face.  Okay, I trust my kids.  They are the best people I know.  They can deal with this.  So I tell them that their godmother is gay, and I would really like for her to be able to be married and have someone to share her life with some day.  What do they think of that?

Fighter shrugs, says that he once had a dream about two boys being married and why not?  If you love someone and want to take care of them that’s good.  Princess, always one to have to think about things more, asks if two girls can have a baby if they want.  Well, they can always adopt a baby.  “Not everyone wants babies I guess,” Princess continues.  Her eyes light up, “OH, I wanted to talk about frogs.  Can I have the computer?”

“Sure,” I say, wondering if this conversation is actually over.

“ME TOO,” says Fighter.

“Hold on one second,” I say, “because you should know that sometimes people say really hurtful things to people who are gay, or ask them questions that are really hard to answer like why don’t they just act like other people.  I want you to know that you can talk to me about that kind of stuff.  But be careful who you talk to, and if you hear people saying mean things don’t be afraid to just walk away.  You need to be careful, and understand that it can be painful for some people to talk about.”

“I get it,” Fighter says, and Princess is still talking about this one time she saw a video of a squeaking frog.  Apparently this conversation really, truly was over.

And then a few minutes later I get a text message.  The kids have been on Facebook, letting their godmother know that it’s cool if she marries a girl.  But, more importantly, what superheros is she into?  And does she know about the frogs that don’t say ribbit?  Because, when it was all said and done, they could pick up the relationship where they left it with nothing changed.

Nothing changed, except wanting their godmother to know that her life was cool with them.

And I think, I wish that it was always that easy to love and accept someone.  And it could be, couldn’t it?  If we, like kids, pushed all of the other questions out of the way and just worked at preserving the relationship.  Like kids, realizing without even thinking that what really matters is the connections we make with each other.  I asked my daughter if it bothered her that her godmother wasn’t the same as her.  Princess shrugged and said, “I already knew she was different because she doesn’t do hair.”  Well, that’s true.

“If it bothered you, you could tell me.”

“People are different from each other,” Princess says in her straightforward, life-is-a-constant-lesson way, “what matters is if you’re loving.  If you want to be friends.  If you want to learn about each other’s things.”

I’ve heard people say, “what will we say to the Children?” as if there is simply no explanation for the existence of gays that can be made.  Maybe we shouldn’t be worried about what to say to the kids.  Maybe we should be worried about our own capacity to understand what they say in return.  In this case, the lesson couldn’t be clearer.  Their love for their godmother wasn’t based off of their idea of who she was, it was based off of what they shared with each other.  Why should her sexuality change that?

It didn’t.

Let me tell you what Hell is.

The text read:  “Im going to burn in hell ne way.”

*beep beep*

“Life is pain.  Why live?  Pain forever, then hell.  I want it over with.”

I got his address off of Facebook, we’d become friends only days before when he’d been given a copy of my novel.  I wasn’t sure what had inspired him to reach out to me.  All I knew was that I’d stayed home from church that day because I was sick, and here he was.  Reaching out.  Not wanting to die alone.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I texted him back.  “There is love.  There is hope.   If you go to hell I’m going with you.”

Painful seconds passed.

“I’m almost to your house,” I wrote.  “Calling you.”

I will never, ever, forget the pain in his voice when he answered his phone.  When we’d met a few days before, he had been the kindest, gentlest, most soft spoken person I’d ever known.  He had been so quick to laugh, and although he obviously was living with a great deal of pain his spirit shone through.  The voice I heard through the phone was almost robotic in it’s monotone and so desperately lacking in spirit.  “Just stay alive another minute,” I told him.  “I’m turning, where are you?”

He came out on the front porch and agreed to go with me.  I took him to a mental health clinic that was fortunately only a few blocks away.  Even so, it was one of the longest car rides of my life.

“God doesn’t hate you,” I said.  “God loves you.”

“You know what they say?”  He replied, “I would’ve never been gay unless God totally rejected me.”

“For F—‘s sake, you said you’ve known you were gay since you were six!  What did a six year old do to get wholly rejected by God?”

“It doesn’t matter, does it?”  He wiped away tears but it was like wiping at the Columbia, it just kept rushing out.  “I mean, I can’t not be gay and no one cares, I mean, they don’t care no matter what.  It’s like, ‘well sure you’re depressed, it’s what comes from sin.’ And like, ‘the wages of sin is death’ so like if I kill myself, that’s justice.  That’s justice.”

“And here I took you for someone pretty smart,” I responded.  “You know homosexual acts are listed right with gossip and idle talk and drunkenness.  If your suicide is justice half that freaking church needs to put a blade to their wrist.”

“I can’t believe you just said that.”

“Well I’m kind of pissed that you almost died on my watch.  I could say more.”

He just stared at me.

“God is love, right?  You remember my favorite passage.  It’s all over the book.  The people that won’t help you because you are gay can’t be speaking for God because it’s not loving to turn away from someone’s pain.  Whatever they said it doesn’t matter.”

“You didn’t hear them, Ell.  All of the verses, and it’s like, ‘hey, it’s in the Bible.  We’re just being obedient.'”

“Shut the eff up, man, or I’ll pull over and slap you.”

“Ell!”

“I don’t want to hear that crap in my car even if you are quoting someone else.  Forget it.”

“I don’t understand, I mean, I thought you were a Christian.”

“Of course I’m a Christian, that’s why I can recognize bull when I hear it.  The fruit of the spirit is goodness and patience and love and whatever the other ones are.”

“Ha!”

“I’m a little distracted by how pissed I am and can’t do the brain thing, forgive me.”

“What were you saying?”

“Love.  That’s the fruit of the spirit.  If the fruit of their obedience is your death, it’s not my God they are obeying.”

“Oh,” he said.

“And honestly I’m feeling more Christlike right now than I have in years.”

* * *

A few weeks later we would be emailing back and forth, and I would say this.  “What you said about Hell.  I can show you hell.  It’s a kid going to a church because he’s on the brink and he needs someone to love him, and they show him the door.  I don’t know where Jesus is right now, but he is weeping.  And he still loves you.  Don’t give up.”

Here’s the thing:  I don’t care what your personal conviction is about homosexuality.  What I care about is my friend, and other people like him.  Sadly, he’s not the only kid I’ve ever heard tell that story and I doubt he’ll be the last, even though I fervently pray it’s not the case.  I’ve talked enough blades off of wrists for my lifetime.

Here’s the thing:  gay people aren’t the enemy.  Homosexuality is never singled out in the Bible.  It always appears hand in hand with other sins:  hubris, for example.  Drunkenness and gluttony.  Idolatry.  Idle talk and gossip.  What infuriates me more than anything else in the whole debate about sexuality is that you see people saying “we can’t let gays get married because it goes against the Bible” but the same people aren’t trying to pass laws to outlaw idle chatter, gluttony, or even premarital sex.  How is it okay for Christian organizations to be pursuing keeping sodomy laws on the books while their employees chat about who Julie is dating on their breaks?

I’m sorry, guys, that may strike you as an extreme example but I am being completely serious.

The Bible doesn’t make a distinction between the sins it lists.  Being gay is no worse than being a gossip, and both things are equally condemned in the church.

But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.  (1 Corinthians 5:11)

At the end of the day, what makes a sexually immoral person such a target as opposed to all of the other sins on the list?

And then we get into discussions about the law and about how opposing gay marriage is just obedience to God.  Let me tell you something:  God never once commanded us to make laws regarding the morality of people outside the church.  In fact, He said something more like:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Corinthians 5:12)

Their sin is none of our business.

The more Christians speak out against gay rights, the more they talk about the sin issue, the more they put out literature talking about how Gay people are sold to sin and more likely to abuse children and get drunk and have “depraved sexual relations” that “go against God”… the more I think about people like my friend, with the razor to their wrist, thinking that there is nothing to do but die.

Let me tell you what Hell is:

It’s a church so focused on sin that it’s forgotten how to love.

We have absolutely no business talking about the sexuality of those not in the church.

It goes against the Bible.

And for those inside the church, we should talk about it quietly, in confidence, not blast about it on the internet for every suicidal 19 year old gay boy to see.

Just.

Stop.

For the love of God, think about what you are doing.

Militant Homosexuals

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about “militant homosexuals” who have a “propensity for voilence” and are a “threat to society.”

I’ve been having a hard time really verbalizing my feelings about this.  But I will try, for your sake.

Remember the peace movement?  I’m talking Vietnam War here.  There you saw a movement for peace, and it started out with people sitting around on laws.  Having “lay-ins” in the streets, peaceable obstruction, quiet protest.  They tried to fight fire with love, and they were largely ignored.  Then you saw an escalation.  People started chanting, yelling, holding more boldly worded signs.  There started to be an energy, an anger.  A bitterness.  And still, the war raged on.  That’s when you started seeing riots and broken windows and things that escalated beyond “civil disobedience” to violence and terror.

Why?

Because no one really listened.  They were written off as selfish and naive at first, and misinformed to the last.  The government ignored them and would have continued to do so indefinitely if public opinion had not changed as a whole.

Now we are seeing the same thing.

First the gays quietly protested, they kept to themselves, they stood peaceably on street corners, put gimmicky bumperstickers on their cars and wore rainbow tshirts.  They tried to mobilize- but let’s be honest: they are a minority.  Even in California there are rainbow colored pockets on the coast, but the state as a whole is farmland.  Conservative.  “Family Values”.  So the minority lost it’s voice, as always happens in these cases.

They lost their voice.

I can’t even imagine how it must feel, to be doing everything you can to fight for what you believe is right, and then to simply have it all silenced.  The media says, “well, now that’s over”, and you are expected to go home to your wife who is no longer your wife, to your children whom you are no longer legally entitled to, and to simply shut up.

Of course the demonstrations escalated.  In ANY case where a minority tries to vocalize and are cast aside, the demonstrations escalate.  And gay people are no more prone to voilence than peace protestors, blacks or latinos.  In every case where once peacable demonstrations take a turn for the bitter and evocative it is not done because they WANT to be voilent, but because they see NO OTHER WAY for their voice to be heard.

Not that I approve of voilence- of course not- but I understand.

I understand that this is the way the world works, and unless the government takes actions to protect the rights of a minority from the subjugation of the majority, in EVERY SINGLE CASE the minority will turn to civil disobedience and eventually voilence.

And in every case, while there are pockets of anger, the greater sum of people simply suffer voicelessly, dependent on someone else to take up their cause.

You shouldn’t be afraid of “militant homosexuals”.  You should seek to hear the subtext- to truly understand what is happening.  Just as I seek to be the voice for the voiceless, believing that Christ would do the same were he still in possession of a physical body.

Oh, wait, he is: me and you.

Me, and you.

The fundamental right to know love

I’ve already blogged about the other side of the coin– now it’s time to write about the side that I find myself landing on.

As Keith Olbermann recently said, it’s about the fundamental right to know love.

The argument against gay marriage goes something like this: “it’s a sacred union of a man and a woman, and if a gay person wants to experience it, they can stop being gay.”

I find several problems with this.  The first is the question of what makes it sacred.  Because it is “special”?  Because God consecrates it?  Because they feel a deep and abiding love for each other?

If it is the first- simply because it is “special”, then certainly allowing gay people to participate might make it less special.  But, then again, considering the high divorce rate, I would say that it’s specialness would also benefit from certain heterosexuals being banned from participation as well.

If it’s because God consecrates it, then allowing gays to marry wouldn’t change a thing- because if God doesn’t want to consecrate them he simply wouldn’t.  Unless, of course, God is bound by the laws of man.  Which he isn’t.  So that argument, well, I don’t think it holds much water at the end of the day.

Then there’s the question of deep and abiding love, the inference being that gay people do not share the same level of love or commitment that heterosexuals do.  I would think that it takes an enormous amount of courage and commitment to enter into a long term relationship knowing the reaction you’d get from your coworkers, your church, possibly even your family.  It takes a very deep and abiding love for two men or two women to say “forget what other people think, I love you and I’m going to commit to you.”

While I have a tremendous amount of respect for the gay people I have known who have felt called to live a heterosexual life in spite of their orientation, knowing the struggle that entails only makes me that much more against the idea that someone who wants the benefits of marriage should simply marry someone of the opposite sex.

How could you ever require someone to marry without attraction?  Without need?  To marry out of a sense of responsibility alone?  While that kind of commitment can and has fostered a very deep bond for many generations of men, I can’t imagine life without the butterflies and sprays of glitter.  I can’t imagine going through a life without seeing my husband staring at me like I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.  I can’t imagine being buoyed through the days of heartbreak without hope for future romance.  I can’t imagine trying to hold on to my sense of self worth without being told that I am beautiful and precious and irreplaceable.  How could anyone have the temerity to tell someone that gets those butterflies and pulse pounding ecstasy from someone of the opposite sex just to go without?

And as for the joy, the hope, and the security that comes hand in hand with the marriage license and the vows… How can you look at two people who love each other more than their own lives in spite of all of the social awkwardness and rejection that such devotion can breed, and tell them they can’t have the same safety and security and pride as you because their love is evil and scary- while out of the other side of your mouth maintaining you have no real prejudice?