This blog is getting an extra post today so that I may express some of my thoughts about yesterday’s ruling on marriage equality. I welcome all respectful comments.
For me, the day was odd. While everyone else was celebrating marriage equality, I had yet to learn of this historic decision, becasue I was watching SkyNews which was focused on the terrorist attack in Tunisia. It wasn’t easy to make the switch to joy when there was so much pain going on elsewhere.
Then when I pulled up Facebook, it was as if a rainbow had exploded everywhere. However, having come from a conservative Christian home and area, there were many FB friends who were conspicuously silent. I celebrated, but kept my response tempered. I didn’t change my profile picture, or post the White House in rainbow colors. I didn’t want this to be a rub-it-in-your-face moment, because I knew the blowback would start shortly. So I posted a couple of mild things, and liked my friend’s posts like crazy.
Having grown up with those beliefs, I understand some of the pain those silent friends are in now.
So let’s talk about that pain.
First, some of this pain comes from the belief that America is a Christian nation, favored by God above all others. They see America as the new Israel. Throughout the old testament, when Israel turns away from God, He turns away from them, and they fall into ruin. So, there is fear in their anger, that God will now turn away from America. However, there have been many times America has had policies that surely broke God’s heart – murdering, kidnapping, beating, torturing, enslaving, and raping Africans was perfectly legal within the United States, and the Bible was used to justify these practices. God did not turn from America and bring it to ruin for that. Instead, the very economic foundation of our nation was built and flourished on slavery. Are two people of the same sex who love each other so much they want to commit their lives to each other, somehow worse than the evil of slavery?
We went straight from slavery to genocide. We tried to wipe out the people who lived on this land for thousands of years. Yet God allowed that, the nation’s borders expanded, and we flourished. Are two people of the same sex in a committed, loving relationship more heinous to God than genocide?
As for the argument that this is a Christian nation, that’s an easy one to deal with. The fact that the nation was founded with the concept of “freedom of religion” at its core seems to say we’re not. Some would argue that those Puritans were being persecuted by other Christians, thus “freedom of religion” really applies to practicing one’s Christian faith freely from the limitations of other Christian faiths. So, going with that, yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling would still be acceptable, because there are many different views on the interpretation of the Bible. Since the government can not establish an official religion, or favor any denomination, then “I believe” is not a strong enough argument to deny someone a basic human right.
Whether you like it or not, the Bible doesn’t have one clear meaning. It was written down years after events, translated many times into many different languages, and you can find highly qualified Christian scholars who, when going back to the oldest texts available, find meanings that are not taught from the pulpit. The Old Testament is STILL being argued about in Jewish temples across the globe, yet the average American Christian is firmly convinced they know the mind and will of God. They believe that what they were taught, is the truth, and what everyone else was taught is a lie from Hell. See the problem here? Because the government isn’t in a position to pick the “right” denomination, they must leave all faith-based opinions out of the decision, and make the one that ensures that all people are treated equally.
You may see homosexuality as a sin. That’s YOUR belief. It’s not mine, or millions of other people’s belief. Why should yours win out? If you answer, “Because I believe it” then move on. You’ve lost the argument.
Let’s take another angle:
When did you decide to be straight (if you are)? If I asked nicely, and assured you it wasn’t a sin, could you change who you are attracted to? What if I legislated that you could only get married if you are homosexual. Would that get you to change that little flutter you feel in your stomach when you see someone you are attracted to? No? Hmmm.
If God doesn’t make mistakes, and millions of people (and even animals) have an innate attraction to the same sex, then it must not be a mistake.
Some argue that they should deny their attractions, get married to someone of the opposite sex, and live in the sanctity of a holy union. Yeah, well, do you want to be the person who marries someone who isn’t attracted to you and longs to be with someone else? I don’t. I want to be with someone who is as passionate about our relationship as I am. An empty, going-through-the-motions kind of marriage, is not the kind of marriage I see written about in the Bible.
Or perhaps they should stay celibate and not engage in sexual behavior their entire life. Yeah, that’s realistic.
Or perhaps we should follow other laws of the Bible and stone them.
Or we could just shame them so much they kill themselves. We’ve been doing that for years.
I’m guessing that those who are so angry, fearful, and hurt by this ruling don’t know any gay people personally. Oh, they may say they do… after all, that checkout guy is pretty flaming, and their hairdresser may be gay and they still go to him… so yes, they DO know gay people. But it’s not the same as caring about someone in your inner circle. It’s amazing (not really) how many politicians change their minds about being gay when their child tearfully comes out. Suddenly they are face to face with the pain their beliefs have caused. Suddenly someone whose heart is intertwined with theirs is in anguish. Suddenly they feel the same pain. When you have friends or family who you’ve watched spend their lives together in a more committed relationship that many straight couples, yet don’t have visitation rights in the hospital, or legal rights after death, and maybe even keep who they are, secret from their judgmental friends and family, it changes your heart. Legislating against gay people doesn’t stop them from being gay, but it does stop them from living full and open lives.
Something else to consider:
If God is in control, he allowed a conservately packed court to make this decision.
If homosexuality is such a major issue to God, why did Jesus never mention it even once? And why are there 300 verses dealing with caring for the poor, yet the church isn’t screaming out about the immorality of an unregulated capitalist system that creates poverty. Well, one guy in a funny hat is, though it’s pretty bizarre how suddenly he went from the infallible voice of God to a dangerous man who is to be ignored.
Despite my understanding of the beliefs, this is one thing that is a mystery to me. Why is today’s American church so obsessed with homosexuality? Is it because the majority of them find it easy to not be guilty of it. I mean, gluttony is also a sin, but you’d be hard pressed to find a church where everyone has repented of their fatness and takes excellent care of their bodies/temples. Those unrepentant obese Christians are not denied the right to marry or consider themselves Christians. That sin is overlooked, most likely because if the church made a stink about that, there’d be no one left in the pews.
Anyone can believe anything they want. This ruling does not change that. If you sincerely believe homosexuality is a sin, you are still allowed to believe that. Live by your beliefs and do not commit what you consider to be a sin. Nobody’s asking you to get gay married. You might have to face conflict when you don’t attend a homosexual family member’s marriage, but that’s no reason to deny someone their basic rights.
Nobody can say it better than Justice Kennedy:
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
This week America took another step towards living up to its ideals. That should make you happy, no matter what your personal religious beliefs.