So – a friend reminded me the other night that I’ve not written in a great while. And she’s right. Writing is catharsis for me. I guess this year has been so full that I’m rather afraid to try to let any of the tension out – it might explode!
Anyhow – not knowing where to start – I might as well start with controversy. Now, as most of you know, I LOVE controversy. In my bible study the other day, we discussed Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8. You know the verses to which I am referring. Growing up, I thought Pete Seeger wrote the words. Turns out, Solomon did! There is a time for everything. What struck me this time is the phrase “a right time to shut up and another to speak up…” (MSG). Well, I’ve been working on the “shut up” part for the better part of my life but I’m not always where I would like to be with the “speak up” part of that verse.
Oddly, when I logged back on to my blog yesterday, I found a partially written essay in the form of a letter to a friend on the topic of homosexuality. I wrote the words in January of 2012…apparently during the time California’s Proposition 8 was struck down as unconstitutional in federal court. I don’t think you can live in the United States without being aware of the debate raging over the issue of marriage equality today with the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act under consideration by the US Supreme Court.
As I see it, there are two very different platforms (read – soap boxes) on which discussion of this issue (as for most highly contentious issues) ensues, the legal/civil platform and the Christian morality platform.
The crux of the Christian morality argument will likely never be resolved as it relates to the presence or absence of a choice of one’s sexual nature and orientation. If it is a choice, it can be argued to be a sin. If not, most (although not all), thinking people would agree that acting according to your nature in a manner which harms no one else, is not sinful.
I know people. Lots of them. Many of them of different races, religions, faiths, marital status and, yes, sexual orientation. They have not chosen to be gay any more than I have chosen to be heterosexual. But the most important thing that I know is that the God to whom I pledge my faith is not a God who is deliberately cruel. He does not set His children up for failure any more than do you or I. He would not deliberately provoke His children to sin.
I will not argue scripture. I do not know it well enough to claim anything other than a general familiarity. I do know several things to be true: Slavery, racism, and sexism have been, and are sometimes still, justified by scripture. Not to mention war, genocide and many other vile things. Unless one wishes to argue that any of these are also valid, please do not play the scripture card.
I do know that when I look at the LGBT community, I see the effect that narrow-minded bigots have had on the health – physical and emotional – of people. Just people. People with names other than “fag”, “queer”, “dike” and so many other hurtful slurs. People with names like Gary and Mike and Joseph and Trish and Debbie and Chuck and Andrew and… The fact that any of this abuse is perpetrated in the name of God is sickening and disheartening-and one reason so many people have been and are being driven from church and religion. But very few things are one-sided or clear-cut. There are so many of these bigots who do such good things for our children; I pray daily that God will keep them from damaging those in their care who are gay or struggling with their identities. The world is cruel enough without them believing that their God or His emissary is cruel as well.
We will never agree. The bottom line, however, is Jesus’ command to love and God’s assertion that judgment belongs to Him alone.
The legal/civil platform is a different story. I find it ludicrous and reprehensible that we are even having to debate whether we will condone systemic abuse and persecution of a cohort of people. Any cohort of people. It is nothing less than state-sanctioned bigotry.
Further, using the Christian morality argument in this context is the height of arrogance and ignorance. We live (supposedly) in a country founded from the need and desire for religious tolerance. Religious tolerance, not Christian religious tolerance. We have been – or should be – afforded the right to practice, or not practice, the religion of our choice. As such, as a country, we are obligated to protect the rights of persons whose beliefs differ from ours. To prevent ANY subset of our citizens from exercising their protected rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is egotistical and fundamentally illegal in the context of the Constitution of the United States of America.
This debate is bigotry. Plain and simple. And history will write us as fools for even having a serious conversation about it.