Saturday, June 25, 2011
Three Reasons Every Christian Should be Pro Gay Marriage
"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," Saland said in a statement to the AP. "I am doing the right thing in voting to support marriage equality."
Last night, as I was overwhelmed with pride in my country and joy for my gay and lesbian friends for whom this vote means so much, I too profoundly felt the weight that the Senator is feeling. As I made the supportive gesture to a community for which I feel particular compassion in changing my profile picture to the "Proud Ally" rainbow, I could feel the buzz and rolling eyes of many of my Christian friends and family on Facebook.
To be truthful, my sentiments on being accused of hypocrisy or being a bad Christian are better summed up by what another of the swing voters had to say. Roy McDonald, a two term Republican senator and former military man had this to say to critics:
"F--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."
Yep. That's pretty much it.
Except I do care what you think, particularly if you are a Christian. I care, because your beliefs and attitudes on this matter are what will propel us forward or hold us back on an issue that says everything about who we are as lovers of Christ and lovers of this country.
Here are three reasons every Christian should be pro gay marriage:
1. Open Mindedness
Open mindedness is not typically the first trait that non-believers associate with Christians, and why should they? So many of our brothers and sisters are enslaved by religious dogma and unable for even a moment to believe that there is a difference between theology and principles...between scholarly theory and core values.
If we, as Christians, are truly honest with ourselves, we will come to realize that open mindedness is paramount, not only to our own faith, but to the shepherding of others. Many of us, particularly those who grew up in the Church, take for granted the amount of open mindedness necessary to believe in our faith. We ask ourselves and others to believe for example that a man was swallowed by a giant fish and vomited up three days later to tell the tale. We ask that people believe that a man herded two of every creature onto a boat while the earth was consumed by water for 40 days. We ask that people believe that a God who murdered priests for using the wrong kind of incense on His alter is the same God that loves us all unconditionally.
We expect people to believe that a man was nailed to a hunk of wood where he was slowly suffocated to death, and then rose from the dead three days later to hang out with his friends and loved ones one last time before ascending into heaven.
These are not easy beliefs. They are only made possible by open mindedness. By the ability to accept that there are things we can't understand, that there are portions of the Bible that are open for interpretation, and that, at the end of the day, its OK that we don't know exactly what is right and what is wrong as long as we obey what Jesus told us to do: love God more than anything else and love our neighbors.
So try to stay open minded while I explain why I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin.
In arguments about gay marriage, we often here Christians use the phrase, "The Bible clearly states..." I think what they mean is, "My preacher clearly states..." The Bible doesn't "clearly" state anything about homosexuality. It is mentioned only six times and NEVER by Jesus. It is mentioned under the Old Testament doctrine as part of Jewish law in Genesis once and Leviticus twice. The New Testament is modernly interpreted that Christians are no longer under the Old Testament Jewish laws (and thank God for that, or we would ALL be in a heaping lot of trouble).
It is mentioned three times in the New Testament: once by the Apostle Paul, once in Romans, and once in Timothy. Never does it say specifically which acts it's referring to AND many Biblical scholars believe the word "homosexuality" itself is being taken out of context. In Biblical times, homosexuality referred to the common, popular practice of keeping catamites or young boyfriends. And when I say "young", I mean offenses you would be jailed for. Child molestation.
The Bible never addresses LOVE between two members of the same sex, nor marriage between the same sex.
The point is, like many issues: gambling, dancing, drinking, women's rights, animal rights, etc, the Bible requires an open mind and open heart and even THEN the fact that Church members can't agree on these subjects means that no one is really going to know the answers to philosophical questions until the day when we can sit down with God and have everything clarified.
Jesus was very clear, however, about what we can be certain about in our behavior. Love God above all else, and love your neighbor. I have a hard time believing he was excluding gay neighbors OR that being close minded and advocating inequality in His name was OK if applied to gay neighbors.
You can be a Christian and proudly and with Biblical justification say "I do not believe that homosexuality in the modern context of two men or two women being in a loving committed relationship is a sin."
It just takes open mindedness.
I hear a lot of Christians say, "I am against gay marriage, because I think homosexuality is a sin. But I still have gay friends," or "I believe that marriage is between a man and woman, but that doesn't mean I hate gay people. Hate the sin, love the sinner."
Hate the sin, love the sinner.
A nice tidy phrase that is being exploited throughout this country to justify basic inequality.
You know how I know that gay marriage is not a sin?
Because I have known love.
I have known the love of God, the love of His Son, the love of a father and a mother, the painful first loves of youth, ahd the sometimes harder love of marriage. I have known the love of friends, of compassionate strangers, of a sister.
I have known love.
So I know it when I see it.
Sometimes I think that Christians get so entrenched in this belief that homosexual love is perversion. That it is icky. That is it is gross. That "ewww, I don't want to think about that." This is usually associated with what people are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms. I can think (or try not to) of about a million perversions perpetrated by the straight community, many on live television for all to see. And, yet, I am still able to accept without question that a man and a woman can love each other, in the bonds of holy matrimony, and never think for one moment that it is perverse.
Why is it so hard to make that leap with two men or two women?
I think for most, it's because they haven't allowed themselves to see it.
Well, I'm here to tell you. I have seen it. I have seen two men who are patient with one another. Who are gentle and kind with one another's feelings. Who don't let pride and jealousy wedge between them. Who are slow to anger with one another, and don't keep score of wrongdoings. I have seen two men who trust each other, who honor one another with monogamy, and who hope for the future together, and persevere by supporting one another.
I have seen it more than once. And if that isn't love, what is love? It's certainly more than I can say for my own "sanctified" marriage at times.
So what is the true hypocrisy? To claim that love cannot exist between two people of the same gender, because that is what we have interpreted the Bible to say? Or to see love plainly in front of you and deny that it is there?
If you have known love, and you see love between others, how can you deny those individuals the right to consummate that love in the same way you and your spouse have?
Love your neighbor. All of them.
If you cannot open your mind to the possibility that there is room for interpretation on the Bible's stance on homosexuality, and you cannot bring yourself to see love within or share love with two members of the same gender who happen to be in a committed relationship with each other, then how about we travel waaaaaaay back to kindergarten, and just exercise basic fairness?
There was a time, not that long ago, that my marriage was illegal. Not only were there a majority of people who believed that I should not be allowed to marry my Asian husband, but that my babies were illegitimate and an abomination. Sadly, I'd say both of my own grandfathers probably would have held with this belief.
If you look at history, fairness and justice often intervene even where our blind spots and prejudices seem the most hardened and impenetrable. Civil rights were not won, because suddenly the majority of people changed their minds. They were won because ENOUGH of the majority said,"While I understand that my vote will disappoint many, I also know my vote is a vote of conscience," and "F--- it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing."
Enough people realized that even though it went against their beliefs, it was not their place legally or morally to withhold rights from another citizen based on those beliefs.
Furthermore, the reason for the separation of Church and State is not just to protect the State from religious zealotry. It is also to protect Church from the influence of the state. By extending the right of marriage, an institution which comes with many privileges and rights not extended to people who cannot marry, to everyone regardless of race, religion, creed, or orientation, ensures that if one day the tables are turned - those same rights have to be afforded to Christians.
Are we so blind to history that we cannot conceive of a time when the majority would want to deny Christians the right to assemble and practice their religion?
Are we that naive?
Protect the rights of everyone, and you protect your own rights in the process.
Open mindedness. Love. Fairness.
Surely these are principles that Christians can share? Surely we can be examples of how Church and Law are separate and we are truly immune from passing judgment on others and just want everyone to share in the Love of Christ?
If you cannot come to the conclusion that gay marriage is just, deserved, and right through open mindedness, love, or the basic understanding of fairness, then while you are praying for the souls of those you would damn for their lifestyle, I will pray for you.
I will pray that those you mean to shepherd are more open minded than you are able to be.
I will pray that you experience a transforming love that makes true love recognizable in all it's many forms, even those you least understand.
I will pray that you never feel the sting of inequality or the dirty disapproving looks from people who are supposed to be beacons of Christs love.
I will pray that you never have to attend a funeral for someone with people picketing 100 yards away.
I will pray that you never have a doctor or nurse tell you that you can't sit by the bedside of your lifelong partner, while they go to meet their maker.
But most importantly, I will pray that you can't find your way to a voting booth on election day.