A Survival Guide for Christians Who Have Been Fighting Against Marriage Equality
Many of us have been in the Marriage Equality war for a long, long time.
I remember a drag queen host taking the microphone at San Jose Pride about a dozen years ago. She saw a group with “Freedom to Marry” t-shirts, and with a twinge of sadness remarked, “Oh honeys, they are NEVER going to let us get married, ever. You may as well give that one up right now.” She was wrong.
As in all wars, there is a foe. In the United States the foes tend to call themselves “Christians” and root their obsessive opposition in their particular interpretation of the Bible.
While these folks have had a series of wake up calls from the landmark 2012 elections where marriage equality won on the ballots in four states, to the earth shattering Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and California’s Proposition 8, the big anvil dropped in many of their states in these last few weeks. The threat of same sex marriage was no longer looming as possible where they lived, it was now here, and here to stay.
Many have started to react. After a story about LGBT couples marrying, Idaho reporter Dani Hawkins bizarrely states that there are “two sides to this story” as if an anti-gay couple who has a Bible on their coffee table is personally affected by the weddings of others they don’t even know. Hawkins presents Justin and Melanie Sease. Their “side” is to paint anti-gay statements on their car and to drive it around town in an attempt to humiliate gay people. Justin explains that his worry has a biblical origin. “The Bible says that when homosexuality is publicly accepted, basically it spreads like a cancer.” In actuality, the Bible does not say anything about the public accepting homosexuality, nor does it say anything about a homosexuality spread, and it never mentions cancer.
This is typical of the public conversations coming from the vocal “Christians”. Misinformation, falsehoods and demonization have moved front and center displacing anything that even remotely resembles logic or reasonable discussion. It has reached such a fevered pitch that it led The Pink Panthers Movement blogger Ken Jansen to plead with Christians at large, “Take a stand. Raise your voice, shout out to the world that not all people of faith are like the hate mongers that we keep hearing from. Prove to me that you believe in a religion of love. Give me at least a bit of hope that there is some love left in the world.”
Christian pastor and writer John Pavlovitz speaks about LGBT people he has heard from after he declared that should his children turn out to be gay, that he would unconditionally support them. “What I was not prepared for in any way, were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally, to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families. Parents, children, siblings, and adults have confided in me (some for the first time anywhere), telling of the pain, and bullying, and shunning they’re received from churches, pastors, and church members; from professed followers of Jesus.
Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their devastating stories of exclusion and isolation, of unanswered prayers to change, of destructive conversion therapies, of repeated suicide attempts, and of being actively and passively driven from faith, by people of faith.”
I therefore submit the following six point guide for those people who have woken up in the past few weeks to find out that marriage equality has moved into the neighborhood.
Dear “Traditional Marriage” Proponent:
It is painful for me to witness the distress you seem to be experiencing over marriage equality coming to your state. I realize that you have fought against it and feared it. I know you think it will somehow damage your world.
Through it all, you have professed a faith in God. Rather than lash out with bad behavior against your fellow citizens, it might be more effective to rely on that faith now.
As a fellow Christian, I wanted to give you a suggested guide on how you may want to cope with what has taken place, and ways to accept it on your own biblically based terms:
- Do What Would Jesus Would Do: Jesus believed in the separation of church and state. “Render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” Jesus did not call for a rejection of same sex marriage; He merely described the terms of the current opposite sex marriages of the time. He did not hurl insults at people who society disparaged, He befriended them. He healed the lover of a Roman Centurion and praised the Roman’s level of faith. He gave us the golden rule, the good Samaritan and instructed us to “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” Emulate Christ.
- Meet Our Families and Understand Who We Are: There is a ridiculous amount of focus given to what our families aren’t. We aren’t couples who accidently got pregnant and needed marriage to encourage us to take care of the children we inadvertently created. That is true. We aren’t that. Almost without exception, we are families where a couple has planned how and when to have children. Many of our families are formed by adopting children who would live desperate lives without us, if they survived at all. My oldest son was born 6 weeks prematurely to a heroin addict, my youngest was found abandoned in a trailer at 10 months. Our kids are growing up to be safe, loved, well adjusted members of society. Jesus tells you to love the children of the world and the Ten Commandments tells you to support the honoring of parents. Please follow these Bible directives when looking at who we are.
- Focus on the Goodness in Marriage: Same sex marriage honors all the principles you hold dear in marriage itself. It is still about responsibility, the importance of family, love and commitment. The more same sex marriages there are, the more of those qualities there are in the world.
- Stop Valuing Discrimination and Seeking the Right to Do It: Discrimination is an evil. It is acting on an ignorance about others who you don’t know but pretend you do. It is bad enough to fall into a human tendency towards it, but even worse to actively fight for the right to behave that way. You pay the price for it. Discrimination comes at a huge personal cost. As you allow yourself that mindset, you concurrently develop the fear of being discriminated against yourself. We observe exactly this in all the paranoia being expressed by vitriolic anti-gay pundits sounding off today. Break free. “Thou shalt discriminate” is not biblical.
- Get Real With Your Relationship With the Bible: I have never met a non-lobster eating, pro-slavery, Sabbath-worker killing, woman silencing, flat-earther, poverty seeking Christian in my life. I am not saying that there isn’t one, just that I have not had the displeasure of meeting such and individual. I therefore, have never met someone who TRULY and literally believes in what every word of the translated Bible actually says. Every single Christian on the planet picks and chooses passages they find relevant. Believing that same sex marriage is wrong due to passages with potential interpretations depicting the rape of angels, and orgies in Roman temples is passé and completely irrelevant to committed relationships by two informed consenting adults. It is time to get real about with which principles you scan the Bible. Many have found that the Bible is not a literal rule book, but a profound book that traces the evolvement of spirituality and knowledge of higher consciousness. It is time to join them.
- Love: John, the right hand disciple of Jesus, defined God in direct terms in the Bible. He stated simply, “God is Love.” One’s relationship to the principle of Love is probably the most universally unifying and highly spiritual states achievable. Love cannot be proven, seen or even described, yet we all seem to have some sense of what it is, and hold it in esteem. It can be the common ground for the atheist, the religious and everyone in between. It is the single most gratifying aspect of both being human, and seeing oneself as a child of God. It is time to live it. It is time to give it generously, and experience the miracle that the more you give it away, the more you have, defying all other laws of limitation and depletion.
The Bible starts with a story about the tree of life, and Jesus concludes it with a directive on how to know who is truly representing cosmic truth. His litmus test is “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
I know “the fruits” of my life, and who I am every night at 8:30 PM. That is the time that I hold two young boys in my arms, and kiss them good night, and let them know how very much I love them. As I turn out the light, I breathe in my purpose and my path. It is time to look at what fruit your anti-gay behavior is producing. If it is shame and hurt, something is rotting badly.
My path with my family and our journey is not something that should cause you harm. My hope is that you stop fearing that it will, that you lay down your stones and pitch forks, and join us for a stroll. We would welcome you.
Photo Credit: Flickr: MattLake
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