There is more good news for supporters of marriage equality this Monday morning. According to the Advocate, a Republican state senator in the great state of Washington has pledged support for a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Not quite as memorable as Roy McDonald’s statement when he announced his support for the marriage equality bill in New York in 2011, but that doesn’t lessen the authenticity or the importance of Mr. Litzow’s statement of support from the West Coast.
Now if you remember from my last post about marriage, you’ll know that I have my reservations about “marriage equality” myself. However, I think that more and more people are beginning to come to three realizations regardless of their political or religious affiliations:
1) Some people are born differently. Or if not born differently, have some sort of natural predisposition that’s triggered so early in life that they have nothing to do with it.
2) Just because people are born differently or develop differently, that doesn’t mean that they are incapable of loving another human being.
3) Despite external differences, the love that two human beings share and their commitment to one another should still be recognized by the state.
Of course this is not everyone. But this country has come a long way in a very short time. It’s come such a long way that the future political platform of the GOP is being drawn into question. Eventually opposition to gay marriage is going to be a losing battle for the GOP and more and more Republicans from state senators in New York and Washington to Laura Bush, Dick Cheney and the McCain women have come out in support of gay rights.
One of the lingering, tired arguments against gay rights is that this is the “homosexual radicals” trying to force their values on the rest of the culture.
Actually, it’s just the opposite. Gay people wanting to participate in the institution of marriage should flatter heterosexuals. Gay people wanting to get married says that people in the LGB community recognize the importance of and the benefits of committing to someone for life and that they want a part in this.
Again if you’ll recall, I do have my problems with marriage so I think that some of this flattery is a little undue.
After all, we are a tiny minority. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5%. And on one level, it’s heartbreaking that some people live in so much fear – and also that we are scape-goated for problems we have little if anything to do with at all. (Cue Wanda Sykes and her brilliance.)
On another level, it’s completely disheartening that as human beings, we can be so keen on antagonizing minorities in such thoughtless rhetoric. (Current GOP presidential hopeful whose name you don’t want to Google, anyone? He has a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to his gay gaffes! Check it out!)
When Christians deny the right to marry or get a civil union to people who are lesbian or gay, this is even more heartbreaking.
Without getting into a long discourse, I think that every person who professes to be a “Bible believing” Christian should be concerned with minority rights (not just LGB or LGBT rights). When we’re called in the Torah to come to the aid of the fatherless and the widow, and when Jesus says later in the Gospels that true believers are the ones who came to clothe him when he was naked, to feed him when he was hungry, to visit him in prison – we are called to love and assist those on the margins of society. We are not called to load them down with extra burdens that we ourselves are unwilling to bear. For example, take calls by some religious folks for LGB people to deny their sexual impulses or for transgendered individuals to deny the core of their being. Well I’ve not met many straight people who have told me, “I’m going to be celibate for life because this is what God is calling me to do.” This group includes… Priests. And not all of them do such a great job at this, either. (Note that I am not saying people cannot be celibate, but very few make plans for this. Even fewer actually stick to these plans.) And just because gender disphoria is somewhat rare, that does not equate with not real. (And in fact, gender disphoria is probably more common than we’re ready to admit since many people suffer silently.)
Sometimes the Bible says things that need to be questioned. In the last 100+ years we’ve been realizing that perhaps the Bible doesn’t speak to a literal six-day creation story. We’ve been drawing into question texts that could be used to support genocide and slavery and the oppression of women.
Now some people get very uncomfortable when you start pruning branches away no matter how dead they may be. We start to hear a lot of this term “slippery slope”. When you get rid of verses that say homosexuality is wrong, well then what about verses that say you shouldn’t commit adultery? It’s a very frightening prospect, I know.
Allow me to be upfront in saying this: As religious people, we cannot rely solely upon a dated, sometimes cryptic text. I already hear people crying out how straight-forward the Bible is in saying that “man shall not lie with man as he lies with a woman!”. There’s nothing cryptic about that, right? I’ll be straight with you (haha). I probably have nothing to say that will change your mind if you’re convinced of this. Allow me to simply offer my conviction that as Christians we base our faith on the Bible. We shouldn’t push it aside just because there are a few weird, unsettling passages. But we should also make good use of the faculties God endowed us with – among them intellect and logic – to test what is good and worth preserving.
Some people are born differently. If you’re operating from a Christian worldview, you might explain this through sin entering the world. We as religious people have to decide if we are going to take an approach of grace when confronted with the fallen state of the world or if we are going to leave our friends, our sisters and brothers, our children, our neighbors in a no man’s land where they are not allowed to be fully human, where they are denied even the simple possibility to love another human being intimately because that might put them in danger of eternal damnation. Are we going to be so quick to forget that Jesus told his followers that as they judged others, so they too would be judged?
As a person of faith, I am more concerned about the passages in the Bible like in Matthew 19 where a rich man speaks to Jesus and asks what he must do to be saved. I am astounded that as one of the wealthiest nations in the world and one of the most religious nations in the world, we are not uncomfortable with passages like this where Jesus tells the rich man to go sell all he has and give to the poor. He didn’t tell him to start a culture war. He didn’t tell him to go out and look for socially marginalized people and do everything in his power to make them even more miserable.
Is that clear enough for you? “Go sell everything you have and give to the poor! Then come and follow me.”
Have you sold everything yet? Have you given it all to the poor?
Bottom line: being fully human means admitting that we are all wounded. Or, if you want, it means that we are all fallible. I don’t want to get into semantics. Essentially, we’re all fucked-up and we all fuck up, too. The sooner we all admit this, the sooner we can stop trying to make others miserable to compensate for our own shortcomings and get down to the business of living.