Monday, November 23, 2015

On Love and Equality

Fair warning: I'm going to talk about gay marriage in this post. Don't like it? Feel free to stop reading here.

Tonight, my friend Summer told me to watch this documentary called Bridegroom, the story of Tom and Shane, two men in love, in a deeply committed relationship that was cut short when Tom died in a tragic accidental fall off a roof. Tom's very conservative parents took Tom's body back to their home state and cut Shane out of the picture, banning him from the funeral and acting as though he never existed at Tom's funeral service.

The movie is an hour and twenty minutes long, and in that 80 minutes, I smiled at the stories of how wonderful Tom's friends made him seem, I was envious of the love that he and Shane had, I laughed hysterically at Shane's grandma and great-grandma (seriously), I felt heartbroken, I wanted to punch Tom's parents in the throat, and then I smiled again knowing that Tom's dream came true and gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

I just don't get it. I don't get how parents can physically attack their son just because he told them he was gay, and then use the Bible to justify it. I don't understand how they can threaten the man he loved with physical harm if he so much as showed up to the funeral. I don't get how they can be so in denial about a huge part of who their son is that they won't even accept it after he's dead. And the sickening part to me is that I know that Tom's parents aren't the only people in America who would act like this towards their children and their same-sex partners/husbands/wives.

When did "religious liberty" become more important than love? When did six verses in the Bible, none of which were said by Jesus, become more important than the King we're supposed to serve, the one whose two greatest commandments are both about love? When did fear of something different, something you may not naturally understand, become more important than relationships?

I don't understand how someone could be so stuck in their belief system that they would kick another person out of their lives (Shane lost his best friend and was ostracized by his entire town). I don't understand how you can decide that someone, another living and breathing human being, is worthless or evil or disgusting simply because they love someone of the same sex. This world is screwed up enough as it is and has plenty of hateful people in it. Why would anyone want to vilify some of the others who are just trying to live in love?

A lot of evangelicals in America seem to think that "freedom of religion" means they get to force their Christian beliefs on the rest of the country, arguing that "America needs to get back to its Christian morals." But here's the thing - America wasn't founded on Christian morals. America's foundation is built on not giving preference to one religion over another, or religion over agnosticism/atheism. And also? These Christian evangelicals are so sure about what the Bible says, but here's a little passage from Matthew Paul Turner that I completely agree with.

What if all of your "God inspired" declarations about the LGBTQ communities are incorrect? What if all of those Bible verses you point to in defense of your opinions don't mean what you think they mean? Or what if they do mean what you think they mean, except they were written with context for a particular people during a particular time because of particular circumstances...But what if you're wrong? What if all of the blatant statements you've made against gay people are little more than wasted words, spiritualized hatred that you've mistakenly packaged with Christ? What if all of the time/energy you've spent fighting/debating/proclamating is just lost time/energy that could have been used for some other, more life-giving activity? Being passionately wrong has consequences, and that's true regardless of whether or not you present your views hatefully or with so-called Christian love.

I wish people would quit acting like they're being victimized by LGBTQ+ people, as well as their allies, bringing this issue to the forefront of conversation and moving the normalization of same-sex relationships forward. Who someone else is in love with does not hurt you, gay or straight. They are not victims of the LGBTQ+ community; they are victims of their own fear, which paralyzes them from relationships with people that can be just as supportive, loving, and life-giving as straight people. This fear can play out in many different relationships, I know it has in my life, but it just makes even less sense to me when you refuse to get to know someone because you see them as less than simply because of their sexual orientation.

You know what I thought for the majority of Bridegroom? I thought that I hope I find a love like Shane and Tom's one day. I've met my fair share of people in loving, beautiful relationships/marriages, but there was something about the way that Shane talked about Tom, and the way that Shane's family and their friends talked about their relationship, that just screamed this is something special. As cliché as it is, love is love. It doesn't matter the sex of the people in the relationship. You know real, deep love when you see it. What's in between someone's legs has nothing to do with their ability to love or be loved.

It is not a choice. It is not something that can be prayed away. It is not something that can be "fixed" by a psychiatrist. It is not a mind game or a joke. Shane tells his story of praying he wasn't gay, and I've heard similar stories from friends of mine who are gay. I've also heard comments from people who seem to not only genuinely believe that gay people choose to be gay, but also don't understand the point when someone asks them if they chose to be straight. No one would choose to be something that gets them tormented, ostracized, and sometimes attacked. Correct me if I wrong, but don't you want to just be accepted and loved as you are? Yeah? Well, what makes you think gay people are any different?

I hope that fifty years from now, people will look at homophobia the way that many of us look at racism now, that it will seem backwards and wrong and not make sense. Because while gay marriage becoming legalized in all 50 states is a huge step forward, we still have so far to go. Kids (and I mean actual, like, 11-year-old kids) are committing suicide because they're being bullied for being gay. Parents are throwing their children, the ones they're supposed to love and protect, out on the streets because they're gay. Stuff like this is just not okay.

Even if you are someone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, where's your human decency? Where are the pro-life people fighting for all life? Sexual orientation does not make up all that a person is. LGBT+ people, just like straight people, are people with hopes, dreams, aspirations, fears, passions, talents, and love in them. God made every single one of us in His image, a masterpiece, a beautiful work of art. God is perfect, righteous, and good. A perfect God doesn't make mistakes. He knew each one of us before we were born. He knew exactly who each one of us would be. We are wonderfully made. No corollaries, no classifications.

I long for the day when we can stop classifying them as LGBT+ people and just see them like everyone else is seen: as people.

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