When “Loving the Sinner” is Not Enough

I have thought about this issue and written versions of it in my head countless times over the past couple of years but haven’t done anything with it until now. But I just read another online article about an LGBT teenager who committed suicide after being bullied post-coming out. I need to write this NOW. I need to get this out there NOW. Things need to change NOW.

I have friends who are conservative Christians who have contacted me very respectfully on the issue of marriage equality. I want to say right off the bat that I appreciate that they are interested in dialoguing about this issue, and that they chose to reach out to me. I hope that my response will be respectful as well, even though we disagree.

The main issue at stake is that these friends of mine have indicated that they are really bothered and offended by the accusation that because they support “traditional” marriage, this means that they automatically hate gay people. They were also offended by the fact that some articles surrounding the Chik-fil-a/Dan Cathy issue (financial donations to organizations that are “pro-family”) referenced the CFA issue alongside hate crimes.

I have thought about a number of different ways to respond to what has been brought to the table. I thought about engaging in a discussion about scripture, and how/why I do not believe that the Bible actually condemns homosexuality (for an excellent resource, check out www.matthewvines.com). But ultimately, that discussion will never really result in mutual understanding because from previous discussion I know that these friends and I have differing interpretations of the Bible. So I won’t waste time and energy on that front…although I am happy to discuss it further with anyone who is interested!  Feel free to contact me privately.

Regarding marriage equality, think about it as a civil rights issue. By supporting marriage equality, no rights are being taken away from people who support “traditional” marriage. But by standing against marriage equality, ultimately what is happening is that people are taking their religious beliefs and legislating with them. It’s turning one’s religious beliefs into law, when there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. Denying rights to a group of people based on a particular characteristic of theirs when that same right is afforded to other people is unethical and illegal, in my opinion. Yes, you have the freedom to believe that homosexuality is wrong. You have the freedom to worship how you choose. You hae the freedom to donate money to whatever causes you choose. But I do not believe that you should have the opportunity to impose those beliefs on others in the form of legislation.

But it goes much deeper than just marriage equality. The problem extends beyond marriage, and this is where the real danger lies in my opinion.  By denying a group of people a right that is afforded to others (such as gay people having the right to marry), it is sending the message to them and to the rest of society that they are “less than” the group that has that right. That they are not as worthy, not “right,” etc. So when society (and the LAW) are supporting this sort of discrimination, it is essentially giving people the freedom to treat that group as such…less than, less worthy, less right. This is when bullying happens. This is when suicide happens. This is when hate crimes happen. This is when deaths like Matthew Shepard’s happen.  The LGBT community has been set up to be subordinate, so some people feel justified in their hatred and justified in their bullying and violence.  And it is NOT okay. And the “Love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality contributes as well. How are you truly loving someone when you are telling them every day that they are less? That they are wrong? Merely “tolerating” or even “accepting” homosexuality implies that there is something less-than-desirable to be tolerated or accepted. So even churches that profess to “accept” people who are gay while still professing that homosexuality is a sin, even those churches (although it’s preferable to the alternatives like Westboro Baptist…) are telling gay people that who they are at their core is WRONG.

So to my friends who say that they support traditional marriage but profess not to “hate” gay people, I just encourage you fully, deeply, truly, and honestly examine what that belief system is supporting.  I agree that there are people who are pro-marriage equality who have been ugly in their response to traditional marriage supporters…and there is no excuse for that. It’s incredibly unfortunate that they have allowed their hurt and anger to lead to that sort of disrespect. But the sense of discrimination that has plagued the LGBT community for so long HAS. TO. STOP. The bullying, the ostracizing, the hate, the violence, and just the simple act of denying rights that are afforded to heterosexuals.

And to all of you, thank you for keeping me honest, for encouraging me to examine my own beliefs and to articulate them.  I appreciate the opportunity.

Namaste. And God bless.

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One thought on “When “Loving the Sinner” is Not Enough

  1. Someone proposed an interesting thought experiment to me recently.

    Suppose you were in a conversation with two other people. The first one was talking about her friends Pat and Shannon and how they all spent some time on vacation together last year. The second friend says, “Are Pat and Shannon married?”

    You hear the second friend ask the question. What do you think the second friend is asking?
    1) “Are Pat and Shannon a couple in a committed, lifelong, loving partnership?
    2) Is one of them a man and one of them a woman?

    If you think your friend is really asking the second question, then yeah: you think marriage is about the sexes of the people involved. But if you think your friend is asking the first question, then you think “marriage” is really about being a couple in a committed, lifelong, loving partnership.

    That’s the traditional meaning of marriage that I want to preserve by expanding access to the institution to my gay friends.

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