In junior high and high school, my friend Jessica and I talked to each other in little kid-like voices that we borrowed from the way her mom would talk to us. We all did it on purpose, just a silly way to have our own little way of communicating.
With that tone and silliness, Jess would ask me WHY after every single thing I said. (Preparation for motherhood?)
But WHY? she’d ask, over and over after every answer I gave. It always came to an abrupt end when she was satisfied–with always the same exact last response I could possibly come up with–because He’s God.
Then we’d move on. What else can you say?
There are no answers after that.
I want the marriage equality debate to be simple, but nothing with this much emotion behind it is simple. This is a many-layered issue from all viewpoints. Seeing some of my Christians friends “lectured” by other Christians for changing their profile pictures to equal signs led me to writing this today. This is what I do, I work through things with words.
I’m fully aware that Christians against the legalizing of gay marriage want me to see this is a very simple issue. They want me to see how very clear it is to think it wrong. But because of me, we start talking about original Greek language and translation and historical context and how the Bible says a lot of things that we don’t hold to be True anymore and then they say, But this one is so obvious. And then I say, nothing is obvious and then they say that it has to be because we could make it all really complicated and it’s not complicated–it’s black and white truth. Then I say, Okay but then we can’t think very hard about parables or Love or Hope or Peace either. Let’s just stop thinking. Then we both roll our eyes and stop liking each other. See, it goes on and on like this and I start to see that They don’t get it and I don’t get it and I wish we could admit that more often. There are so many ways of seeing something and why are we even focused on this? WHY? The Christian church is not in charge of this country. We cannot decide how everyone should live and call it love.
It’s hard to love someone you don’t like at all.
This Rick Warren quote is a big deal on facebook right now.
It says you don’t have to agree with people to love them. (True, but just a second…)
When he speaks of love there, that is exactly where it gets complicated for me because I want to know what love really is. What exactly does that look like? (and no, I do not want Foreigner to show me.)
Here’s the thing (don’t you just love “here’s the thing”–especially if someone starts a comment on facebook with it?),
if I am claiming that I’m loving people no matter what, why do I even need to concern myself with their convictions?
Someone recently answered that, when I asked it out loud, with, We are called to correct each other’s behavior. It’s not right. That doesn’t mean we don’t LOVE them, we do. But that’s HOW we love them, by showing them it’s not right.
I said, I think they’ve probably heard that before and don’t agree. I think it might hurt to hear it again and again from people who don’t respect or accept them at all for who they are.
This seems like a good time to mention something else, I hope we’re on the same page about it because it’s really important–I am a whore and a drunk and way too often a totally selfish and entitled child. So are you. You might not drink at all, or much, and maybe you have never had sex outside of marriage, or not that much anyway, since college,
but this is just my way of saying we’re all the same dirty seekers of contentment and a feeling like we’re wanted more than we’re not. Like maybe we’re even okay and accepted in our messes, whatever they are, and that we are all trying to find our way home. So if you are very focused on your belief that being gay is wrong and therefore adamant that gay marriage be outlawed, why?
We are just a bunch of kids trying to figure it out. We want to sit together and have it be safe to tell our stories, no matter our differences. I think about that and I think about how Jesus responded to Pharisees and other religious leaders who started stomping their feet and puffing their chests when people tried to talk, to be heard.
Do you see it? Him holding a hand in the air, irritated, SHHHH.
Let her finish.
And no matter what she’s saying she is or what she says she has done, she’s got His attention like she’s the best book ever. A page-turner with every page in black and white a testament to how it all woks together for good, how we are made in all of our glorious complicated ways and we’re the same–deserving of the same freedoms no matter how we are seen in the eyes of Christians or anyone else.
Like Heather the drunk whore who loves to tell stories and sees God in trees and feeds the chickens and her human babies and is so very tired. Heather who believes you are lovely and you and you and tell me every last word, I love your story so much, just as it is.
So you best believe I want you next to your partner at the end of her life. I want you to be able to say if she can go on because you know her best and we need a signature for that and so many other things that hurt too much or grow us so much with the joy-pain they bring.
Maybe there is an acceptance that is nothing short of holy, something we can’t even recognize unless it hits us outside of our judgments and opinions. Maybe it’s a way of sitting with anyone and everyone that believes this or that or that or this, and does or does not do this or that or that or this. Maybe there’s a God so loving that all of our differences, big or small are simply trumped by a breeze
a buzzing in the ears
the far off crow of a rooster
a puff of white dandelion
on the wind
so soft and gentle
it can’t be
that it should
move this heavy
or fill this chasm
but there it goes,
it’s the softest BOOM you’ve ever heard
love walking gently around hearts
oh hello there
that is all you are,
Maybe some of us are scared of this, this thinking.
Because no matter how you slice it, no matter if you think being gay is a sin or not, or whether you’d like legal marriage to stay only for a man and a woman or not, we are STILL all the same ALL the time.
Because we are.
Oh we are so small minded and can I hope we’re all trying to learn? We are full of open spaces for changing with a filling of our hearts if only we allow it. We don’t know anything and we know everything in small moments that are glimpses of what we’ll all one day know–it’s exquisite–a fullness so rich it will blind us and we will be astonished at some of the things God has to say about what we thought we knew about love and loving and being here together.
Because He’s God.
More food for thought:
The Equals Sign and Christian Cognitive Dissonance
But I sense that not everyone does see America this way. Let’s remind ourselves that the issue before the Supreme Court is not whether or not the church should count same sex unions as a Christian marriage. The issue is what America has to say about same sex partner unions, benefits and what individual states can say about that. The church is not being challenged, Christians aren’t being challenged, the state is being challenged. I suppose that only problematic if you have trouble pulling apart America and your church.
This of course doesn’t take into account the fact that this might not be sin. When we read the Bible in isolation, in a ‘plain’ way, without context and research and cultural awareness and ancient language knowledge, then of course, the Bible says. Of course we can cherry-pick verses that apply to 2013, without considering how verses have been cherry-picked throughout history to support all sorts of things.
Not every Christian who believes in “traditional marriage” is full of hate. Not every Christian who supports the civil rights of gay folks is a Bible-rejecting defector. Not every gay man wears glitter and drag in Pride Parades. We are not caricatures. We are people, and life is nuanced. Until we stop assigning stereotypes to each other and do the hard work of actually getting to know one another as friends, or at least human beings, we are going to sabotage every good, productive possibility in front of us.
As we embraced, I knew in a way that I cannot put into words that sharing communion with this man was the right thing to do, that it was an act of bravery and grace for both of us—together unworthy, together worthy, brother and sister, in the mystery of the Eucharist.
So when the thought of my Sunday school teachers’ disapproval crossed my mind, the only words to surface to my lips were, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”
I don’t WANT to be controversial, but here is the thing: I have gay friends. Good friends. People I love. And if I was sitting at a table eating lunch with one of them and you walked up to them and started saying things like, “You are disgusting. God is disgusted by you. You shouldn’t be able to be next of kin for your partner. You don’t deserve to be a parent. A child would be better off in foster care than being raised by you.”
If you were saying these things, to one of my friends? To their face?? I daresay that I would STAND up from the table, take my earrings off and tell you where to step off.
Love Without Agenda via Rage Against the Minivan
We have to move beyond our petty bickering over theological minutia if we hope to pattern our lives after Jesus. Jesus took no part in this type of Truth War. This practice of policing people’s thought and beliefs may be the most damaging and unloving thing that we do in our lives. It’s unloving to both Christians and non-Christians. Smashing other Christians because they only believe 85/100 things that you believe is simply not in the pattern you were designed to imitate.