These last few days have seen us all barraged beyond measure with opinions, and I’m sure you’re as worn out by it as I. You might even be a tad fed up, refusing to check Facebook or Twitter until this all blows over. If any of this is the case, I’ve good news for you. I’m not going to share my opinion on homosexuality or gay marriage with you *cheering*.
Frankly, I don’t see why my unsolicited opinion is important enough for you to know, especially now with arguments and feelings flying around like specks of sand in a desert storm. If you want to know you can ask and we can talk about it. All that being said, I want you to know I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this. I understand you don’t have to, especially given the present condition of the social medias.
Conversely, this also isn’t an “anti-Christian-response” thing where I rant at “conservative” Christians for how poorly they’re handling this decision. Those posts might be fewer and farther between depending on your social circles, but they’re definitely still out there and easy to find if you look hard enough.
This isn’t any of those things. I honestly wasn’t going to write at all about the gay marriage decision, opting for what I believed to be the wiser choice of silence. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should. As if in rebellion to my chosen quietus, though, thoughts started forming. Between mowing lawns, sitting in church, and trips to the bathroom (let’s be honest – some of the greatest ideas in history probably came while on the pooper or in the shower), the following started to take shape.
I’ve noticed that tagged on the end of most of the positive reactions I saw to this weekend’s decision was the hashtag #lovewins. As the weekend progressed, it emerged as the premiere tag among posts jubilating and affirming the Supreme Court’s vote. It seemed appropriate, as it encompasses the Pride movement and what many hoped would be the lasting result from the voting. It’s nice, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t want love to win?
But did love win? Many would say yes, praising the federal government’s recognition of gay marriage as legitimate. Now there aren’t any (legal) boundaries on love, and people who are gay can (legally) love who they choose. Many would also say no, stating their religious teachings declare homosexual relationships unnatural and ungodly and therefore void of genuine love. Love is born of God, and God doesn’t condone homosexuality, thus homosexual relationships aren’t based on love.
Something that doesn’t seem to be lacking due to this weekend is sides (and rainbows). And what’s so bizarre is that I can’t identify a single one of them (sides, not rainbows). It’s an obscene oversimplification to only see those who agree with and are opposed to the decision, but it’s an impossibility to go any deeper. Every opinion is different, even from those who claim they agree completely with each other. The extreme diversity of reactions is both exhausting and overwhelming, but also a tad beautiful. Isn’t this what makes us wonderfully human? That we all have such vastly different and unique responses to the same stimulus derived from the foundation of our various experiences and uncopyable personality key? This is something to be relished, but something has gone amiss here.
As I close Facebook, I can’t help but leave with a distinct sense of bereavement. My source of cute animal videos, clever and punny statements, life notifications from peripheral friends, the occasional reading material, and general communication hub has been replaced by a war zone. While there is discussion, it only ends with one party just not messaging back, never with admission of fault or steps toward reconciliation. And don’t even get me started about the actual fighting. Judgements are being mixed with opinions, opinions are being formed upon uninformed foundation, and uninformed foundation is created from the acceptance of hearsay and opinion as fact. The wondrous gift of thought from our creator and the powerful platform of free speech upon which this country was founded are being misused.
The internet has become the veritable breeding grounds of division. Names are being called, stereotypes created and filled, judgements made, people written off, hearts hurt, relationships burnt to the ground. Is this what we’ve amounted to?
I promised I wouldn’t rant at Christians for their reaction to the gay movement, and I won’t, but let’s look at the Christian’s reactions to themselves. You have those crying doomsday and proclaiming our country is going to burn in hell for what we’ve done. Some profusely claim homosexuality is a sin and worthy of life in hell and they’ll fight you to the death about it. You’ve got others who believe similar things, albeit being calmer about it, but are calling out our government for veering away from the Christian principles they think were the only ideological foundations our country was built on. There are others still who believe the same stuff but are pulling the “higher road” move of calling out anyone verbally professing against the gay movement, saying homosexuality is just as much a sin as [insert common sin here], and gays need love or they won’t change. You’ve also got those who don’t really know what they think about it at all (*raised hand*). Some accept homosexual relationship as legitimate and under the approval of God in various forms and degrees. And every single one of them is fighting about it. “Conservative,” “liberal,” “zealot,” and “heretic” have become the insults we write on other’s name tags, choosing to see them by those names rather than who they are. There are so many lines in the sand that the world’s beaches are starting to look like the work of an obsessive tic-tac-toe player.
And all this only from the Christians. I can’t speak for the gay movement at all since I don’t have a strong gay social presence, but I can only assume the same sort of things are abounding since that movement is comprised of humans as well.
We’ve become a society known only by division. Shoot, division is about as Western as it gets. We are taught from birth the stark difference between left and right, up and down, eggs over easy and sunny side up, right and wrong – only to have such deep contrasts turned to a muddy gray as we mature. Richard Rohr, in his book “Silent Compassion,” says
“I call non-silence ‘dualistic thinking,’ where everything is separated into opposites, like life and death. The dualistic mind is almost the only mind left in the West. We even think it is what it means to be educated – to be very good at dualistic thinking – but it is what Jesus and Buddha would call judgmental thinking, and they both strongly warn against it.”
Is this what we’ve become? A people that can only regard those around them through categories and stereotypes? Everyone is at fault here. Not just Christians, not just certain “kinds” of Christians, not just gays. We all did this to ourselves.
We are here for each other, as one people. I’m no Biblical scholar, but if anything Jesus said was clear it was that love was the highest way. In fact, he said it was his highest commandment, to love God ultimately and all those around us, calling them our neighbors. Our task is to care for our brothers and sisters out there, out in the world. We have infinite capacities to heal or to harm, and we’ve only been charged with one.
I relish the power of free speech, I support it fully. I also am awestruck by the brilliance of the people God’s created in the different opinions and thoughts we can have. So I’m not telling anyone in particular to shut up or to not have an opinion. I’m also not calling out any one “side” or “group” to sacrifice their constitutional rights to say and think what they want so we can all get along.
I’m calling out everyone to do that.
Pocket your words, sheath your opinions, put the safety back on your judgements. Christians, stop seeing “gay” as an idea rather than a people. Gays, stop playing the victim card. Yes, we all have the power to think and say what we want, we all get to create “our way” and try to have it as much as we want. But sacrificing all that is the path of redemption and healing, anyone in a thriving marriage can tell you that. Christians, gays, everyone else – we are all here together. Nobody’s going anywhere anytime soon. If we can put away our preconceived and ill-formed notions of one another, incredible things will happen. Unity can happen. Not a unity based on any universal understanding or agreement, but a unity based on love.
You. Reader. I’m calling out you personally. I’m not telling you to agree with everyone. Heck, I bet we disagree on a lot of stuff. But my love for you outruns my love for my position on those things. Let the same be true of you. Love with the same abundance you have been loved.
So, has love really won? Not that I can see. Gay marriage won in the courts, but love hasn’t won. Not yet, at least.