Saturday, October 20, 2012

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

Hey friends, enemies, and everybody in-between! I haven't updated the blog in a while, I know. I've been doing a lot over at Road To The Movies (CLICK HERE to go there), but the ol' personal blog hasn't been getting much love lately. Well, that's all in the past! I'm back and I'm kicking things off with what is undoubtedly my most political (and, therefore, my most inherently divisive) post yet. Just do me a solid and read the whole thing before you rip me a new one, will ya?


I don’t consider myself politically active. When it comes to politicians, I’m of a mind that the only good politician is a former politician. If I see a referendum or initiative on a ballot that I actually have an opinion about, I’ll vote that opinion, but I generally don’t offer that opinion to others unless they press me about it. I have reasons for voting the way I do, but they can’t usually be expressed in something as brief as a Facebook status update, and when you go beyond that, people’s attention tends to wander. My political stances are important to me, and I’d rather not debase them by sharing them with somebody who isn’t interested in an actual exchange of ideas; who is, in fact, only interested in finding out whether or not we agree so that we can either high-five each other in celebration of our own superiority or yell bullet points at each other until one of us gets frustrated enough to concede the last word, effectively admitting defeat. It’s that kind of non-dialogue that has ruined political discourse in this country, and I refuse to take part in it.

Usually. Today I’m making an exception.

There’s a referendum on the ballot this year in my home state of Washington that I have very strong feelings about. Referendum 74 will determine whether to approve or reject a bill the Washington State legislature passed legalizing same-sex marriage, and modifying the state’s domestic partnership law. The bill preserves the rights of churches and religious institutions to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, and indemnifies them from being penalized under Washington’s anti-discrimination laws. In essence, the bill cuts the “male and female” portion of the state’s marriage prerequisites, and allows for gender neutrality when applying the terms husband and wife.

There are a lot of differing opinions about the issue of gay marriage, and I’d be foolish to assume I could tackle them all, so what I’m going to try to do is lay out my take on the issue and assume you’re intelligent enough to actually consider my opinions - along with your own opinions and the opinions of others you have come across - before jumping to comments section and either damning me to Hell or praising me to Heaven. Maybe that last one was a tad too optimistic – either regarding your intelligence or regarding my worthiness of damnation and/or exaltation – but I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m on this train for better or worse, and I’m riding it to the end.

Let me say first off that I am a Christian. I call myself an “Authiest”, but Autheism is just a word I made up because I like the way it sounds and because my particular theology doesn’t really fit in with any mainstream Christian denomination. But I am a Christian. I believe in the Abrahamic God, I believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, and I belief that his death and resurrection was God’s chosen method of reconciling the world to Himself. There are quite a few points on which I disagree with every other form of Christianity that I know of, but those main points are at the core of every Christian denomination, and upon them we all agree. As I said, I am a Christian.

Let me also say that, though we may disagree on numerous articles of faith and theology, I believe that the vast majority of Christians are good, decent, and loving people. I’ve heard a lot of stories about hate-mongering people who call themselves Christians, but I can honestly say that I have yet to meet one, and I’ve met and gotten to know literally hundreds of Christians in my life. Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Non-Denominationals (yes, that’s actually a denomination), Mormons (yes, I include Mormons, as we share a common faith in salvation through Jesus Christ), and even Authiests – which is to say, me. Are there people who use Christianity as a justification to foster hatred and bigotry? Absolutely. It would be the most irresponsible form of naïveté to say otherwise. I’m just saying I’ve never known any of them, and if I have, they concealed it very, very well.

Having said all that, I am a full-fledged supporter of gay marriage. I am also a full-fledged supporter of Muslim marriage. Buddhist marriage too. And Atheist marriage. I even support (Gasp!) inter-faith marriage. Mind you, this isn’t to say I agree that all of these forms of marriage are morally correct. But that’s the beauty of America! I don’t have to believe you are morally correct in order to support your right to do what you believe is morally correct. The way it’s supposed to be is, you should have the right – provided you are not violating the rights of others – to believe whatever you want and conduct yourself in accordance with those beliefs. That’s called freedom of religion, and it’s one of the key principles that America was founded on.

The following is the exact text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I have included it in its entirety so as not to be accused of taking the salient point out of context. Please pay special attention to the section in boldface.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Webster’s Dictionary defines religion as “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” By this definition, the belief that homosexual marriage is as acceptable as heterosexual marriage clearly falls within the definition of religion. As such, anybody who believes in protecting freedom of religion should be fighting to protect the freedom of homosexuals to marry.

Consider the precedent rejecting Referendum 74 would establish. We’re talking about rejecting a bill designed to bolster religious freedom in an area where it is currently oppressed. Once that’s been done, it’s just a short jog down the block to supporting a bill designed to restrict religious freedom in an area where it is currently being abused. Maybe something along the lines of outlawing “hate-speech” in religious institutions. “Hate-speech” could be construed to include things like condemning homosexuality as sinful or perverse, teaching that God destroyed an entire city because it was full of homosexuals, or referring to homosexuality as an abomination. Once the restriction of religious liberty is open to the will of the people, it’s just a matter of whose popularity is on the rise, and whose is on the decline.

For the record, I don’t consider the above statements to be hate-speech. People are too ready these days to label their opponents as hate-mongers or bigots just because they say you’re wrong for believing what you believe. Let’s be clear on this point: There is a big difference between hatred and bigotry, and the belief that someone’s actions are wrong or sinful.

I grew up in a Christian family, so I was told growing up that a lot of things were morally wrong and/or sinful. My mom told me that saying the word heck was morally wrong, because it was just a slang term for the word hell. My dad told me that it was morally wrong to date a girl you didn’t intend to marry, because you were basically cheating on your future spouse. Now, I don’t agree with either of these statements, and I did both of these things at one point or another during childhood and adolescence. So, in effect, my parents were telling me that the things I did were morally wrong, and in my house, that meant I was a sinner. Does that mean my parents hated me?

I shouldn’t even have to answer that question, but I will. I will because – as dumb as it might sound – there seems to be a lot of confusion on this point.


As strange as it may sound to some people, they told me I was a sinner because they loved me. They loved me and they wanted what was best for me, at least as they saw it.

Like I said, I don’t agree that I was a sinner because I said heck and dated a girl I had no intention of marrying. I was a sinner for other reasons, but not those ones. But let’s step back for a moment and take a look at why they told me those things. Was it because they wanted to heap a bunch of guilt on me? Was it because they wanted me to be perfect and pure? Was it because they wanted to control me?

My parents don’t swear. They don’t refrain from profanity out of some puritanical belief that there are bad words and that anybody who says them is morally repulsive in the eyes of God. It’s much simpler than that. It’s about consideration. There are a lot of people in the world who are deeply offended by profanity. In the church especially. We were church people. We spent time with and had close friendships with people in the church. It was our primary social circle. For us to walk around spouting profanity at every turn would have been grossly inconsiderate of the people we associated with; people we cared about deeply and who cared about us deeply. That’s why my mom didn’t want me saying heck. She believed it was a gateway word to profanity, and she didn’t want me being inconsiderate of the people around us. It was about common courtesy.

My parents believe in living by the teachings of Jesus. The Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – is at the core of His teachings, and our family tried very hard to live by it. My parents also believe in marriage and family. It was always assumed – and rightly so – that one day I would marry and have children. That meant that – unless I was really going to rob the cradle – by the time I was fifteen, there was probably already someone out there who would eventually be my wife. Now, if that person actually existed, wouldn’t it make sense that I would want to save my love for her and only her, and not create romantic attachments with other women that could cause her pain and jealousy? My father didn’t want me to not date around out of some desire to keep me sexually repressed or romantically frustrated. He wanted me to keep myself pure so that my eventual relationship with my wife would be as happy and baggage-free as possible. I’m not saying that’s how it worked out – like I said, I don’t agree with this belief – but his motivation was that he wanted me to prepare for long-term happiness rather than short-term gratification. That’s what I want for my kids too. That’s what any loving father would want.

And that’s really the answer. They didn’t tell me I was a sinner because they hated me. They told me I was a sinner because they cared about me; because they wanted me to pursue things that would benefit me in the long-term and make me someone who contributes to a better, kinder, more loving society. Their way of going about it may not have yielded the results they intended, but – especially when it comes to your kids – nobody knows the future, and all you can really do is try your best.

That’s why Christians oppose homosexuality. Not because they hate homosexuals, but because – rightly or wrongly – they want what’s best for homosexuals, and believe that homosexual activity will ultimately hurt those who practice it. I’m not saying whether I agree with this belief or not, I’m just saying that bigotry and hatred aren’t the only possible explanations for mainstream Christianity’s attitude towards the homosexual lifestyle in general, and gay marriage in particular. I know that there is certainly a lot of hatred and bigotry in the world, and that plenty of it uses Christianity as an excuse and a justification. But I also know that I’ve never met a Christian whose belief in opposing homosexuality wasn’t the result of a desire for what they believed – as I’ve said, rightly or wrongly – to be the long-term happiness of homosexuals.

Let me close by saying that I believe in religious freedom. I believe in religious freedom for all people. Above all, I believe in the words of Christ: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12) Or, in the common parlance, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s why I support equality. That’s why I’m voting “Approve” on Referendum 74. That’s why I’m asking you to do the same.


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