A Note to Opponents of the LGBT Community
In recent weeks, two current events concerning the LGBT community have captured the attention of many in the media: the Supreme Court’s discussion of same-sex marriage and Bruce Jenner’s decision to transition into a woman.
I’ll note here what I think of both: I’m in favor same-sex marriage and I support Bruce Jenner in his ambition to become on the outside what he feels he is on the inside.
Most Americans, I imagine, would feel the same. (Or else they are indifferent to both matters.) Indeed—-and this is based solely on my perception of reality—-in the near decade that has followed my high school graduation, most Americans have become much more supportive of the LGBT community. Most seem better informed about, and more open to the truth of, sexual and gender identity, that both are largely governed by biology and that the only choice involved is the choice of accepting one’s biology and, from there, pursuing one’s own happiness.
If you wish to dispute me on this last point, I encourage you to read up on sexual and gender identity so that we can have something to discuss. (A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships, by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, would be a good place to start. Also, for a more personal look at the LGBT community, The Full Spectrum: A New Generation Of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, And Other Identities.) To that, I’ve already heard the biblical interpretation, that when God created men and women, He imbued them with certain desires and he designed them to perform certain functions. This seems to be the Judeo-Christian and Islamic ideal for gender roles, and the assumption that dovetails this is that, if a person rejects this straightforward model of sexuality—-man for woman, woman for man, they marry, the woman becomes the wife, a portable baby-maker/husband respecter, while the man becomes the husband, a breadwinner/contracted contributor to the baby-making process—-then that person refuses to acknowledge God’s design and thus lives in sin, etc.
For countless reasons apart from the matter of human sexuality, I personally reject this notion of sin, and I further reject all supposed authorities of sin, e.g. the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an and the religious interpretation therefrom.
All the same, I realize that a lot of people derive their identity from their religion, and so when their neighbors say one thing while Scripture says another, they are forced to make a choice: Do they align themselves with humanity, or do they reassert their devotion to what they see as divinely inspired text?
The decision, I have no doubts, is paramount, and for me, the slippery slope critique becomes null and void. If one, out of necessity or discomfort, does away with one verse, then what is to some one from doing away with any other verse? At what point does Scripture lose its special validation? At what point does it become simply a very old self-help book?
In truth, I appreciate what this dilemma means to the adherent. And I recognize the fact that when an adherent speaks against the rights to equality and to equal treatment of the LGBT community, they are not coming from a place of hate, but rather from a place of concern.
A great take on this comes from Penn Jillette, a performance artist and magician who is well known for defending atheism position in the public forum. (To listen to Jillette’s words, click here.) He suggests that it would actually be cruel for a Christian, or any other believer, to not voice their concerns, if the Christian honestly believed that the object of their concern were doomed. Further, Jillette notes that he looks down on religious adherents who don’t proselytize. (And obviously, as I contribute to this blog with three well-spoken and very respectable Christians, my thoughts follow suit.)
But my respect for religious people who proselytize only goes so far. There is a limit and that limit for me is government.
I’ll be direct here: If you believe it is morally wrong for two men or two women to marry, if you think it is morally wrong for a man to identify as a woman, or a woman to identify as a man, and for either to live their lives accordingly, then that is on you. How you regard the LGBT community and how you interact with them is your choice, and as with everything else, you are responsible for your actions. You can say “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” all you want, but you remain accountable for how you treat other people. You should always bear in mind that even strangers have feelings, and that the lives of people you don’t know matter to people, even if they don’t matter to you.
But again, you are free to feel, think, and act as you wish—-you always have been and always will be—-so I must ask why you must demand that the government enact polices that would limit the personal freedoms of the LGBT community. After all, the vast majority of people who favor same-sex marriage have no wish to alter how congregations function or to force individual churches to perform same-sex marriages, so why must you attempt to gainsay a person’s right to marry the person he or she loves? And in the case of transgender people, why must you be so bothered about which bathroom they are legally permitted to use?
I understand that on a personal basis some of you are still bothered by these facets of the LGBT community. To you, they are uncommon, and as you feel uncomfortable even considering them for even the slightest sliver of time, you have a lot of reservations about seeking to understand them. (Unless you are a closet case, at which point your actions derive, I’m sure, from the silent frustration of the repressed.)
I don’t suppose I can count on you to modernize your thoughts on the human condition, and far be it from me to try to influence directly how you think. But I have always wondered something, and I will close this post with this question:
What would you do if one of your parents, one of your good friends, or perhaps one your religious leaders told you that they were gay or bisexual or that they felt as though they had been born into the wrong gender? That is, what would you do if someone who held authority over you decided to come out to you?
I ask this because I already know what some religious people do (and have done) when a person inferior to them has come out. To put it simply, the person in authority abuses and/or ostracizes their outed subordinate.
But if the outed person held any real power in the relationship, how would you act? Would you break for them like Judah broke for Tamar, or would you remain true to your religion and try to “help” them? (But what if they’ve accepted their identity? What if they don’t want your help?)
After all, you never know until you know, and even then, what do you know?
Howdy. My name’s Justin Volker, and I’m a freelance writer from Kansas City, Missouri.
Those of you who have read Randy’s mission statement about this blog network will be aware that, in both ‘faith’ and ‘narrative’ posts, some writers will challenge or conflict with the theistic position.
I shall be one of those writers.
If you’re curious about my beliefs and desire clarification, well–I’m rather agnostic about a lot of things, but I do enjoy discussing religion and the place of religion in the life of the individual and in the spiderweb of society. Perhaps in the process of contributing to this site, I will come to an opinion more definite than that, but for now, this is all I can say.
I hope you enjoy reading what I write. Thanks.
About This Blog
This is a blog for challenging assumptions, building faith, and developing a stronger community. The two channels of this blog – Faith and Narrative – push us to know ourselves and the world around us more intimately. Want to learn more about us?