Because of the circles I am in, I am constantly listening to white straight religious men discuss the morality of same-sex marriage. Maybe there is a place in Christianity for the affirmation of LGBTQ people, they say. Maybe. They aren’t really sure. Probably not. It’s hard to find a good biblical argument to support it. They feel torn up about the issue, because they have friends on both sides of the debate.
I calmly state my opinion, and hold back my rage.
Why is it I am always holding back my rage?
I reason with myself that these are good men. They are trying to be loving, and kind. They are sincere. They don’t mean to be prejudiced or bigoted; they really don’t. I have seen them in a hundred scenarios be generous and thoughtful and caring. It’s just this singular issue where they seem to be stuck.
One of the men says with a sort of sympathetic authority that before you can ever affirm same-sex relationships or any variety of gender identities, you have to wrestle with the following arguments, which he lays out for our consideration. He speaks from a place of soulful conviction and authentic deliberation. His words are well-reasoned; his arguments logical.
My answer to him, were I able to eek it out past the screaming in my heart, would also be well-reasoned, logical, and full of soulful conviction. But I cannot make myself grant him the pleasure of an equally measured response, as if this were merely a friendly intellectual discussion.
Because we are not debating a mathematical equation. This is not an academic classroom.
We are tinkering with people’s lives, and it’s not a game. What I want to say would come out in a fury, and it would sound like:
You have the luxury of discussing this in your ivory tower. Meanwhile, your LBGTQ brothers and sisters bleed on the street.
You may think you are so torn up about this as you try to decide your position. You have no idea what torn up feels like.
You may weep as you do your best to “follow your conscience” and lovingly say no to the beautiful couple in front of you who has asked for your blessing to their marriage. That thing you think is your conscience speaking? It’s your prejudice. I know that sounds harsh, especially because you want so badly to be loving, but I am telling you, it is your prejudice. That part of you that feels queasy and uncomfortable and afraid—that’s the devil talking. Love doesn’t sound that way in the ear of the heart. It just doesn’t.
Do you know how I know it’s not your conscience speaking? Because it’s not your damn life! The conscience doesn’t speak to you about whether other people are right or wrong. The conscience speaks to you about you.
Do you know how many gay and lesbian people can tell you that their conscience KNOWS God loves them, God approves them, God make them this way? Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.
Who are you to think you don’t have to listen to that?!
I feel like the women who ran to the disciples saying they had found an empty tomb. “No way,” said the men. It wasn’t their experience, so it must not be true.
Damn it. Listen to them!!
Could you set aside your privilege for five seconds and listen to someone who is different from you? Stop reading the opinions of other straight white religious men to try and help you make a decision about this topic. Read someone else for a change. We’ve been listening to the likes of you for millennia. Listen to us. We are people too.
What is it going to hurt you if gay people get married? I’ve racked my brain and came up with nothing. What is it going to hurt gay people if you deny them their worth? A hell of a lot.
Stop wavering! The only reason you have the “time” to waver and balk before making a decision is because your privilege allows it. Your privilege protects you. Your privilege means there is no consequence to you if you don’t listen to the cries of the oppressed. You are NOT the one hurting over this “issue.” Because it’s not an issue. It’s a person. It’s people. You are hurting people.
Why won’t you go ahead and affirm your LBGTQ brothers and sisters? What are you afraid of? That you will stand before God some day, and God will say to you, “I wish you hadn’t been so loving. I wish you hadn’t been so merciful and accepting and kind? I wish you hadn’t been so empathetic and understanding?”
That can’t possibly be it. You must be afraid your peers here on earth will call you weak, call you wrong, call you wishy-washy.
Stop being a coward. Stop hiding behind your privilege. Stop telling the oppressed what they have to prove to you before you will accept them. Stop. Just stop.