I am a white, male, right wing, evangelical Christian. My political and moral views are often very conservative. In the last three years, my traditional and strongly held convictions have been greatly challenged. I've been living in the home of a lesbian who has been a dear friend of mine since High School. I've known her for over 30 years. I've interacted closely with many of her lesbian friends and have had some difficult conversations.
I am now engaged to be married and firmly believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. I believe that God conducted and ordained the first marriage between a man and a woman. My fiancée and I have been reading many books on the topic of marriage to prepare us for marriage. We see the purpose of marriage as being a means to grow each spouse into the image and character of our savior Jesus Christ. We don't see marriage as a means to make each other happy or to feel loved always. We see it as way for us to grow in love toward our God and toward each other. We see it as the most intimate human relationship possible. We are in love but that love is much more a commitment to each other than a feeling. It is a daily decision as well as daily actions based on that decision. I do not believe that society gives me the right to marry. I believe marriage is a covenant promise made to God and to my spouse. It is a lifelong commitment to love one person first and foremost.
The issue of gay marriage and gay rights has taken on a new meaning for me. For the Christian, gay marriage and gay rights are moral issues. To the gay community they are civil rights issues only. Christians who fight against gay rights think that if society permits gay marriage and other gay rights, society is condoning sin and destroying the sanctity of marriage. In fighting against gay rights, the Christian is building a wall of mistrust and anger which blinds the gay person to the love and acceptance that Jesus modeled. Rather than loving and accepting the individual as Jesus loved and accepted people, the Christian is making the gay person a target of violence and hatred. When Jesus was presented a woman caught in the act of adultery, he told the crowd that anyone could throw the first stone to kill her if they had no sin. No one threw stones for all recognized their own sinfulness. Christians today have become stone throwers. Jesus did not condemn this woman. He did not throw stones.
The current gay rights movement has its roots in the Stonewall Riots of 1969. In the summer of 1969, a group of gay New Yorkers made a stand against raiding police officers at a popular gay bar called The Stonewall Inn. Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1960s. Those that did were often bars. Police were cracking down on gay bars for operating without Liquor Authority licenses. Licenses were refused to bars that served gays. Often Mafia affiliates ran the unlicensed establishments and so had to deal with the police to stay in business. Police would raid the gay bars and demand money under the threats of imprisonment. On June 27, 1969, a police raid on the Stonewall arrested 13 people inside the bar. A woman, cried out to the assembled bystanders as she was shoved into a paddy wagon, "Why don't you guys do something!" The crowd fought back. Chants of “Gay Power!” echoed in the streets. Soon, beer bottles and trash cans were flying. The crowd swelled to over 2000. Police reinforcements came. Over the next 6 days fire hoses turned on people in the street, barricades were thrown, police were kicked and a firebomb was thrown inside the bar. Gay pride parades originally occurred on June 27th to commemorate the Stonewall Riots.
Before the gay rights movement, people could be arrested for kissing in public, holding hands or dancing. Police harassment and brutality have been constant features of gay and lesbian life for decades. Gays have been detained indefinitely. They have been beaten and publicly humiliated. Lesbian and male drag queens through the 1950s and 1960s suffered frequent rapes and sexual assaults from police officers. Civilians committed these same crimes without interference from police. GLBT people are fighting for protection under the law not persecution by the law.
In 1953, President Eisenhower issued executive order making homosexuality a necessary and sufficient reason to fire any federal employee. Many defense industries followed suit. Eisenhower's executive order stood from 1953 until 1993. There has never been any employment protection for gay people as there is now for straight white women, straight men, and women and men who belong to racial and ethnic minorities. Employers routinely refuse to hire gay people regardless of their qualifications and fire any who manage to be hired. GLBT people are fighting for equal employment opportunities.
In fighting for gay marriage now, the GLBT community is fighting for civil rights. When a partner is hospitalized, the partner who has loved and lived with them for decades is refused the right to be at their bedside or to make life decisions because they are not family. If a partner dies and no will has been left, the surviving partner has no legal claim to shared property and possessions. Gay couples without marriage licenses are denied family health benefits.
I have also observed that gay marriage is a matter of acceptance for the gay community. The gay community wants to be accepted as normal by society rather than be persecuted and mistreated. The gay couple wants to have a ceremony celebrating their love and commitment as much as any straight couple. The gay couple wants this ceremony and marriage to be accepted by society as normal. The LGBT community is not seen as normal. They do not feel accepted by society and certainly not by Christians. Every difference sets them apart and contributes to their sense of not belonging. Acceptance of gay marriage would give them more of a sense of acceptance. The only place where they truly feel safe and accepted is among their peers. In society, they are not only afraid of not being accepted but also of being harmed. The fear is well founded for they have been the victims of much hate and violence.
Having closely interacted with people in the gay community for 3 years, I've seen the anger and the hurt. I've been educated about the harm and discrimination afflicted upon gay individuals. I understand why Christians are seen as the enemy. Gay people do not see a loving and compassionate Jesus when they observe Christians. They see the church and Christianity as a powerful political organization that opposes basic human rights.
When Jesus walked the earth, he accepted people as they were. He had no political agenda. He did not fight to overthrow oppressive Rome or free his fellow Jews. He did not condemn individuals. He forgave people and told them to go and sin no more. People were motivated not to sin anymore because they were not condemned but rather were loved and accepted. When Jesus walked the earth, he chose to attend parties hosted by people society considered terrible sinners. When Jesus walked the earth, he broke society taboos and spoke with women. He allowed prostitutes to touch him. He touched and healed ostracized lepers. If he walked the earth today, do you suppose he would walk into gay bars and attend gay parties or would he refuse to associate with "those" people as his followers do? If he walked the earth today, do you think he would loudly condemn gays and fight against individual rights as his followers do now?
The class of people Jesus loudly criticized where religious authorities who pridefully considered themselves better than the "sinners" around them. Are not we Christians in danger of being like these hypocritical religious leaders?
All of us fail to love God perfectly with all our hearts, souls and minds. All of us fail to love perfectly ourselves, our friends, our acquaintances, our neighbors and our enemies. We all fail to keep these two basic commands of God to love him and to love others. His laws are for our own good yet all of us fail to keep them. All of us, therefore, are under just condemnation and deserve hell. Forgiveness is available to us all. Jesus took the penalty of death that we all justly deserve. He offers his death as payment for us so we can be reconciled to the God and Father who passionately and unconditionally loves us all. There is no special hell for gays. There is no special condemnation for the LGBT people. God offers his love and forgiveness to all of us and all of us need his forgiveness. There are none who do right. There are none who are sinless. Only Jesus perfectly loved. Only the death of Jesus can be accepted by God as a means for forgiveness. God offers us all a choice. We can choose to be condemned or we can choose the payment for our sins offered by Jesus and receive forgiveness. He desires a relationship with all human beings. His offer is open to all.
The gay community only sees condemnation and opposition from the Christian community. It is my hope and prayer that my gay friends would see beyond the bad example of Christians and see the loving acceptance offered by Jesus. It is my hope and prayer the Christians would cease to condemn and be a better example of the love and acceptance that Jesus has given them so that others would receive the same love and acceptance.
We believers in Jesus are fighting the wrong battle. Our battle is not against society. Our battle is for souls. That battle is fought on our knees and by imitating our savior in loving others well.
Before the throne of God we are all equal. The only right we have before God is the right to die for we all deserve condemnation. We can earn no rights or privileges from God. We can only receive grace as a gift which we don't deserve.