I was reading this article this morning about folks hoping to promote the passage of a bill to deny homosexuals the right to marry in California by fasting for 40 days (by means of no solid foods for 40 days). While I was pondering the food related aspects of fasting for 40 freaking days, I also was thinking about my feelings on the social stance these folks were trying to promote.
Alarmed by a California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, churches of many faiths have banded together in support of a measure that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Let me state a few things right off the bat. I am Christian and a member of a local UCC church. What I write about acceptance of the self in regards to size and other societal groupings is written with this religious background coloring my world-perspective lens. And I find it very difficult to believe that those of us who believe in Jesus or Christianity in any of its varied forms could truly want to meddle so much in something so trivial and bearing so little on our own lives as the permission for two people of any gender to share the civil benefits of the state of “marriage”. I find it REALLY hard to believe that God cares if two people who love each other and want to join together to share the love He has gifted our lives with, happen to both have a penis or both have a vagina. And besides this, who are we all to mind business other than our own??
What really gets me though, and what I feel most people (regardless of their view on the topic of homosexual marriage might be) could see as problematic as well, is that the fear that seems to fill those seeking a ban on gay marriage rights (or other rights as I will explore a bit further down) is an irrational fear that making something LEGAL will mean EVERYONE WILL START DOING IT! What problem could someone have with OTHERS choosing to live their lives out as they wish, with making it legal for two people to form a union? IS it the fear that making it LEGAL will make people feel they HAVE to do it? That someone THEY know might decide to up and become gay and go get married??!? Because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t pan out this way. Making something LEGAL does not mean it has become MANDATORY. Making it legal for any two people to marry is not the same as a legal mandate that now EVERYONE must only marry people of the same gender so it doesn’t affect your OWN ability to marry or stay married to who you want!
Giving people RIGHTS does not take away from your own. Respecting that people can love who they want and get the same civil benefits as any other two people who choose to marry is not going to erode the state of marriage. God does not hate when people love. Perhaps in someones mindset He* does but I choose not to believe that if there IS an overarching deity who has had a hand in creating this existence of ours, that it would be a malevolent being of hatred and fear and loathing for differences. I believe that accepting yourself and the reality that others ARE NOT THE SAME AS YOU and that is OKAY is part and parcel of accepting religion. Demanding equal rights to all, in ALL things, is a part of this acceptance; it does not work AGAINST faith.
Similarly, and how this all ties back into food and size-acceptance; making it legal to respect people as human beings regardless of their size, shape, color, beliefs, gender, ability, age, etc is NOT the same as mandating that you must also BE any of those same sizes, shapes, etc. Just as making it legal to marry someone of the same sex DOES NOT mean you HAVE to marry someone of the same sex; making it illegal to discriminate against someone for being FAT does not mean you have to BE fat. Okay? We’re not here crying out for justice to make everyone “JUST LIKE US”. We’re trying to open the world to the realization that we are NOT all the same.
No one in the push for social justice is trying to change who YOU are. The push is for everyone to accept that not every “I” will be the same as “you” and that is OKAY. No particular sexual orientation or size or physical attribute makes ANYONE better or more entitled than the rest of the population. Giving every one of the multitudinous varieties of human existence in this world the SAME rights would only serve to make us all more capable of the kind of loving progressing that has been set before us.
That is what I believe and you might disagree. I am encouraged though by one of the quotes in the article which sparked this reflection; one that shows perhaps we are not all that far off from realizing as a social whole (particularly from a religious front) that equality was not meant for suffering.
“Everybody understands that Jesus, in his own culture, was notorious and persecuted for consorting with outcasts,” said the Rev. Peter Laarman, a United Church of Christ minister who opposes the gay marriage ban. “When Jesus said all are welcome at the table, I think he really meant all.” (Emphasis mine)
As do I. Which is why I think I have such a reaction of deep sadness when religion; particularly my religion; is used to try and support a denial of rights and acceptance to any particular group. Oh, and FYI, you’re ALL welcome at my table. Yes, even if you disagree with me. And I think we’re having roast chicken tonight. Yum.
*He, for those wondering, I use only in the generic sense of “He/She/It” as I believe that God is all genders and no genders. He is also all sizes, all shapes. How could He create the bounty of human variety we see in the world in HIS IMAGE if he were NOT all things? No size, no shape, no color, no creed, no physical condition is an offense to the Love of one who would choose to create such a vast variety in his image. WE need to learn to accept our variety as part of His greater plan.