I was in a friend’s wedding last weekend. It was so beautiful and joyous. We danced under white Christmas lights and my throat was hoarse from so much laughter. There was such happiness in my heart to see one of my best friends surrounded by family and people who love her, there to celebrate this ancient ritual of the joining together of two people for life.
When I think about the ceremony of marriage, it seems like a remnant of tribal times. We gather in a group, we cheer, we yell, we do weird things like push cake in each other’s faces and shove the honeymoon car full of balloons and write “Just Married” on the windows. But really, the best thing about weddings is the joy – the joy of knowing that these two souls have found the person they believe is more perfect for them than anyone else in the world. That kind of love is deep and unfathomable.
I think when Christians at large talk about gay marriage, they’re missing the point. The point is not that gay people want to take away other people’s right to get married. The whole struggle is really centered around the desire to be allowed in, to be able to participate in this ritualistic display of how much love the human heart can hold. It’s about the basic right to choose who you want to spend forever with, and to have that celebrated by the family and friends who love you both.
Freedom of religion is a great thing. In fact, I think it’s pretty dang awesome. But since when did our ability to choose how or what we worship translate into our ability to dictate to others that they must conform to our chosen lifestyle, that they must obey the tenants of our personal faith? It’s alarming to me just how many laws are drifting to the top of legislation, laws that propose the outright imposition of one section of one religion’s believers on the entirety of the population. What’s even more alarming to me is how many Christians seem completely okay with this blatant show of force. Since when did we become complacent enough to allow one religion to force people who have no allegiance to said religion to follow its mandates? Oh, I know. Since it was our beliefs that others had to follow.
It is true that we are allowed to believe whatever we want to believe in. It’s also true that we are able to express those beliefs freely. But just as the human heart has the capacity to hold so much love, it seems to have the ability to brim full of just as much hate. When we disregard the claims of others to rights we fully enjoy ourselves, simply because we adopt a “normative” sexual preference? That’s when we’re no better than all the people we’ve learned about in history classes in school who denied the rights they enjoyed to those who were not in the majority with them.
See, it’s not about whether you believe in whether it’s right or wrong to be gay. It doesn’t actually matter. What matters is when you begin to be okay with forcing someone else to follow your scripture, when it is not their scripture. When you sign into law something that forces those of the minority to follow a mandate of your religion, when it is not their religion. That is wrong. If you want to claim the freedom to choose your religion, to choose your opinions, you cannot do so while denying others that same right.
Christians come out in droves to protest whenever they feel their right to be a Christian is being threatened. I believe that were the Christian community at large to have one of their basic civil rights legislated against, voted against by non-Christians, there would be a wave of outrage like this country has never seen. It simply would not be allowed. Can you imagine if someone said to them, “Because of your decision to live your life as a Christian, you may not legally get married to your partner, because we think that’s just icky/sinful/gross/wrong.”? Christians would go, in a word, bananas.
With a marriage license comes so many other benefits. Taxes, home ownership, joint bank accounts, insurance policies – all made easier. The decision to take a partner off life support. Being allowed in their hospital room after surgery. These are the kind of things that piece of paper can grant, and they’re the kinds of things we take for granted. Those of us who are allowed that piece of paper, anyways.
What I am coming to is this: you can still believe gay marriage is “wrong”. But you can believe that without forcing an entire people group to conform to your interpretation of the Bible. Because no matter what you believe in, that is indeed wrong.
For the record, I anticipate the day when I can attend a friend’s wedding, dance under twinkling lights, laugh until I am sore, and at the end of the night send off a same-sex couple in a tackily decorated car. But until then, I am calling on Christians as a whole to embrace love. And if they can’t, to at least stop forcing someone else into their religion. Because as the golden rule says, you wouldn’t like it if they did that to you.