Loving Your Neighbor: Why Faith Doesn’t Have To Discriminate

“The divorce rate of evangelical Christians now surpasses that of the rest of the population in the United States. Evangelicals are getting divorced, and gay folks are wanting to get married, and religionists keep accusing homosexuals of destroying the family.”

— Shane Claiborne

Let’s have a talk, church-goers. With the recent discussions on legalizing gay marriage in the Supreme Court, things have been driven into an impassioned frenzy on both sides of the issue. I’ve talked about this before, a lot, in great depth. I am a Christian, I support marriage equality and the civil rights of the LGBT community, and I’m not alone in those two seemingly opposite beliefs. The different religious communities that traditionally condemn marriage equality have a growing amount of members who disagree, and support their friends and family members in their quest to be treated equally under the law. I’m not criticizing every single person of faith, but I am calling out those who want to be able to have it both ways and say that they accept gay people, but not the way they love.

Recently, I did a bad thing. I got in a debate in the comments section of a Facebook thread. I know, I know. Debates on Facebook are kind of the worst, am I right? I try and avoid them like the social media plague they really are. But this time, someone said something that I just couldn’t, could not, let slide.

This person compared gay people to murderers, rapists, and Hitler – in that order. In their next sentence they said, “But I really do love gay people.” You know, it’s that thing of where you want to say something super bigoted and then try and stick a bandaid on it by claiming, “Some of my best friends are gay!” I was so angry, I could hardly manage a coherent response.

I’m going to say something pretty outrageous here, so brace yourselves. I would posit that if you do not believe your friends deserve the right to get married to the person they love, then you are not actually their friend. I mean, if one of my friends announced that they wanted to vote a bill into law that would restrict my civil rights just because I was a women, but then told me they loved me, I don’t think I’d believe them. In fact, I don’t think I’d call that person a friend at all.

The thing about your life is that it’s your life. You get to decide what to believe. If you want to believe something as hateful as the comparison between a perpetrator of violent, horrific acts against innocents and a homosexual person, you can believe that. You can tell your friends, your family, your neighbors, just how awful you think someone is because of how they love. It’s your right to say what you want, even when it is hate speech.

But you don’t get to say all of that, and then say you “love” gay people. You can’t claim that the state of someone’s heart is a deadly sin, and then claim that you are that person’s friend despite that. I don’t know what you think love means, but to most everyone else, love does not entail restricting your friend’s rights under the law based off of who they are. That’s discrimination. That’s unfair. And that’s not love.

I’m sure I’ll see people defending their stance in the comments section on this article, and to those people I just want to ask: would you want me to be the person to decide who you are allowed to marry? Would you want anyone to be able to dictate that to you? And please, let me remind you that Jesus never said a word on homosexuality, but he did say, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and that’s enough for me.

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