Den of Vipers – Part 3

This is based around Mark 3:1-5 ESV

Many Christians today have built their day-to-day dealings and world view around the Bible, or so they claim. Hear me, I don’t think having a Christian or Biblical World View is wrong – I went to a Christian University because of mine – but sometimes we followers lose sight of the real goal in doing so. Too often, we create parameters or definitions of morality and then hold people around us to those standards that they might not even follow. Or we interpret “the rules” we follow in the Bible and treat them as more sacred than God, losing site of the ultimate goal in the first place.

Take the recent push for “religious freedom” laws spreading across the USA. In the name of Christianity (which the USA is not supposed to honor more than other religions), employers and businesses are being given the right to refuse services to people they define as outside their belief system. Most often, these people are homosexuals. So, in some states, a restaurant can refuse service to a gay couple or a doctor can refuse to offer medical treatment to a gay person. Why? “I do not agree with their lifestyle, the Bible says it is wrong.”

When Jesus walked the earth, the Pharisees and Scribes had PLENTY of things they called wrong as well, most of which they based on the Bible. As previously shared, eating with the “impure” was a big no no, and yet Jesus did it and chastised the leaders when they called Him out. “True” Jews followed strict rules, even when they were under the power of Rome, and were fearful of being kicked out of the faith if they failed. One such rule was honoring the Sabbath; the Pharisees already had a run in with Jesus when His disciples pulled grain to eat on the Sabbath, so they were watching for a misstep to give them authority to arrest Him. Here’s how the new situation went down:

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 

Jesus challenged the Pharisees’ interpretation of the Law because it lacked love and compassion. It made rules more important than people, just like I believe the new “morality laws” under the banner of “religious freedom” do today. The rules the Pharisees insisted on and people today insist on not only are not founded upon love, they do not incorporate the law of love that Paul wrote so much about. Jesus instead did what was good and kind and loving: he met that man’s need in love and healed him – even on the Sabbath. And I believe Jesus would provide food service to a gay couple and medical service to a gay man.

I pray that we, especially those in this country that are Christians, stop manifesting this problem today. May we stop struggling with letting rules be more important than loving people. May we definitely strive to be good and do what is right, but not forget the bottom line of LOVE.

A Change of Pace – Not About Chick-Fil-A

I tell you, it’s been a crazy week for me!  LOTS of roller coaster rides emotionally, but I can say as I sit and write this, I know and feel the love of Christ envelop me.  And am reminded to walk in HIS love, and love others as He has taught, and then the rest will fall into place.  But I digress.

Today I would like to share my beliefs about something, and especially this week I learned that everyone has a right to have and share their beliefs.  The spirit of this sharing is not in order to convince you to think the way I do, to point out how wrong it is for you to believe what you do, or anything like that.  It is to share WHY I believe what I do and I hope for one goal – that you can understand MY position.  If any reader feels they need to share THEIR opinion, via public comment or private message to me, that’s fine.  Just please use the same spirit of not telling me or anyone else why MY feelings are “wrong” or yours are “right”.  Focus on why you believe it, period.

Topic of the Day:  Marriage vs Civil Union

During the course of this week, I have heard several sub-topics pop-up as either reference points or proving points within the bigger Chick-Fil-A/Free Speech/Freedom of Religion debate chain.  Some honestly made me roll my eyes (I’ve posted here before how the whole “Adam and Eve vs Adam and Steve has always made me react), though many were shared intelligently and without as much perceived venom.  One such topic was Marriage vs Civil Unions.  And that got me to thinking.

The premise presented (and it was presented in a friendly way) that the issue this person had is that her religion does not accept or approve of same-sex marriage, so to have the government FORCE it or elevate it above her religious beliefs was offensive to her.  However, if Civil Unions were legalized and offered the exact same legal rights and benefits as marriage to same-sex couples, which in her mind also meant it didn’t include her religion or beliefs, she was cool with that.  That way, both groups could be treated equally without the infringement on religious beliefs.

At first, I have to admit this sounded cool to me.  I mean, some of my biggest concerns as a lesbian is that my wife (and remember, we were legally married in New York, so I can say that) will not receive social security benefits, may be excluded from me if I were in the hospital, would have to potentially pay inheritance taxes on the house we purchased together as we are not seen as relatives, and really……the State of Texas (and bunches of others) don’t even recognize my marriage at all.  So, my first response was,”Yeah, give me a Civil Union and make sure the legality is recognized at the State and Federal level, and I’d be cool with it.”  Because really, MY God approves of my relationship so I already have that piece and this would add the missing pieces.

But then I started to think more deeply about this and realized, TO ME, this is only a partial solution.  And admittedly, I’d take it in a heartbeat today, but I would not stop supporting the efforts for full marriage equality until it comes to fruition or I die.  Why?  Let me explain.

I contend such a structure does not promote Equality OR Freedom of Religion!

  • Marriage is absolutely a religious covenant – I don’t dispute it.  But there are members of religions who do not see same-sex marriage as outside their belief system.  While I am not promoting forcing ANY church to perform marriages to same-sex couples if it is against their beliefs (and really, would YOU want to get married in such a church?), to not allow churches who have no problem to perform a marriage in their church to same-sex marriage is not equality.  Both should have a RIGHT to do so, or not do so, as they see fit based on their religious beliefs.  That allows Freedom of Religion.
  • Marriage, whether some view it as a religious right, is not EXCLUSIVELY a religious right.  I was married in the state of California (and you must accept this marriage, for it was to a wonderful man) and it became a legally binding document within the county in which I was married, as well as the State of California.  That legal documents proved to the Federal Government my status, and that of my husband, and allowed us to file taxes together, own property together as family members, share insurance policies, gave us breaks, social security benefits, etc.  In fact, THAT side comes whether we would have married in the church, on the beach, or at the county court via “civic ceremony” with a judge marrying us.  In fact, as the laws stand now, ATHEISTS can get married, get a marriage license, and there is no limitation to their access.  Marriage is a legal definition of a status, not just a religious profession of love, already in our country.  So implying that this “religion only” policy needs to be protected is not valid and, to me, means it is being requested to exclude a specific group of people.  That is not equality.
  • But you may say, okay Gina, I don’t dispute most of the above at all.  But bend a little – Civil Unions will be the same under the law.  But I contend, why the need for “segregation” of groups of people if the law has the same rights?  What if I got a job and my new boss didn’t know I was a lesbian and his personal beliefs were that gays go to hell (and he has a right to believe that)?  Let’s say when I turned in my documents for  insurance, he sees that I have a Civil Union instead of a Marriage certificate?  Whether or not he acts on this knowledge is not the point – I have been put in a place of “being different” than my coworker for no other reason than to “protect religion/marriage”.  I contend that is not equality.  Just as if a religion, who requires boys to be circumcised as a religious right, demand birth certificates for those who choose to NOT circumcise  a “Civil Certificate” instead of a “Birth Certificate”.  Whether or not you agree, at the very core we are segregating based on religious beliefs and that is not equality under our Constitution.
  • I do not accept that my legal marriage destroys your marriage, if I am allowed legally to have one – any more than a drug addict causes you to take drugs.  It still allows you to believe that same-sex marriage is wrong and you have the right to never, ever do it yourself.  Further, your status of a legally married person does not get limited, watered down.  When I got married legally in the State of New York, there was not a line of straight married couples whose marriages became less meaningful, real, or legal.  In fact, my very same-sex RELATIONSHIP has not changed anything about yours.  But, you might argue the “idea and traditions will be shattered”.  Again, what about all those atheists getting married?  What about multiple marriages after multiple divorces?   What aren’t you seeking to block THOSE hinderances to “traditional marriage”.  What is YOUR traditional marriage definition?  I have two co-workers who can’t agree on this; one says it means never getting divorced and staying married until you die.  The other says it means marriage between a man and a woman.  When I asked why both believe that, they say, “it’s always been that way”.  (I won’t argue that divorce has been around since Moses’ time – that is another conversation all together!).  You get the drift – why does ONE view get escalated above others?  What makes it truly right?  Do we, as Americans, demand that every law tie directly back to OUR version of the Bible?  That is not upholding the Constitution to me, because my view is that all Americans have a right to Religious Freedom, which includes NOT believing what I believe or anything else.  So using Biblical Principles (for which I follow closely, by the way) to define marriage as between one man and one woman “as God intended” is in direct contrast with Freedom of Religion.
  • This whole premise just really categorizes Americans, which is really a duplication of something I’ve already said.  But WHY do we as Americans fight so hard to keep everyone in boxes, either to elevate or demonize?  Why can’t EVERYONE sit at the counter for lunch?  Why, instead, or we suggesting that we build TWO counters – one for straights, one for gays – and then everyone will be happy?  Because that right away creates TWO lines to get into the restaurant (or some point of “weeding out” straights and gays).  And that makes it clear, the MAJORITY of straight people want me to stay away from them.  And that is not equality.
  • To sum it up, Civil Unions (to ME) says “your union is not moral enough/sacred enough/accepted enough/mainstream enough/whatever enough to be called a marriage”.  And that is not equality.  And that is not American.

So, now I need to go to work, where I pay my taxes each paycheck like any good American.  And this American is looking forward to the day that I can get married, like my co-worker that sits next to me, looks like me, works like me, and maybe even votes like me.  But the laws today say they have something I don’t, even as I pay taxes, avoid breaking the law, etc.  I can appreciate ANY American not liking my sexual orientation and agree it’s not cool when LGBT shove it in people’s faces.  But I don’t like a lot of things about Americans around me (and I am not talking about “illegal activity”) but is it okay for me to create law after law to control things I don’t like?  No smoking, no more fast food and fat Americans, no more broccoli because it’s just gross, my parents never ate sushi so why should Americans?  You get it.  America is not one to dictate our beliefs, but this whole “traditional marriage” thing smells of dictatorship to me – not the belief part, but the forcing those beliefs on all Americans.

Again, I am curious as to WHY you believe what you do.  But please remember to be kind!  And thanks for honoring my right to freedom of speech.