Monday, July 1, 2013

Equal rights for all

"My devotion to my faith does not mean I have the right to make anyone else's faith
or marriage illegal." --Beth Hopkins, blogger @ In Case of Fire, Use Stairs 

I don't have many regrets in life. Just three, really. 

Regret #1: Allowed my childhood bully to push me around, making my experience during ballet class absolutely excruciating. What my nerdy, skinny, 8-year-old self should have done was dig deep to find my inner grrrl power and kick that bully's tutu-wearing ass. (I'm not one for condoning violence, but there will be times in life when standing up for yourself will require a bit of sh*t kicking.)

Regret #2: Shopped at Wal-Mart. I did it out of desperation. Once. And I will never do it again. Ever.

Regret #3: Voted for Prop 8. 

The night of the November 2008 election in California, I wrestled long and hard with the decision to support or oppose same-sex marriage. As a Christ-follower, the mandate I live by is simple: love God and love others. As someone who cherishes the Bible (for me, it's not a "book of rules," but rather a love letter from God to humans), I know what it says about homosexuality (Leviticus 18 is pretty explicit, for example). But I was torn. "Who am I to judge who others choose to love?" I thought as I stared at my ballot. And I kept thinking about one of my best and dearest friends, who is gay. "When he finds someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with, who am I to deny him this right-- the same right I enjoy with my spouse?" In the end, I decided to support how I believe marriage was designed-- as a sacred spiritual and physical union between a man and a woman.

Years later, my definition of marriage hasn't changed. But I definitely would have voted differently on November 4, 2008. To me, the way Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act have played out has less to do with protecting the sanctity of marriage and more to do with discrimination, hate and venom-spewing. Right-wing conservatives, the Tea Party and the detestable folks at the Westboro Baptist Church have convinced me of this.  

"I just don't like seeing those signs and I kind of wanted to put a stop to that,"
9-year-old Josef Miles of Topeka, Kansas told NPR. Well said, Josef.  

Blogger Beth Hopkins echoes my sentiment perfectly:

     "As much as I love my Church and my Faith [a lot, 
     you guys, it's changed my life in the most beautiful 
     ways possible], I cannot find within it anything that 
     says I should impose or enforce my own moral code on 
     someone who is not choosing to be a part of my Faith. 
     And as an American citizen, I can't find a place in 
     the Constitution where it says I have a legal right 
     or civil obligation to do that, either... My devotion 
     to my Faith and its teaching about marriage does not 
     mean I have the right to make anyone else's faith or      
     marriage illegal. And it does not mean I should be 
     unkind, rude, or unloving toward anyone, whether my 
     theology agrees with their lifestyle choices or not."

As someone who loves God, loves people and values equality for all, I've sought to articulate my views about same-sex marriage. Thanks to Hopkins, all I need to do is cut and paste. 

Posted on June 29, 2013
In Case of Fire, Use Stairs

With the DOMA decision hot off the presses this week, my Facebook news feed has been fascinating. I just sit and watch the screen refresh with anticipation; waiting for the gloves to come off.
And about every half hour: Something about Jesus, churches or the Bible, and how they feel about “The Gays” getting married.
As an Orthodox Christian, I view marriage [which my Church defines as being a physical and spiritual union between a man and a woman] as a Sacrament. Something spiritual and supernatural happens during a wedding for an Orthodox Christian: Christ is the Celebrant, He joins the couple together. And in a Mystery, they become one person. Because of this, sex is meant for marriage because it is a participation in that oneness. It is meant to be experienced within the context. So, taken together: having a wedding, being married, and having sex are beautiful, holy, and sacred.
Marriage is also known as the White Martyrdom within the Orthodox Church: you are giving your life for your spouse before God; this is represented by the “crowning” part of the marriage ceremony [Yep, those are Martyrs' Crowns. Intense, right?!].
I cherish this view of marriage and sex as a healthy, full one. I look forward to experiencing it; I believe it is truth, and I believe this because I trust my Faith. It’s not an easy thing to believe, wait for, or live by, believe me. [White Martyrdom does not exactly come up as a topic of conversation at most parties these days.]  But I know it’s worth it.
However, I don’t expect every single person in the United States of America to have the same beliefs I do about marriage any more than I expect them all to show up at my Church on Sunday morning.
To follow the teachings of Jesus or the Church is now, and always has been, a choice, not a legislation or ruling. Jesus has never been shy; He has never been a shrinking violet, but He has never been a politician, either. He loves, He teaches and lives from Love; we choose how to respond.
Jesus never ran for President, and America is not now, nor has it ever been, an exclusively Christian nation. The Founding Fathers did not all go to the same Church together. They did not pen the Constitution at a Small Group at Bible Camp, and they never intended for a particular brand of religion to be legislated from Capitol Hill. In fact, the need for Freedom of Religion [any, not just mine] is what brought those rowdy ex-Brits here in the first place. That’s why it’s [still] in our constitution [right now, actually]. So, because the Constitution is what guides our law/political process, DOMA shouldn’t be discussed in terms of religion, because Church and State are separate here. And that’s where it gets tricksy, my little hobbitses.
See, within the American political sphere, marriage can’t be viewed as religious, because there is a legal component to it [and Church and State are separate]. So, the real question behind whether or not the Supreme Court should’ve upheld DOMA is not “Is it Christian for people who are in same-sex relationships to get married?” it’s “Should they have the Constitutional right to do so, based on what the rest of our law and Constitution says?” When marriage is being debated in politics, it’s a civil issue, not a theological one.
As much as I love my Church and my Faith [a lot, you guys, it's changed my life in the most beautiful ways possible], I cannot find within it anything that says I should impose or enforce my own moral code on someone who is not choosing to be a part of my Faith. And  as an American citizen, I can’t find a place in the Constitution where it says I  have the legal right or civil obligation to do that, either.
So, yes, I am a straight, heterosexual Orthodox Christian. That means a someday I will marry a man in my Church: we’ll put on Martyrs’ Crowns and kiss dramatically in front of all our relatives [awkward!], and then we’ll dance the night away. And you’re all invited. Because it will be a beautiful, real experience, with a great party to follow.
My devotion to my Faith and its teachings about marriage does not mean I have the right to make anyone else’s faith or marriage illegal. And it doesn’t mean I should be unkind, rude, or unloving toward anyone, whether my theology agrees with their lifestyle choices or not.
I pray I have spoken the Truth in love, and that I can live it the same way. And I hope for your patience and respect as I spend my life figuring out the best way to do so.

Originally posted @ In Case of Fire, Use Stairs by Beth Hopkins.