Civil Rights and Cheesecake

man_holding_bibleNearly everything in today’s world is eventually turned into a political issue. Hell, even jumbo Dr. Peppers have made it into a recent NYC policy. But when it comes to certain issues, people bring religion into the political picture. Gay marriage is among those issues. Now I want to preface this by saying that I support the rights of anyone to get married in this country. If two people are in love, there should be nothing that stops them from spending their lives together.

Coming from an area that’s effectively known as the “Bible Belt,” my stance on this issue surprises quite a few people. I support gay marriage rights, but I still claim to be a Christian. This is apparently baffling to some. “How can you be Christian and still support gay marriage? Isn’t it against the Bible?” someone asked me recently. My answer to that question is irrelevant to the purposes of this post. The point is that if it is in the Bible, what difference does it make? People use the classic “the Bible prohibits blah blah blah, so we shouldn’t allow that in this country” argument constantly. As if there’s a single Christian in this country that follows the Bible to the letter. If you’re confused, take a gander at Leviticus. Better yet, I’ll pull a verse out for you:

“Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.”

-Leviticus 19:27

With that being said, let me ask you a question: how many Christians do you know that shave? Bam! They’re disobeying the Bible. There are countless scriptures we could look at that prove the same point. So this notion that everyone follows the Bible in everything that they do is simply ridiculous. Now I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t strive to be good, decent people according to God’s word. Any good Christian knows that there’s always something else that can be done in order to live their life just a little more in line with the Bible. But if you use the argument that gay marriage shouldn’t be legal because it’s against the Bible, you’re a hypocrite. It’s like saying, “I’m doing thousands of things that the Bible explicitly says not to do, but because you want to get married, you’re in the wrong and I’m a model citizen.” It’s an incredibly distorted argument that I’ve heard time and time again.

070111052251dqThere seems to be this insane, demented conspiracy within some Christian communities that gay people will take over everything if they’re allowed to get married. Seriously, stop overreacting. When gay marriage is legalized in this country (yes, I said when, not if), nothing will change for the average Christian. Gays don’t have some secret plan to invade churches with rainbow flags once they’re allowed to get married. They’re just people trying to get married and live out their lives peacefully. A lot of gay and lesbian Americans might not particularly be big fans of Christianity, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to start burning crosses and Bibles. In reality, legalizing gay marriage might act as a deterrent to those things. If gay marriage is legalized, they get married, get on with their lives, and leave Christianity alone.

The fact is that gay marriage in the United States is an issue that should be dealt with by the government, not the Americans that claim to be Christians. When gay marriage is legalized, the only thing that will change is the ability of same-sex couples to get a marriage license in their state. The world won’t implode, the sky won’t fall, and cheesecake will still taste like cheesecake. It has very little effect on Christianity or your right to practice your religion freely in this country. People might argue that it “threatens Christianity because it goes against God’s word.” But by that logic, and following the scripture above, so does every Gillette razor ever produced. Christianity has been a growing, dominant religion for thousands of years, and this is not going to change that.

That doesn’t diminish your right to personally stand against gay marriage. I have a right to support it, you have an equal right to oppose it. That’s the way the Constitution works, and I’m not disputing that. But when you start using the argument that a massive population of gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to get married because it goes against YOUR beliefs, the conversation moves beyond freedom of religion. At that point, you’re trying to use your beliefs to dictate how someone else lives. You might as well say, “Tim shouldn’t eat that donut, because I’m on a diet.” How ridiculous does that sound? We, as Americans, have every right to say, “that goes against my beliefs, and I don’t support the cause.” But there’s a fine line between believing what we want and forcing it onto others.

US Flag and Constitution of the United States of AmericaIt doesn’t matter if this country was founded on Christian principles, there’s still that little part in the Bill of Rights that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Too many people read that and think it means that they’re free to claim any denomination of Christianity they want, but it’s much more than that. Americans can choose to be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, pancake-worshipers, or anything else they deem appropriate (as long as it abides by the law, of course). We have to stop interpreting “freedom of religion” as “freedom of religion, as long as it’s Christianity.”

Let’s look at some context here. If I believed that eating ice cream was a sin, would they pass legislation banning the production of ice cream? No, they wouldn’t. Because the world would go apeshit if Ben & Jerry’s went out of business. This is what it sounds like when someone throws the Bible into an issue that the government should deal with on its own.

Fun fact to close out this already laborious post: the Constitution also calls for a separation of church and state. So if you take religion out of the argument, what do you have? You have a government making a normal decision, just like they do with taxes and restricting those jumbo Dr. Peppers. Christians have to shift the conversation from “how can we force everyone to follow our religion?” to “how can we stop trying to control everyone else, and just live our own lives in accordance with the Bible?” When that happens, there won’t be any of this crazy back-and-forth on gay marriage. When that happens, one more law will get passed, and we’ll all be able to eat our cheesecake in peace.

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