I enjoy having a conversation with someone. Now when I say “conversation,” I’m not talking about a discussion on which flavor of ice cream is better (it’s chocolate, by the way). I’m talking about an actual, civil debate in which two or more people can disagree on something and still talk about it in a sensible way. Unfortunately, these conversations are few and far between. But every now and then, I stumble across someone that’s willing to engage in a genuine dialogue.
I recently went out with a good friend of mine for some late-night donuts. We ended up driving around for hours, hopelessly lost in search of a Krispy Kreme, only to find it closed once we arrived. But during the two hours that we were attempting to find our way, we had several stimulating conversations about different things. At one point we began discussing gay marriage (and by extension, the religious implications that go with it). This friend of mine is a Christian, and it’s her personal belief that gay marriage is a sin. That’s all well and good, but here’s where it gets interesting.
You see, 99.99% of the Christians that I’ve met don’t stop there. The vast majority of people that oppose gay marriage because of their religion, also constantly attempt to outlaw it for everyone. They often trash gay people, throwing out hurtful religious slurs and condemning them for even thinking about getting married (or being gay, for that matter). These people are the most difficult to have a civil conversation with. But not my friend. She told me that while gay marriage is against her personal beliefs, she doesn’t feel that it’s her right or her place to tell someone else if they can or can’t get married. Suddenly I realized that the world needs more people like this.
I honestly wish that people on both sides of the gay marriage issue would step back and take a look at the bigger picture. That they would try to look at it from the perspective of someone other than themselves. Because the truth is that you may believe something, but that doesn’t mean that others do. And in this country, we have to respect that. So when the question about gay marriage comes up, it starts as “should gay marriage be legalized?” and quickly becomes “should gay marriage be banned because a select group of people believe that it’s a sin?” And that’s not the way Christians should approach the issue.
There seems to be some kind of insane notion in this country that if something is against your personal beliefs, you have to actively try to destroy that thing. This is ridiculous. We all have different beliefs, that’s one of the great things about living in a diverse time. But there’s a line between believing in something and applying it to what others should do, and too many people cross this line. Thankfully, my friend doesn’t. She’s adamant in her beliefs, but she doesn’t try to shove it down every throat she sees. And I love that about her.
Still, I think that too many Christians are having the wrong conversation in this country when it comes to gay marriage. Many feel threatened, as if legalizing gay marriage will completely destroy their religion, and they lash out because of this. It’s a simple “fight or flight” issue, but that’s not a solution that they should be implementing. A large number of Christians feel that it’s their responsibility to seek out and punish gay people, which ultimately doesn’t get them anywhere. This might stem from a fear that Christianity is being infringed on by such things as the legalization of gay marriage. But in the words of Jon Stewart,
“I think people have confused not being able to pray everywhere with not being able to pray anywhere, and they’ve confused the loss of absolute power with persecution.”
We should all strive to be more open-minded when it comes to things like this. Obviously we’ll always have those strongly opposed to a number of things, and those strongly in support of them. But it is possible to talk about them in the context of an entire nation of people, instead of a group on this side or a group on that side. Until we realize that, the issue of gay marriage won’t get any farther than my friend and I did while looking for a Krispy Kreme at midnight.