Wait, what? Did you read that right? Go ahead, read it again. Yes, yes you did read that right. Surprised? Shocked?
Yes, I am a Christian. As a Christian, my views on sexuality are quite unpopular. But within my community of Christians, my views on same sex marriage are equally unpopular. As an outspoken woman with a great number of views, it’s not unusual to have two or more groups of people upset with me at a time. It’s okay. As a Marine wife, I’ve developed a thick skin and amazing ability to push through the attitudes and hurt feelings with my beliefs intact.
About a year ago, I came across a post on someone’s Facebook page complete with a photo of him holding up a sign that read “Gay Pride Day!” I shook my head and retreated to my personal facebook page to lament about how there isn’t a “Straight Pride Day” or a “Hetero Pride Day”. Several debates later, my friends list was missing half of my husband’s family and I’d been uninvited to visit family in Europe. I was unfazed. I am proud of my belief system, and I am not ashamed to show my pride.
But over the course of the next few months, I thought about that situation, about those debates. A few things stood out to me. First, every supporter of same sex marriage who replied to my post responded vehemently about how wrong I was. Every non-supporter replied ferociously about how on track I obviously was in my faith. Not one single person understood that I just wanted there to be a day where I could stand in the streets and shout to the world that I am PROUD to be straight! This bothered me. The debate about sexuality is so focused on religion that people are unwilling to see the people on the other side of the debate. Then, there was that whole fiasco with Chick-Fil-A and Dan Cathy right around the same time. People hated on Cathy, they boycotted the restaurant. I drove my kids to Chick-Fil-A three times that day. I supported his stand, I respected his opinion, and I respected his right to voice it.
And then a beautiful thing happened. I read an article, by Shane Windmeyer, a 40 year old gay man. The founder of Campus Pride, Shane Windmeyer has been married to his husband for 19 years. The article was profound and deep. In it, Shane makes this comment, “It is not often that people with deeply held and completely opposing viewpoints actually risk sitting down and listening to one another.” The article goes on to discuss how he managed to build up a friendship with Dan Cathy after the COO of Chick-Fil-A publicly defended his view on same sex marriage. This single quote made me stop and reflect on the “same sex marriage” discussion going on around the country between Christians and non-Christians, supporters and non-supporters. Was anyone really sitting down and listening to what was being said?
In the recent article, My name is Ashley: I’d Like You to Meet My Wife, the writer tells us about the lack of support she received as the spouse of a military member. That is what the article is about. She explains that the reason she didn’t receive support was because she was gay and the military didn’t recognize that. Some of the responses to that really surprised me. One response asked why, as someone who didn’t support same sex marriage, the woman’s opinion on heterosexual marriage wasn’t respected. But the article wasn’t about the debate, it was about the support. My response to that comment is this: why should you withhold support from a person whose lifestyle is not the same as yours? Do we allow the families of Jews to receive support? Do we allow the families of Wiccans or Hindus or atheists to receive support? So, just to clarify what you’re insinuating, if their religion is different we will support them, but if their lifestyle doesn’t reflect your religion you won’t support them? That makes no sense at all. But more importantly, that’s not even what the article was about! It wasn’t about whether you believe two women should be able to get married. It was about a woman who has devoted her life and love to a military member without the dedication and support of her military community- something you and I take for granted every day.
I learned something by reading the article by Windmeyer. He said this, “Never once did Dan or anyone from Chick-Fil-A ask for Campus Pride to stop protesting Chick-Fil-A. On the contrary, Dan listened intently to our concerns…” He goes on to say, “Dan sought first to understand, not to be understood.“
Reread that last sentence. “Dan sought first to understand, not to be understood.” Have you done that?
Now consider what I believe to be one of the best lines of the entire article, “Throughout the conversations Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level. He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being “a follower of Christ” more than a “Christian.” Dan expressed regret and genuine sadness when he heard of people being treated unkindly in the name of Chick-Fil-a — but he offered no apologies for his genuine beliefs about marriage.”
Let me speak directly to my fellow Christians for a moment here. You are a follower of Christ. You are to be Christ like, a direct reflection of Christ. What does that mean? Does that mean walking around telling everyone when they are wrong or does that mean sitting down and conversing with someone and then showing them love and kindness for the rest of your life? Does withholding support from a person sound like love and kindness? Of all of the things we learned from Christ, He Himself told us that the greatest commandment was LOVE. You cannot love a person and withhold love from them at the same time. Let me tell you another thing. Non Christians are not bound by our laws and rules. Our Biblical laws and rules are for us, a guide to living a life that is purely devoted to the will of Christ and the furthering of His work. So before you try to force non-believers to submit to your religion, remember that even your religion says the laws are not for them. 1st Corinthians 5:12-13 has this to say to us, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” Take a wild guess what Paul was talking about right before he said that? Read it in verses 9-11. “ I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler.“
As Christians, who are we to argue with God’s Word? Basically, Paul says a)don’t chillax with people in your church who aren’t following Christ’s teaching, that includes people who are sexually active outside of marriage, have an intense love for money, value anything above their relationship with God, talk crap about other people, get drunk or cheat people out of things. He says b) don’t judge the rest of the people who do those things. That’s God’s job. And he makes a very wise observation in c) if it were our job to ignore the people who aren’t following God’s laws, we’d simply have to die.
Well then. That’s pretty blunt, don’t you think?
Now- to the non-Christians. Instead of telling you where you’re wrong and where you’re going to hell and where you’re so totally not in line with what the Bible teaches, I have this to say:
I love you. Jesus loves you. And that’s all I have to say about that.
And to Ashley, the brave and beautiful and steadfast wife who wrote the article yesterday, and to all of the men and women in her same shoes, I have this to say: I will support you. I will acknowledge you. I will not turn my back on you for being gay if you will not turn your back on me for being straight.