Congratulations, USA! We have finally legalized same-sex marriage across the board, enabling everyone to have marriage equality. It’s amazing to see society finally progressing to this point. It’s not often that I want to express pride for my country, but this week — the week preceding the most appropriate time to express pride for your country — I have reason to do so.
But hand in hand with victory comes pain, as many still cry out against the ruling. I say “pain” and not “irritation” because I used to be just like them. To see my younger self in the face of someone who can’t understand equality and progression is a painful thing, because I want so badly for them to get there and fear that they won’t.
These past few days, I’ve been sifting through articles trying to wrap my brain around the mindset that I used to have. You know the mindset that I’m talking about: it’s the conservative Christian mindset (not to get all stereotypical up in here), the mindset that produces articles with titles like, “Gay marriage is legal in the US. Try not to worry.”
I grew up in a Christian household, and, until my junior year of college, believed that homosexuality was a sin. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” — that was my motto. But let’s be honest: if you looked at my life back then, you would find a girl who hated more just than the sin. I never would have admitted to it, because I didn’t even realize it, but I was a very judgmental, “me vs. them” person. I derived some sort of twisted pride out of the fact that I was “one of only a few Christians in my high school” — a fact that probably wasn’t even true, but if you didn’t fit my description of what it was to be Christian, then you didn’t pass. And yes, it was sad that everyone else was going to hell, but it also made me feel a little good — not that they were wrong about their salvation, but that I was right.
I remember telling my favorite high school teacher, in a roundabout way, that he was going to hell. This was my mentor and friend, and I still held him apart as separate and different from me. I’m sure if he had asked, I would have turned him toward Jesus, but for the time being I was content being on a higher level than he was.
It’s a form of self-preservation. I mean, if we want to be really honest — and I’m not trying to rag on religion, but if you really boil it down — religion is all about self-preservation. It gives us a set of moral codes to abide by in order to get to heaven. For the brand of Christianity that I grew up with, there was a specific moment that a Christian had in which he or she became a Christian, and from then on, you were on the path of righteousness — even if you sinned, you would still be going to heaven. Now, if you lavished yourself in sin, then people would say that maybe you weren’t ever a Christian to begin with, that you just thought you were… so whatever honest, heartfelt decisions you made before were disregarded if your mind changed about something. And while there was that idea that sticking to a set of morals was a way to get closer to God, it was mostly about ensuring that you would be with God in heaven (read: ensuring that you would go to heaven).
I read an article recently that discussed the Christian response to same-sex marriage, and there were many points that just made me cringe. My favorite cringeworthy moment was when the author stated that Christianity has always been counter-cultural — an idea that aimed to excuse the conservative Christian view:
If you think about it, regardless of your theological position, all your views as a Christian are counter-cultural and always will be. If your views are cultural, you’re probably not reading the scriptures closely enough.
Okay, so I totally understand that Christians believe they are supposed to be “in the world but not part of it”, because being a part of the world would taint their ideology and somehow make them lesser (again, the “me vs. them” concept). But you cannot measure the extent of your holiness by how counter-cultural it is. Our culture sees rape as unacceptable, but I don’t see Christians getting counter-cultural about that issue. It scares me that a person can adopt an uncompromising moral code that was created thousands of years ago.
The thing is, Christians never sit down and realize what the moral code is really for: for them, it’s to get to heaven, but for everyone else, it’s to make everyone get along. It’s to make society progress, and keep it running. That’s why homosexuality was looked down on in the first place: in biblical times, having children and passing on your name was of the utmost importance. It was what allowed the human race to survive and flourish. Not entering yourself into the baby-making industry was weird and illogical and unnatural. If you weren’t actively seeking a heterosexual relationship, you weren’t offering yourself up to the family standard that would keep society in existence.
Guys, we’re having the opposite problem now.
I feel that it is a little presumptuous to declare that your moral code will always be right. History has proven this wrong so many times, it’s not even worth the argument.
One of my closest friends from college is gay, but he didn’t come out until after college. In a selfish way, I am almost relieved that he waited to come out. Okay, I guess that sounds horrible… I didn’t want him to suffer and refrain from being who he truly is. What I mean is, I honestly don’t know how I would have reacted if he had told me before that pivotal point in my junior year that he was gay. Imagine clamming up and losing a close friend because even though you “love the sinner but hate the sin”, that relationship is still somehow tainted by this new piece of information. No, I’m desperately glad I learned that he was gay after I had worked that nonsense out of my mind. I’m glad that my response was one of surprise and not of trepidation.
It’s all about baby steps. Back in ’67, when we finally decided to allow interracial marriage (here, have fun with graphs), I’m sure there were plenty who grumbled. And even today, there are still those who stubbornly hold onto the belief that they’re right — but that number is rapidly dwindling. Time creates progression, and perhaps in another 50 years there will only be those stubborn few who are still worried about gay people getting married. One can only hope. God bless America.