I read an article recently on demonstrations in France against legalising same sex marriage. During the recent US elections it was regularly raised as a key issue to consider when deciding your vote. No doubt it will continue to be prominent here in Australia as we head towards elections next year.
Most of the churches I have attended are against same sex marriage. I must admit that I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon against it in church. However, you hear so many opinions in the media that is more than likely that your church adheres to the same beliefs of those who make the most noise.
During the lead up to the US elections in 2008, I was part of a discussion in my living room regarding this very same issue. You would think, as an Australian, I would be more circumspect when discussing an election in a country not my own. Hmmm … you’d be wrong. I’m fairly certain that I was one of the more vocal in the group. While I think we are all entitled to our own opinion, I do, regularly, find it incredibly difficult to understand why others do not always think as I do. I don’t expect that we should all have identical beliefs, that would be dull and would deprive me of the joy of arguing. No, what I struggle with is how opposed our beliefs can be and how different our point of focus is.
Often I begin to doubt the sanity of my own thoughts and assume that I must be wrong. That my reading of the Bible is skewed. It must be. I was not bought up in the church. I am no biblical scholar. There must be something that I am missing that we can both read the same passages and yet come away with polar ideas of what it all means.
I watched a video on You Tube recently (and unfortunately can not find it nor remember the name) where a couple of Christians set up a confessional booth in a local fair and invited people to come in for a one on one confession. The Christians were confessing and apologising for the attitudes of the church towards the LGBT community. It was many things to me but most of all it stopped my thoughts, let them sit and made them think.
In the late 80’s I was in high school being educated in Health class on sex, on contraception and on AIDS. To be fair to my teacher, who was most comfortable trying to get me to play basketball, this was not what he had signed up for. What we were taught was the wisdom of the time. He covered how HIV managed to take control in a person’s body and render it unable to defend itself. He highlighted the science with stigma, with homophobia and no compassion. No compassion.
When placards and voices are raised in the air, one trying to outdo the other, compassion takes a back seat. My phobias, my irrationality takes precedence over another’s need, the slight others have received. Discrimination is condoned where belief takes centre stage.
I am full of prejudice, full of irrationality, full of phobias, full of myself, my wants, my needs. However, I cringe to think that this darker side would raise itself above the compassion that also exists alongside. That my ideology could begin to sound like hate. That I would focus my attention on one or two aspects disregarding greater truths.
This is what I don’t understand. We may not understand nor agree with same sex relationships. That is our prerogative. But do we have to draw a line and state that those who don’t conform to our ideal are not welcome. That they can not live alongside us. That they can not receive the same freedoms that we enjoy. That they do not have the same rights as us. That they can not live true to themselves, can not celebrate their lives. Must live in shame.
Is it right to declare that allowing same sex couples to marry is akin to opening a Pandora’s Box of evils that we can not even begin to imagine.
The Pandora’s Box has been open for some time. The evil that is hate is widespread and sinks it’s claws into issue after issue after issue. It allows us to think that we have the right to decide what is right for all. So many prejudices have been overthrown, trampled under the heels of compassion.
My hope is that compassion will triumph again.