This blog post was written by one of my good friends Paul. Paul and I have been good friends for several years now and while we have completely different world views, that hasn’t stopped us from remembering that we are both humans in the same boat. I encourage you strongly to listen to his words in this post. As a Christian I took these words to heart regarding how to approach people with a starkly different world view. Enjoy. -TW
When I was asked by my dear friend Tim to guest write for his blog, I was incredibly excited. Both for the opportunity and for the chance to write a piece, with an intention to offer my perspective on a topic that is close to my heart. The topic to be revealed later.
Very recently. I got into a debate with a close family member. They being a christian conservative. Myself a secular progressive. Now with that picture painted. We debated a whole gamut of issues. From economic to social. Somewhere in the middle sprinkle in the issue of gay marriage. The friendly debate turned into a heated argument. It turned because I support marriage equality. He in accordance with his faith believes, as many do that marriage is between a man and a woman for the purpose of family through God.
Now what made me upset and angry was not my family member’s beliefs. It was because He used rather unnerving language. He used the phrase “Gay Agenda”.
What I see as a basic principle of law – That I, a tax paying citizen wanting to be treated equally under the law. I in no way shape or form, want or desire to take away anyone else’s marriage and family.
All I want is the spousal privileges afforded to ANYONE other than me and others like me, under the law.
In the argument I tried to outline a few of the things that are denied LGBT couples. Specific things like hospital visitation, insurance and tax incentives, things that may seem mundane or of little consequence to some. However one of my greatest fears is building a life together with someone and growing old, at the end be denied to be in the room, or be a part of the decisions of end of life care.
Imagine for a moment. Sharing your life with someone. Committed until the end. But not being allowed to be a part of it. Agonizing.
I believe in the conservative principle that marriage is good for society. That it leads to stability and often better life outcomes. I ask quite simply. Why do we instead narrowly define what a marriage is and who can be married? If marriage is both good for the family and society, wouldn’t you want more people committed to an institution that makes all peoples better?
Now my dilemma is that I really respect and love this close family member. I DO NOT think this person is a bigot. I DO NOT think this person lacks intelligence. However in that heated discussion on a topic that directly effects me as a gay man in a long term committed relationship. I needed my family member to listen to my concerns. All they did was hear me.
Often times we hear others. Less so we understand them. When you use the word Gay Agenda or special interest you detract from the human struggle faced with anyone who is misunderstood by others.
Even though I am not a religious person now, I took a lot of great things from my catholic/christian upbringing. Compassion being one of the greatest influences. I often find myself trying to understand other people – what other’s go through.
I think it has a lot to do with being the kid who was always misunderstood. Weird little kid with four fingers and long hair. Who was sensitive and quiet. Terrible at sports, more interested in reading. That little kid grew up to be a little guy (i’m still only 120 lbs at 5’6) with a heart bigger than his chest could hold.
Despite being an atheist the Gospel and Jesus have taught me a tremendous deal about life. Very simple message. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For me this is a powerful message. In our sin we are equal. None better or worse than another. We are in this together. Life is for the living. We share the oxygen that serves all breaths taken. We should treat all others as though we are family. We will often disagree but that does not mean we are not still connected. As children of God or Humans that walk the same earth. Brothers and Sisters.
My moral crisis as an atheist is often forgiveness. Something Jesus was good at, but that I struggle with mightily. Its hard to forgive something you can’t change. I still love and respect my family member. We both apologized. Yet I still struggle to move forward. We have seemed to reach an impasse, however I am confident that with some time I will forgive and move on. Writing about it is (for me) the first step in the process. My therapy.
Bottom line. Listen a little closer. Try to imagine another’s struggle as your own. Be kinder. I am not perfect, but it is truly humbling to know that no one else is either.
All views in this post are solely those of the author.