Recently, a friend of mine with hugely different believes on marriage equality — and on gay people in general — provided a really great forum to people with varying opinions to chat about what “intolerance” and “hatred” meant. This friend compared being gay to getting a tattoo. To be sure I get this right, let me quote the original post:
“Let me try to word this carefully. If you happen to be a person who doesn’t care for/approve of tattoos, that does NOT automatically mean that you HATE tatoos or the people who get them. (Some of your best friends (mine, actually) may have this kind of art on their bodies.) All it means is that you don’t CARE FOR IT, end of story. So, tell me why, if you do not approve/care for homosexuality/gay marriage, you are automatically labeled as someone who supports HATE and is a hateful, discriminatory person? No one has ever called me HATEFUL or discriminate because I personally don’t care for tattoos on my body. They know that is is my personal belief; they don’t shun me, criticize me, or rally against me because my view is different than theirs, and neither do I. Those who use these kind of unfounded labels (usally pro gay marriage/homosexuality advocates) are only assuming that people who take a stand for their beliefs, based on the highest authority of all, the Bible, have HATRED in their hearts. I, as a Christian who believes in the teachings of the WHOLE Bible, believe in its (God’s) standard for holy living and marriage. I DO NOT, and never have come close to, HATING a friend/co-worker/aquaintance who lives the gay lifestyle. I love PEOPLE, not theirs, or my, sin. Saying all of that, how can these two scenarios receive such opposite reactions? Why is it that if you believe differently than another, you are instantly seen as a hate-filled bigot? No hatred here, friends. What IS here is a respect and obedience to the word of God, and not the homosexual lifestyle. So, call me a hater. I’m taking a higher stand, and looking to a God full of LOVE for mankind, yet one who still demands that his standards stay pure and unwavering. … So, is it Chick-fil-A for me today? Yep. A big box of nuggets, but please, hold the hate.”
It — and probably more so, the responses — really made me think about why many of us refer to this perspective as “hateful” or “intolerant.” After some thought, this was my conclusion…and I’d love to hear your thoughts:
“We both know where we stand on this and we both know where we’ll always stand on this. But I’m not going to speak in the third person here. And I’m not going to try to out-scripture you or talk about how scripture is out of context or any of that. No one will ever convince you otherwise. Some call it naiveté and others would call it faith. We’re both firm in our convictions, regardless of what they’re grounded in. You believe yours are grounded in a firm foundation, as do I.
I, too, know how — in many ways — you’re a caring person. You’re still one of the nicest people I’ve met. In many ways, you embody what I think the Christian ideal would be. And in many ways, I believe you’re misled. But here’s why people toss out hate when even the nicest of Christians toss out ‘love the sinner, hate the sin:’
I looked up the definition of hate. It is: ‘To feel intense or passionate dislike.’ To you, Christians dislike the ‘sin’ of being gay. But to gay people like me, this is not a sin. It is a part of us. Something we can’t change. It’s not a tattoo or some form of addiction. It’s something we were born with. So to say you ‘hate the sin’ is akin in my mind to saying you hate ME. You see being gay as a sin that is separable from me. I do not. So while I KNOW you don’t MEAN it in that way, that’s what it means to me. As for the CFA dude, some of that money is going to groups that support doing some nasty things to gay folk that I don’t think you’d agree with either, so I’m leaving that alone.
Moving along to intolerance: ‘Unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.’ Frankly, I’m not even sure I have to provide examples on this. Just read above. In essence, by not supporting something like marriage equality because it doesn’t operate within YOUR religious framework, it IS intolerance. I don’t agree with pretty much most of what you said here, but I absolutely think you should be allowed to say it. And it pains me to think that you’ll be passing these thoughts along to children one day (even though I know you’ll be a great mother in so many other HUGE ways) just as I’m sure you hope I never raise children in a loving, same-sex relationship. But I realize we’re both just different people with hugely different beliefs and that’s OK in this country. I’d NEVER suggest you shouldn’t have kids or shouldn’t be able to get married or anything of the sort. You’re going to be a great wife and mother in so many ways and — even if I don’t agree with how you raise your children — it’s your right to raise them the way you want to with the beliefs you see fit. Yet your moral code (the Bible) — in your interpretation, because that’s what it is, regardless of what you say or think — does not afford me the same. Fortunately, we live in a society where that’s OK, because we’re not living in a monotheistic theocracy.
I think this conversation thread was great. It was respectful, all opinions that wanted to be heard were heard, etc. But just as I won’t change your mind and suddenly make you think that my love and care for Daniel is just like any romantic love you’ll have for any man in the future. Or that I deserve to solidify my love in the form of a civil marriage in this civil society just as you WILL get to do with any guy you want — yes, also in a CIVIL way (just religious as well for you). Or that I deserve to raise children in a loving, committed relationship in the ways that we see fit just as you WILL get to do. Just like I won’t change your mind on all that, you won’t change my mind in thinking that you — and everyone who believes what you believe — are wrong and are being hateful AND intolerant in a way (even if you don’t mean to or don’t see it). I don’t expect many — or any — people on this thread to agree with me. The difference between my perspective and yours is, that’s OK with me. My perspective is clearly NOT OK with you, regardless of any way you sugarcoat it.
I realize you’re an amazing friend to so many people and would do so many things for me…and I, you. But this is something that matters A LOT. And it’s something that — in your current frame of mind — you can never do for me. I appreciate the level of friendship you can provide, but never again will I have a close friend who doesn’t love and support ALL of me. And I hope you wouldn’t either. This is why people consider this talk hateful and intolerant. To you (Christians with this perspective), it’s abstract. It’s ‘sin.’ To us, it’s personal. It’s who we are. No changing.”
So again, I ask: Is my position to harsh? Too soft? Surely nothing is a cookie-cutter show of hatred or intolerance. So what do you think?