November 3, 2011
Minnesota is going to war. It was declared by a small, noisy group of people who hold very tightly to the belief that their understanding of the Universe, of Life and of how it all came to be is absolutely, unshakably, undeniably, fundamentally the Way that It Is. Because they believe that their knowledge is the only knowledge that is accurate and true, and includes a direct connection with the Creator of All of It, they believe any other opinion or insight, idea or belief is wrong and therefore immaterial and invalid. They therefore have little to no respect for these other positions, perspectives and beliefs. It is not a very big step then to hold little respect for the people who embrace those other positions, perspectives and beliefs. They become The Enemy, even of God Himself.
I wonder what sort of world they think this would be if we all dutifully lined up and lived our lives according to their rules? If all people everywhere abandoned their heritage, culture, their stories and beliefs and embraced the heritage, culture, and rules of this one privileged group—what would it be like? Do they have any idea? Would we all get along then—the way they do among themselves? Would this make their God finally smile and allow only good things to occur upon the Earth? Would this One be willing then to bail us out of our foolish ways that have poisoned the very Earth this One entrusted to us to care for and enjoy? What is it they expect to happen when they take back their state and their country for their God and away from those who follow a different Way…?
Minnesota is going to war. A few of the representatives of this small, noisy group who hold positions of political power have introduced a proposal to amend the Minnesota Constitution to declare that a man absolutely may not enter into legal marriage with another man, nor a woman with another woman. (S.F. No. 1308) This is one legal contract that this group believes is sacred and by divine law may only be entered into by one man and one woman together. They are determined to see this amendment pass next November and are mobilizing their forces to see to it that it does. There will be thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars spent on advertising in order to amplify their angry voices and fill the airwaves with their brand of righteousness. They will be asked why such an amendment must be passed and they will tell us that our state and our country must be protected from the iniquity of such people or the wrath of God will be visited upon us. These people, homosexual people, will be vilified, as will anyone who accepts or supports them. Dung on the soles of our righteous shoes.
Minnesota is going to war. There will be those who will stand firm against this small, noisy group. They will say, “NO…this is not the way of righteousness—which only means to live with honor and integrity.” They will say, “It is not men loving men, or women loving women who have brought Judgment down upon us—if by Judgment you mean sickness, floods, financial collapse, earthquakes, tsunamis and leaking nuclear reactors, polluted waters, hurricanes, foreclosures, droughts, unemployment, tornadoes, homeless and starving, wars and rumors of war.” It is humans not loving one another. It is humans not loving the Earth. It is humans worshipping their chosen Way of Life over loving their neighbors as themselves. It is humans abdicating their personal responsibility to a vague and sinister group of puppeteers.”
And the accusations will fly. Where there might have been a paradise, there will be left only a scorched earth, whether of the heart, or the soil. And the children will be listening; they will watch and they will learn how it must be.
If there Is a God, He will weep.
Once upon a time in my life I was a member of that elite group who believes that they hold the keys to the Kingdom of God—that they alone know and understand the Truth of the Universe. When I was growing up, I had never heard of a homosexual. They lived underground and in dark closets, and the larger society was barely aware of their presence. As a young woman and a new initiate into fundamentalist Christianity, I learned of this strange practice of homosexuality and was shocked and appalled. Sex was tainted by so much shame I could barely wrap my brain around the goodness and beauty of heterosexuality, none-the-less homosexuality. I read the proscribed passages in the Bible that denounced homosexuality and that was it. It was gross, it was wrong, it was an evil thing—and those who engaged in this practice were sick and perverted; lost souls. We had to either save them, or shut them down. They were gaining publicity and fighting for rights the like of which they’d never had and never should have had and if we, the guardians of the spiritual well being of our nation did not stand firm against this latest work of Satan, who would? And so we real Christians focused on the two spawn of Satan that would take our nation down if we didn’t defeat them—the Abortionists and the Homosexuals.
And then in his 19th year, my beloved baby brother came to visit me. My beloved little brother who had always had a tender, loving soul; who was sweet and insightful; who loved God and loved people; who wanted to make the world a better place; who had a charming sense of humor. He told me he was gay. My little brother—one of those people.
I was devastated. I couldn’t believe how accepting my parents were. I railed and threatened and preached. I cried and mourned and feared for his soul. I felt like the brother I had loved had died, leaving this imposter in his place. I am sure I deeply wounded my brother with my judgment and my rejection. But he never retaliated.
It took me several years to find my way through that difficult lesson. The first breakthrough came when I went to buy him a birthday card. I was in a hurry and having shackled my affections for him, it had become difficult to find a suitable card. As I entered the card shop I threw out a silent plea, “Please help me find the right card fast!” I approached the birthday section and looked for Brother. Found it; reached out my hand and grabbed a card. I don’t remember what the outside said, only the message inside: I’m so glad you are my brother!
I stood rooted to the floor, immobilized. A quiet voice inside me asked, “So, are you glad he’s your brother?” And the tears came. I wasn’t glad. I was ashamed. And I was ashamed that I was ashamed. I was confused. My heart longed for him and yet withdrew. I stood crying in the middle of the card shop. I bought the card. And with it hope that somehow I would find my way through this and back again to Love.
Sometime later, I don’t recall now if it was months or a year, my family gathered for an afternoon. My little brother was there. He was sitting in a chair with a wide armrest and I was perched on the armrest facing him, chatting away about something. Some invisible One tapped me on the shoulder. “Notice what you are doing.” Suddenly I realized that I was enjoying this conversation with my brother. It wasn’t awkward. I wasn’t reserved and judging and anguishing. He was just—my brother.
Little by little, year by year, I learned. I grew. I found my way back to my brother. I read about the scientific studies of what causes homosexuality in those children born to it. I read about cultural attitudes and traditions in other places and in other times in history. I realized that this phenomena has always been part of our human experience—sometimes highly respected and valued, sometimes accepted as part of the whole of human experience, and less often, reviled and rejected such as we have done in our time and culture.
As I broadened my understanding and knowledge base about homosexuality, I also began to broaden my understanding and knowledge base about many other spiritual/religious truths and traditions. I think I grew up the day that I realized this One, this God, this Creator Being was just simply too unlike us, well, just too big to foolishly try to recreate in our own image and likeness and then fence into a tiny little sanctuary. I am the one who is too small to ever try to comprehend the vastness of the Universe and how it works.
My redemption came the day I figured out that no matter what else we may think about God and the Universe and who we may argue with about how it all works—what it all boils down to at the end of the day is this: did you love one another?
Love. Every religion, every culture however they may differ, seems to be grounded in and founded upon this one Truth—Love, is the most powerful Force in the Universe. Whatever we may feel we are here to do in this lifetime, all that really matters at the end of it is, did I love? This God of the Christian Right is first of all about Love—or at least that is what their Holy Scriptures say. So, how can it be love to declare war on a minority of people who are no different than themselves save for the fact that they are in love with someone of their own gender? How can it be love to tear apart our state with accusations and judgment, hostility and yes, even lies?
I suppose the Christian Right has the right to say and do what they believe is correct. Including declaring war on their own people. But, that means then that those they are declaring war upon will have to stand up and speak out for what they equally believe is true. And while everyone shouts about who is right and what is wrong—we all will lose.
I wonder what sort of world it would be if we all respected, appreciated, and learned from one another’s heritage and culture, our collective stories, experiences and beliefs? Would that make this God who created such an infinitely diverse Universe and the Earth a jewel amongst the habitable planets, smile? Would we finally then find our way to healing this beautiful Earth that our ignorance and our greed and our divisiveness has poisoned and corrupted? Could it be that taking back our country and our state for God means becoming a nation that loves first—that emulates the Good Samaritan, that is willing to become our brother’s Keeper rather than his Judge? Could it be that to be Pro-Life means not only to be anti-abortion, but pro the babies being bombed by bombs our taxes paid for—pro the homeless children (and men and women) in American cities that outnumber the homeless in all of the rest of the developed nations combined—pro the undereducated youth with no hope for their future—pro the sick who are sick because we’ve lost sight of a balanced and healthy way of being in the world—pro the depleted soil and polluted waterways and suffering creatures of the Earth?
There is certainly one thing that the Religious Right might be right about—and that is that it is all about Love.
But then, we need to see it in action.
Declaring war is never about love. It is never right.