The Greatest of These is LOVE
I'm a proponent of working with people of other faiths on issues such as poverty and homelessness. I speak about it and answer questions about other faiths in a direct manner. I make no excuses about my beliefs--either to other Christians or other faiths. Instead, I try not to be ignorant about things like the Hajj or defining dharma. I won't debate whether or not something I believe means that what the other person believes is wrong. And I have very fundamentalist friends who have shared bread and fellowship across faith lines. Why? Because they know they have nothing to be afraid of. And everyone walks away seeing that Muslim or Hindu as a real human being instead of the other.
What Obama did say is very important. And what I learned from him is that there is no other. They (gay people) are people. Period. And they deserve to know that they can be a family without having to forego the rights and privileges of others who love one another. Moreover, Obama brought the human element into the conversation and we need to have more of that discussion. It is similar to what he did about race when he first ran for office.
The debate over same-sex marriage (and yes, relationships--deviant behavior or not?) has been going on for ages. When I was a young girl, we didn't talk about it. Some fifty years later, we do. So, people are asking questions and reducing the answers to these questions of same-sex marriage to the Bible Says rhetoric. Which raises questions (once again) of whether the United States is a Christian Nation. But let's not digress.
As one speaker so aptly put earlier today, there is a difference between public policy and theology. On the other side of aisle another person pointed out that if we accept homosexuals' right to get married, that it will affect generations to come. Well, first, generations have already been affected by the issues surrounding homosexuality. When I was about 10 years old, one of my teachers was divorced by her husband. While no one talked about it with me specifically, I remember the rumors had to do with the fact that he was gay--not a word I remember being used--but that he preferred men. My teacher's children were treated okay at school and I don't remember any of us teasing them about their father.
Redefining education about what constitutes family is one of the reasons that President Obama changed his mind and one of the reasons that many who once were against same-sex marriages have changed their mind. But debate on public policy versus theology is critical because the Bible has been used for discrimination for years. There were states who made interracial marriage a crime and now, as far as I can see, no one is arrested for that anymore. Education is very important and I don't think we risk screwing kids up. We screw kids up when we teach our children to be bigots, however, and without teaching them the value of other people not like themselves.
But the argument that bothered me the most is that if we accept gay marriages, we might as well accept brothers and sisters marrying. First, that's a very idiotic notion because we are assuming that if we accept gay relationships, we are condoning deviant behavior. And this is where we haven't agreed and not every one has evolved. Look, my own mother thought homosexuality a sin and I'm not sure she changed her mind before she died. But, what I do know is that she loved her granddaughter and her granddaughter's partner and therein lies the reason that we have to stop legislating the Bible. When we define policy with Biblical ambiguities, we are going to penalize good people! And then if we legislate the Bible, how are we going to deal with differences in other religions and those who either have no religion or call themselves something else all together.
Here's the thing. I didn't change my mind about homosexuality because my daughter is gay. Instead, I had to really look at my views when my child declared that she was gay. Did I want her to be gay? That was the question asked of me when I first learned and has become a non-issue for me today. We'd have to talk about the gay issue in the Black community, and yes, I wanted my daughter to be straight because I didn't want her suffering at the hands of those who were supposed to love her--meaning that I knew some family members who would vilify and refuse to have anything to do with her. It happened at the funeral of my ex when the daughter of his last wife didn't want her niece speaking with my child. Good thing that her father refused to let that stand and when I later saw that it made my daughter's partner uncomfortable, I made a special effort to introduce her to anyone who asked as my daughter-in-law. You should have seen their faces when they tried to figure out which son's wife she was and I would reply, not my sons--my daughter.
But, I didn't fight about it. I would have defended her if necessary, but I think the ease in which I introduced her took the fight out of many and the rest--well, they agreed to shut up. And why did I do that? Did I do it because I'm for gay rights. Not really. I did it because she and my daughter were in a committed relationship. My son's wife is always introduced as my daughter-in-law and introducing my daughter's partner by any other description would have been unfair. Love does that. It does.
I'm not debating here--I'm NOT! Instead, what I'm doing is sharing my thoughts about it. Wacky as I can be, I know that while faith is an important part of everyone's life (what they believe and how that belief shapes their actions), and that the hope of each day is to live out lives in keeping with that faith, that we have something we can perhaps all agree with. Still even with faith and hope, I believe that the greatest of these is love. I guess we can all agree on that because THE BIBLE TELLS US SO.