Christians need to be more open
2 years ago
Tim ShirleyMercury Staff
When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal in all 50 states, supporters around the nation breathed a sigh of relief. For a large group of Christians, it was a moment of turmoil.
According to the Pew Research Center, only 27 percent of white evangelical Protestants support gay marriage. Support from black Protestants for marriage equality only rises to 33 percent.
A large majority of Christians have painted the struggle for gay rights as a battle that pits them against the world. Now that marriage equality is a reality in the United States, the values they have held on to for so long seem to be threatened.
Speaking as one of those Christians, it’s hard to say that this hasn’t been a confusing time. But just because something is foreign doesn’t give us the right to attempt to take away from others. In fact, we should try to become familiar with what we once pushed away.
My family has deep roots in the church. When my dad was just a small child, his father moved his family to America from Mexico to take up a position as a pastor. My mother’s father, on the other hand, studied ministry in college and was a pastor his whole life before he died in 2003.
Currently, my dad is the minister for a congregation in Dallas and I have at least five family members who are primarily employed by a church. If you were looking for better definitions of Bible thumpers, you would be hard pressed to find them.
Growing up in this atmosphere has given me first-hand experience with how Christians have dealt with the Supreme Court ruling. In the church that I go to, members of the congregation have expressed their outrage at having the right to marry being passed on to same-sex couples.
The Sunday after the ruling, I sat in the auditorium of the church building and couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable as I heard my fellow attendees express their feelings about gay marriage. The word sin was thrown around like a label to stamp on those they didn’t agree with.
For most of my life, I lived with the idea that gay people were inherently strange or weird. Even as I grew older and started to form my own ideas and opinions about what is right and wrong outside of the oversight of my parents and family, I never really had any interaction with anyone who wasn’t straight (or at least was openly gay.)
All of that changed when I came to college. As cliché as it sounds, college gave me the opportunity to interact with people who aren’t like me. I started to have conversations with people of all creeds, colors, religions and sexualities. I could no longer say I lived in a bubble.
That breakthrough changed a lot of how I viewed life. In my junior year, I started working with a man who would quickly become one of my best friends. We enjoyed the ups and downs of working for a college newspaper in what was one of the best work environments of my life. Later in that year, I found out he was gay.
The revelation honestly didn’t come as a surprise, but it did make me wonder: does the fact that this man lives differently than I do make me any better than him?
The conclusion I came to was no, it didn’t. Looking across this country, one of the key qualities of Americans is the abilitiy to accept those who are different than us. At times, it seems like we forget this and let simple barriers tear us apart, but at the end of the day we’re still united in our diversity. Unfortunately, Christians like those I have encountered still seem too set in their ways to accept this specific thread in our nations fabric.
It’s going to take time, but this can change. There are few things that scare a Christian more than the thought of an LGBT person (even though nowhere in the Bible does it mention a grading scale for sin.)
Fear is bred from ignorance. Honestly, if I were to survey members of my congregation, I would be more than willing to bet that very few of them have associated with gay individuals. If they did, I doubt that fear would still persist.
If Christians want to make an actual difference, we need to break the barriers we have with LGBT people. We need to do better at actually getting to know people before we judge them and tell them what they can and cannot do.
If those who oppose gay marriage could be more open-minded, maybe they would see that gay people have the same aspirations that we do. At the end of the day, everybody just wants a warm meal on their plate, a soft bed to sleep in and a safe place for their family to stay. If everyone on both sides of the debate could look at the other side and realize they have more in common than they think, maybe a more perfect union could actually be obtained for all.
I would be lying if I said the Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t make me wrestle with my own thoughts. On one hand, I have my belief system that I strongly stand by. On the other hand, I live under a Constitution that allows me to have these beliefs, along with those of others who disagree with me.
As a Christian American I need to recognize the beliefs of others just like they have recognized my beliefs. Even though we may disagree doesn’t mean we can’t get along. Standing against gay marriage as a right for same-sex couples would mean that a large group of human beings are inferior just because of our interpretations of our beliefs and that just doesn’t feel right.
Tolerance can eventually be gained, evne if beliefs stay the same.The Christians that still shun the LGBT community need to start doing away with the self-quarantine they have seemed to place against gay people. A great man once said to love your neighbor as thyself. Maybe we should begin to live by those words more.