This has nothing to do with languages. But that’s the beauty of having your own blog; you can break your own rules if you like. 🙂 With all the back-and-forth going on around the internet surrounding the American Supreme Council’s decision to allows same-sex marriage throughout the United States, I felt I had to put in my 2 cents. It might not be much, considering how much the Jamaican dollar is worth, but here it is.
If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know that I used to be Christian. I went to church and Bible studies every week, read my Bible every day, sang to God every chance I got, ran a blog devoted to my worshipful thoughts on Jesus, started learning Hebrew…
And I never had a problem with the prospect of gay marriage being legal.
Don’t get me wrong, I believed that homosexual acts were sinful, and I’d never have encouraged them. The Bible seems pretty clear on its stance, I think. [Insert relevant Bible verses here]
But, how, you might wonder could I, as a Christian be okay with gay marriage being legal? Well, the answer is: equality.
From what I’ve seen on my Facebook newsfeed, so many people seem to think ‘equality’ means ‘in accordance to what I believe is right’. (So, the language that use in expressing their disgust or sorrow at the American Supreme Council’s decision makes it clear that they don’t believe that it is true equality.)
But that’s not what equality means. What it means is that two or more groups get the same rights or opportunities under the law. I like one synonym provided by dictionary.com: “fairness”. That’s it. That’s what equality means. Nothing about being in line with what one of those groups believes and not another. It means equal rights, access, etc. for each group/individual.
Let me give some examples to explain my point: Take two religious groups; Muslims and Christians. Christians believe that Islam is wrong; Islam believes that Christianity is wrong. If, in a particular country, individuals from both groups are free to go to mosque or church, or read Bible or Quran as they feel, then there is equality. If not, then, clearly, there’s not.
Or, since this is a language blog, let’s give a language example: Having a presentation available only in spoken language is not equality for the Deaf. That is why Jamaica’s Parliament has picture-in-picture JSL interpreting; the aim is to bring equal access.
With that foundation established, I think I should go further: I don’t think we should intervene in people’s consensual affairs. If it’s not consensual, that’s another thing. Let’s say a new religion comes up for which a sacred rite is to kidnap people and take them to their places of worship. That is infringing on other people’s rights; and so, that is not equality. That’s unfair. Which is why paedophilia and rape, which are also considered sin by Christianity, are different issues altogether from sex and marriage between two consenting same-gender adults.
Makes sense, I hope?
So, again, equality is a group or individual having the same rights, access, etc. as another or others; and, if the those rights infringe on another’s rights, then that’s not equality.
What does all this mean in light of the kind of reasoning that dissenters (specifically Christian ones) give against gay marriage?
“Gays could marry if they wanted to, they just didn’t want to marry the opposite gender.”
How true that is.
Now, consider this: Suppose you, as a Christian, are suddenly not allowed to worship Christ in public anymore. Imagine if you had to hide and worship in homes, or literally underground? What if you were legally only allowed to publicly worship another god? Of course you know, this has happened, and does happen in some places, today. Is that equality? After all, you Christians would be free to worship this particular god; you just wouldn’t want to.
Equality here means freedom to worship as one believes, as one wants to, so long as it does not prevent other people their rights and freedoms. In the same vein, marriage equality is the freedom to marry whom one wants to, within the limits of consensual adult unions.
“We don’t want to deny gay people rights. We love them.”
The sad thing about this is that regardless of Christian intentions, the result has been just that: denial people of rights. Christians protest the repealing of the buggery law in Jamaica. Christians have been protesting the new law in the US, and had been fighting for it not to pass. That’s fighting to deny people rights that they (the people who fighting) take for granted.
No matter if you love them or not; you’re fighting against their rights. That’s a fact.
“Christian rights have been violated as a result of this!”
That is true. And it’s a sad truth. Christians have had their jobs threatened because of their views about gay rights. And there are many other stories going around about such things.
Is that equality?
Consider this: In the West, gay people have been beaten physically, teased brutally, prosecuted legally for being what and who they are. They were discriminated against in the work place, when they went shopping, when they tried to find somewhere to live… They could be arrested and charged for the simple act of having consensual sex. Now, see everywhere that there’s a past tense in those sentences? Change it to present tense.
This still happens.
So, while Christians cry foul when a small fire breaks out close to home, the LGBT community has been trying to put out Riverton City flames for ages. These flames are kept lit by the Christian community.
Is that equality?
So, how could I have believed in the Bible and gay rights, including marriage? Because I believe that no one group should be forced to comply with what another believes. Because I believe in equality.
Marriage equality for same-sex couples does not affect Christian handling of marriage any more than the current legal view of marriage does. The law allows people to marry and divorce for many reasons that Christianity does not; it allows spouses to have sex with people they are not married to, while Christianity does not; it allows you to divorce and remarry as you wish, and many branches of Christianity do not.
And yet, Christians are still allowed to marry and define marriage as they wish to. Isn’t that equality?
So, if you don’t want to marry someone of your own sex, don’t do it; if you do want to, go ahead. I believe that is equality.
In my opinion, Christian belief, including belief that homosexuality is sin, does not mean that you must stand in the way of same-sex marriage any more than you should stand in the way of Muslims, Hindus, or atheists being allowed to worship or not worship in your country as they please. Christians lament the suffering of their brothers and sisters in corners if the world where their religious freedoms are sadly, and sometimes savagely, limited. I ask you not to do the same to the LGBT community.
Equality does not mean people falling in line with your beliefs. I believe it is an injustice to deny others rights that you would like for yourself, especially those you take for granted.