Over the weekend, we found ourselves in a rather uncomfortable situation that I am still trying to process today. I am next to certain this topic won’t sit lightly with some people. I am not trying to start an argument. This is simply our experience.
We decided to visit a church close to our home and found ourselves playing witness to behavior that was absolutely appalling to us and goes against everything we believe in and stand for.
As we took our seats, we noticed a brochure. My husband picked it up and started reading it. It was something that had been created and distributed by an organization called, “The Coalition for Marriage,” a group that rejects marriage equality. This rubbed both of us the wrong way, as we are strong advocates for equality – gender, marriage, racial, cultural, etc.
While our opinions on the subject are just that, our own, we were a bit put off to a see a church so blatantly advocating for something we feel is a direct contradiction to our understanding of God. We gave one another “that look” that couples do when they know what the other is thinking. We decided to sit it out and put on a good face, but leave quickly afterwards, knowing we would never step foot in this establishment again.
However, things then changed.
The pastor went on to advocate for a “no” vote on marriage equality and chastised those within his congregation who would vote otherwise, attaching God to his personal opinion on the subject and shaming anyone who didn’t agree with him. While I wanted to throw my hand in the air as he called out anyone who would so dare cast a “yes” vote, I refrained from doing so. I didn’t feel it was appropriate or necessary in that setting.
We were already feeling completely isolated and uncomfortable, as we always try to teach our children love and acceptance and had managed to stumble upon a place we felt was promoting anything but those things.
Then a video started playing that was produced and created by the same group. That was enough for us. I grabbed my purse, my husband grabbed my hand, and we quickly stood up. We marched straight for the kid’s area, where we got our children and looked for an exit.
As we were leaving, someone came out after us, wondering if we were okay. My husband was extremely upset and I knew one of us needed to respond, so I simply said, “we don’t believe in politicizing God in an attempt to push your agenda. That’s not love to us and every single gay person we know is a better representation of love and Christianity than we just experienced between these four walls.” And we left.
Have you ever had a moment, where it is like an out-of-body experience that goes far beyond mad? Crossing the threshold from anger to overwhelmingly calm?
It was like that.
I had already been struggling quite a bit lately, towing the line between tossing myself into the conversation or remaining quiet on the sidelines. Technically, I don’t get a vote here. But at the same time, I know what a hard-fought battle this was and how many lives the final decision impacted back in America – the lives of friends, loved ones, and some of the most amazing people that make up our inner circle. But, the topic of politics in general is polarizing.
Last year, I sat in my office and read a manuscript titled, “How the Religious Right Lost Its Influence.” The proposal hit my desk a few weeks prior to the election. A week after the election, the same proposal was rewritten and retitled, “How the Religious Right Won the Election.”
The experience over the weekend got me thinking about it again – religion, politics, and where it all went sideways. Blurred lines between the two.
Perhaps my understanding of religion is simple and weighted by the Golden Rule – treat others how you would want to be treated.
While I do my best, I struggle with this at times because I am human and have strong opinions when it comes to politics and what I believe to be unacceptable, particularly when it comes to equality. But, one thing is very clear, raising our children to believe in love and acceptance and making a stand against anything that goes against those two things.
An author once told me, “God created love. Man created religion. That is why it is flawed.”
This weekend was a prime example of that, as was last year’s election – religion used as the backdrop of politics. Personal opinions attached to God, used to promote agenda.
As humans, whether you believe in something bigger or not – God, a higher power, the Universe – we are called to love one another. But, the lines are stretched, particularly when it comes to politics and social issues, making it next to impossible to find a compromise.
Everyone wants to be right. But, sometimes being decent is more important than being right.
The day marriage equality passed in America, we celebrated. We hugged friends and shed tears of joy with loved ones who finally felt as though their relationships were recognized on an equal playing field. They felt heard and for the first time, could take the proverbial breath that had been held for years.
We decided then to stand together as a family and to continue to make a stand should we ever find ourselves needing to do so, like our experience from the weekend.
I joked with one of my friends afterwards that sometimes I wish I was mute and didn’t feel so much, as I am certain I would have more friends. But, life isn’t a popularity contest. Instead, I choose to stand up for what I believe in.
Particularly over the last 6 months, I have had people come at me in anger and I have had others come at me with unwavering support for the decisions we have made and continue to make. The response of others, be it positive or negative, are things I have no control over. What I can control is what I choose to focus on – my family and continuing to grow, challenging myself to look inward and focus on how I can be a better person.
After the ordeal, we took our children to the park and explained again, the importance of love and acceptance. We hugged them a little tighter. We loved them a bit more. We chose to focus on them as opposed to the ugliness and judgment that can often consume the hearts of people.
We chose to remind them that love is love and there are no blurred lines when it comes to that.
This week, let’s all challenge ourselves to have meaningful conversations and look beyond politics and agenda, to where we are human beings simply wanting to feel heard, accepted, and loved.
Cheers to a new week and changing the conversation.