April 8, 2012

"Do you take these...men?"

A year ago I would not have had the courage to write this blog; even now my palms are sweating a little.  After some weeks of deliberation with my wife, I've decided that I can face any repercussions that come with it as long as she's with me.  More than likely, no one who reads this will be surprised.

I am pro-gay marriage.

Now I don't know what to write next.  Should I explain how I came to hold this stance?  Should I defend within the context of my presumed readership's faith how I can justify holding this opinion?  Shall I apologize to my gay friends that it makes me so uneasy to post this publicly?

First of all, I do know all of the arguments.  Yes, ALL of them.  I bet I could offer a cash reward to anyone who could bring something new to the table on this issue without fear of having to pick up some extra shifts to make good on it.  I also recognize that some arguments carry different weight for different people which is why sometimes the most complex and rational of presented evidences aren't always enough to convince.  I don't expect to change anyone's mind.  This is just disclosure.

Also, I don't think anyone reading this hates gay people.  If you do, you're not ready to read this.  In fact, if that's the case, read this instead: I'm Christian, unless you're gay.

 I know that not everyone who opposes gay marriage is a hateful bigot, and that calling someone that certainly doesn't do any good.  They will think, "I am not that, you clearly do not understand where I am coming from, and I shall now dismiss the remainder of your argument because it will be based on a false impression of my thoughts and feelings."

I do however feel that opposition to gay marriage is discriminatory, which doesn't sit well with me.  I strongly feel that a free society is one in which citizens are free to do as they like as long as it does no harm to others.  I can blog further on concerns about the normalization of homosexuality in school curriculum and fears that the free practice of religion may somehow be affected by the granting of gay rights.  Say the word, and it shall be written.

But back on topic:

Perhaps you are, (and I really hope you at least are) in favor of civil unions, equal rights and protection under the law, but instead opposed to them using the word "marriage" because it holds a special significance to you.  To this, I want to talk about the different between living what you believe and making others live as you believe.  A common misconception is that gay people are on opposite sides of the same coin, and that the vote of the majority should be accepted and respected.  The problem is, it's a totally different coin.  Gay people are not trying to remove the right of others to marry, nor are they trying to force heterosexuals to engage in same-sex marriages.  That would be the same coin.  Instead, they are trying to do the same thing heterosexuals are free to do without infringing on, or removing the rights of, heterosexuals.  Basically, they don't want to tell anyone they can't do anything, and just want others to stop telling them they can't.

Telling two consenting adults that they cannot get married because they are the same gender is like telling someone they cannot celebrate Christmas because they aren't Catholic.  Like Christmas, marriage doesn't belong to one group of people anymore for many of the same reasons I mention in this Christmas blog.  Marriage has become a cultural thing that has evolved from what was perhaps once a sacred religious rite, then as a way for wealthy people to exchange and grow fortunes and secure titles and inheritance, to the now secular celebration between two people in love.  I personally look at modern marriage as a bit of a circus, trivialized by reality television competitions, drive-thru chapels, ostentatious celebrity matrimony, and an outrageously inflated divorce rate, but still think it's an improvement over the times it was arranged for capital gain rather than love.   Why are we able to still call those marriages, yet cannot stomach gay marriage?  Why can't we just look at all of those types of marriages and say, "well, that's not what marriage means to me.  I will treat my marriage differently?"  

(There is some irony in comparing marriage to Christmas.  When people try to celebrate Christmas exactly as Christmas is celebrated, but want to call it something else, like "the holidays" or "Xmas" we take issue that they aren't calling it by it's proper religious name.  Weird.)

So before we talk about what marriage should be, we need to recognize what marriage is.  To most people, it's what people grow up expecting to do, longing to do, hoping to do when they find someone they love enough.  That's what it means to me.  I have been married for 8 years, and there has not been a single marriage other than my own that has affected mine in any way whatsoever.  My marriage is what we make it, and nothing anyone else says or does with the word can change that.

But I'm not finished.  I'm not just tolerant of gay marriage (though if others were, I would say that is good enough); I'm pro gay-marriage.

The reason is simple:  Being gay is not a choice.  If you think it is, I will be happy to expose you to hundreds of convincing, and I dare-say irrefutable evidences to the contrary.  Tell me why you think it is, and I feel confident I can address what I think you may be missing.  I'm not saying that the exact genesis of anyone's sexuality is known, but I've seen enough to change my own mind from what I once thought about sexuality to what I now think.  If you need more convincing, take a look at this video, and this response from a Christian woman to the article I linked above.  Also, please don't equate sexuality with alcoholism or addiction.  I have a response for that too (short version: it's not like those things).

If being gay is not a choice, as I am convinced it is not, then not only can I not deny them the right to engage in a social construct that the rest of us are able to enjoy (i.e. discriminate), but I actually think it is better if they do marry.  What reasons might you give one who was trying to decide if there was any point to marriage?  Marriage encourages fidelity, monogamy, responsibility, future planning, and anyone who is married can tell you that you grow or you die.  Marriage gives a relationship some permanence and longevity.  As it stands now, there is an entire population, and subsequently a minority culture, who are told that their relationships are to be transient and uncommitted.  I cringe when I hear people rail against the homosexual lifestyle as one of promiscuity.  If that's true, it's because we as a society have made it to be so.

We can't force others to live by our morality.  It may be tempting to think that because you have it on good authority that a certain behavior is wrong or sinful that you are justified in forcing (by way of legislation) others to abide by your moral standards, but we must dare to allow others their agency.

February 25, 2012

Love Thine Enemy

I have never wanted to punch someone in the face so much.  When other people annoy you, mistreat you, defy you, harass you, or just scream at you for extended amounts of time, you can make the choice to walk away.  With your children this is not always the case; there is a second level to the equation which is the instinct that demands you stand there and take it.  And not only take it, but take care of them while you take it.  It's the best lesson in loving thine enemy.  Instead of gratifying your need to validate your own feelings, you have to dismiss them completely in order to validate the child's experience.

The other 51% of the time is the greatest ecstasy that you will ever feel.  There is something very rewarding (and almost equally as devastating) as knowing that you are largely in charge of a person's destiny, or at least in giving them the tools to fulfill their own destiny.  Nothing is more fun than imaging the potential your child has, and the happiness you feel when you teach them a skill or inspire progress in some way.  I'm still a young father who has yet to experience the other side of that coin; I dread the day when I'm bound to do something that scars him for life.

I have frequently caught myself throwing an arm or even my whole body in front of him when a car passes, or there is a loud noise.  I deny him certain things he wants out of nothing more than white-knuckled resistance and a belief that I'm serving his best interest, then stifle a laugh when he throws an absurd fit.  Every moment of every day is a tightrope walk between what one should do, and what one shouldn't do at any given moment, and the knowledge that no matter what I do, there will be mistakes along the way.

About 2 years ago I wrote a blog about love and parenting opining about the intensity of love a parent feels to a child.  It was written before I was a parent, and only shortly after starting the adoption process. Now, after being a father for a little over a year, my ability to write has gone down hill but I can speak a little more concretely about my experience of parental love.

In the previous blog I hypothesized that parental love would be on par with puppy love.  I have to say that I think I was right.  I never get tired of looking at him, watching him try something new, listening to him say broken versions of words in which he gets almost nothing right but the inflection.  I fight the urge to include him in my Facebook profile picture, but usually fail.  I watch him sleep.  I take pictures of him doing something he has done a hundred times.  I write his full name down and admire how good my last name looks with his first name.  It is an ongoing puppy love that I do not anticipate coming to an end any time soon.