Last Saturday morning I woke up to a clear blue sky. So clear and blue, like only Los Angeles can do to autumn. One would never have known there was a fire raging 2o miles west in Sylmar. But that's what the Santa Ana winds do: they blow westward, and so I never saw that smoke from my home. But around noon I went out and saw a funnel of smoke billowing up from the southeast. By the end of the day the sunset was blood red and the air was thick with smoke. Smoke was everywhere, in every room. I woke up in the middle of the night with a weight on my chest.
The city felt oppressive even before the fires. Prop 8 was voted down, and people got really, really pissed off. I know a lot of gays who want to marry: they want to be monogamous, have the same rights, and visit their loved ones in the hospital. So I voted against Prop 8. I figured, let everyone to have equal rights under the law. We live in a pluralistic, secularized society; and when it comes to the secular estate of marriage, I don't think the church can dictate how the state defines it; I also don't think the state should dictate how the church defines it. Now I know some Christian conservatives argue marriage is an estate of the church. But we recognize marriages between atheists and agnostics and Buddhists and, egad, Methodists. I've even been to those weddings, in church. So really...
I know what the Old Testament says about homosexuality. But the Bible tolerated polygamy and slavery. I know what Jesus said about homosexuality: nothing. Now stay with me here: two hundred years ago, devout Christians thought slavery was okay. Fifty years ago they thought interracial marriage was an abomination, and blacks got lynched for it. So then, what is the church doing by opposing gay marriage? Is it standing up for biblical truth, or are we so in love with The Law that we fail to see God has come in and changed it? Jesus defied so many biblical laws the devout had him crucified for it. We must be very careful not to miss what God is doing. We can argue that homosexuality is a sin. But dost not thine own shit stinketh as well?
One of my oldest friends, whom I met at a Christian conference, tried not to be gay for years. She did all the programs. She went to seminary, and spent years working in homeless shelters and advocating for the poor and oppressed; speaking up for those who had no voice. Like Jesus did. And she was still gay. One day she said, "Okay, either God is cruel, and me being gay is his curse upon me. Or, God is good and merciful, and this is a gift." She chose to believe in a god who was like the latter. She became a pastor and she spends her days reaching out with the love of Christ and helping the poor and outcast. She has done far more for the kingdom of God than I have.
I don't know the answer, but I believe in her God, who is merciful and patient. He knows the heart of every person. He knows what they have gone through how they got that way, and I don't. Because I am not homosexual, I don't feel I can judge those who are. When I think of all the crap God has endured for me, I'm sure he will have grace for others. I mean, he put up with slavery and polygamy. Don't you think he can handle someone being gay?
Jesus said there will be no marriage in heaven. I wonder if that's because, our current experience and understanding of sexuality and intimacy are so puny and superficial, compared to what identity and intimacy will be in the afterlife ... when the veil is lifted and we see and know God face to face. as CS Lewis wrote, "I know, Lord, why you did not answer. You yourself are the answer. Before you, all questions die away."
I wonder if arguing over each person's broken, or fixed, or cobbled-together sexual identity is splitting hairs. When the fact is, one day we will all be washed clean not by our own goodness but by God's grace and mercy. So why would I throw a millstone around someone's neck? Prevent them from knowing God's infinite love and mercy and acceptance, by arguing my shit stinks just a little less than theirs? Let he who is without guilt, cast the first stone.
At least that's what I had been thinking.
And then the Prop 8 protests started. Angry mobs targeted one restaurant because the manager was Mormon and had donated to the Prop 8 cause. They picketed and taunted customers and employees. (What if Pro-Prop 8 supporters had picketed and taunted patrons of gay bars in West Hollywood?)
And it's getting worse: Sunday's LA Times featured a story about liberals combing lists from Prop 8 supporters, hunting out the culprits and firing them. It's like the McCarthy Blacklist, and I find it horrifying.
After a lengthy lawsuit, eHarmony now has to match gay people. Should we force gay dating sites to match heteros? Or as one commentator said, isn't that like marching into a vegan restaurant and demanding he be served a rib-eye? A theater director in San Francisco donated money to Prop 8 and got fired. Okay, so what was he doing directing theater in San Francisco? But then, what was that gay guy doing on eHarmony? Let me tell you, eHarmony rejected me three times, and I'm Christian, because their matching system is so, well, lame. (I would say it's so gay, but only gays and Sara Silverman can say, "that's so gay." Anyway, eHarmony's matching system sucks) [Sucks as in, 'horrible.' Not sucks as in vaccuum or ... Ugh, word police. ]
Tony Jones and Rod Dreher are blogging about it on Beliefnet. I'll leave it to the experts to hash it out, because I'm at a loss. More than that, I'm grieved over the hateful spew going on. Author Robert Hughes aptly labeled our fraying American culture as The Culture of Complaint. Every splinter group demands their rights, like petulant, angry, immature children. It starts with "accept me," and then it becomes, "dig me, fund me, love me, obey me. Or else." And it goes on everywhere, from James Dobson to GLAAD to PETA to you and me.
Know what happens? The loudest, angriest, biggest bully gets their way. And then some extremists come along to restore order, and make you wear a burka.
At least, that's what I've been thinking, as the smoke clears from Los Angeles. What began as a clear blue autumn day turned into a charred wounded, oppressive landscape. What began as a proposition has disintegrated into cattiness and bullying. Who started it? Does it matter? I think the better question is, who's going to show a some maturity and grace? Who's going to say "Sorry" first? Someone needs to. Because I'm in no mood to put a blue sheet over my head.