Equal Opportunity Hate
For those reading this at some point in the distant future, this is written on a day when there is a lot of “discussion” going on about gay marriage. I put the term “discussion” in quotes, because while there is a tremendous amount of noise happening, there is almost no debate. The two sides have entrenched themselves and are ready for all-out war.
Before I begin, I should mention that, a few months ago, I wrote a piece proposing that, regardless of your moral/theological convictions on the subject, there doesn’t seem to be any legitimate argument for denying gay marriage in a secular society. Having said that, I placed myself squarely on the outs with a lot of my conservative/Christian friends.
Later, I voiced my strong objection to the Christian march to Chik-Fil-A in support of the founder’s stance on traditional marriage. I argued that fomenting a combative us-vs-them mentality between the church and the LGBT community was counterproductive and, frankly, not what Jesus would have done (let’s remind ourselves of who he was famous for hanging around with). This was, to put it mildly, not particularly welcomed by a few of my church friends.
The thing is, even hardcore doctrinal badasses like Paul (the guy who wrote a bunch of the New Testament) made it clear that Christians aren’t supposed to be about condemning the world. In 1 Corinthians 5, he basically says “these standards are for YOU to follow because you believe. Why would you apply them to the rest of the world? If you do that, you might as well go live on the moon, for all the good you’ll do anyone.” (That’s a pretty loose paraphrase, but seriously, go check out that chapter. It’s there, and it’s good stuff.)
But today I’ve come across more hate, more vitriol, more blanket judgment and condemnation than I’ve ever seen before. And it’s not coming from the sources you’d expect.
The following is an excerpt from a FB post made by a friend of a friend:
I know several of the people who “liked” that post. They are great people– intelligent, creative, absolutely likable, even admirable. And I am deeply disturbed at the level of pure, unadulterated, implacable hatred in this post– hatred that they have offered their support of.
And it’s not alone. I am happy to say that I have FB friends from all over the social/political spectrum, and I have seen more raw, seething hatred today than I think I ever have, all of it along this line. My Christian friends? They are posting little placards showing their support of the traditional definition of marriage, or articles about how to handle the issue in a loving, Christlike way. In short, they aren’t attacking anyone, they are defending an idea. You may not agree with that idea– and that’s fine– but is this the way to handle disagreement?
As someone who can understand both perspectives on this subject– and frankly doesn’t know where to land– I read the first paragraph of the above post with my intellectual/emotional curiosity piqued. I was ready to be moved, persuaded, challenged. And then it was like getting shot in the face with a hate-gun. What I read there is “if you feel even slightly different than me on this topic, I despise you utterly. There is no meaningful discussion to be had. You are nothing but hate, and therefore I hate you back harder.”
It’s one thing to say it’s a response to the Fred Phelps’ of the world, with his cartoonishly hate-filled agenda. But the thing is, I don’t know Fred Phelps, and I suspect neither do any of the people in posts like this. Sure, there are Christian/conservative people out there spewing equally hate-filled things against those they disagree with, but there is a major– major-– difference:
The Christian haters are the fringe. They are the extreme edge, shouted down by the majority in the middle.
The haters on the other side are the mainstream.
In Christian circles, there is a sense of embarrassed shame for the vicious morons. They are eschewed and denounced as wrong.
On the other side, the hate is considered virtuous, laudable, and socially responsible.
I normally joke a lot in my blog, but I can’t joke about this. I find the glorification of hatred in this instance deeply, fundamentally disturbing.
When I go to my Christian/conservative friends, I defend the LGBT community and it’s supporters. I tell them that there is no secular excuse for denying gay marriage. I tell them Christians are called not to condemn the world but to love others, just like the guy whose name they’ve all taken.
But now I feel like I need to defend my Christian friends to the LGBT community and its supporters.
Listen: the great, great majority of them do not hate you. They don’t object to gay marriage because they despise gays. They simply feel that the word– marriage– has a meaning that is important to them. This is shown by the fact that most of them have no issue with homosexual unions that go by some other word or phrase. It isn’t that they want to deny you anything– it’s that they feel something precious is being taken away from them, altered, and rebranded. You can understand that, can’t you? They have no right to demand you be anything other than who you are. But do you have the right to demand they give up something important to them?
And let’s be brutally honest here: isn’t that part of why you want to take the word away from them? Because you have allowed yourself to hate them so, so much that you want, on some deep, instinctive level, to hurt them? I know you’ll resist that idea, but I ask you to seriously, sincerely consider it. When a community makes hate into a virtue, every action against those who are hated, no matter how vicious, becomes commendable.
Let’s ignore who is right and wrong for a moment. It is possible– even likely– that the people you are hating do not hate you. They don’t even really care what you do with whoever you want. They really are far, far more tolerant than you’ve allowed yourself to believe. I know dozens and dozens of Christians and conservatives, and none of the ones I know are filled with hate for the LGBT community. Not a single one. They simply cling to a traditional definition of a word that is precious to them. The more you demand that they give it up– the more you call them evil haters for their basic, traditional affection for an institution that helps define them– the more you make yourselves into attackers.
But what fun is it to consider a reasonable answer to the objections of the Christian community? It’s easier, and far more fun, to staple Fred Phelps masks on them all, regardless of whether they deserve it. And truly, hatred is just as exhilarating and addictive as love, isn’t it?
But it’s ugly. No mater which side it comes from.
It’s intellectually lazy of you– and dare I say willfully so– to simply dismiss the values and traditions of Christian/conservative people as mere hate. And it’s truly beneath you to respond back with hate of your own.
Which brings me to another post I saw on FB yesterday:
This was posted by a Christian person I know, and it seems pretty positive, but it really only gets us halfway there. Christians miss a lot of the point of Jesus’ main teachings. One of the things he said was that even bad people are nice to the people that are nice to them, so big whoop. Jesus told Christians to love those who hate them. Why? Because that’s what changes hearts. We humans tend to want to bash down the icy hearts of those we disagree with. But love is the heat that melts that ice without destroying it. It takes more time, but redemption is always– always— a better story than revenge.
Sure, Christians get it wrong a lot of the time. But that doesn’t change the truth of what’s right. You respond to them like people– like the generally reasonable friends, neighbors, relatives and associates they are– and most of them will totally do the same. Most of them already want to, but feel too attacked to even bring it up.
Consider it: most of the people who support traditional marriage don’t hate you. They don’t even dislike you. Most of them are simply not deserving of your bald, gleeful hatred. They may be wrong, but that doesn’t make them evil.
I tell you this because I tell them the same thing. Now help me make it true.