One of the reasons I blog is to document who I am, what I believe and why I make the choices I make. I'd like for my series of posts to serve as a way for my children to see me–me at my best, me when I struggle, me when I fail–when they're old enough to see me as a person, not just their mom.
I don't typically write about current events. I don't typically write about anything controversial. That doesn't mean I live under a rock (at least not on most days) or that I don't have strong opinions on topics that our nation is struggling with.
So this week, as my Facebook landscape changed from not-so-candid selfies and company logos to a combination of red equal sign graphics and man/woman black and white graphics, I made a very conscious choice to not publicly take sides.
I watched the conversations grow, and with those conversations felt my blood pressure rise and my cheeks flush. I shook my head, rolled my eyes, stomped away, cried a bit and talked to myself. I talked to myself a lot, actually, because I couldn't wrap my head around the things I 'heard' being said.
I think what perplexes me most is that we all think we're speaking the same language. We use the same words….love, marriage, sanctity, sin….and think that we're using them the same way.
This happens all the time, actually. Writing dating profiles for a living makes this crystal clear to me. My favorite example: "I am affectionate" is probably in 95% of the profiles I write.
But to Person A 'affectionate' means they dig engaging in tongue tonsillectomy anytime–and anyplace–the urge strikes. To Person B 'affectionate' means they like to hold hands and feel comfy giving each other a peck or two while among friends and family. For Person C 'affectionate' means they spend three minutes spooning after doing the deed.
Same word. Very different meanings.
So as I'm reading the arguments both for and against the right of homosexuals to legally marry, I'm struck at how cavalier we are with our words.
I want my kids to someday understand what I truly mean when I speak. I want them to understand that the words they choose to use are powerful–so incredibly powerful–and that choosing their words wisely is just as important as standing up for what they believe.
What's bothering me most? Statements like 'I love everyone, but I don't condone the gay lifestyle.'
This I don't understand. To me the word love is not the same as the word tolerate, which is what I think is more appropriate here. 'I love you' is not the same as 'I love you but expect you to/think you should (at least) choose to not live the life that God gave you or (at worst) lie about who you are and who you love'. That's like hugging with your arms but not with your heart. It's conditional. It's judgment. It is, in my humble opinion, being a bully.
I don't understand why some people muddy up the conversation by defining the gay lifestyle a sin when this is an issue of state, not of religion. If marriage is 'wrong' for those who 'choose to sin' why is it acceptable for incarcerated people to marry? Pretty sure they've sinned if they've been convicted of a crime and sentenced, but their basic right to marry stays intact. Something tells me it has to do with the separation of church and state that most of us value, but who I am to say?
And if we're talking about sin, let's be completely clear; I was raised a cradle Catholic, which for me means that I can't quote the Bible but I did memorize the Ten Commandments. I learned that we sin when we break one of those commandments.
So if I've cursed, valued money (or anything else) more than faith, worked on a Sunday, hated my parents, committed adultery (which, in my raising, meant having sex for any reason other than to make a baby and/or with anyone to whom I am not at the time married to), stolen, lied, gossiped, been jealous (of anything or anyone) or killed then I'm a sinner. And I am, most definitely, a sinner. I don't remember anyone asking me any of that when I applied for a marriage license.
Nor did they talk to me about the sanctity of my marriage. While I teach my kids to respect authority, not even the most powerful politico can legislate how we treat each other after we say 'I do'. They can't pass a law that says someone can't choose porn instead of intimacy with his/her spouse, they can't legislate that a spouse can't slip his/her ring off when it cramps their style and they can't dictate whether or not anyone–married or not–has straight, vanilla, monogamous sex that so many people define as 'normal'.
I want my kids to understand that 'normal' doesn't mean the same to all people. I want them to understand that even if they are the most vanilla in a case full of chunky, funky, souped up flavors that someone else will label them as different, weird, strange or wrong. Because we are all, no matter who we are, too talkative/quiet, smart/slow, boring/interesting, colorful/gloomy, liberal/conservative, responsible/flighty, blah, blah, blah in someone else's eyes.
This reality makes us all different, for sure, but different does not mean 'less than'.
I want my kids to understand that.
I want them to understand that they are free to choose whether or not to like or embrace or celebrate someone based on whatever reason they see fit, but that it doesn't give them a pass on treating them as another human being with the same rights and responsibilities that we have.
I want them to understand that sexual orientation is as much a choice as how tall we are or what our natural hair color is, but that one of the most important choices we make in life is how we choose to treat others. I pray that when they hug someone and say those words they do so with their heart instead of just their mouth and that they see others as they see themselves; created in God's image and living a life filled with good intention, compassion and kindness.