On the morning commute that I travel every day, I pass a sign that reads:
Marriage: One Man + One Woman.
I put pressure on the gas.
Then I pass another. And another. And another.
Immediately my mind goes to the water cooler conversations these folks must take part in. I hear “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” and “can you imagine being attracted to guys? How gross!” I see them sitting at home, sending out emails about Sodomy. I see people that really don’t like or love me.
And this may not be the case. There are hateful bigots who say hateful things and do hateful things and love hateful things. But there are also good and Godly people who simply believe in traditional marriage. We should always give those with the yard signs the benefit of the doubt.
Yet it’s still hard. It’s hard because every time I see a sign, read a tweet or watch a commercial in favor of the amendment, I feel like I just got cut from the team. Words, whether written or spoken, can rip at the core of me. When the faith that I so strongly believe in elevates one characteristic about myself as its default punching bag, it makes me feel like damaged goods.
The vote has hurt me more than I expected it to.
Now, before you write me off as just another marriage equality supporter, keep in mind a few things.
1) I am gay.
2) I am a devout Christian.
3) I don’t know if God does or does not bless same-sex relationships.
The journey I am on will likely be a long one. Quite honestly, most of the time it feels like I’m hollering over a crowded room to Jesus, trying to read his lips. Daily, I wrestle with the words of scripture. I read and pray and talk to others and I STILL cannot say definitively that I know where I stand. Or where God does.
So much has been learned and so much let go. And on this road, I was once close to giving up the search.
Thank God I didn’t.
There was a night when the world seemed to be throwing its full weight upon me. I tossed and turned and after several hours, I still couldn’t sleep. Moments before I had hit the pillow, I caught the evening news playing a story about a pastor in North Carolina. He was calling for my imprisonment in a concentration camp. Just a couple days before I watched another pastor say my parents should have beaten me.
I got up. I walked outside, and I wept.
Looking skyward, staring at the stars, I asked, ”How could these men speak for You? Could they possibly be right? Are you even there?”
I buried my face in my palms.
And then, I heard it.
In my heart of hearts, five words consumed my being.
“I am not like them.”
It took a moment for me to grasp what had been spoken. And then it sunk in. Every mold I had made of the distant Christ came crumbling down.
The wind hit my face, and I knew he was there. An owl hooted, and I knew he was singing. A star shot across the sky, and I knew he was dancing.
He was real.
For the first time, he was real for me.
He told me he wasn’t like them, and now I know to never mistake the will of the majority with the will of God.
Even though there is definite daylight between hateful pastors and principled supporters of traditional marriage, between the good and the Godly and the hateful and heartless. Even though I know not to mistake the two, why do the signs and the sermons hurt me all the same?
Why do I feel like those people would be ashamed to call me their son?
The vote itself feels like a punch in the gut. It feels threatening.
It confirms the fears of my folks about the world I am entering.
It makes me think the darkness behind the closet door is still safer than the darkness on the outside.
What Minnesotans should know is that a vote for this amendment doesn’t just hurt same-sex couples. It hurts single gay people. It hurts celibate gay people. I am even willing to bet it hurts “ex-gay” people. It hurts children that are told their family is not a family. It hurts people with LGBT friends. It hurts teachers of LGBT students. It hurts seniors with LGBT caretakers. It hurts bosses of LGBT employees. It hurts straight couples looking for a church home to love. It hurts gay couples looking for a church to love them.
And if the yeas have it, they may stop searching.
Don’t mistake my words as a full-throated endorsement of same-sex marriage. Like I said, I still wrestle with this. But when a group of leaders in my home state decide to hold a public roasting of a particular demographic, I cannot stand idly by. This is not a vote for or against gay marriage. If the nays win out, gay marriage won’t be legal on November 7th.
The only thing that will happen is the defense of dialogue. Christians may have to ask themselves what it means to be a citizen, a Christ-follower, and a loving neighbor. LGBT folks may have to engage with and learn from people that hold a different perspective. Christians may stop calling LGBT people special sinners and gay folks may stop calling Christians Biblical bigots.
A cease-fire is possible here.
But it can only happen if you vote for more time.
If you vote for dialogue.
If you vote for reconciliation.
If you vote to take that morning commute with me.
If you vote no.,