Yesterday was a sad day for many of my loved ones in North Carolina. They went to the polls and stood for what they believed, and many glimpsed at defeat. It is heartbreaking for me to see the words of so many who I hold dear, as I peruse through a flurry of Facebook statuses. And still, for others, who would have remained unaffected by the outcome, no matter what it was, it feels like success.
I guess I am sort of in shock. I have so much going on in my own life right now. I haven’t been in NC for 6 months now. I’ve been in Chicago, and am now hoping to settle down in San Diego. Because of my distance at this moment, I feel helpless to do anything on the matter. I was unable to vote, because I looked into getting an absentee ballot a week too late. I feel immense guilt for that now. Where was I when my brothers and sisters needed me? I am unable to comfort, because I am on the other side of the country. I was so certain that Amendment 1 would not pass. Yesterday’s outcome was a blow to my naivety.
I look at the results of yesterday’s election with a careful eye. Honestly, I have many friends on both sides of the vote. I consider myself a follower of Christ. My goal is to live my life as God’s love leads, and I humbly acknowledge that I am capable of very little without Christ as my foundation. Jesus Christ is the only thing that was capable of turning my life around completely. For that I am grateful, and my heart is for my God who saved my life.
Looking at the election yesterday, from a distance, I felt two distinct things from both sides. From the side that was defeated, I sensed undying hope and the painful twinge of heartache. From the side that won, I felt spite. At the end of the day, I understand why people vote according to religious beliefs, but I do not understand why legislation is proposed from religious beliefs. Suggesting we pass legislation based on the beliefs of some, is to assume that we should all believe the same. I refuse to become a person who points a finger in someone’s direction and insist I know more than they. I am no better and no worse than anyone else. Was Christ the thing that changed my life? Absolutely. Is He the thing that will change yours? Well, as long as He is represented as a hateful, judgmental God, I fear that any change Christians bring to the lives of others will be negative. The point of evangelism, whether some realize it or not, is to bring people closer to Christ, NOT push them away.
How can I look at my loved ones, and tell them that I love this God that supposedly disdains them for loving differently? This God that so many are misrepresenting? Right now, I will stand up for what I believe. When I looked around and saw people representing an hateful God, I refused to know that God. What my final change of heart came down to was finally meeting people who put all judgments aside, and wanted to show me Christ’s love. They welcomed me with open arms and assured me that in God’s embrace, I would be safe and loved UNCONDITIONALLY. They assured me that even when people let me down, God would have my back. That has been my experience of God. That is the God that I have fallen in love with and put all of my faith in.
I feel a sense of anguish permeating across state lines, and into my own heart. This decision affects me, because it affects so many that love. It affects us in so many ways. When they get angry at the false representation of God, I get defensive. I want them to know that I worship a loving God. When their hearts are breaking from the invalidation of a state of over 9 million people, who assume to know more about love than they, my heart also breaks. I’ve called North Carolina my home for 28 years, and I can no longer defend it.
From my more religiously fervent friends, I sense a war-like pride for the outcome. I know that the matter was important to their beliefs, but I don’t understand how it affects them either way. If their side had lost, their lives would move forward, unaffected.
For the rest of my friends, this matter is deeply personal. It is a blow to everything they were ever taught about this country. I remember the adamant lesson in school, that this was the land of the free. Today, I want to ask, “free for who?” Free for the Christians, but only the Christians? Free for the straight people, but only the straight people? How is freedom free, if it only applies to certain groups? True freedom allows all to be free to enjoy the same rights to loving and living. True freedom makes room for believing differently, and allowing those differences, not making decisions for all based on the beliefs of some. Freedom does not impede on the rights of others. Freedom leaves everyone in victory. No one should lose from freedom. All should gain. If ever freedom is acted on, to the detriment of others, it is not truly freedom. It is masquerade of freedom. It is a facade.
The same can be said of those who hide behind the cross, hurling judgments from behind the name of Christ. Christ did not judge. Christ sat with the outcasts, the people thought most low, and shared meals with them. He got to know them, and loved them. When their hearts ached, His heart ached. It was in His love that they found true freedom. It was through that love that they drew closer to Him. Anything that drives people from Christ’s love is simply a masquerade, a misrepresentation of all that Christ was and still is.
This isn’t an issue of sex, who is sleeping with who. This is an issue of love. You’re not tearing apart humping animals with this decision, NC. You’re trying to force a division between people whose hearts are fragile and full of love. You’re trying to pull apart people who have been lovingly devoted to each other for years. You’re trying to destroy bonds that have lasted longer than most heterosexual marriages ever make it. You’re deciding that someone else’s personal matters do not live up to your expectations. Well, maybe your’s don’t live up to mine, but I don’t try to intervene. I will not propose legislation that says you cannot live your life that way anymore. I simply look at you, smile, pray for you, and offer you my love. I offer you the unconditional love that I now know through Christ. I will not shake my finger at you for judging, but my heart hurts for you. How lonely of a place it must be to think you know Christ without knowing His unconditional love. It must be really empty there. If your God has no room for gay people, what on earth makes you think that same God has room for you?
I am not perfect, but as I am starting to live my life out in recovery and in Christ, I am better able to clearly see my imperfections. I see the parts of my life where I fell short. In faith, I believe that admitting my shortcomings and mistakes is all I that I can do. The rest is in God’s hands. Whether you call it “repenting your sins” or “becoming willing to make amends” I am doing that work constantly. I can look back over my life and know that if God has room in his heart for me, then he has room in his heart for all of us.
From both sides, there is a lesson. If you think that being gay is wrong, you have to keep in mind that we are ALL God’s children even despite our flaws. And keep loving. If you think that being hateful and judgmental is wrong, keep in mind the words of Christ as he was dying, “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), and keep loving.
For my friends out there, who are aching from yesterday’s decision, press on. In Genesis, when Moses was trying to win a battle against the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur held up his arms, so he could keep going. If all I can do from California, is to offer encouragement, then I hope my words will lift your arms a little higher. When you take to the streets to protest, please know that even in my absence, I am there with you.
In Mark 12:3o-31, Jesus sums up all he had set out to teach with this message: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second message was: love your neighbor as yourself. He said that there was “NO OTHER COMMANDMENT greater than these.” Just as important as loving your God, is loving your fellow human beings. Ask yourself if you would put the same restrictions on yourself. Remind yourself that there are NO commandments greater than loving God and His people.
I am sending my love to North Carolina today, because I cannot think of a day when they have needed to more. For those suffering and those judging, I offer my prayers and my love. For those who are loving, keep on loving. Maybe eventually, the haters will learn a thing or two from you.