It’s personal…

When I hear some of the language being used in our political discourse–and some of the discussion in my faith tradition–I cringe. It’s personal.

I’m not someone who spends a lot of time talking about sex…discussing my personal sexual orientation…or enjoying shows that flaunt sex…but today sex (in various forms) seems to be the primary topic of discussion…and it gets personal.

“Homosexuality is a choice.” Interesting…I don’t remember ever choosing to be heterosexual. I remember having crushes as a child…my crushes were on teachers or friends of the opposite sex. I’ve heard the same thing from my LGBT friends–except that their crushes were on people of the same sex. If I didn’t choose, why do people insist that LGBT must have? That’s personal.

I hear how “those” people–members of the LGBT community–have chosen to live that lifestyle, and I go “huh?” What is that lifestyle? The people I know go to work (or school), wash their cars, go to church, raise kids, go grocery shopping… That lifestyle sounds amazingly like my straight lifestyle.

“Those people” are an abomination, according to one reading of the Bible. (There are other interpretations of those scriptures every bit as valid that contradict that reading.) That’s personal. I think of my brother who has spent years in public education–well-respected, well-liked. He married his husband during the brief opportunity for marriage equality in California–does that make him (or both of them) an abomination? Not in my eyes.

“Someone who is bisexual just thinks about having sex with both men and women.” That gets personal. Why? Because my husband came out as bisexual to me after 40 years of marriage…and we’re still married. Yes, he is attracted to both men and women–but he wants to be married to me. He’s not interested in sexual relations with anyone else…but that’s where so many people’s minds go when they hear that about him. And that gets personal.

“Gay marriage will be the ruin of heterosexual marriage.” Really?? Actually, I think heterosexuals have done a good job of discrediting marriage without any help. I fail to see how my brother’s marriage (or LGBT friends’ marriages) are going to impact mine…or any of my other straight friends. I’m very willing to let them meet the same challenges of marriage, because that says that they see something of value in it. Maybe…just maybe…gay marriage can help us understand again the importance and the values found in making that public, long-term, monogamous, committed relationship.

“Approving of homosexuality will start us down the slippery slope of accepting incest, pedophilia, etc., etc., etc…” That gets personal. There’s no connection between homosexuality and those inappropriate sexual behaviors. The people I know who have been involved in them are straight.

The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so. And, as explained above, many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.  (http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html)

So yes…insisting that my friends and family members who are LGBT are more likely to be child molesters gets very personal.

“We have to support biblical marriage–and gay marriage doesn’t fit that mold.” Oh? Which version of biblical marriage?

Here’s a summary:

1. Polygynous marriage – A man has more than one wife, pretty common in biblical times.

2. Levirate marriage – A man has sex with his widowed childless (without a son) sister-in-law in order to give her late husband an heir.

3. A man, a woman and her property…her slave – Check out the story of Abraham and Sarah, when she told him to go have sex with Hagar (her slave) so that Sarah could have a child.

4. A man, one or more wives, and concubines – David and Solomon fit this category.

5. A male soldier and a female prisoner of war – Women were war booty and could be forced to become wives or concubines.

6. A male rapist and his victim – According to Deuteronomy, an unmarried woman who was raped had to marry her rapist.

7. A male and female slave – The female wasn’t required to consent.

8. A man and a woman – Sort of what we expect today, except that of course, the woman had no say in it; she was her father’s property to be given away and the marriage often was to cement alliances. Of course, interfaith or cross-ethnic marriages were often forbidden.

I’m not sure any of those marriages are ones I’d want to take part in, so that’s personal!

do respect that there are individuals who have very strong feelings that are in opposition to mine, often drawn from different readings of the scriptures. My concern, though, is that far too often we refuse to listen to each others’ understandings, perspectives, stories. And when that happens, we all lose. We lose friends…we lose family…we lose the opportunity to learn and to love.

And that’s personal.