Justifying Words of Hate: The Sins of the Religious Right
I am white. I have unruly brown hair. I have blue eyes. I'm a writer. I'm a painter. I'm an actor. I'm a friend. I'm somebodies son and somebodies brother. I love to laugh. I actually like cleaning but rarely make my bed, I still think it's more comfortable messy. I hate when ice cream touches my pie crust. I dislike soda. I love taking photos with my iPhone and I'm addicted to Instagram. I'm twenty-seven years old.
I'm also gay.
I believe my sexuality does not define the person I am nor does it condemn me to hell for choosing to engage in a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex. There are many people who would agree with me but there are many people, albeit more vocal than similar-minded supporters, who do not agree with me. I have been forum jumping for the last week while I have been home with the flu and it has become increasingly obvious there is a very vocal sect of hubbers who believe I do not deserve the same rights, freedoms and liberties they enjoy unquestioned.
It begins with someone asking for others opinions on gay marriage, gay adoption, choice vs. predisposition or other Christians views on homosexuality in the bible and without fail someone leaves a comment condemning an entire society to hell. When questioned on how they could possibly be so brazen to assume sexuality and not the merit of an individual is the deciding factor in condemnation they instantly quote:
Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Leviticus 18:22)
The forum is then instantly reduced from thereon to a simple match of wits with both sides attempting to out match the other. It becomes a conversation on the validity of the bible, on the existence of God and whose sins outweigh the other but there is never a conversation on the weight of the words used. There are very few times the acidity of those sacred words have on an individual who actually believes they are condemned for the feelings, urges and inclinations they have.
It would be a more interesting conversation if we were to focus solely on the justification so many can make for their words of hate. How they can rise in the morning and rest in the evening content with intolerance and bigotry they cast out into the world. The more interesting conversation would be how they are able to look themselves in the mirror and know they have sinned as greatly as any homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered but still believe they are going to heaven.
Hate Speech = Love
I've harboured an odd fascination with the Phelps family [the infamous people behind the Westboro Baptist Church] for most of my twenties, though I imagine my fascination mirrors a child's fascination with the sun; it can only be glanced at in short intervals before your eyes begin to burn. There are very few people who understand my need to understand the foundational arguments of the people who oppose my core set of beliefs, I've always been taught knowledge and understanding are the tools to defeat cruelty born from ignorance.
The most interesting thing about the Phelps family and many of the self-proclaimed Christians posting to the gay-oriented forums, message boards and in the comment sections of YouTube videos is they profess a unique type of love for the LGBT community. Each one of their beliefs, hateful slogans and derogatory remarks comes from a place deep within their hearts. They simply are more inclined and feel a duty to inform 'our kind' we are not right in the eyes of the Lord and need to seek repentance. Shirley Phelps-Roper has repeatedly stated her family [with their despicable signs and horrid practice of picketing funerals of fallen soldiers] love the world more than any of the "f** enablers" who choose to accept them for who they are and openly resist the word of the oh mighty God.
But what I find truly fascinating about this family and people like them is they are careful to leave personal opinion out of it, instead choosing to preempt opines with the bible reads or he says and here in lies the crux of the problem. How can you have a healthy debate with someone when the words which are being used they refuse to take ownership of and instead spend the time defending their religious stance.
They hide behind religious freedom and expression while making it known an entire sect of the population is wholly doomed to suffer in the afterlife. Whereas upfront homophobes take ownership of their opinions and insinuations these people only profess to be spreading the sacred word of the Lord and therefore can be held accountable for the actions of religious extremists.
Perhaps a better debate would be who in this sin-filled world will see heaven? Or how many people need to be damaged and broken by these hate-filled words before it leaves a mark against them in their plan for the afterlife?