The following is a reflection that was written by Nathan Albert on August 4th after Prop 8 was ruled to be unconstitutional by Judge Walker in California. Nathan serves as the Director of Pastoral Care at The Marin Foundation.
I have been sitting in front of my computer trying to come up with words to say tonight. I’ve been typing and deleting almost every sentence I type as I try to respond to what I know is an important day. Prop 8 has been deemed unconstitutional. Instead of any words, I find myself tired.
Here is why. Homosexuality has become an issue in many Christian circles (not all, but many). It’s become a hot-button issue. People are afraid of it. People debate over it. People do awful things to one another because of it. And I have a problem with that. It makes me tired.
My problem is this. Homosexuality is not an “issue” at all. It’s not a hot-button “issue.” It’s not an “issue” that people fight over. It’s not an “it” at all. It’s not an “issue” at all.
This is about people. People.
Have we forgotten this? It seems to me that we just might have.
It’s easy to turn things into “issues.” But I think it’s dehumanizing. It’s easy to label people: liberal, conservative, Christian, or atheist. But I think labels are too often used to dismiss people entirely. Again, dehumanizing. It’s easy to make the topic of homosexuality some exegetical debate where people argue over ancient languages, texts, and cultural contexts. But I do not think this is an exegetical issue. I think this is about people.
It seems to me that many people don’t think this is about people or the implications of that. Therefore an entire community of people are dehumanized or turned into the “least of these.” Right now it seems in certain places (key word: certain. Of course this does not include all Christian communities) the options for gay Christians are either to be celibate or become straight and marry someone of the opposite sex.
Sometimes I think, what if this was demanded of me? What if, because I was straight, the Christian community said to me, Nathan you either have to be celibate forever or marry someone of the same sex?What if I was forced to spend the rest of my life in celibacy because I was straight? One, it would suck. Two, I don’t think I have the gift of celibacy. And yes, I think celibacy is a gift for certain people. Three, it would suck. Four, I would probably have a hard time controlling my lust.
What if I was forced to marry someone of the same sex to whom I was not attracted? Again, it would probably suck. Although, I could possibly have a great relationship with emotional intimacy and could probably be physically intimate with another male. But I would not be fulfilled, it would feel awkward, and I would still dream of being with a woman instead.
And so my goal is not to debate the exegetical work, the theological implications, the above examples, or the decision in California. There’s too much of that already and frankly I’m getting tired of that too. Instead, I want to remind those people who forget easily (myself included) that this is about people.
Do we think about people before we make decisions? Do we remember that this is about people when we go to the voting polls? Do we remember that this is about people when we preach from a pulpit? Do we remember that this is about people when we have late night debates? Do we remember that this is about people when we read Scripture?
If not, we are guilty of dehumanizing people. And I might even be bold enough to say that dehumanizing people is a sin.
So today I am again reminded this is about people. Today people wept with joy because they are closer to finally being able to marry the person they deeply love. Today became a day of rejoicing. Today Facebook and Twitter exploded with people’s excitement over the decision in California. Today I am reminded that this is a small step for thousands of people.
And today I am reminded of my countless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends. Today was a good day for them. Actually, today could be said to be a great day. And I stand with them. I rejoice with them. I shed tears of happiness because they shed tears of happiness.
And today I am reminded that God loves people. All people.