I’m Tired of Being Blamed. You Make the Choice.

It took all of about 5 minutes for someone to get upset with my recent post about the gay marriage interview I did. It struck me as legitimately funny that I actually didn’t know which of the sides was going to make their displeasure known first. [insert: "the life of a bridge builder between opposing worldviews"]

The first just so happened to be a more progressive individual, not at all pleased with how I engage by elevating the conversation. In response to this post, the individual posted the following on my Facebook wall:

This [interview] doesn’t impress me at all. You’re dancing around the issue, and spending a lot of time saying next to nothing. Outlawing gay marriage causes direct bodily harm to gay families including their children, so why in the hell shouldn’t people be offended by it? If you think Jesus was so dumb and vicious that he couldn’t understand loving relationships between people of the same gender, then just say it. One day, churches that hold to this position will end up being as apologetic as they were after supporting institutionalized racism during the civil rights movement. On the other hand, if you think that Jesus was more into love than legalistic scriptural laws and therefore would support gay marriage, then say that. These are the people that will lead the way toward marriage equality for gay families. Churches should not sit on the sidelines while peoples human rights are being trampled on.

Now, I could have systematically responded point for point to show this person’s wrong interpretation of what I’m trying to do. Then I could have pointed out that the Republican National Committee recently reaffirmed their stance of traditional marriage–highlighting once again that this debate is far from simple yes/no answers, as our country must contend with learning how to bring itself together through divisions stemming from varying interpretations of “correct.” Ultimately, it’s all a waste of time because these type of activists from either end are not looking to engage in thoughtful conversation, but rather lob drive-by-bombs to rally their base. Instead, this was my response:

I appreciate your assessment. However people who do not agree with you, or gay marriage, will never listen to you or anyone in your camp because they feel they’re right and they feel you’re crazy (that argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it?). So, the question becomes, do you want to have actual dialogue with people who are your “enemy” and fighting against gay marriage, or would you rather continue ranting and not have anyone fighting against you pay one ounce of attention to you, or your rants, and continue fighting against you anyway? That is the crux of the issue. I choose the former. Thanks.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, I haven’t heard back from that guy (or from this guy, or a number of others who refuse to have actual in-person conversations because that would be way to humanizing of an act for everyone involved).

I’m tired of being everyone’s punching bag because extremists from both ends only want agreement, not peace. So as I continue to wait for a response, which won’t come, I stand fully in the camp of building bridges between opposing worldviews. Our country cannot survive without it.

Which camp are you in? How do you want to engage? And what is your reasoning for your choice?

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • Eli

    Keep on doing what you do! I can imagine how difficult it would be to face such negativity and the frustration of being constantly misunderstood. Some people understand, more and more will as time passes. I hope you remain encouraged and energized.
    -Eli

  • http://www.mosaicinitiative.org Brad

    I hear the frustration, and have an idea of what it is to be a bridge-builder/sometime punching bag, but that goes with the territory. I say if you don’t get these reactions, then either you are really not building a bridge or one is not needed. Often the bridge is between people of deep convictions, deep hurts, and/or deep fears. I think we stop being bridge builders when we expect people to “get over it”; then we become the activist. It’s hard, but I also think the hardest challenge to this role is that it always calls on putting the ego aside and trying to respond with grace. It’s not humanly possible, but it is the goal to keep striving for. So I say, take care of yourself, comfort yourself, and get back to the loving grace of this work.

  • Carrie

    Keep up the good work, Andrew! Bridge builders are needed. As are zealots I suppose. We need all kinds to create movement. Well, most “all kinds”.

  • http://gaysubtlety@wordpress.com Jordan

    I’m frustrated for you. Thank you for your hard, gracious work for the sake of true reconciliation.

    Peace.

  • Yvonne

    Thank you for being a bridge builder. You have personally encouraged me to continue to do the same in the face of opposition. You have also helped my family open their hearts’ to what God calls us to do: love. Keep it up and continue to seek God in all you do! I’m praying for you and your ministry!

  • Laura

    I understand your frustration here. But I think it’s also important to remember that, as frustrating as these moments can be, a lot of folks out there are really, truly, profoundly hurt by what is going on with regard to them and/or their loved ones. Acute pain and feelings of fear– whether due to a lack of physical or emotional safety, legal security, &c– aren’t necessarily conducive to stepping back and walking the middle road. Some people are able to or are in a situation where they can do so, and for others it is a far greater challenge due to nature or circumstances. Please do not lose sight of our shared humanity. A person doesn’t need to be an “activist” to respond viscerally to being or seeing someone in pain– that’s a very human reaction present in all of us. I’m actually kind of surprised to see you writing them off as “lobbing drive-by bombs” instead of behaving with your usual compassion. Isn’t this part of living in the tension?

    • http://somedoubted.wordpress.com james

      This!

    • Andrew Marin

      Laura – Thanks for your comment! As for the “writing of people off”… I don’t write people off after a comment, or twenty, or a year or even two. I write them off only after repeated drive-by-bomb-lobbing comments with no response to any of my follow-up inquiries. This wasn’t a one-off comment by that guy, nor other extreme activists from either end. It is those people who are not willing to engage in any dialogue that I have come to have no time for. If they want to talk, I’m here and respond every time! If not, I don’t do drive by comments anymore with no response. They get deleted.

  • Lori

    My gut reaction when I read this is be proud you are a punching bag!!

    Of course it hurts, of course it is annoying and maybe a tad demoralizing, but punching bags like you are so necessary and I am so thankful for you!

    I used to be on the conservative churchy side BIG TIME until I was given one of the most significant gifts in my life so far–our teenage son came out to us four years ago (most people don’t get it when I say that).

    Let me clarify that statement. Am I happy he is gay? Not especially. But I am certainly not happy he walked away from his faith because of the perceived (and let’s face it VERY REAL) judgment from the Christian community he was raised in. In our home too, sadly.

    I have been lovingly taken down notch by gentle (and not so gentle) notch by The Lord these last few years and am constantly challenging myself to be less judgmental ( I find watching Hoarders helps!). I confess the ones that vex me the most these days are my fellow Christians!!….

    So, this “Bridging” concept of yours has drawn me in and captured me! I fully support you in your calling. If that means giving you encouragement when you are being punched, so be it! You got it, Brother!

    P.S. Our relationship with our son has vastly improved and while he still calls himself a “gay communist atheist”, we are loving him (and his precious boyfriend–I love our little mission field!) we are called to do. And it’s our privilege.

    • Andrew Marin

      Much love!

  • Marriage is only one stepping stone…

    “The fundamentally conservative nature of the marriage contract is why, I think, younger conservatives are growing more supportive of same sex marriage. Extending marriage rights to LGBT people does little or nothing to address the structure of oppressive family laws and values in society. It also does very little to change the core of the conservative agenda which is, fundamentally, about power and control. This is evidenced by the fact that young conservatives are increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage at the same time that they continue to be champions of austerity who are deeply opposed to public funding of critical safety net programs. And many are terrible on issues of race, equating black and brown people with destructively out-of-control sexuality, crime, and government debt. So their attitudes about LGBT people may have changed, but their worldviews remain pretty much the same. They’ve just let monogamous same sex couples off the hook for certain societal problems, which is essentially what they’ve been doing all along for heterosexuals who marry.
    What appears to be leading to this “success” with young conservatives points to another of my concerns. By presenting LGB (I’ll leave off the “t” here) people as basically conservative in our demands, the most mainstream faction within the LGB movement is subtly positioning us as a model minority. And it’s working. Where once attacks against LGB people relied heavily on messaging that mirrored prejudices historically used against people of color (morally debased sexual predators and criminals seeking anti-American special rights), LGB people are increasingly understood to be all-American and fundamentally non-threatening. The sales job basically seems to revolve around the idea that if you let us in, nothing really changes. And, based on the demands at the center of this agenda, this is, to a degree, true.
    Also troubling is my sense that the current strategies ignore something about marriage rights that ought to be obvious to anyone excluded from them, especially when that group is arguing that being excluded has real, material consequences. That is, that we are arguing to be able to use marriage as a shield against wrongs that no one, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status, should suffer. No loved one should be excluded from survivors benefits and pensions, end of life decision-making, hospital visitation, and the many other family rights reserved for married couples. And when we argue that being able to wield this shield is a right we deserve because we conform with the values of good people, that shield can become a weapon against those who are still excluded.”

    Scot Nakagawa, “Why I Support Same Sex Marriage as a Civil Right, But Not as a Strategy to Achieve Structural Change,” ChangeLab 3/25/13

  • Ed

    I think what you are doing is really great! I believe that when we learn to stop arguing for a particular side and see the other side as human beings with the same emotions, desires, and goals, that it will be much easier for everyone to find solutions that are mutually agreeable and don’t leave people feeling hurt or rejected. I think your work as a bridge builder will help us get one step closer to that.

  • http://theepiscopalian.blogspot.com/ William W. Birch

    Many people still don’t “get” you. To me, the purpose of the Foundation is so clear. But this is a tale-tell sign of our culture: people are forced to be on either one side or the other in this debate; there can be no middle ground. That is tragic. So, we have people on both sides of the debate with their fingers in their ears, willing only to listen to those who agree with them. Oy!

    You asked our opinion, so I’ll give my mine. But opinions are like noses: we all have one. I think each State should decide on the matter of gay marriage, without any religious community forcing their opinion on the state; and each church needs to decide on the same matter, without any state forcing its opinion on any local church. There it is.

    • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

      William: I’m a married gay man in Iowa. I’m not a married gay man when I leave Iowa and travel to any of the surrounding states. If I lost my job and relocated to my mom’s home with my family, for example. Our family would no longer be a family under the law because Minnesota doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. Do you understand how schizophrenic it is for gay families right now state by state — not to mention federally?

      • http://theepiscopalian.blogspot.com/ William W. Birch

        Jon,

        I would imagine it is quite schizo, you’re very right. But you may always find a place where you’re marriage is not received or accepted socially, even if all states do. Just as the Church cannot legislate morality (laws do not change one’s heart or mind), so the Federal Government should not dictate what we all ought to believe, as in, believe against one’s conscience. Please do not think that I am unsympathethic, because I am, I really am.

        • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

          I don’t need my neighbors to approve of my marriage. I don’t need my neighbors’ church to approve of my marriage.

          I need the legal reality of my marriage to be consistently acknowledged by the governmental system that I belong to as a tax-paying American citizen. It’s crazy that Andrew and Brenda can travel from state to state to state and they are maried. I have 10 states that I can visit. Otherwise, my marriage no longer exists. That’s wrong.

          • http://theepiscopalian.blogspot.com/ William W. Birch

            Jon,

            Your comment just reminded me that I said something similar to my very conservative parents last month. Perhaps I’m being slightly inconsistent.

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Andrew: I wrote a comment in the other thread (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/loveisanorientation/2013/05/part-1-interviewed-by-church-marketing-sucks-on-gay-marriage/#comment-7174), but part of it bears repeating.

    This isn’t an emotionally even topic. Heterosexuals are discussing their beliefs on an idea involving other people (i.e. LGBT people). LGBTs are discussing the nuts and bolts of our own lives. And we’re struggling with the legislative harms caused by others political actions based off their beliefs about the deficiencies of our day-to-day lives.

    I don’t blame you or anyone else. But I think it’s a good reminder.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/loveisanorientation Andrew Marin

      Great call Jon! Thanks for that. What I could have made more clear was that I’m not frustrated with people who strongly advocate for gay marriage. What I find frustrating are the rants that no one in their target audience for such a rant (e.g. the traditional marriage people) will ever listen to. It has to happen differently for anything, including dialogue, to be effective. If it doesn’t, it’s no better than church people who only ever talk to other church people who are already in their camp. But all in all, I always need to remember that emotion cannot be taken out of such a thing. Much love brother!

  • Jeff S.

    As I posted on The Marin Foundation’s Timeline link to this post: “Keep doing what you’re doing, Andrew, and weather the criticism with grace. You are making a difference, in the church, in society, in my life and in some of those I touch. If you weren’t making a difference, there would be no criticism.”

  • Justin

    Andrew, I think there are a lot of folks who are interested in discussing this issue in a sensible, respectful way. I clicked on your link, which was posted on facebook, with the thought that I’d probably find someone who holds different view than I do– I’m interested in having conversations with you. But what I wanted to say was that your tone here is a little condescending; I find that I’m annoyed not only by “drive-by” rallying, but also by the other common voice, the voice that insists that it’s the only sensible one in the room interested in rational conversation. Do you know what I mean? That’s a hard voice to engage with. I’m guilty of this, too, really. That’s why I’m commenting I guess; I want to learn otherwise. It sounds like you are capable of non-dogmatic, compassionate, humble conversation often, based on the comments. I’ll check out your other stuff.

    I want to engage because I have many gay friends who are deeply hurt: they are being told that what they naturally do, love the same sex, is sinful and perverted, and that because of this, they can’t have the same option to marry the person they love. I know this is rhetorically slanted, but I can’t seem to make it otherwise, and honestly, this is why I care: because one culture set’s beliefs are actively hurting real people. Not that this is an isolated case of this phenomenon, but … it feels important. Maybe I’m simply caught up in the rhetorical wave, with some many of our generation.

    • Andrew Marin

      Justin – In no way do I feel I am the “only rationale voice in the room.” Far from it. What I am suggesting is that I at least WANT to be in the room with others to see what happens. I wish that was the common voice. I’m tired of people ranting without being in proximity in the room. Get in the room!


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