For once in my life, I actually decided to think before I spoke.
I’ve let the whole thing slow down to a dull roar before jumping in. The emotions surrounding the gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court in May were running high – and still are in many quarters. Rainbow flags are flying, hashtags are tweeting and the rhetoric is thick. Some are smiling. Some are disheartened. A few don’t care.
Observers who call this a “historic decision,” are accurate. With at least 10,000 years in the books, traditional marriage has been the norm. And this new definition opens our society to a brave, new world of unknown consequences. I won’t add to the debate, but let me address one particular repugnant and pervasive response I’ve seen the last few days.
“The haters have lost. #LoveWins.”
It snuck up on me, but now it seems that any opposition to an idea or principle, regardless of the argument is deemed “hateful.” This modern use of the word “hate” is ruinous – and shouldn’t be used with such disregard. It’s Orwellian. It’s oppressive. It’s dangerous.
You might use this term as a label for others today, but what happens when the day comes and it’s used against you?
May I have the freedom, the respect to disagree with the decision? May I have the ability to disagree with an action? May I have the liberty to disagree with conclusions? May I stand with an opinion without being called a “hater?”
Afraid to speak up
I have been surrounded by a number of people throughout my life that do not regard homosexual behavior as the normative. But this isn’t a single issue. To them, it’s not the worst thing in life. It’s not the most vile. It’s not the great evil. We have plenty of human behavior in our own ranks to fix. I have never heard or seen a peer, family, or friend “hate the gay.” I don’t speak for everyone, but it’s not a rampant emotion.
Fred Phelps and his family are not Christians — they do not speak for us.
To the contrary, I’ve seen a great deal love. My church – a fairly large and substantial Evangelical church – had a message from the pulpit that invited every gay man or woman to attend, to stay and to be in fellowship. I’ve had good friends, who happened to be gay, that never felt this supposed hate from me, even though they knew my stand.
So many of us are afraid to speak, to have an opinion or a discussion for fear of being labeled a hater.
Is it possible to disagree with you without hating you? Is it possible to use logic and reason and discussion without being throw into the hate-pile to be burned?
Both sides of the aisle use this language. Christians who feel slighted are using the “Don’t hate me bro” defense. I’ve heard people accuse others of hating Hobby Lobby – or Chik Fil A, because they oppose their stands on issues.
Can we stop the hate talk?
Taking a position on policy, or lifestyle, or decisions doesn’t mean that I am coming after your character. It’s quite probable that I can disagree with you and still like you — even love you. Reasonable humans can do this.
If I think that a country should be able to define and enforce its border, it doesn’t mean I hate immigrants. If I think God defines marriage and not a court, I don’t hate same sex couples. If I think schools shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the concept of God in history, doesn’t mean I hate atheists. Candidates don’t hate children, old people, or women.
When the Bible tells me to love, it’s a matter of the heart and the soul. It doesn’t mean that I need to make excuses for behavior or overlook a fallen nature. I love their person, their being regardless of how they act. We love because by doing so it might help them into a right relationship with God.
You see, it’s the world that has the concept of love and hate all messed up, not the church.
When the woman was ready to be stoned, Jesus by his persuasive logic of love caused the accusers to melt away. Out of compassion, out of love, he saved her life. But then he said, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t hate her, but he still told her change her ways. His love changed the conversation, and so can ours.
You want tolerance. You want acceptance. Start with me. Start with my friends. Respect that we will disagree on certain things without calling us names, without labeling us as hateful.
I know there are some — and you may be quick to point them out — that have blurred the lines between disagreement and hate. Yup. They are there. But they are not me. They are not my Lord.
This quote by Rick Warren just about sums it up:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”