Thursday, August 2, 2012

On Bigotry and Intolerance

I've been called a bigot and intolerant (both directly and indirectly) many, many times in the last week over the Chick-fil-a thing and gay marriage simply because I'm a Christian and a Conservative.  From friends on Facebook and Twitter, from complete strangers in the same places and especially in "news" articles on the web.  The snarky, condescending rhetoric is thick.

For the record, here is the Webster's dictionary definition of "bigotry:"
'Bigotry' is the state of mind of a "bigot", a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his orher own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance".
You see?  By demanding that I accept something that I think is wrong and by  saying I'm some sort of a hatemonger because I don't support gay marriage and by treating my viewpoint with intolerance, you're actually a bigot.  Having a common disagreement of ideas is fine, but when you refuse to accept my viewpoint at all and start calling names and trying to force me to accept your viewpoint, not through reasoned debate or discussion but by intimidation and coercion then not only have you already lost the argument, but by definition that makes you an intolerant bigot.

I would like to respectfully request that everyone see where the controversy started and read the original interview that this whole kerfluffle came from.  The tone of the rhetoric simply doesn't match the resulting hysteria coming form the "tolerant" left.  

I simply don't get it.  Here is a guy - a leader of a corporation - and a Christian in a very candid moment saying that he doesn't think that gay marriage is in accordance with what he considers to be family values and what he understands to be God's word.  He's entitled to his opinion and to run his business the way he wants just as much as the next guy.  If you don't like what his business stands for, just don't buy their product - it's as simple as that. 

There are people out there saying, "but well, yeah- I support his personal right to say whatever he wants to, but his company gives money from the company's profits to anti-gay hate groups that lobby against gay marriage!!!!" Fair enough argument, I thought.  Then I realized that Chick-fil-a is a private company without shareholders that can do whatever it wants with its profits.  Then I got to wondering what anti-gay "hate groups" the company might be sending money to.  The only thing I could find referenced by these shrill people was "Focus on the Family" and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  It's interesting to me that some people have started classifying anything they don't agree with as hate. 

But what really gets me is all the people demanding tolerance and calling people bigots are many of the same ones spewing some truly hateful rhetoric.  Here are some real comments posted in the comment section of Tennessee representative Diane Black's Facebook page after she posted a photo of her holding a tray of Chick-fil-a sandwiches (names removed to protect the guilty):
"Like she needs to eat another one of those sandwiches. Look at how fat that cow is". 
"Jesus would be so proud, as we all know, he was all about hate and intolerance..." 
"shouldn't that be in the shape of a swastika. Ahh, remember when these bible thumpers called jews "christ killers?" 'mericans'" 
"So far I've stopped at 3 for water...mentioning that Im far none have offered to feed a poor hungry person...( as Jesus would )" 
"A tray of chicken biscuits...and one turkeyneck." 
"Some peoples beliefs are as outdated as their hairstyle!"
And I could go on and on...

I would like to take a moment here to say that just because one doesn't support gay marriage doesn't mean that they hate gay people or want to see them die or be unhappy (ungay?) or wish them any kind of harm.  It simply means that from the beginning of time that there have probably been homosexuals out there as a small percentage of society. And also from the beginning of (human) time the concept of "marriage" has meant only one thing - one man and one woman.  Deviating from that definition is what gets people up in arms.  Take a look at polygamists.  They weren't and aren't accepted because they had multiple wives.  They are deviants from accepted societal norms.  The same is true of pedophiles and those who engage in beastiality.

But I guess what really bothers me is the vicious attack on Christianity itself.  People spouting truly hateful  and intentionally ignorant things such as:
"So far I've stopped at 3 for water...mentioning that Im far none have offered to feed a poor hungry person...( as Jesus would )"   
" should probably spend a little extra time studying Jesus's commitment to social justice in the Gospels this morning. I don't think He'd be very proud of you right now." 
"David, you're not a Christian. You just play one on Sundays. REAL CHRISTIANS do what their book tells them. Ever wore a cotton blend? Sinner. You should be stoned for that. "
"Right where bigotry & hate fit in, a bible study."

...and, again, I could go on and on...

How, exactly, is that not hate and intolerance (and ignorance) of Christianity and Christ's teachings?  I'm no Biblical scholar, but it seems to me that Jesus said to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' but said nothing about condoning and accepting their actions.

Until now I have not waded into the homosexuality debate - and I don't plan to, either.  I have friends and family members who are gay.  I'm not going to tell them they can't be gay. That's not my right - it's not any individual's right to force their beliefs onto another.  I simply have to tolerate it and let them live their lives. But those are not the people I have any issue with, anyway.  The people I take issue with are the people who insist on making gay marriage an issue and forcing it upon us as some sort of a civil right.

Simply put, I don't believe the way that a person chooses to have sex has the same standing as the color of their skin.

All that being said, I think that the solution is an easy one: leave religion out of it.  Christians need to accept that there will always be a "gay community" and that they will want to partner up just as "straight" people do.  But marriage has traditionally been a religious union.  Perhaps the answer is simply a governmentally recognized union that carries the same benefits of marriage, only without the religious connotations.

Words mean things, and the entire "gay marriage" debate boils down to those of faith wanting to uphold the traditional definition of the word "marriage," not keeping "people from having love" or "keeping gays from being happy," as I've seen many times in the past week. If the gay community would simply cede the word "marriage" from their debate and demands and accept a civil union, I suspect that Christians would be accepting of that. They will still not agree with homosexuality, but I suspect that they will be tolerant of it, just as they always have. Neither side will be completely happy or will get 100 percent of their way, but at least maybe then we can bring a little more civility back to the world.

We need it, especially now.

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