Converation with a Born-again Christian
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In early 2009 I had a conversation with a born-again Christian man, Eric, that began as a
debate on gay marriage and broadened and deepened on a wider spiritual level. He and I had
a meeting of the minds and we both walked away feeling good about our conversation.
Well Christine, I would have to say that for me its not really a matter of just granting
the priveledge of recognized marriage to the gay community. If it were, I would not have
a problem with it. The problem I think lies in that granting that priveledge would change
what marriage means for the rest of us. You have to remember that this concept of marriage
has been around since literally earliest recorded history. It is derived from the
Judeo-Christian ethic of " A man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife.
And the two will become one flesh". And for thousands of years has been widely regarded
across the globe and in all cultures to mean the union between a man and a woman. Now I am
perfectly aware that there has been a gay population on earth for the duration of this
whole time, and I am certainly not trying to downplay the love that gay couples obviously
feel for each other. I firmly belive that love is the most genuine and pure thing any one
of us could ever experience. But that being said, I just dont see how changing the above
description of marriage to something like say... a civil union of consenting adults would
keep intact the understood precepts of what a marriage is.
I think I see the issue. When you say "I think lies in that granting that privilege would change
what marriage means for the rest of us," by "us" you mean those conservative Judeo-Christian
followers who believe that everyone in the world should follow their beliefs. However, I know
plenty of Christians and Jews who do not claim a monopoly on the institution of marriage, a
tradition that itself has changed since the bible was written.
For one thing, the bible also recognized polygamy and slavery as God-sanctioned institutions.
Even after Lincoln freed the slaves people still used "tradition" as set down in the bible as
a justification not only for slavery but also for institutionalized discrimination. Then there
was the bilblically-presumed inferiority of women, who had to protest for many decades for the
right to vote. According to this tradition, marriage gave the husband marital authority over
the person of his wife. The husband had the obligation to support a wife, and the wife had the
duty to serve her husband. Yet modern living which gives us two working parents and divorce,
both of which fly in the face of tradition. Why haven't those who decry gay marriage long ago
changed the laws to make divorce illegal? Certainly those same religious vows of "until death
do us part" are also part of that tradition, aren't they? Where is the protest of that change
of the definition of marriage, a change that is FAR more widespread than gay marriage will ever be.
When we get right down to it, we are talking about different definitions of the word "marriage."
You are talking about a religious definition and I am talking about a legal definition. According
to the online law library of Nolo.com, which defines marriage at a more generalized level than a
state level, marriage is "the legal union of two people. Once a couple is married, their rights
and responsibilities toward one another concerning property and support are defined by the laws
of the state in which they live." And since Prop 8 is only concerned with the *legal* definition,
it really isn't the business (or the right) of one group to force its religious beliefs on another.
Civil unions sound nice in principle if you're a person who already has a government-sanctioned,
socially recognized marriage, but to a gay person it smells a lot like the "separate but equal"
Jim Crow laws that were stricken from the law books as unconstitutional before I was born. It says
"you're not as good as we are" and "you're not worthy of the same rights we have." Because even
after you dress it up as a "domestic partnership" or a "civil union" and claim it's equal, it
really isn't. And that doesn't take into account the inequities at the Federal level.
So I'd say that the "understood" precept would depend upon whom you asked. If you asked my mother,
stepfather or stepmother, they'd say that they understand a marriage is about two people making a
lifetime commitment, regardless of gender. Love, responsibility, respect and caring are all that
it takes to make a real marriage.
Christine, I must apologize to you. I can bet that by now you have probably figured out that I
am a Christian. I porposely ommited this piece of info on so that I could get a bias-free
conversation with you. But in doing so I realize that I am the one who has a bias. You see, in
the cloudiness of getting caught up with the concept of right and wrong, moral or unmoral, I
let my personal views get in the way of what my spiritual belifs really are. Because the
reality of what I am called to do as a Christian is to love people. Not just conservatives,
or anybody with the same sexual preferance as me or with the same color of skin , but
everyone. All people. Because we are all under ( I believe) the ultimate price paid for by
God himself. Which means He loves us unconditionaly and equally. The bottom line is that I
want my spiritual and religious beliefs to free me of bias and hate, not give me reason for
them. And let me just say that even now as I write this , I can feel prejudice melting away
from my heart and being relplaced by love. So again, please accept my humble apology.
Love , Eric
I kind of figured you might be a Christian. I am not immediately prejudiced against those who
claim the title Christian; instead I wait to see how their words and deeds show who they truly
are. From your last message you seem to really live Jesus' messages, unlike so may who call
As one who found sobriety through a spiritual 12 Step program, I believe very deeply in God,
so I do my best to be as openminded as I can be. At a screenwriters convention in 2003 I met
a woman with whom I had a marvelous conversation before I revealed myself a transsexual woman
and herself as a Christian woman, and we decided there was no basis for us *not* to be
friends. I told her I respected her beliefs as she told me she respected my womanhood. She
told me of passages in the Bible about eunuchs, some of whom might have been forerunners
of modern day transsexuals, and she said that the Bible spoke well of them. It pleasantly
surprised me to hear that!
I don't believe in any one particular religion, because I do not believe that an infinite and
loving being can be described in human terms, and certainly not in terms that makes God seem
human in an unpleasant way (jealous, vengeful). I understand that the Old Testament, written
by men who worshiped a God before Jesus was born, may have allowed their own fears and ideas
to color what they wrote. This is why the only parts of the bible I give any real weight to
are those attributed directly to Jesus.
BTW, not to start a debate with a Christian who's probably studied the bible far more
intensively than I, the part you quoted earlier ("A man will leave his mother and father
and cleave to his wife."), while first mentioned in Genesis 2:24, was cited by Jesus
(Mark 10:7-8) as an injunction against divorce in Mark 10:11 ("Whosoever shall put away his
wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her") and not as a definition of marriage.
If I were to make a case in court (and the opposition attorney would likely object that my
next statement is argumentative) I would pose that since California's divorce rates are over
50%, that is the far greater attack on traditional marriage, and that should be addressed
before gay marriage is. Otherwise the implication would be that a member of the majority
is allowed by law to violate traditional marriage (per Mark 10:7-12) merely because they
are in the majority but because gays are in the minority (and therefore easier to legislate
against) they are held to a different standard, both legally and religiously. That is hypocritical.
Anyway, sorry to make such a federal case out of it, but I've been on the side of the
underdog and the oppressed ever since I became politically aware in my teenage years.
After all, there was a time when Christians were the persecuted minority, and had I been
alive back then I likely would have been on their side.
This has been a fascinating conversation so far, and I hope we continue it. I promise not
to try to change your beliefs because I believe that God loves everybody, even Christians! :-)
Christine, although I disagree with your interpretation on the later part of Genesis 2 in
conjunction with what Jesus said in Mark 10, I dont think that a scriptural debate is the way
I would like this conversation to end up. Although I am perfectly capable to do that. ( I am
keeping in mind that I brought it up first ). I just wanted you to see where Christians are
coming from of this issue. Now, I know that not everyone is viewing marriage through the
glasses of scripture, but this is how the Christian views it. I am beginning to see your
point when you say that it's not fair for the church to impose it's views on others. I am
in agreement. I dont think that the church should use the weight of government to conform
people to it's views, in the same way I would not want government to be able to tell the
churches how where and what to worship.
A few days ago, I was getting tattoo work done from a Christian friend of mine , and I was
talking about our conversation. I was surprised to hear him say that he really didnt care if
California let gays marry or not. He brought up a good point . He said " Eric , how would the
gay community view the church, an institution that gays feel is completely against them, if
Christians instead of crying on how disgusted they are by the gay lifestyle, just showed
unconditional love for them"? And you know what, he brings up a very good point. This is why
I said earlier that I have become caught up with hate instead of love (which is against what
God has taught me). Please dont take any offense when I say that my change of heart really
didn't have anything to do with what you said, It was something that was in me all along ,
and I put it on the backburner for a lesser virtue.
You had mentioned earlier that you are a graduate of a 12 Syep program. I too had problems with
many kinds of substance abuse. I am curious. How did your experience in that program shape
your view of God today?
"I dont think that the church should use the weight of government to conform people to it's
views, in the same way I would not want government to be able to tell the churches how where
and what to worship." Bingo! We are in perfect agreement here. You are the way that I wish most
vocal Christians were, putting Jesus' ideals of love first instead of trying to make the world
conform to your views.
Here is the beef I have with some religious people when they make an argument
that goes something like this:
Me: "If God wanted us all to be perfect and free from sin, then why didn't he make us that way
in the first place?"
Religious Person: "Because God wants you to have free will, to make your own decisions to
love and obey him or not."
Two things about this argument. If God wants me to exercise my free will, like to marry my
girlfriend, then why do some people want to use the state to not let me have that choice to
make on my own? Isn't that then those people enforcing God's will (assuming they *know* God's
will) on me and taking free choice away? And who says that I cannot love God as I understand
God and still not make a choice that I believe is moral, like to marry my girlfriend?
With regard to Twelve Step programs, even though they have their original roots in an
Episcopalian group, it is a program that encompasses all faiths. The first three Steps of the
Twelve Steps I have heard interpreted many times as: "I can't, God can and I'm going to let
Him." The Third Step says "we turned our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understand Him." Coming from a parochial school background and a dysfunctional family, my
childhood faith was replaced by a lot of mistrust and resentment.
I resisted that Third Step for many years, but I finally came to a place in 2002 where I
became willing to "let go and let God." I have a non-denominational view of God as an infinite,
all-powerful, all-loving being who wants only the best for us and for us to love and help
each other. Beyond that I have no specific religious beliefs, but just knowing God is there
and trusting God is all I need to make it through my life free of the deep fear and self-pity
and resentment that used to rule my head twenty-four hours a day.
Unlike some in the LGBT community, I am not immediately antagonistic toward people of faith.
I prefer to judge them by their actions instead of their faith. I have known some very
wonderful Christians in my time and you seem like another.