It may surprise many of you–especially those who think they know me–to hear that I hate conflict. Oh, I’ll get up on my soap box when I’m preaching to the choir1 but the minute somebody gets upset my shoulders seize up and my stomach starts to churn. I won’t change my mind, but I’ll sure as heck agree to disagree faster than you can say “relativism.”
So today’s been rather a rough day on Facebook. Everyone’s got their trendy equals signs or their counter-cultural declarations and I’m just trying to get by with a few links and no drama. I can’t even handle Catholic Memes today, and you know that’s usually my fave.
All day, though, I’ve felt like I had to say something. But I don’t just want to start shouting about Romans 1:26-27 and have all my “conservative” groupies back me up.2 And I don’t want to pull out studies or Church Fathers. I don’t want to talk about the constitution or the separation of Church and State or what happens to religious liberty when institutions with religious significance are threatened by the state. I don’t want to talk about homophobia disguising itself as religion or intolerance disguising itself as acceptance. I don’t want to talk politics or sex or any of the other topics that get people all mad.
Today, I just want to talk about peace and love. But ain’t nothing gets people madder than real love working for real peace. And you know who’s getting in the way? Conservatives. And liberals. Progressives and traditionalists. Stay-at-home moms and 12-year-old-kids and me and you and a whole lot of everybody.
If I see one more claim that people who support gay marriage are in favor of love while those who oppose it are in favor of rules, I may scream. Don’t you know that the rules are supposed to help us love better? Don’t you know that we–some of us, anyway–are trying to love you by helping you to understand the rules? You might think I’m wrong, but please understand that my disagreeing with your lifestyle doesn’t in any way change how much I love you.
And you know what–if I see one more mathematical equation that reduces the love of two human beings to the orientation of a set of lines, I may scream louder. How does it help anybody to reduce their love–their family–to a gimmick? How does shouting that it’s not marriage if there aren’t babies or that it’s not a family if there isn’t a mom and a dad speak to a world of infertility and contraception and single-parent households?
Quit calling me a homophobe because my understanding of the nature of marriage doesn’t match yours.
Quit bringing up pedophilia and bestiality like they’re at all the same thing as homosexual unions.
Don’t attack my Church if you don’t know what she teaches.
Don’t attack my friends if you don’t–you know what? Just don’t attack my friends. Or their friends. Or anybody at all. Don’t tell people they can’t be good parents, don’t tell them they don’t know anything about love, and don’t you dare tell them they’re going to hell.
My friends, we’re not getting anywhere. And we’re not going to get anywhere until we shut up and listen. I respect those of you who are actually making points. But if you’re just recycling the rhetoric, try sitting down with someone intelligent and compassionate who disagrees with you and asking them why they think the way they do. Because I don’t think there are a lot of people sporting pink equals signs who are trying to destroy the moral underpinnings of our society or corrupt children. And I haven’t met many who support traditional marriage because of hatred and fear.
There are outliers on both sides and confusion and poor reasoning and unfair attacks but I think we mostly just want people to be free to love.
You may think that a person isn’t free to love unless he’s free to marry whoever he wants. I think that a person isn’t free to love until he’s living in God’s plan for love. But I’m not opposing equality, I’m fighting for love. You’re not opposing morality, you’re fighting for love. And we’re not fighting each other when we oppose each other’s positions. If Twitter is any indication, we’ve lost any ability we once had to disagree without despising. In the name of Jesus–invoked on both sides–we are hating each other in order to pursue love. That’s seriously screwed up.
So as the equals signs proliferate (and the division signs and the addition signs and whatever other craziness there may be), can I implore you to stop before you link, before you share, before you like or comment or tweet or pin and just ask yourself: is this loving? Is it reasonable? Does it attack positions rather than people? And if it’s not for the greater glory of God, delete it.
Living like this may not change any minds,3 but maybe it can change some hearts, can show them that this is about love. Whatever side you’re on, unless you’re a total clown, this is about love. Can we stop hating each other for 5 minutes and respect that we’re all fighting for love here?
- Gotta love a mixed metaphor. [↩]
- No, I don’t consider myself a conservative. Nor do I think liberal is a bad word. I’ll take a lot of both, thank you, although that’s a post for another time. [↩]
- The only minds that matter this week are the nine on the Supreme Court. What the heck difference do we think our caustic social media interactions are going to make?? [↩]