Some honest dialogue with a religious conservative on “President Obama, Difference, and Proposition 8″

A Christian conservative responds to my post and I write him back…

live.orato.com link here

Darcy, your article is the first one I have seen asking these questions. I see a lot of anger over this vote—and I acknowledge that this anger is understandable. I appreciate that you’ve taken this step back to consider the other side.

I’m a religious conservative and I voted yes on prop 8. I also volunteered dozens of hours calling people to get out the vote. What is going on in my life that guided me to do that?

We got a taste of what you and the gay rights movement have lived under for years—that our way of life was under attack. Just as it is natural for you to want to fight for your way of life, I was filled with the desire to fight for mine. I also felt I was on a divine mission.

You wrote, "conservatives believe that truth comes from their own interpretations." I wouldn’t say that. I would say that religious conservatives believe that truth is absolute and comes from God. I acknowledge that not everyone agrees what that truth is, but that doesn’t mean I’ll throw my belief away.

In the weeks leading up to this campaign, I have been flipped off, cursed at, and called a bigot, an idiot, backward, closed-minded, and told to "g fck ff nd d" (vowels removed in the original for some reason). I’ve been told I’m filled with hate, which is confusing to me because "hate" is not an emotion I’ve been feeling at all. On the contrary, I’ve felt hate directed at me in the name of tolerance and acceptance.

I’ve read so many news stories of people getting successfully sued for exercising their first amendment rights to religious freedom that I don’t know what this country is coming to. It seemed clear to me that anyone who wanted to raise their children believing that heterosexuality and homosexuality are not equivalent was under attack. It felt like a small but vocal minority was taking over the country and demanding that their worldview be impressed upon everyone at all levels of society, starting in kindergarten. I felt that a group with no distinguising characteristics other than self-identification as belonging to that group was exercising undue power over the rest of the country and especially the state. And I felt that the English language was being twisted to suit their needs; they were demanding equal rights when they already had the exact same right as everyone else: The right to marry someone of the opposite sex who agreed to marry you, was not too closely related to you, was not too young, and was not currently married to someone else. I felt that the Supreme Court reducing the definition of the word "marriage" to delete the most essential part of the word was unconstitutional, unjust, and in defiance of natural law and the intent of the framers of the constitution.

I would go into more detail, but my time is limited. I doubt what I’ve said will give you a high opinion of me, but you did ask. I know you just want to live your life and gain public acceptance of that life. I have no problem with you living your life. I have no problem with the rights granted under the domestic partnership laws. But while I can tolerate, I cannot in good conscience approve. You may say it’s none of my business, but as a member of society it is my business to do what I can to keep society from going down the crapper. You don’t think your desire for public approval will lead society down the crapper. I understand that, and I respect your wishes. But that respect cannot lead me to ignore a principle so core to my belief system that denying it would be to deny my existence as a human being and to deny my place in the universe.

My response:

Peter,

Thank you so much for your thoughts. Respectful dialogue between folks who think and believe differently does not happen enough.

Fear often brings out the worst in humans and often can lead us to act violently and harmfully to other humans. I think a lot of fear is at the root of the Prop 8 debate, on both sides.

A lot of my thinking comes from my study of non-violent movements and as well as my study of Christianity, spirituality, and the Bible. My original words were really a type of prayer for peace, calling on progressives not to engage in the toxicity of hate. In fact, I am calling on them to follow the teachings of Jesus.

The framers of the constitution wanted to create a country where difference could coexist peacefully, where religious freedom and freedom of speech are central to how we govern our country. I don’t want a country that will persecute you for your belief. I don’t want a country that will persecute anybody, including me and my wife.

I do not feel written dialogue is or every will be enough. Peter, I want you to see me as a full human being, created in the image of God. I want you to see my partner (who was raised conservative Christian) crying, huddled under the covers. I want you to see the pain and hurt your vote has cause so many of my friends and family.

And after you spend some time among my sobbing and grieving family, I would like to sit down and talk about Matthew 7 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

or

Matthew 22:37– Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

or

Apostles 13:8 "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

"Love does no harm to a neighbor." I am sorry that my fellow progressives caused you harm with their angry and bitter words. We are neighbors and we have both been hurting each other in different and similiar ways.

And, I am your neighbor Peter and right now, you are hurting me.

You said "I respect your wishes. But that respect cannot lead me to ignore a principle so core to my belief system that denying it would be to deny my existence as a human being and to deny my place in the universe." I hope you are never coerced to violate your principles, I hope your inherent worth and dignity as a child of God is never demeaned. May compassion, love, and mercy fill your heart. May we both stay in that space of respect as we disagree. And May we both continue on our paths, pursuing love, justice, and truth.

Blessings on you and your loved ones.

Comments are closed.