Thursday, February 12, 2015

My God, What A Hot Mess

So the whole gay marriage debate is something that has been going on in this country for a while.  But, in recent days and weeks, it has hit home in my little state of Alabama the Beautiful in a big way, and I sometimes find myself at a loss for what to say.

Often I think to myself:  Maybe you just shouldn't say anything. Don't wanna rock the boat.  Don't wanna risk offending people.

. . .

But nope.  That's wrong.

It's not my job to worry about what offends others.

**I WILL say here that I go out of my way, WHILE stating my opinion, to TRY and remain as balanced, and fair, tolerant, and open-minded as I can possibly be.  It is basically what I am asking OTHERS to do, and I would be nothing short of a flaming hypocrite if I did anything less than that, myself.

. . . but what about others worrying about offending ME?  Is that happening?

. . . nope.

Because I find discrimination offensive.  REALLY offensive.

Discrimination for any reason.

So I'm writing this post, just to clear up a few things.

I've got a few points to make, and a few stances to take, and then I'll shut up.  And when I'm done, if you find any part of this reprehensible, unkind, or repugnant. . . ??  Then safe travels, and may the wind be at your back as you walk your own path.

Anyway, here goes.

First, it's really kind of hard to have a gay marriage debate WITHOUT bringing religion into it.  I really wish I COULD speak about it without bringing religion into it. . . but it's pretty much impossible.

Because no one else really seems to have a problem with gay marriage.

Trust me, I KNOW what the Bible says.  I really do.
I'm not just choosing to ignore it.
I'm NOT choosing to support "sin", in defiance of God's word.

I am straight up, without a doubt, saying that if the One you serve has called you to discriminate against ANYONE, label them as "different", deny them the same rights as others, or simply look down your nose at them. . . then it is not a God of love and light that you serve.

"I just know what the Bible says, and so it's wrong."

. . . and so are a MILLION other things, according to the Bible.

But we don't see people picketing, or shaming an overweight neighbor down the street, "Loving the sinner, hating the sin" of gluttony.  Yep.  It's in there.  One of the Seven Deadly Sins, if I remember correctly.

But to those who are overweight, do Christians say:  "I will love you, but I will hate your sin of gluttony.  I do not agree with your lifestyle choice, and the word of God is very clear on this.  Your body is a temple, and you are living in sin due to a lack of morals and self-control."  ????

They do not.

So let's just leave this "Love the sinner, hate the sin" out of it entirely, shall we?

If we are all sinners. . . then the word "sinner" should be synonymous with "human".  And we don't make a point of calling each other humans all the time, and reminding ourselves of our own failings in every other regard.

The Bible says a lot.  There are even 10 commandments, that we are meant to live by, as follows:

Yeah. . . "Thou shalt not allow gays the same rights as straights."

It's not on there.

Neither are a few other things that I find questionable:

Thou shalt not own slaves.

Thou shalt not rape.

Thou shalt not beat your wife.

Thou shalt not abuse children.

. . .  and on and on and on.

Seems like some pretty big blanks that should've been filled in.

But who am I to question these things??

Oh wait!  Wait!!  I KNOW THIS ONE!!

I'm a freaking HUMAN.

I'm a human, and I was given a brain, to think, and a heart, to feel, and a soul, to keep me honest.

And AS one of these beautiful and glorious creatures that we call humans, I was given a sense of reason.  And a sense of compassion.

I believe that these things were given to me by a Creator.

I was made in His image, right?

I was GIVEN a brain.  By God Himself, presumably.  So that, when all else fails, I can THINK FOR MYSELF.

Thank God!!!!  =D

And what do *I* think about gay marriage?

I think that people are people, and you never, ever, ever know what battles someone else is fighting.

I think I have made choices in my own life that I have owned up to, but still would really prefer that they not be put under a microscope and examined by every other person that walks past.  I'm really GLAD that my friends and family do not define ME by my sexual orientation, or ANYTHING other than the PERSON THAT I AM TODAY.

I think kindness and compassion are what is NEEDED, DESPERATELY, if we are to have ANY hope of a decent future for our children.

Speaking of children. . . 

I have three.  (Not news to most of you.)  Two that I am blessed to have in my life due to love, and one that's been mine since birth. The only real difference in our relationships is that the one I've had since birth lives here all the time.  But I absolutely, completely and without condition, LOVE each of these three boys, not in spite of, but BECAUSE OF all their differences, their quirks, and their own unique brand of beauty.


When my husband I were dating, months before we were married, I met his oldest son.  I was terrified of meeting him.  I was REALLY afraid that he wouldn't like me.  . . . would I like him??

And then I met him.  And he was only about 12 years old, but he was funny.  And he was kind.  And he was really, really smart. Even at 12, he had a good head on his shoulders.  He didn't need me to help "raise" him.  He'd already been raised.  And his mother had done a fantastic job.  It only took me a fraction of a second to realize that he did not NEED another "mother."  And so I never tried to be that for him.  He already had one.

But what he DID need, what ALL children need, was someone else in his corner.  Someone else who saw him for who he was, marveled at the beauty of it, and loved and accepted him for the young man he already was, and for the wonderful man that he was quickly becoming.

And so that is what I strove to do.

(And I hope it has worked.  =)

But I digress. . .

During my first meeting with the eldest Spawn, Mister and I drove down and picked him up from school.  Mister introduced us.  He was a little shy around me at first, as I was with him.  And then, pretty soon, Mister was joking around with him, and trying to embarrass him.  (As he does.)

"So," my future husband said to his first-born, "you got a girlfriend yet?"

*blushes and looks of annoyance*


"A boyfriend, then?"

Spawn just looked at his dad, and rolled his eyes.  "No", he said.

And he knew his dad was just joking around, and asking about his life, and we continued eating our Taco Bell.

But there was a look on his face, and I will never forget it.

The conversation ended there, and we moved on to other topics, How is school going? et cetera. 

But The Look.

It was the look of a dawning realization.  It was a look that said: Huh.  My dad loves me.  He just loves me.  No conditions.  No matter what.

. . . I will never forget that look as long as I live.

Because it was a look that held in it a great degree of security.  Of knowing that, no matter what, his dad was in his corner.  For life.

And I'm not even gonna lie:  I fell in love with Mister a little more, and a little faster, right then and there.


I don't care what your views on gay marriage are.

I really don't.

Just as I'm pretty sure you don't care what mine are.

Just as I'm pretty sure every person in the country that identifies as homosexual doesn't care what your views are.

KEEP your views.

HOLD your views.

SPEAK OUT about your views, if that's what you want.

None of that offends me.

Just don't use YOUR views to try and dictate the life of someone else.

That's all.

That's it.

That's the beginning and end of the debate.

Because I KNOW Christians that are tired of being called "haters".

And for some reason, there's this disconnect at this point in the conversation, every time.

"But the word of God says THIS!"


That's what you believe, and that's fine.

It is ONLY when the word of God is being used to keep others from being treated equally that I have a problem with it.

And yes, I find that offensive.

Honestly?  I find it completely disgusting.

If you are a Christian, and you serve the forces of goodness, and love?  

Then we're on the same page, friend!

If you are a Christian, and you are using your Bible as a tool to push others down, and deny them the same rights and freedoms YOU have??

Then you are the reason people are leaving the church.


If I go to a place where all people are not accepted at face-value, if I go to a place where some are singled out as "worse" than others, (though they are ONLY guilty of loving the "wrong" person, and doing what their own HEART has led them to do), if I go to a place where people are openly, unabashedly judging others. . . even when their own BOOK tells them not to. . .

Welp.  That's not what I call a house of God.  And I won't be going back.

. . . probably gonna piss some people off.

. . . probably gonna ruffle a few feathers.


Maybe your feathers NEED to be ruffled.

Maybe you need to examine yourself.

Maybe I need to examine MYSELF.

Because I am, quite frankly, BAFFLED IN THE FIRST DEGREE.

You talk about God's love, and how Jesus was the Prince of Peace. . . then you scream from the mountaintops about how precious your gun is to you, and praise God for this great country where you have the RIGHT to walk around with a loaded sidearm on your hip, and oh, btw, gay people are an abomination.

I say YOU are the abomination.

I say YOU have chosen to IGNORE the teachings of YOUR Savior.

"Love one another."

"Treat your brother as yourself."

. . .

Now. . . maybe, if you know me, you're saying to yourself:
"Well, you can't really comment on this.  You haven't darkened the church door in years, and your husband is an atheist."

And, might I add:

"*tsk*. . . those poor children."

And. . . well, I guess you'd be half right.

But only half.

No, I am no longer a member of a church.

The reasons for that are legion, and I would be happy to discuss them with anyone at any time.  (Aside from nap time.  That is when we nap.)

The main reason is simply this:  Organized religion holds no allure for me.

I feel more inspiration when I watch a sunset than I do in the confines of a building.

I feel closer to God (what *I* call "God") when I am hugging my children than I do sitting in a pew.

I feel more amazement and awe when I am puzzling out the workings of the universe for MYSELF, than I ever did in Sunday School.

(I was a very sensitive child, and I'll just say it:  Sunday School scared the ever-loving shit out of me.  I hear that it does not have the same effect on all others, but that's the effect it had on me.)

Sometimes, when I witness a disaster, and see others, strangers, running to help. . . I cry.  I weep because THAT is where humans are strongest.

THAT is where we shine the brightest -- WHEN WE ARE HELPING OTHERS UP.



Thinking on this topic for the last few days, I came back time and time again to the memory of my Granny.

She was a strong woman.

She was active in her church, hardly ever missed a Sunday, and took food to the "old folks" until she was well into her seventies.

I tried, really TRIED, to remember if I'd ever heard HER, this great Christian influence in my life, say anything about homosexuality.

. . . other than that one time she was watching tv, and expressed her opinion that she thought that perhaps Hillary Clinton was a little "sideways" (. . .I looked at my mom silently, asking with my eyes exactly what she meant?  "Gay" she mouthed.) . . . I cannot recall her ever mentioning it.

And I think I know the reason why.

Her name was Mary Lou Hicks.  She was a simple country woman, a mother and grandmother, a Christian, a baker of the best pound cakes this side of eternity. . . and quite frankly, she was years ahead of her time.

I think that the reason I don't remember her ever saying anything about homosexuality. . . is because she simply did not give two shits.

She read her Bible.  ALL the time.

And her takeaway from it, judging by the way she lived her life, was:  LOVE each other.  HELP each other.  Reach out your hand to those that are down, and do your best to lift them up, love them, and take care of them.

She did not PREACH this point of view.  She didn't HAVE TO. Because she LIVED it.

She lived her life with one arm extended, and if you needed her, all you had to do was reach out, or ask for help.  And you'd get it.  No matter WHO you were.

If pressed about it. . . yes.  She would most likely be in agreement with the Bible.

But I never heard her say a word about it.

Know why??


Loving people will ALWAYS BE MORE IMPORTANT.


And. . . just for those that worry, and I know you will, about the children we are raising.  (". . .those poor children. . . you know their daddy's an atheist?")

You really don't have to worry.

Our children are not just "growing up", they are being RAISED.

They are being TAUGHT.

And if you'd like an example of this, I have to look no further than last night:

I was putting Took to bed.

We were discussing his day, his thoughts and opinions, what new toys he wants to add to next year's Christmas list (it is already QUITE long, and THAT causes me no end of concern), when I started joking around with him and trying to make him smile.

I don't remember how it happened, but my efforts didn't work (he was probably over-tired), and he just wanted to be left alone.  And, for some reason -- hormones, stress, too much sugar in my diet -- it just hit me in exactly the wrong way, and. . . instant tears.

Me.  Not him.

I teared up immediately, and tried really hard not to cry.  My feelings were hurt.

But he was facing the other direction, snuggled down with his grumpiness and his baby, and I swallowed my tears (until I got downstairs) and finished his bedtime songs, kissed him on the head, said "I love you baby.  Good night.", and left his room.

By the time I got downstairs I was bawling, but I got over it in a few minutes.  He hadn't MEANT to hurt my feelings. . . which kind of made it even worse, in a way. . . but he HAD.  But he was only a baby, and did not yet know the true power of words.  Still.  I cried a little.

Then I brushed my teeth, pulled on my pajamas, and climbed into bed with Mister to watch some tv.

. . . about 10 minutes later, we hear footsteps coming down the stairs.

We sat there.


. . . .

. . . and then, ever so quietly, a small head appeared outside our doorway.

I looked at him, and he walked in.  Slowly.  Head hung low.  Looking like he might cry.

He walked over to my side of the bed.

"Yes?"  I said.

"Mama?", in the smallest of voices, "I really sorry I hurt your feelings.  I really sorry."

. . . .

And then, of course, I almost started crying again.

I hugged him, told him it was alright, but that I really appreciated his apology, and told him that I love him.  

Just as he is.  

All the time.  

Even when he hurts my feelings.

And he turned around, happy with the world once again, walking as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, and went back upstairs without another word.

He KNEW he had hurt my feelings.

He COULD'VE gone to sleep.

But he STEWED on it.

He felt BAD about it.

He could NOT let it stand, and he CHOSE to get out of bed, come downstairs, and apologize.

. . . . .

So trust me when I say:  You don't have to worry about my kids.

They're gonna be just fine.

They already ARE.