Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stop Using God as An Excuse for Hate

When we say "bigot" generally a certain image comes to mind. Often times a Bible thumping, fire and brimstone preaching, snake handling, overweight, red faced, middle aged, white dude in a cheap, ill fitting suit. Right? Yes, sometimes bigots look like that, and other times they look like this:

Let's start with defining bigot, shall we?


noun \ˈbi-gət\: a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)

Now, I'm sure you're all thinking I've done lost my ever loving mind. Of course liberals can't be bigoted, bigots are only religious right wingers, right? Nope. No, a bigot is ANYONE that strongly and unfairly dislikes others. Liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, it doesn't matter. And, yes, I'm calling Macklemore out on being bigoted. And disrespectful.

I was watching the GRAMMYs while reading, when Queen Latifah caught my attention. I looked up just in time for Macklemore to start singing "Same Love" I've seen the video once before, and noticed the clear angst towards religion, specifically Catholics. It bothered me, but I sort of just shrugged it off. Don't we all? We just say; "Oh, well, that's how the world is, nothing we can do to fix it." And move on with our lives. We're complacent while people blatantly attack our religion and make false, broad generalizations about us. We sit back and allow ourselves, and the God we claim to love to be mocked and ridiculed while we do nothing. I'm just as guilty as the next person.

As I watched him perform this song the other night, I didn't just shrug it off and chalk it up to our culture, I got angry. I watched him stand up on that stage and sing the words "When I was at church they taught me something else If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned" and as he did so, he made the sign of the cross. That beautiful, powerful prayer was mocked, and no one cared. He wasn't doing it in reverence and love. He was being blasphemous, hateful, and bigoted. When I watched him do that, an image popped into my head from just earlier that morning.

On Sunday the sweetest old lady sat behind us at Mass, she was wearing a rosary with an Our Lady of Guadalupe medal. Some of you know this, and some of you don't, but we have a baby living here right now...okay, so she's more like a toddler((16 months)). Kid has a serious love of Jesus and Mary, pointing out their images whenever she sees them, sometimes yelling out "Jesus" in the middle of Mass, with arms raised up to the statue of Jesus. So, she spots this lady's rosary immediately, and literally dives over the pew to get to it, all the while saying "Mary Jesus Mama" I am mortified at her outburst. The woman reaches out and picks her up, cuddling her close, and encouraging her to say "Jesus" they were totally smitten. The baby pressing the medal to the woman's lips, the woman smiling broadly and kissing it, then the baby would hold the crucifix up to her new friend and she would kiss it. I was glad the woman wasn't offended at the diving baby. She just has a love all people that love Jesus. This is not our first rodeo with people wearing religious jewelry near her, thankfully people that wear religious jewelry tend to be pretty tolerant of little people . So, after Mass is over the woman starts talking to us, and we covered like ten topics, and then we started on my conversion, and her reversion. She was so excited! Me too!She looks at me, her eyes bright with happy tears and says, "The most powerful prayer we have is this" and with more reverence than I have ever seen in my life, she fixed her eyes on the crucifix just above the altar and made the sign of the cross, she bowed as she said "amen" and then she looked heavenward, and just above a whisper she added; "and thank You for the power in that simple prayer" It was the most simple, beautiful display of faith I think I've seen, ever. She was so sincere, you could literally feel it. It gave me chills watching this older woman, her faith oozing from her pores. It wasn't a show, it wasn't put on, it is part of her. Who she is. Her faith is so ingrained in her, she loves the Lord so much you can see Him shinning through her. Oh, to have faith like that.

That is how it should be prayed. Not on a stage to make a point. Not only did he use this important prayer to mock our religion, the entire stage was set up to resemble a cathedral, there was even a choir akin to a church choir. How do we think this is acceptable? The song is clearly a misguided attack on our religion. The author doesn't really get the teachings on marriage and why they are the way are. Though, that I'm not going to hold that against them. That, I hold against us. Christians don't do a very good job of explaining our issues with with same sex marriage. But, I'm not going to go into all that right now.

Right now I want to talk about the double standards in this country. If I was up on that stage and started singing about and mocking Muslims, you had best believe someone would have noticed and I would be all over the TV, radio and newspapers for being "bigoted" and hateful. So....what's the difference? I see two groups of people using the same shield of hate, from opposite sides. You have the religious bigots claiming Jesus as a reason to hate others, and the non-religious bigots doing the same thing. They are literally fighting the exact same battle, with the exact same weapons...but from opposite sides. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

Why is it not okay for me to mock Jews, gays, Muslims, or blacks, but it's perfectly acceptable for anyone that wants to, to mock me? I don't want to go around and start mocking these groups. I don't want to mock anyone, I love people. I believe all people are deserving of respect and love. Why do I believe that? Because I'm a Christian. Because I believe that we were all created by, and are loved by God. Who am I to reject someone that Christ loves? No one. Not my place. If you are loved by Jesus, you are loved by me.

Now, I want to get one thing straight; loving you, caring about you, being there for you, and praying for you is not the same as agreeing with and indulging every life choice you make. I don't agree with a lot of choices that people I love make, but that doesn't make me love them any less. I love them despite our disagreements.

I am not at all, in any way, shape, or form condoning same sex marriage. Don't go putting words in my mouth. However, that gives me no right to hate gay people. I simply cannot. They are people, and as people deserve my love and respect, period. Not my indulgence, but my respect. We tend to get those lines blurred in our culture. They aren't the same thing. My not supporting same sex marriage will not stop me from chowing down on some Chinese food with a dear friend that knows I don't agree with his lifestyle, and you know what? He still loves me too! Because we aren't five. We see past our differences, and see a person that we love, and care for. A person that has shared interests, and a shared love of dry humor and crab ragoons. We see people that we care about.

The red faced preacher and Macklemore have the same way of tackling this issue. With fear and hatred. They both want to be right, they both try to turn their followers against the other, they both use my God to cover up an unjustified hate, they are both scared that the other will prove them wrong, they both think they have to yell louder than the other, and they both think they've got it all figured out.

They're wrong. None of us do. It's not okay to bully gay kids. It's not okay to mock prayer. It's not okay to tell people they're going to hell because you say so. It's not okay to denounce all religion just because it cramps your style. It's not okay to use God as an excuse to hate anyone, ever. It's not okay to be bigoted.

It is okay to say that you disagree with someone. It is okay to love someone regardless of your views in life. It is okay to accept that people think differently than you. It is okay to stop hating and judging. It it okay to start trying to see the other side.

Both sides need to do a better job of understanding this issue. I see so many Christians that have no clue why they don't agree with it, they just do because the red faced preacher told them to. They take that and turn it into hate. I see so many liberals that have no idea why Christians disagree with same sex marriage. They once heard the red faced preacher quote Leviticus, and they took that as the only reason. They turned that into hate for what they don't know and don't understand.

Both sides are missing a huge piece of the puzzle. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've heard someone start to whine about the Christian bigots and their hatred of gay people, and I've cut them off and asked them what they really know about what the Bible says and what we believe and why, and they have no clue. You want to know the crazy part? Majority of the time they go into the conversation wanting to punch me, and come out hugging me, and still not agreeing with me, but understanding that I'm not being hateful, bigoted, or intolerant. Believe it or not, they often come out understanding why Christians don't support same sex marriage. Why? Because instead of yelling and preaching at them, I took the time to love and respect them. I took the time to research and understand it, and I took the time to explain it to them, lovingly.

In closing, stop mocking my prayer, and my religion. Stop using God as an excuse for hate, no matter what side you're on. And, take the time to understand WHY we feel the way we do. Stop being bigoted, no matter what side you're on.

And hug someone. I am so sick of all this bashing and hate. Just go hug someone, we'll all feel better.

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