Three judges from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing a case that may have lasting impact on North Carolina’s gay marriage ban next month. The topic came up over the weekend while out with friends, and more than one of these persons I was out with expressed a concern that repealing a law banning gay marriage would be “oppressive to Christians.”
I invite you to read this sentence again, this time outloud, slowly, and while seated: “Repealing a law banning gay marriage would serve to oppress Christians.”
I have heard many arguments for keeping marriage laws restrictive, some better than others, but this was a new one for me. Christians make up 73 percent of the population of the United States, 85 percent of the United States Senate, and 100 percent of our nation’s presidents — how can you have an “oppressed majority?”
My initial reaction was to think that these friends were engaging in a bit of playful sarcasm, but my awkward laugh dissipated when I saw that these friends of mine had the expressions of people who were explaining to a child that their dog had died.
As has become a terrible habit on my part, I decided to press the issue to determine where exactly they were coming from.
“They say they want things to be fair, but who is the real bigot here? It is offensive to my beliefs that gays should be allowed to get married,” said one friend.
Again, this was on the heels of April Fools’ Day, so I had to take a moment to grasp what was being said.
I began to explain that I, having unofficially adopted a gay brother who was taken in by my very Christian mother after his own family disowned him, found this particularly difficult to understand before being cut off by the other friend who helpfully added, “I don’t hate gay people. We hate the sin, not the sinner.”
Any time someone quotes that particular bumper sticker, implying that they don’t understand why someone would think their practicing their religiously approved bigotry could be perceived as “hate,” I can’t help but think that the person in question has never even read the part of the Bible that speaks on the subject.
Here is a refresher:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” — Leviticus 20:13
See, technically, if you were to go out into the street and murder gay people, you could also plead religious persecution upon being put in jail, and then claim confusion when people ask you why you hate gay people.
“They should be put to death, their blood shall be upon them! I am only following my faith! Just because I murdered Diane and her partner doesn’t mean I didn’t think she was a great work-friend!”
The reason people who use the Bible to discriminate against gays choose to quote the first part of 20:13, and not the second part, is because people who discriminate against gays using the Bible as their weapon are already “picking and choosing” what they choose to believe is a sin in the eyes of God, so why not get choosy right down to which words in the sentence you are quoting that you agree with?
They are not trying to pass laws preventing people from being able to eat shellfish — also described as an abomination in that part of the Bible — or pass laws requiring that women be forced to marry their rapists — as per the Bible’s suggestion — yet they want to pass laws based on “religious faith” that would prevent gay people from getting married?
You can’t claim religious oppression for not being allowed to oppress others and you certainly can’t do so when the rules of your religion change depending on the whims of your own personal “feeling” on what parts of the Bible you think God wants you to ignore and what parts of the Bible you think God wants you to use to destroy someone else’s family.
In short, if you ban gay marriage, then you should also be just as passionately be pleading with your government to apply all of those other dated Old Testament laws — otherwise you’re being more than oppressive, you’re being hypocritical.
The “stop oppressing us” mantra that seems plucked from the opening act of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” has grown with each passing year. Countless Christians have bought into the mythical “war on Christmas,” as if the common courtesy of daring to acknowledge that there exist other people with other religious holidays to celebrate will be the killing blow to a religion whose members make up more than 2.8 billion members of the Earth’s population.
Early last month in Ohio, a number of pastors asked police to stage “mock arrests” of them during their sermons, with the claim that they were being arrested for practicing their faith. Videos of the arrests were posted on YouTube, which of course inspired plenty of ire, first from people who honestly thought that the police would arrest pastors for preaching in their own churches, and then after it was revealed to be fake, people who wondered why their police department would waste time and taxpayer dollars helping some pastors perpetuate a myth of oppression.
Pro-tip: When you’re oppressed, the police don’t stop whatever they are doing to help you stage publicity stunts.
You want to see religious oppression? Try having a mosque built in a small Southern town. Or even in a huge metropolitan city.
Better yet, if you really want to see people’s beliefs get stomped by an oppressive government, try being a Christian who believes that what Leviticus has to say about homosexuality in the Bible is as relevant today as what it has to say about letting your hair become unkempt — also punishable by death. Like with all scripture, it is often left up to interpretation, which is why it is usually a bad idea for the government to choose one interpretation over another.
In fact, with 59 percent of Americans saying that they are supportive of same-sex marriage, that would imply that this is a more popular interpretation than the one that is currently state law. So I guess it is possible to have an oppressed majority.
James Johnson may be reached at 910-272-6144 or on Twitter @JJohnsonRobeson.