Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gay Rights For Paleo-Christians: A Guide To Liberty

"In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something."

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are available to any American who doesn't suffer from that incurable disease called "otherness". There's a Dimension of personal belief that spills into the public sector; this belief has the ability to circumvent the rights of others. The lack of equality the homosexual community face is a direct reflection of the way our society has always handled radical alterity. The right to engage in commerce or have a marriage that's recognized by the sovereign is a right many (in this free country) have fought and some died for, yet the progress made in some states is being negated by the regressive policies of other states: Indiana and Arkansas.

I respect the belief that many Christians hold about marriage, but their beliefs aren't material to the issue of social justice. I'm a progressive Christian in the south; I know first hand that we (Progressives) will never convince the religious right that denying the gay community equal protections under the law is a perfect example of why the constitution was written. We have to do a better job of clearly defining liberty, and shaming those in opposition to it. We need to further stigmatize states, institutions and individuals who choose to engage in practices that limit the freedom of others. This doesn't mean attacking people for how they may personally feel, but we should attack anyone who uses those feelings as the basis for discriminatory practices. 

Denying gays and lesbians the right to purchase confections or marry not only harms them as individuals, it harms the idea of liberty capital L. Our country was founded by brave men who fought the tyranny of the royal crown. Men who in the name of liberty and freedom went on to commit genocide on native Indians and enslaved Africans. Why wait for history to point out the flaws of our current thinking. I want people to see how clear the line is drawn. Either you believe in liberty or you don't. If you don't believe in same sex marriage then follow the old adage: DON'T MARRY SOMEONE WHO SHARES YOUR SEX ORGANS.

We need to ask the opposition embarrassing questions like: how does the sovereign benefit by not recognizing the consenting relationships established by its citizens?  How does limiting the freedom of gays and lesbians promote liberty in greater society? If the sovereign- in the form of the U.S. government- hasn't established any laws prohibiting consenting adults from loving each other, why enlist laws that prohibit the natural evolution of that love?

My fellow Christians love quoting scripture when topics contrary to their biblical beliefs come up. I offer them Matthew 5:29:

New Living Translation
So if your eye--even your good eye--causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

The only one eyed Christians I know lost their eye due to accidents or disease. I've never met a Christian who plucked their eye out because it offended them, and I have seen my fellow Christians react when shapely women have walked by. St. Paul told slaves to obey their earthly masters, yet we got around that. St. Paul also said women shouldn't preach, but we worked that one out as well. My religious beliefs have the ability to influence my decisions, not the decisions of those around me. We have to actively engage in the kind of rhetoric that forces our opposition to chose between what's uncomfortable and what's fair. If seeing two men hold hands bothers someone that's fine, but we can't continue to let the comfort levels of some limit the freedoms of others.

Living an "ideal" life is an abstract fiction sold to us. What's normal, and why should anyone invest in someone else's definition of it? Natural liberty is the belief that you can pursue any endeavor your heart desires. There aren't any moral or ethical barriers stopping you from living anyway you choose. Civil liberty is contingent on the idea that you follow the laws established by the sovereign in order to receive the protections the sovereign offers. If we want to further the cause of liberty as described in our countries founding documents we need to include all of our society. This isn't a radical notion: it's following the rule of law. If freedom is reserved for some and not all at least post a list of desired people who will have their rights protected. 

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”