Would I Worship a God if it Did Exist?

For those who regularly read my blog, you know by now where I stand on evidence and religion. I used to believe in God, but no more. In order for me to ever believe in the existence of a deity again, there would have to be concrete, scientific evidence that proves its existence. Peer reviewed, according to the scientific method- the whole nine yards. This is how I know certain exotic animals exist- I have never seen them myself, but there is a smorgasbord of scientific evidence to show me that they do indeed exist. I don’t see why I should accept less than this when it comes to a deity’s existence, since the question of his existence is far more important than the existence of a rare frog or bird.

But what if that proof did exist, and it was undeniable that a God did exist? And what if this evidence also proved beyond any doubt that this God wanted worship? After all, the Bible says that even demons believe; believing that a god exists and worshiping it are two very different things. Would I give him the worship he (or she or it) seeks?

No. I don’t think I would. Why?

The character of a deity is important.

Why would someone want to be worshiped? To me, the desire to be openly adored and worshiped signifies a deep character problem. It signifies pride and ego that needs stoking, or a major insecurity problem that they are trying to overcome. It also makes me think of narcissism. To be blunt, I cannot think of a single positive reason for wanting to be worshiped.

Think about it. What kind of people do you respect the most? The people who do good things and then demand recognition for it, or the people who do good without any thought of reward or praise? Doesn’t the demand or desire for public praise kind of negate the good that the person does? It becomes a pride and status thing, rather than simply a good thing, when we do things for others in expectation of recognition or reward.

Desiring a “thank you” for a job well done is one thing; desiring worship is another thing altogether.

A good father or ruler does not demand or expect worship.

Many forms of religion view God as a father or mother. Christianity especially reveres God as a father figure. What kind of father wants to see his children prostrated on the ground in submission and humility, like servants or second-class people? What kind of father constantly needs the praise of his children and gets angry when they do not praise him in the way he wants? Not a very good one. We generally call this abuse or bad parenting, depending on the severity. It’s certainly not loving behavior that respects the autonomy and rights of others. And what about nations where ruler worship is required, such as North Korea? Don’t we usually see this kind of behavior from a ruler as extremely negative and unjust to their people?

Doing good deeds does not mean someone deserves worship.

Of course, thanking someone for a good deed is nice to do. But thanking someone is different from worshiping them. If a kind stranger helps me with my groceries, I will certainly say thank you. But I will not worship him or adore him unconditionally.

If God is real, and he created us and this world and is directly involved in our everyday lives, then he is responsible for both our joys and our pain. Why should I thank him for my joys without also holding him accountable for my pain? If a parent gives their child clothing but also knowingly allows a rapist to harm them, should we expect the child to adore their parents? Of course not! Of course, real parents are imperfect and not all-knowing and child molesting tragically happens without their knowledge or permission; but God isn’t supposed to have those limitations. If he knows all and can prevent any pain he chooses, what kind of twisted father would allow his child to be raped or their sibling murdered?

Besides, I didn’t ask to be created. It’s like a parent expecting their child to be eternally grateful for the labor that their mother went through as she gave birth. Yes, she did a great thing and it was very hard. No, it’s not fair to hold that over a child’s head in order to make them adore her. I have a friend whose mother used to always bring up her “18 hours of awful labor!” anytime she wanted to make my friend feel guilty for not appreciating her enough. That’s not love, that’s manipulation.

My freedom and self respect is important to me.

When someone has true freedom and self respect, they do not feel the need to bow before anyone else. Even if one person has more power than the other, true equality and freedom means that we still do not need to bow before them. When we live in a system where the powerful are revered and the powerless are expected to adore them, we live in injustice. I could not serve a deity who acted like this. 

In summary, I think that it’s very unlikely that I would serve a deity even if one was proven to exist. But until there is proof that one exists, it’s all hypothetical and does t really matter. I wrote this primarily because I’m often asked what it would take for me to be a Christian again.

When Christians Question Our Mental Capability to Change our Beliefs

I’ve noticed an interesting trend since my deconversion a few years ago: When we become Christians, we are commended for making a wise decision. Even if we were indoctrinated from an early age and were never shown alternative beliefs as viable options, people rarely question whether or not our decision to become a Christian was based on manipulation, coercion, social pressure, or whether it was used as a crutch during difficult times. However, when we stop believing and become atheists, the first thing some Christians do is question our mental capabilities and our ability to understand our decision.

Here are questions that atheists are regularly asked when they leave their religious faith and openly come out as a non-believer to their religious loved ones. If these same questions were asked of recently converted Christians, they would certainly (and understandably) be considered offensive.

  • “Did someone influence, manipulate, pressure, or coerce you to make that decision? Who in your life convinced you to believe that way?”
  • “Have you really thought it through?”
  • “What trauma or difficult life event caused you to believe this way?”

And then there are the equally offensive assumptions:

  • “You must be deceived by the devil. Your mind has been taken over by demonic influences.”
  • “It’s just a phase, you’ll come back when you’ve come to your senses.”
  • “You must never have been a Christian in the first place; you must have been mistaken about how sincere of a believer you actually were.”

Basically, if you choose to be a Christian, it’s automatically assumed that you’re mentally capable of making that decision without coercion or manipulation involved. If you choose to stop being a Christian, suddenly your mental capabilities, decision-making abilities, and the validity of your deconversion itself are called into question.

Smart, mentally capable people choose Christianity- mentally deficient, damaged, easily influenced people choose atheism. That’s the overwhelming message I received when I came out as an atheist. 

In the words of Adrian Black (see his blog here), another atheist I know who recently came out publicly and whose mental capability was immediately questioned right off the bat:

“Dismissing my decision as something I was coerced, tricked, or forced into is very much questioning my mental ability to decide for myself. It’s amazed me in the times I have been questioned about this how quickly people forget who they’re talking too. To think that I would flippantly justify or be misled on this of all things… If you are looking for the person who persuaded or coerced me, who broke the shackles of my belief, than look here. I am the one who challenged myself… as I always have.

The Bible Doesn’t Condemn LGBTQ Community- Unless You Want it to.

  First off, here are the verses that are commonly used to demean and demonize the LGBTQ community. This article explains why the anti-LGBTQ teachings of the modern church aren’t actually supported by these scriptures.

https://medium.com/@adamnicholasphillips/the-bible-does-not-condemn-homosexuality-seriously-it-doesn-t-13ae949d6619

There is more than one viable interpretation of these few verses. Choosing to accept interpretations that greatly harm and demean the LGBTQ community is just that- a choice. The church once had to choose how they interpreted scriptures regarding slavery and the treatment of women too, and before that they had to choose how to treat unbelievers (think Crusades and Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials). This issue is no different. If my sexual orientation and atheism is a choice, then certainly how Christians choose to interpret these verses is a choice as well.

If in doubt, it’s always better to choose the side that causes less harm to others. After all, Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. If we can know a tree by its fruit, then the fruit of these anti-gay teachings are rotten to the core. There’s nothing edible or beautiful about this fruit; all it brings is hurt, division, and turns people away from Christianity. Shouldn’t that be enough reason to reevaluate which interpretation you choose to accept?

Remember, your choice directly affects people like me, since we have to live in the society that you help create by teaching and promoting these ideas. If you’re wrong about which interpretation is correct, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of compassion for the real people that are affected by your choice? Just a thought.

I want to clarify that I don’t hate people who believe it’s a sin, nor do I oppose their right to talk about their beliefs or live according to their conscience. In fact I have a lot of empathy for you, since I was there myself not long ago. I remember how hard it was to feel conflicted between empathy and what I thought scripture was saying. I remember the relief I felt when I no longer had to adhere to cruel and destructive ideas. I want you to know that you do have a choice, that Christians who say there’s only one possible interpretation are either misinformed or are being dishonest. 

I’m so tired of these few verses being misconstrued and misused to demonize and condemn loving couples and LGBTQ individuals, causing immense distress to the entire LGBTQ community (including me personally) and forcing many Christians to choose between their faith and their sexual orientation. The few verses that supposedly condemn loving same sex couples have been used to support the personal gain or prejudices of some, just as the verses about slavery and subjugation of women were also once used to support racism, slavery, and mistreatment of women. (Some Christians today continue to hold these racist and sexist ideas that they claim scriptural support for.) If the church was wrong in how they interpreted scripture on those issues, why not this one? Isn’t human interpretation of scripture prone to error?

When I was still a Christian, I was shocked when I dug deeper into this issue- the church that I had always trusted to tell me the truth hadn’t told me the whole story. The church had told me a single version of the story and then emphatically told me not to question their version, even though this teaching was causing immense harm to the LGBTQ community. I was literally told “there are some things we just don’t question.”

At the very least, articles like the one I linked to that show the opinions of other educated and passionate theologians should indicate that this is NOT a black and white issue like how it’s been portrayed by much of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist community. Like many other issues of scriptural interpretation (such as slavery and the role/treatment of women), there are historical, cultural, contextual, and linguistic factors that must be taken into account. I learned this in hermaneutics class in Bible college, but ironically this specific issue was exempt from that process. This process was liberally applied to slavery and other verses that were unpalatable to modern believers, but when it came to homosexuality, they refused to genuinely consider that context and correct translation might change the meaning. I was surprised and disheartened at the hypocrisy in how these different social issues were addressed by the church. I thought that we were supposed to seek the truth, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it might make us or how much we had to dig for it, but they didn’t seem to care about the truth. Their current beliefs were more important than seeking God’s heart.

I no longer personally believe in the authority of scripture, nor do I believe in a deity. However, this issue has always and will likely continue to affect me personally whether I wish it or not, so I’m well within my rights to comment on it. Here’s why I object to these anti-LGBTQ teachings, even when portrayed nicely, and why I talk about it so much:

1. Scripture is being used to berate and belittle the LGBTQ community, denying them legal equality and social dignity. (Myself included.)

2. It’s also being used to demonize and belittle Christians who dare to interpret these scriptures differently than their peers. (This happened to me when I was still a believer. I lost friends and the respect of my peers because I didn’t view these few verses the same way they did.)

3. LGBTQ Christians are being told or they feel that they must choose between their faith and the person they love, or the chance to ever fall in love and have a life companion (many denominations encourage or demand celibacy for LGBTQ Christians).

Even though I don’t believe in God or follow Christianity anymore, it saddens me that any Christian should feel pressured to choose between their sexual orientation and their faith, or that they should be bullied or looked down upon for believing that it’s not a sin when clearly there are viable alternative interpretations of those few verses.

There is obviously more than one viable option here, you do have a choice. So which interpretation will you choose to accept? One interpretation that causes immense harm to the LGBTQ community (including depression and suicide and bullying) and is driving people from Christianity in droves? Or, an interpretation that seems to line up much more with Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance and better accounts for historical context and language interpretations?

If we can know a tree by its fruit, and the fruit of the current anti-LGBTQ teachings is hurting millions of people and is driving them away from Christianity, then shouldn’t the rotten fruit be thrown out and replaced with fruit that Jesus could be proud of? 

  

When Homophobic People are Shocked at Losing LGBTQ Friends

  I know it shouldn’t, but it still surprises me when openly homophobic people are shocked that their LGBTQ friends stop wanting to pursue an active friendship with them, especially after attempts to explain how hurtful it is have been ignored.

Just recently I terminated a Facebook connection with someone I had fairly recently re-added, someone from my conservative religious past. I’m pretty wary of adding people from my religious past these days because it so often backfires, but I’ve also reconnected with wonderful people from that era in my life, so I usually prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. 

They weren’t trying to be mean, they weren’t trying to insult me personally, and I’m sure they didn’t mean to make me to break out in tears when I saw their repeated homophobic posts. They just don’t understand. They aren’t LGBTQ and don’t understand how triggering it can be for us to see people who claim to love us posting belittling things about our sexual orientations, bemoaning us finally getting legal equality, making fun of our Pride symbols, etc. They just can’t relate and empathize enough to get it… And honestly I don’t have the patience or emotional energy anymore to try to make them understand when they’re clearly not ready. (I did try in this case before removing them, they didn’t know what to say so it went nowhere unfortunately.)

I know I should probably have more patience in these situations, but it gets really old trying to make them see that people don’t feel loved when their orientations and rights are belittled and insulted and denied. I’m not mean in my responses to them, but I do tend to be pretty blunt and open about my reasons, and not everyone likes or understands that. 

Perhaps someday the religious Right won’t be so focused on berating LGBTQ people and atheists… Perhaps then it will be possible to be friends with some of the people that I’ve had to distance myself from for my emotional sanity’s sake. I don’t like ending or distancing friendships, but not doing so in certain cases has caused me much grief. I’ve learned a lot through these past few years… Sometimes people just need to go their separate ways, it’s healthier for everyone that way. 

I don’t hate any of the people that I’ve had to remove from my life. If anything it saddens me because I would have liked to enjoy their friendship. But I also need to respect myself, and I have the right to want to surround myself with people who don’t think and say such awful things about LGBTQ people like me. 

  
  

Kim Davis: It Was Never About Religious Freedom. 

Read about it here:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10156047682235615&id=358168880614

This situation with Kim Davis was never about her religious freedom. If it was, she wouldn’t have forbidden her deputy clerks to issue licenses. Instead, she ignored their personal convictions and ordered them to not fulfill the law either. Davis and her supporters have made it blatantly clear that their goal is not to protect her individual religious liberty, but to stop same sex marriages altogether at that office. It’s a gross abuse of her power as an elected official.

And the result of Davis’ insurrection? It’s far from harmless, unfortunately. Her clerks are being harassed and looked down upon if they dare to obey the Supreme Court and issue licenses (or God forbid follow their OWN religious beliefs), LGBTQ activists are receiving more threats and are fearful of engaging in public protests in that area, and this woman is STILL being held up as a hero when she’s really the villain.

I don’t care how many marriages she’s had, what her personal religious beliefs are, or what she does in her spare time. I’d be just as irate about her corruption if she was an atheist refusing to serve black people. If you ever hear of an atheist doing such a thing, I would oppose that person as well. The issue is not her personal beliefs, but her insisting on imposing those beliefs and opinions onto others in a manner that strips them of their legal rights and demeans them. The issue is her refusing to do her job but also refusing to resign, preventing another official who will do the whole job from being selected.

To be honest, despite her hurtful beliefs regarding LGBTQ people like me, I could have somewhat respected her if she’d voluntarily resigned. That’s a mark of a strong conscience, whether I agree with the beliefs or not, and that would not have oppressed anyone else.

She’s no martyr. She’s trying to use her government office to take away the legal rights of others, including her deputy clerks whose religious beliefs apparently don’t matter to Davis since she’s given them no choice. Her religious beliefs are the only ones that matter here, everyone else must bow to her wishes or she’ll throw a tantrum and purposefully go to jail to prove her point.

This situation needs to be talked about because it’s very dangerous. People like this sadly have a lot of support in the US, and the lies being spread in the media are causing increased harassment and hatred of the LGBTQ community. The Supreme Court is being compared to ISIS, irresponsible politicians are calling this a criminalization of Christianity, all of which just deepens the already deep cultural war over the legal rights of the LGBTQ community. And when you view your government as ISIS and LGBTQ people as militant bullies who are jailing Christians, why would these people refrain from taking the law into their own hands to push back against those who they so ironically view as their “oppressors”? Not much. Anything they do is “justified”. Hence all the threats and violence.

Yes, there are many other important issues in the world right now that also need attention. Davis is nothing compared to the refugee crisis, for example. But if we ignore religious oppression occurring in our midst, we will start losing our freedoms to these extremists just like Iran lost their freedoms to religious extremists. Have you seen photos of women there in the 70’s? They weren’t forced to wear Islamic coverings like they are today. Seriously, the Islamic revolution screwed up their country- and if we’re not careful that could one day happen here too. So we have to talk about situations like these, we have to challenge her martyr status that she doesn’t deserve, because otherwise our freedoms in the US will continue to be chipped away by religious extremists who don’t give a damn about what you believe.

Why Public Discrimination Laws Aren’t an Attack on Religious Freedom

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, many Christians are concerned about being barred from discriminating against same sex couples in their business. Although churches are exempted from anti-discrimination laws and can refuse anyone they want, Christian business owners that operate for-profit businesses are subject to the same anti-discrimination laws as all other public business owners. Is this just? Is this an affront to their religious liberty? Here are my thoughts.

What does religious freedom mean?

The International Religious Freedom Act defines five violations of religious freedom:
Arbitrary prohibitions on, restrictions of, or punishment for: (i) assembling for peaceful religious activities such as worship, preaching, and prayer, including arbitrary registration requirements; (ii) speaking freely about one’s religious beliefs; (iii) changing one’s religious beliefs and affiliation; (iv) possession and distribution of religious literature, including Bibles and other sacred texts; (v) raising one’s children in the religious teachings and practices of one’s choice.

When reviewing a country’s state of religious freedom, we look for laws or policies that:

1) restrict the right to hold a religious belief;
2) limit the right to change religious belief;
3) restrict the freedom to have an allegiance to a religious leader;
4) disparage individuals or groups on the basis of their religion;
5) discriminate against religious persons in education, the military, employment opportunities or in health services;
6) require the designation of religion on passports or national identity documents, either overtly or in code;
7) restrict religious assembly;
8) restrict religious expression.

http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/fs/2011/170637.htm

Nowhere does it say that religious freedom includes the right to refuse someone else service in a public place. I think that some people  don’t understand what religious liberty means. It seems they think religious liberty is a free pass to do whatever they want, even if it hurts other people or breaks the law. But religious liberty just means that you have the right to believe what you want and act on and express those beliefs as long as it doesn’t directly hurt other people. Once your beliefs start negatively and directly affecting others who don’t share your beliefs, your rights stop. That’s why we don’t allow other religious groups to force women to wear burkas, to perform human sacrifices, deny non-kosher foods to the rest of us, to abuse their children because of their beliefs, or to twist our legal system to force their personal rules on other people. 

Christians in the U.S. have long enjoyed special and unconstitutional exceptions to this, and many have gotten used to it. But having special privileges doesn’t mean those are a part of your constitutionally protected religious freedom. It means Christians were the majority for a long time and thus got to claim a lot of things as “religious freedom” that actually aren’t.

Leveling the playing field to be fair to everyone isn’t religious persecution, it’s the removal of privileges that you shouldn’t have had to begin with.

Businesses Aren’t Churches

Churches and non-profit religious organizations are protected from anti-discrimination laws. For-profit, public businesses are not. Why?

1. Public businesses are not the place for religious judgments.

There is a time and place for religion to be expressed to others, and the potential list is vast- church, your home, in non-profit religious organizations, in a peaceful protests on signs or in conversation, online or in print, in private religious schools, on any private property, and many more. Public places of business are not one of them. Unless it’s a Christian bookstore that specifically sells only Christian products and thus is blatantly catered to Christians, people do not go to a public business to hear about the owner’s religion. And they certainly don’t go to any business to be judged for not following the owner’s religion! They go there to buy a product or receive a service- that’s it. Public businesses are a shared public space that should be accessible to the general public. If business owners want the benefits of being in business with the public, instead of only doing business with other like-Christians, then they must follow the same laws as all other business owners.

2. Selling products or services to same-sex couples doesn’t mean you’re participating in their wedding.

Are you participating in sin if you sell a wedding cake to someone who was divorced and is remarrying? What about participating in a Satanist wedding where religious chants that go against your religion may be presented? What if the man is a 50 year old playboy and the girl barely 18, and you morally object to their union even though it’s legal? What if the couple are Muslims and mention in passing that they’re having the wedding performed in a mosque? What if you strongly suspect or know for sure that one of them is being unfaithful?

My point is this: There are countless possible moral objections that a Christian business owner could have against couples who come looking for their services. You can sell someone a cake and not agree with how they’re going to use it. You can take pictures of a wedding and not approve of it because of a huge age difference, gender combination, suspected infidelity, past divorce, objectionable content in the ceremony or location, and so many more. You, as a business owner, are selling a service or a product, you are not condoning every single marriage you photograph or make food for.

3. You can’t possibly avoid serving people who are sinning or who may sin using your products or services.

Unless you are going to start screening couples to make sure they’re not also breaking other Christian marital rules regarding morality, such as divorce and infidelity, objecting to serving LGBTQ couples is hypocritical. If you’re condoning a couple’s sins by selling goods and services to them, then you’re also condoning sins that you probably usually overlook or conveniently ignore but are also un Biblical. The Bible says all sin is the same, so you can’t pick and choose.

Our nation has seen the harm that is caused by legal discrimination in public businesses.

How would you feel if you were white, and were marrying a black partner, and the wedding vender was racist and refused you service? That used to be legal, and it happened all the time. And Christians back then used the Bible to support their racism just as some Christians today use it to support their anti-gay stances.

Legalized discrimination almost always goes hand-in-hand with higher rates of violence against the discriminated party. When the government says “these people don’t deserve to be respected like the rest of us”, that tells the public that they don’t have to respect us either. The result? Society always takes it further than the government does. The LGBTQ community experiences high rates of bullying, harassment, and attempted or successful assault (including sexual assault and murder). We cannot allow our laws to segregate us because the segregated parties are the ones targeted for intense negative social stigma and violence.

Christians are already protected by anti-discrimination laws. They are also the majority in this nation and rarely experience true discrimination unless they are also a person of color, LGBTQ, etc., so most of them don’t understand the importance of anti-discrimination laws- they don’t ever have to worry about it. But other groups do- such as people of color and LGBTQ people. We’re the ones who are most at risk for discrimination, and thus societal violence and oppression. So we need these protections far more than you do!

You’re breaking Biblical rules. 

The Bible says to obey the governing authorities. If the government says to serve everyone equally, then aren’t you being obedient to God’s command by doing so? The Bible does not say to refuse to serve sinners in public businesses, so you’re not breaking a commandment by obeying these laws. Even if you personally object, you’re supposed to obey authority unless specifically commanded to break God’s laws. Read it for yourself:

Romans 13 (ESV)

Submission to the Authorities

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Fulfilling the Law Through Love

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one 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 covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Discriminating is hurting your neighbor AND it’s refusing to obey the authorities which God says he put in place. So discriminating against same sex couples seems to contradict multiple clear commands in the Bible, including a command that is supposed to take precedence above all the others:

Mark 12:28-34

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

This seems pretty clear. Loving God and loving your neighbor are the most important commandments. Since it would be hurtful for you to be refused service for your beliefs or personal characteristics, aren’t you breaking the second most important commandment by treating others in a way that you yourself would not want to be treated?

As for Christian business owners who were fined for discriminating: They broke the law of the land and were punished for it. This is exactly what the Bible says will happen in the Romans passage I quoted above. Of course lawbreakers will be punished, that is God’s plan according to this passage.

Unless the government is telling you to marry someone of the same gender, stop worshiping God, to murder someone or to personally commit another specified sin, I don’t see how these Christians are justified in refusing to comply with the law. Scripture is very clear on this issue- obey authority and treat your neighbors how you would want to be treated. If you think these verses doesn’t apply to you, then perhaps the verses allegedly condemning homosexuality don’t apply to our loving same sex marriages either. 

How to disagree with LGBTQ people without oppressing them.

  

I hear a lot about religious freedom. And I understand why there is some concern- politicians and religious leaders are making it sound like freedom of religion is under attack. I think this is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of what religious freedom actually entails, and what it does not (restricting the rights of other citizens because of your personal beliefs).

1. Don’t deny us legal equality.

This should be a no-brainer, but sadly it needs to be said. One group’s personal religious beliefs should not and cannot dictate the legal right of choice to another group. And since many other Christians support marriage equality and believe same sex marriage is something they should participate in, opposing marriage equality is actually an attack on those believers’ religious liberties. Someone else being allowed to “sin” or not agreeing with your views of sin is not an attack on your religious liberty. You going to church is not an attack on our freedom of non-religion, after all. We’re both just living our lives- or we would like to.

2. Don’t socially oppress us.

This includes: Bullying, sexually or physically assaulting us, verbally or abusing us, disowning or throwing us out of your homes, ganging up on us and berating and belittling us for being different, discriminating against and humiliating us in public businesses and government institutions and hospitals and adoption agencies, and so on. Add in constantly blaming us for all of society’s problems and future apocalypse, constantly reminding us that our relationships and existence are disgusting and evil to you, and telling us that you ‘love us’ while judging and demeaning us and our movement for freedom, and it gets pretty hard to breath under the sheer weight of society’s mistreatment of us.

Again, it’s terrible that this even needs to be said, but based on shocking statistics and endless personal stories, it’s something that needs to be said.

3. Do acknowledge that others are not obligated to share your beliefs, personal moral standards, or worldview.

We’re allowed to have different opinions and lives. The beauty that the U.S.A. was supposed to be founded on is freedom- liberty and justice for all. No single group was to be given preference over another, nobody was to be forced to follow anyone else’s personal beliefs. Just as I cannot and would not force you to marry someone of the same gender, you should not force me to abide by your personal opinions regarding marriage and relationships.

4. Do listen to our stories, and be willing change hurtful behavior when made aware of it.

If you don’t want to engage in hurtful or oppressive behavior but aren’t sure what that entails, just ask us. We’ll tell you our stories, explain why it hurts. If we explain to you that certain terminology, attitudes, or actions are hurtful, please hear what we have to say and don’t write it off as silly; you’re not in our shoes, dealing with our oppression. If we ask you to consider how we feel about you mocking our Pride symbols, we need you to listen to us. The LAST thing we need is to be called “bullies” for trying to point out the way you’re causing us pain (true story). 

5. Do stand up for us.

When you don’t say anything, the people who ARE oppressing us think it’s ok and that nobody will stand up to them. If someone is doing or saying oppressive and cruel things and they’re claiming to share your beliefs, shouldn’t you say something? By staying silent, you’re giving your consent to how they’re mistreating us. Even the smallest gesture of support is important because you’re showing that you don’t think the oppression is ok. You can still believe it’s a sin without standing by while others mistreat and socially abuse us.

6. Do see us as human beings, not combatants of war.

We’re not trying to destroy your world. We just want our shared world to be a safe place for us, too. We’re not asking to make this world all about us, we’re just tired of it being all about you and we want things to be more equal. We’re not asking for you to give up who you are so we can ourselves, you can still be straight and believe in sin and we’re ok with that as long as you don’t expect us to be or believe the same way. We don’t want to be at war, we never did. But sadly we have to fight to be treated equally. We should both be on the same side- the side of freedom and justice for all.