Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Regrettable move by (President) Obama and NAACP?
The Reverend Jarvis L. Collier, pastor of Pleasant Green Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kansas had an opinion piece in the Star yesterday, with the headline, above, sans the question mark.
This is a response.
More than anything, the Rev. Collier thinks that gays and homosexuals don't deserve equal rights, it seems. This is an attempt to address his column, point by point.
He says "Many Christian leaders are both offended and saddened by the recent NAACP vote affirming same-sex marriage equality."
Yes, well, many Christian leaders are also offended by the idea that equality would be denied any human in the world, let alone the United States, especially if they want to try to base it on the Bible.
The Reverend's first point is that "...marriage represents a spiritual covenant ordained by God, reserved for one man and one woman."
He cites several Bible passages:
Genesis 1--I assume he's referring to "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
That says nothing about marriage or any union.
He then cites Genesis 2 which is about Adam and Eve and God creating Eve from Adam's rib and "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."
Again, pretty vague. It doesn't say anything about two people being forbidden from loving each other if they're the same sex, yet, does it?
He notes Matthew 19 which, frankly, is about why a man shouldn't divorce his wife.
He goes on to Ephesians 5 which says women should be subordinate to their husbands. Still no mention here. This is where the Bible says "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."
Fine. But no word about same-sex couples, devoted to one another.
Finally, he points out Hebrews 13 which, ironically, starts out with "Let brotherly love continue."
I assume he's referring to this: "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
Doesn't say a thing about a man and a woman, does it?
In fact, to Reverend Collier and anyone and everyone (both of you) who might read this, Jesus--you know, Jesus Christ, Son of God--never once said anything, anything about two men or two women loving and committing to one another.
Lucky for the Reverend he didn't bring up Leviticus. He likely knew better.
Let's move on. I'm not trying to make this a long entry.
He then mentions George Orwell's landmark, excellent book, "1984", as many people are wont to do down through time, saying we shouldn't redefine things and call them what they aren't. Then he says this: "The definition of marriage (one man and one woman) has long been settled."
Not only is that completely untrue, the only people for whom marriage has been truly defined, down through the ages, as only and exclusively between one man and one woman are people who don't know humankind's history.
Here, the Rev. Collier is wrong, unfortunately. Marriage, down through the millenia, has been defined and redefined, time and again, within and without any organized church. Even if you ignore all other religions and all other peoples, it has been defined and redefined within the Christian (and Catholic) Church. It's undeniable.
There isn't enough time or space to list all the different, church-sanctioned types and definitions of marriage here, but below are listed just a couple of links, showing just some of the various ways "marriage" has been defined through humankind's development:
If you don't know or ignore humankind's history and your followers do the same, it's easy to tell yourself that marriage is the same now as it has always been. It's just patently untrue.
His second point is that "...as an African-American, I am deeply offended by the equivalence argument made by some.
Gay rights are not equivalent to civil rights for blacks."
Put that way, I can see how someone, anyone, would agree with that supposition. But the fact is that Blacks and African-Americans and gays (homosexuals, same-sex persons, same-sex couples, etc.) have both been fighting for the same thing, as long as they've existed.
We're all working for and fighting for equal rights. That's all.
Put that way--which is the simple truth of it, void of all other emotional and complicated trappings--we are, in fact, working for the same thing. Gay rights are equivalent to civil rights for blacks. Isn't that what America is all about and always has been? "Equal rights for all"?
Gays have been beaten and killed for being who they were, down through time, certainly, up to present day. No one is suggesting they've been owned and beaten and enslaved the same as the African-American in this nation's earlier history but they've been second class citizens and suffered for it.
"No one is free when others are oppressed." --Mahatma Gandhi.
This makes my point. I would think that Rev. Collier and anyone with any exposure to society and history would understand that.
Rev. Collier goes on to say that "During the 1950s and ’60s, blacks sought only what the U.S. Constitution guaranteed: freedom, opportunity and equal treatment. Blacks didn’t seek new rights, only the implementation of those already established."
What he doesn't understand is that that is exactly what's still being fought for here, in this battle. Gays only want equality. They--we--only want the same rights afforded to all other citizens of this nation, simple as that.
It's great to hear the Reverend Collier give his third point that "I (and all Christian leaders) reject bigotry, hatred or disrespect toward gays and lesbians."
Excellent. Great to hear, Reverend. Please be sure to make that known far and wide, by all means.
I should think the Reverend would also be against people being denied their equal rights. It would fit.
His fourth point, he says, is that "Christian principles must never be sacrificed on the altar of political expedience."
I can't think of anything more Christian than everyone being treated equal, can you?
He goes on to suggest that President Obama is doing this out of "political correctness."
I beg to differ, as he or anyone reading this would surely understand.
President Obama is doing this because it's the right thing to do and he knows it. The time came for him to stand up for equality for one more group of Americans, just as Harry Truman did when he integrated the US military, all those years ago.
Don't let there be any doubt here, either. President Obama took some risk in taking this stand. His opponents, made up as they are of a great deal of devout, Right Wing Christians who meet every Sunday and organize, could well present a difficult voting block against him this November, because of this stand. He took that chance. It's not just his being "PC." To suggest that is to simplify his stance rather ridiculously.
If there is or was anything wrong with President Obama's stance on equality for people of same-sex attraction, it was that he said it should be open to all 50 states definition of marriage. That was weak. In this one way, I would agree with Reverend Collier when he says "America must not countenance 50 definitions of marriage (each state having its own)."
I couldn't agree more. It would have been a far more consistent stance and more brave and even right to say this is the way it should be across the nation. If anything in this decision was "PC"--politically correct--it was this. That was unfortunate.
The fact is, the Reverend Collier is wrong about same-sex individuals and couples. They should, in fact, be afforded complete and total equality in all aspects in these United States. That's all they're--we're--working and fighting for. And it's the same equal rights African-Americans have been fighting for, all these hundreds of years.
What's sad is that the Reverend Collier doesn't also understand that this is why so many black men in this country are on the "down-low", the DL, as it's called. They're all hiding from the kind of opinions and judgment and condemnation that he and others like him in the black community hold. Sadly, some of them go ahead and get married, for fear of not fitting in, then they continue to search out same-sex situations, in order to fill the need they otherwise have.
And trust me, I say this to Reverend Collier and anyone and everyone out there in the world, in spite of what people may think or say, gays--we--don't "choose to be this way." It would be far, far simpler and easier to fit in and go along and be something we aren't, if only we weren't otherwise born this way, but it would living a lie and nothing good can or would come of that. Being on the "down-low" and not being yourself surely can't make for a good, honest, strong, healthy, happy marriage.
For all these reasons, I would hope that the Reverend Collier, his followers and more--indeed, all--in the black community would realize and accept that all gays are working and fighting for is, as I said above, just what they've been fighting for, all these years. That is, acceptance, sure, but equal rights for all.