Dear Em

A few days ago, I read this posting by Yarn Harlot.  She, without fail, publishes a great Canada Day post – one that I love to read and makes me feel so proud to be a Canadian. This year’s was no exception. I urge you especially to click on the link in her posting,  to read and savour former Prime Minister Paul Martin’s speech about same-sex marriage, in its entirety.

In this year’s  posting however, she did something uncharacteristic, which was to prematurely complain about the critical emails and comments she was sure to receive from some of her readers for being pro-Canada and for being accepting of gay people and gay marriage. I think I understand her frustration, although I have not experienced much of this kind of response myself, and I hope under the same circumstances I would think twice before hitting the publish button with that remark in the posting…but (sigh) I probably wouldn’t.

I scrolled through the comments (and there were a TON of them, as usual) and most were very positive. Of course, some weren’t. She did, after all, pretty much ask for it. One commenter’s  thoughts  in particular, really have stayed with me, days later. The commenter, Em, left several comments about gay marriage and her view of  homosexuality. “IT IS AN ABOMINATION AND A SIN and God hates it”, is how she put it.

Wow. Strong words.

Then later, in the comments (copied exactly, spelling/grammar errors included),  Em reveals that she is all of 17 years old and about to enter the military:

Well I really don’t know what else to say that hasn’t already been said. I’m only 17, a week a way from leaving for bootcamp for the United States Navy. Despite everything, I am honored to serve my country.
The botom line is if you don’t belive in the Bible, then you have no reason to think that gay marriage is wrong. Period. Quite frankly if our founding fathers wanted gay marriage to be legal they would have put it in the constitution, or there would have been an amendment soon after when people saw that it wasn’t legal and became outraged. Fact is, that didn’t happen, back then people would have been outraged if the idea of it being legal was even thought of. Its only been in the last couple of decades that people have wanted equal rights. It tells you something about the way our thinking has gone.
If you don’t like gay marriage being illegal in most of the United States of America, then go live in Canada. And quit harping about how you are embarrassed of the United States, which despite most peoples thinking, is the greatest place in the world. Just go ask the people living in Haiti, or Uganda if they would like to move here.
One more thing, I am not a hater, although I have never personnally known a gay person, or at least I didn’t know if I did. I don’t hate them nor do I think they are disgusting. I think there sin is disgusting, just as is mine. I can only fall on my knees and thank Jesus Christ for dying for me so that I can be with him forever. And I would pray that everyine would find HIM.
“Every way of man is right in his own eyes; but the Lod pondereth the hearts” Proverbs 21:2

When I read this comment, my heart just melted for Em. I think she is a thoughtful and passionate young woman and I wish her only the best.  If she was commenting on my blog, this is what I would say to her:

Dear Em,

How I would love to hear from you again when you are 27, 37 and 47, to hear your thoughts on this subject at those times in your life, as you progress and gain life experience! I hope in later years, that you do get to know some gay people (you probably already do, but they are afraid to be honest around you due to your beliefs) and perhaps your mind and heart will open a bit, and you will begin to think independently and critically, and question the motives of those telling you what is a sin and what isn’t.

There are many people who believe that being gay is a lifestyle, a choice (your comments suggests you might think the same). And to those people, I’d like to say: Is your sexuality a choice? Did you get to choose to be attracted to whichever gender you are attracted to (whether that is the gender you publicly profess to be attracted to or not is another story)? Did you choose to be right or left handed? Did you choose your eye colour or your height? I would be surprised if you say yes because that has not been my experience nor the experience of any people I know.  In the words of certain pop star – I was born this way. Being 5 foot four (on a good day), green-eyed, right-handed, and straight is something I am, not something I choose to do or be.

And let me paraphrase Dolly Parton here, to share with you my views on the subject of homosexuality.  She said it best for me when she said being gay is not something you do, it’s something you are. Then she followed with: How can it be a sin to be who you are, when that is who God made you to be?

I’d like you to consider these statements, now at 17… and later, as you gain more life experience.

And Em, I hope you came back to the Comments to read this one, from Aidan. He pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about love – there isn’t even close to enough of it on this earth to then limit it only to those who “qualify”, according to certain religious groups:

I don’t believe in Gay Marriage. I believe in Marriage. Period. If teh ghays wants to get married, well, all right by me! Let me know where you are registered.

Twenty-something years ago, when I was younger and thinner and had more hair, Reform Rabbis in North America were getting together to vote on whether or not teh ghays should be allowed to serve as Rabbis or Cantors. Our congregation held a meeting to provide our Rabbi with counsel. At this meeting there were some horrible words springing from the mouths of people I cared a great deal about — words like “abomination” and “evil inclination”.

Then an old man I had never seen before stood. He rolled up his sleeve and he showed us the tattoo on his arm. And he said “I want you to see my credentials for speaking to you today. I lived in time when I thought love was dead. The sun had disappeared, tolerance was gone, G-d was dead. Well, somehow, love survived. And I don’t care if men love each other, or women love each other, I’m going to side with love every time. If they want to be Rabbis? They will have my support. If they want to marry on the bimmah, under a chuppah? I will dance at their weddings. G-d only survives as long as love and tolerance survive.”

I cried there. I have cried every time I have thought about it over the last twenty-some years. I am crying now, as I type. I never saw the man again, and I never learned his name. But as G-d is my witness, I will always come down on the side of love and tolerance. And G-d survives.

Em, I wish you only the best and I hope that your experience in the military is a positive one, that you serve proudly and escape harm. Continue to be passionate about your beliefs. Too many of us are afraid to stand up for what we believe. Or afraid to even think deeply on the subject of WHAT IS IT exactly, that we do believe and feel in our hearts. I hope that as you mature, you do continue to think deeply about your religion and your beliefs and will not be afraid to challenge those ideas that don’t sit quite right with you.

And mostly, thank you Em, for creating for me this opportunity to think deeply about what I feel on the subject of  love between two consenting adults, whatever their gender.

Best regards,

Anyone who knows me very well, knows I struggle with my feelings about organized religion, though I consider myself to be a spiritual person. Most days my feelings are leaning towards viewing organized religion as among the worst of the evils that escaped Pandora’s box.

Is there any human-controlled force on Earth that has caused more war, death, persecution and suffering than organized religion?

Are there any teachings, that have been abused more, twisted more, promoted more, to push and control people to live and behave a certain way in order to further the agendas of others, than those found in religious materials?

I wonder. When I read comments such as posted on YH’s blog (mild compared to some I have come across on the web), this only reinforces my thoughts on the subject.

I am sure there are those who will tell me there has been a lot of good done by individuals in the name of religion as well, but I wonder if these people wouldn’t have been compelled to help the less fortunate among us anyways, and organized religion just afforded them to an outlet to express their basic nature and altruism? (Just as organized religion provides the perfect vehicle for those with evil,  self-serving motives .  Unfortunately, there are examples of this in the news just about every day.)

We human beings are slow-learners. We are getting there – women are considered to be human nowadays in most parts of the world, as an example – but we still have a long way to go.


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