Obama Lets Go Of Fear
This is a beginning. Right now Obama's support for gay marriage is nothing more than words; we'll see what actions (if any) follow. But the words are powerful. As a queer man it was very stirring - and even healing - to hear a sitting president affirm my equality. I'm not ashamed to say there were tears flowing down my cheeks when I heard the news story on NPR this afternoon.
And of course there are conservatives who are already airing their homophobic rhetoric, which is to be expected. It was particularly sad to see what John Michael Talbot, a Christian singer whose music I have enjoyed for years, posted on his Facebook wall today. There is so much fear and doublespeak in what John Michael Talbot has written. It reminds me of what supporters of slavery said before, during, and even after the Civil War. They were able to quote the Bible too - even more convincingly than Talbot was today.
I use the word "homophobic" (fear of homosexuality or of homosexuals) not as a slur but because I believe it is the accurate word to use today: I believe the anti-gay sentiment in our country is really about fear, not hatred. Sometimes it morphs into outright hatred, but I choose to believe that most people who rail against gay marriage are doing so out of fear, not hatred. The institution of marriage is in a shambles today - just look at the divorce rate, domestic violence statistics, and 72-hour Hollywood "weddings" - and many fear that if I as a queer man have the right to marry, that will somehow impinge on their rights, or it will somehow damage the "sanctity" of an institution that has already become desacralized.
Unlike many of my queer brothers and sisters, I believe it is possible for men and women of good will to disagree on this issue and still be friends or even worship together in the same churches. I love the Bible deeply and I revere it as inspired, but I view it as a collection of human documents, a record of humankind's progressive revelation and understanding of God over the course of many hundreds of years. My brothers and sisters who use the Bible to bash LGBTQ persons, sometimes without even realizing that's what they're doing, are reading the Bible outside of its historical context. I believe they will one day look back at their anti-gay rhetoric with embarrassment, much as the Southern Baptist church today looks back on its pro-slavery rhetoric, which was thoroughly "biblical," with embarrassment and apology.
Thankfully, my standing before God as an out-and-proud queer man does not depend on being accepted or even understood by John Michael Talbot or anyone else. Including President Obama. But it was wonderful to hear Obama's words today, and to see a sitting president let go of fear. Others will follow. This is my affirmation and my prayer: Others will follow.