A Few Thoughts On Tolerance

I’ve really been biting my tongue lately. There have been so many stories that have circulated in the last week or so that have done nothing but spawn hate speech toward one group or another. So, instead of going on a rage-induced rant on Facebook or getting into a Twitter war with someone, I decided that I would calmly lay out some things that I believe here in my little corner of the internet.

A couple of weeks ago there was a mass shooting in Orlando, FL. I’m sure you’ve all read the story so I won’t detail it. But, essentially, a man gunned down a whole lot of people in a night club and about 50 of them died. It is one of the most horrible shootings in US history…though all shootings are horrible. There has been speculation that it may be considered a terrorist attack since the shooter identified as being affiliated with ISIS.

The thing that has really gotten to me is that this club was a “gay club”, meaning that most of the people that hung out there were homosexuals. As I read through the posts on Facebook after it happened I noticed something a couple of times that really made my heart sink. There were actually Americans online that were trying to say that the victims had it coming. They were saying that they lived a life of sin and that this was God’s way of punishing them.

I felt sick.

I was raised in central Alabama. The town that I grew up in was very small. When I say that it was very small I mean that you should think of Mayberry and make it smaller. Mayberry, at least, had a diner and movie theater. We had a video store, a small grocery store, and a library. Oh, and churches. There were lots of churches. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a church.

My family was pretty religious so I grew up being taught very conservative points of view. It wasn’t until I grew up and started to actually interact with the world that I realized I had been taught a very “my way or the highway” point of view. Just to give you idea of what I mean…the vast majority of Christian churches in this part of the country look at homosexuality as being a huge sin. They think that it is an abomination and that God has been known to destroy entire cities of people to get rid of it. Some of them go so far as to claim that God has sent diseases to us to destroy the gay population. So, I grew up hearing all of this stuff. I lived a large part of my life believing that if a person was gay that there was something wrong with them. We believed that we should love the person but hate the sin, which translated to mean that if you knew a gay person you were supposed to make sure that you didn’t approve of their lifestyle and try to make them see that what they’re doing is evil.

Looking back on that now, I can’t believe that I ever felt that way. There are so many things wrong with that way of thinking.

First of all, the same bible that they are drawing these conclusions from says that God sees all sin as equal. So, even if homosexuality were a sin, it wouldn’t be any worse than gluttony. So, when you see some extremely overweight person yelling in your face about how homosexuality is an abomination…they’re being a hypocrite.

When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could get married I was never more embarrassed to be from the state that I’m from. Because every time I turned on the news or I logged onto a news site I would see some lawmaker or judge making waves by standing in the way of implementing the ruling. And guess where they were usually from. You guessed it…Alabama. Roy Moore has been a blight on this state for 20 years. His need to be a martyr for his beliefs has turned him into a joke.
I don’t want to come across as bashing the church. I don’t feel that way at all. I consider myself to be a Christian and I still live by the things that I was taught as a child. But now, as an adult, I find that I can’t just blindly believe in something just because someone tells me to. There are just too many things that don’t make sense.

The argument of whether or not homosexuality is a sin is not one that I’m willing to take on. Mainly because I can’t point my finger at someone and claim that they are sinning when I have a problem with gluttony and anger that can be seen as sins as well. If I had to pick a side I’d say that no, I don’t think you’re sinning just because you love someone. God is love and he wants us to be happy.

That being said, we have to stop this idea that the laws of our land have to fall in line with our religious beliefs. That is just not the case. Just because you believe God says something is wrong does not necessarily mean that it should be against the law or that it should have tons of restrictions placed upon it. The argument comes up so often that the United States is here because our founding fathers wanted to escape religious persecution and that they built the country on their religious beliefs. I’m in disagreement with that. The founding fathers left England because they didn’t want a king telling them what they could and couldn’t do. So they built a country that is now trying to do the same thing to another group of people by telling them who they can and can’t marry.

Anyway, I’m not sure that this came across as coherent as I had originally planned. I hope that it did and I hope that it didn’t offend anyone. It’s just the way that I’ve grown to feel over time I don’t blame my parents for teaching me what they did. They taught what they’d been taught. I just hope that my more tolerant views rub off on my kids and carry them forward into a world with less hatred than what we have now.

Oh, and if I see anyone on my friends list saying that the victims in Orlando deserved what they got…we won’t be friends anymore.

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