I can’t think of any one recent news story that’s been as telling about the hearts and minds of seemingly normal, compassionate people than President Obama’s public declaration of support for gay marriage. I’m sure that, like just about every other decision to come from the Oval Office, it was mulled over, talked about with his staff, probably prayed on, too. You don’t just wax philosophic on a topic as controversial as that and speak out on it all willy nilly without running it past your team and your higher power. In the assortment of domestic and global issues available to take a proactive stance on, however, the debate flaming around gay marriage seems like a waste of everyone’s time and energy. That’s because it shouldn’t even be a debate.
As far as I’m concerned, everyone and anyone who is in love should be able to celebrate that love with a bona fide, legitimate, legally recognized union. I said as much in a conversation with some fellow church members a few weeks ago and, in the process, backed myself right into a mentally exhausting and emotionally draining conversation about the Bible, civil rights and God’s blacklist. And it just reconfirmed how irked I am by uber conservative Black Christians using the Word as a crutch for their own hang-ups, fears and biases.
The flavor of the day is gay marriage, but that same Bible has been used to assail death-by-guilt to ladies who dare have children out of wedlock, enslave and marginalize people of African descent and support the sexist, keep-’em-barefoot-and-pregnant oppression of women. The fact is, anybody with an agenda can find a scripture to prove their point, even if their point brings harm and chaos to a whole other group of people. Most White supremacists are habitual Bible beaters, particularly White, Southern Protestants with a bigoted axe to grind against anyone who isn’t, well, White and Southern and Protestant.
So I have an involuntarily, knee-jerk reaction to roll my eyes and suck my teeth every time Black folks break out a fire-and-brimstone theology to argue why a man and a man or a woman and a woman shouldn’t be able to get hitched. Just because we hoot and holler over Jesus does not make it right to force him — or legal principles based on Christian doctrine — down the throats of lawmakers who should be trying to keep the playing field level for e’rybody: Muslims, anarchists, lesbians, gymnasts, stutterers, window washers and yes, even outspoken Black Christians. Lord knows the powers that be have enough of a hard time as it is without us muddying the water with our own set of distractions from justice. It should run across the board, like we want it to when the justice-seeking pertains to us, and keep church and state nice and separate.
Interestingly enough, as prim and proper church-goers are beating gay rights enthusiasts over the heads with Bible-based ethics, some of their very married, very saved pastors are out here making babies with women in their flocks and, even after the scandals hit the gossip grapevine, don’t lose even so much as a quarter of their congregations. The Bible speaks on adultery, too, no? I guess we speed read over that part because we’re used to a man being allowed to step out on his vows without much consequence but homosexuality doesn’t front that same masculinity and is still too taboo to talk about.
So apparently that “come as you are” cheer the Black church has been shouting needs an asterisk next to it: come as you are, but if you’re gay, come only if you’re closeted and come prepared to deny who you are and come to sit quietly through an occasional sermon or two about your guaranteed reserved space in all eternal damnation for your unpure sex acts (as if gay men are the only folks on the planet who engage in anal sex. Yeah, OK.) The fact remains that when one minority cheerleads the deprivation of another, it’s a loss for everybody. It’s the oppressed trying to turn around and oppress other folks, and that’s a bigger slap in the face than windbags from the majority who just can’t relate to any reality besides the white bread one they drive home to every evening.
Just a short time ago, Black folks weren’t allowed to get married our doggone selves. Jumping the broom wasn’t a cute little tradition that was born out of some inventive couple’s desire to do something just a little different at their wedding ceremony. It was as close as we could get to being allowed to call each other husband or wife. Though I do think the struggles are different for the LGBT community than they are for Black folks, the lack of empathy and passion for what’s right does nothing to bring us any closer to the selflessness and acceptance the Lord wants us to promote — heck, even sell — and everything to keep us sidetracked by archaic prejudices and unfounded discriminations, particularly from people who claim to love God. So I say to all of the naysayers: Go forth, stop judging and let the love of Jesus free your mind and your high sadiddy spirit. Church.