To my gay and lesbian friends and those who support their freedom to choose who they love. And to my conservative family and friends who believe they have a right to choose how to live out their religious beliefs:
Take a deep breath and look around you.
There is a lot of pain in the world today. Pain and persecution and bigotry and conflict and loss of life and loss of freedom — all in the name of “liberty of conscience”, freedom to believe what we want to believe.
It should break your heart to hear that people are being slaughtered in the Middle East because of their religious beliefs, or that gay men are being thrown off rooftops in Syria. Or that nearly a million unborn children are killed in America every year.
And we in America are attacking one another over the possible intent and impact of one piece of legislation.
I am not political. I’m conservative in most of my views, surprisingly liberal in a few. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I believe the Bible holds the only laws necessary to create a peaceful, orderly, kind society. But we live in a fallen world so we have man-made laws — perhaps too many — designed to encourage morality.
I don’t begin to think I can make sense of the controversy surrounding my state’s recent passage of the religious freedom law (RFRA). I have read the law and explanations of the law and many commentaries on the law, and my opinion is that it is not written specifically to limit LGBT rights and freedoms. Its focus is on the rights and freedoms of people who hold specific religious views.
The intent of my state legislators in putting this law on the books is something I cannot know. The impact of the law on business owners and the people they serve is yet to be seen.
I write this not because I believe the law is correct or even that it is necessary, and I don’t expect to change the minds of those who oppose the law or of those who support it. I write it because I am the Mom of four sons who are part of the Millennial generation. I write it because they are being told what to think, and I want them to think for themselves.
In fact, all of us on both sides of the issue are being told by others who have our ear what we should think. So we are forming an opinion and taking a side without even knowing what we’re standing for or against.
I challenge my sons, in the same way that I challenge any of you who are concerned about this or any action that you believe limits freedom and promotes prejudice:
Be informed. Understand the issue before you take a stand.
I did not do that.
Before taking time to read Senate Bill 568 (You can read a synopsis of the bill here.), I chose sides in the debate. You probably did, too. I let others who share my religious beliefs and my conservative views tell me how to think.
After doing the research, I believe all of us are reacting based on one emotion.
Because really, it’s not about cake; it’s about fear.
- That I will be made to feel unequal because of my lifestyle.
- That I could lose my livelihood because of my faith.
- That I will suffer because others do not hold the same views as mine.
My Bible says only one emotion “casts out fear” — perfect love. We might think we get it, that we know what love is, but our actions and our attitudes say otherwise.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (You can read more in I Corinthians 13)
There’s a whole lot of pain and not enough love in the world. And more than enough injustice. Life isn’t fair.
Can we consider this? Instead of working so hard to defend and protect our personal rights and freedoms in this one issue, can we look outside ourselves and our circle of fear to see how horrifically the rights and freedoms of others in this world are being violated? Maybe the energy, attention and indignation we’ve expended on this one law that most of us haven’t even read could be used to help the many who have no defense.
We might at least have an idea what we are fighting for.
And maybe in taking the focus off ourselves, we can move closer to giving others a glimpse of perfect love.
For my sons.