Do we understand that people have the right to choose what they want to do, not what we expect them to do particularly when they are not under our authority?
I have followed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement for some time now. I am concerned that this group is in danger of perpetrating the same things they’ve accused others of doing: Narrow-mindedness and bigotry. May I explain why before your mind shifts to defensive mode?
If you’ve ever begun a conversation about LGBT issues on a global forum like Facebook or in a city where Gay Marriage is legal, and you decide to play devil’s advocate; arguing for heterosexuality or “the sanctity of Marriage”, you’re immediately met with defensiveness, anger, suspicion or even outright attack. After a while, you may be shut down, threatened with a hate crime or slander!
During the height of the “Anti-Abortion” movement in America, those protesting came up with the term, “Pro-Life”. Unfortunately, when they used the term, they inadvertently tried to cast the other side as “Pro-Death” or “Anti-Life”. This was of course wrong. So, I guess it was only a matter of time before the Homosexual community tagged anyone who openly spoke against the lifestyle as “Gay-Hater” or “Gay-Basher”. [I guess payback is a bitch. And really, anytime we call heterosexuals straight, aren’t we indirectly inferring that homosexuals are “bent”? No wonder the claws are out on both sides of the aisle?]
I have often wondered why so much venom is unleashed when the subject of sexual orientation comes up. Same as religion. You rarely see such displays of temper when a grown person refuses to eat meat at a function, stating that they’re vegetarian, or when they decline a drink or cigarette at a function. At best they’re viewed as different or subscribing to another lifestyle. But when a person openly states that he doesn’t subscribe to the LGBT lifestyle, he’s vilified as religious, a bigot, not understanding or “with it”. Why? Saying what a person believes doesn’t make him/her a bad person. Disagreeing with something, someone or even an entire movement doesn’t automatically make that person condemnatory. Holding a different belief from yours doesn’t make a person narrow minded or backward. After all, 50 yrs ago, very few people believed what you believe now, and they weren’t stupid or unenlightened. Heck, 10 years ago, you probably didn’t even believe what you believe now!
Typically, in conversations about differing lifestyles or beliefs, BOTH sides are guilty of the following:
1. Wanting to prove a point: “I really don’t care what you have to say. I just want to score points to prove you wrong”
2. Wanting to be right: “I desperately need to be right. Secretly, I’m afraid of the possibility that you may be right, after all”
3. Bitterness over some perceived or actual oppression by the opposing group: “I can’t have a rational conversation with a group that has done this or that”
4. Rebellion: “I want to think what I want to think and no one should tell me any different”
5. Self righteousness: “My way is better, and by the way, it’s the only way”
6. Self-pity: “You poor ignorant backward soul”
7. Defensiveness: “No one is going to browbeat me or snooker me with unverified facts. And anyway, I know you have an agenda”
8. There’s also what I call “appeal to authority” – facts and data are reeled out with an end-goal in mind. A person takes a position then adduces “facts” to support that position. Information is also divorced from religious beliefs, cultural norms, ideologies and the prevailing zeitgeist, forgetting that people rarely do things because of factual reasons.
On another note, I’m worried that the desire to be accommodating of EVERY lifestyle is spurning a new type of affirmative action in the workplace and Hollywood. There’s a token LGBT role in many movies. There’s a deliberate attempt to provide for an LGBT role in the management cadre in cities where the lifestyle is legal. What then happens when fringe sexuality like bestiality becomes legal (I think it’s actually legal in some American States) or when every religious group clamours for affirmative action?
In Nigeria, where religion and ethnicity are huge considerations in Government appointments, we have witnessed such shocking dislocations, as positions are “zoned” to individual ethnic or religious groups without regard to competence or appropriateness. It also logically follows that since gay couples can adopt children, then LGBT characters should also be introduced in Disney movies, so that children may be tutored on becoming more understanding of sexual orientation. Mmmn…Is that really where we’re headed?
The laws a country makes are largely driven by the amount of influence a specific group wields and how passionate they are at advocating their position. So whenever a law is passed, I actually don’t subscribe to the opposing side bitching about it. The truth is while the opposing side was sitting pretty, the other group did the hard work of taking to the streets, raising money, and articulating their position using persuasive propaganda. It was simply a matter of time. If you don’t like it, organise effectively. Once upon a time, tobacco industry loyalists thought the anti-tobacco movement would go away, but now in developed countries, smoking is no longer permitted in public places. Sustained propaganda and strategic movements work. Conversely, rhetoric very quickly gets you ignored.
Now, to my personal beliefs about homosexuality. I have gay friends and recognise it’s a choice. None of my friendships has suffered because the other person subscribes to a different lifestyle from mine. However, I cannot divorce the subject of homosexuality from my religious beliefs. To do so would be to hide my head in the sand in a bid to appear politically correct. My objection to Homosexuality has NEVER been about lifestyle. It’s about MARRIAGE. Christianity tells me that marriage is not about a boy or girl wanting to have sex or make babies. It was meant to represent something completely God-focused – The union of Christ and His Church. A union that accommodates believers from different tribes and tongues who form a body – the BRIDE of Christ – with one head – Jesus. A homosexual marriage DOES NOT represent this and I am yet to hear any argument that refutes this.
An interesting text in Genesis Chapter 2 speaks about marriage being between a Man and someone who was “taken from him”, a “part of him”, a Woman. It wasn’t primarily about procreation.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Ephesians Chapter 5 further expounds on marriage being representative of Jesus Christ and his Church. That’s its primary purpose:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
So while I cannot dictate how people should live, I do take exception to the LGBT community saying gay marriage has nothing to do with the sanctity of marriage. It has EVERYTHING to do with it. In fact the conspiracy theorist in me wonders – if the union of Christ and his Church is represented by the marriage between a man and a woman, perhaps the corollary, that is, the union between a man and a man represents something else – the spirit of the AntiChrist. I leave such matters of dialectics to Pastors.
Ultimately, our response to differing lifestyles should be guided by the following: Do we care about people and love them despite their beliefs or lifestyles? Do we sincerely argue the issues or seek to attack personalities? Do we accord individuals their fundamental human rights and respect their freedom of association? Do we understand that people have the right to choose what they want to do, not what we expect them to do particularly when they are not under our authority? Do we recognise that there are larger forces at play in the world and we should never lose sight of the forest for the trees?
I do believe that in the end, ALL will be made clear. Till then, let us live according to our convictions; never stifling the spirit of debate; never labelling; never judging.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.