I have been taking part in an online discussion that followed an article about the local Gay pride rally that was recently held here in Spartanburg. As was reported the event was a peaceful one, and protesters were civil and restrained, as were the marchers.
Where things got heated was in this particular discussion.
I found it quite interesting how some people, who claim to be people of honor and integrity will throw those ideals right out the window when the encounter people who's views differ from theirs.
I really shouldn't be surprised, as I have been part of discussion boards for years and have even taken a stint as a chat room monitor (yeah I am a glutton for punishment)
As was the case with this discussion there were a variety of views on the subject surrounding the march and gay rights in particular. Most people were very respectful about the topic, even those that were not supporters. I for one was very happy that the event was a peaceful one, and that hopefully people would realize that, although one may not agree with someone's lifestyle, respect for each other as individuals, friends, co-workers, family members etc. could be had. One doesn't have to agree with the lifestyle of a person to recognize the value they hold as members of our community, that really has little to do with that lifestyle.
One individual in this discussion took a totally different approach. He or she was strongly anti-gay rights, in fact very anti-gay people. I can understand his views, as it is a life choice that still doesn't make me all that comfortable, despite knowing and befriending people who have chosen that way of life. However I couldn't begin to agree with him on any level at all. Where this individual and I sharply parted ways is his refusal to accept these folks as people, and of having any value whatsoever.
I found that quite tragic. To him having a relative, or a friend who just happened to be gay was just as bad as being gay...Huh?? As I have both and respect these folks highly for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their sexual orientation, I couldn't fathom the vehemence thrown. I believe what my pastor is fond of saying. "To God, everyone matters." I just couldn't understand why this person couldn't see that. I believe that God loves everyone utterly and completely, its some of the decisions we make that he is much less then fond of.
As I said before, I shouldn't be surprised that there are people out there who's view of the world simply won't allow for people that don't line up to what they want. Bigotry and hatred have been around a very long time, and unfortunately it ain't going away soon. My views on gay rights will remain private for the most part as I prefer trying to find common ground with the people I encounter. Personal lifestyle choices are often very personal and private. I try not to let those choices get in the way of trying to treat other with kindness and dignity.
I have learned that often God places people and situations before us to teach us. One of these vital lessons, I believe is how to be a better lover of people. There are lot of things that people do that I feel they shouldn't, or that I believe are harmful or foolish, and I am sure that others may find the same in me. But it shouldn't matter. Scripture commands me to love my neighbor, period. It ain't easy, but it so worthwhile. If a former Jewish carpenter could love a planet full of people enough to give up his life for us, then why should I think I'm too good to at least try to accomplish a fraction of the love he exuded?
A favorite poem comes to mind with these thoughts. Mother Theresa is credited with these words, and they are words I try and often fail at yet keep trying to live by.
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People need help, but may attack you if you try to help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.