As I come to grips with the reality that three out of four voters in my county chose Donald Trump, I’m not as worried about what will happen, I am more concerned about what we have become.
At some point, I’m sure the national protests will abate and life will move back into some semblance of normality. (Although, as I write this, Cincinnati braces for a verdict some fear will create more unrest.) But I’m afraid we may never fully understand the pain inflicted on some members of our society.
Some of my family members, like those with children or grandchildren of minority heritage or those who are victims of sexual assault, have taken this election very personal. And rightly so. Their family, friends and neighbors put someone in power who personally denigrated them. Some of them are legitimately concerned about their future.
Part of the blame of what we’ve become rests on the shoulders of president Ronald Reagan who in vetoing the Fairness Doctrine ushered in the age of Talk Radio and Fox News, where angry white men wearing American flag label pins, exploited Americans — preaching a message of intolerance that bolstered the network’s bottom line. Technology introduced social media which quickly became the source of additional misinformation and ignorance as it mainstreamed bizarre and fringe ideologies.
With all of this came, in many corners of the country, a removal of the American idea of ‘you stay on your side of the street and I’ll stay on mine.’ Zealots using social media as a tool began subjecting the country to their intolerance because diversity — an attribute that does make America great — is, in their eyes, a liability. One of my family members learned this firsthand when they posted a meme expressing support for a close friend in the LGBTQ community. The family member was assaulted by a litany of comments from people she has not seen in decades. Some she does not even know. As the commenters waltzed unwelcomed into her side of the street one compared homosexuality to alcoholism.
I grew up in an evangelical church, so I am acutely aware of the mindset that pushes this faulty and immoral presumption that alcoholism and homosexuality are two sides of the same sinful coin. It’s a mindset afraid to live this life, choosing instead to bank everything on the next one. Politically it’s an easy mindset to exploit, because if this life does not matter, then social reform is irrelevant and tolerance cannot be accepted.
Masked behind this Christian’s superficial claim of love is an arrogance that they know the mind of God. Science and biology be damned, because the Apostle Paul decided homosexuality is ‘unnatural,’ so ‘it is what it is,’ the logic goes.
But, in the Christian tradition, Jesus has a closer connection to the mind of God than Paul. Jesus never broached the subject, but he did, like many spiritual gurus, offer a simple way to live. It’s the Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. In this case, treating others well means staying on your side of the street while securely locking away unscientific beliefs into the deep crevices of your mind.
However, if Paul is the Christian leader to follow, do what he says and ‘become all things to all men…”
For just a moment become that teenage boy who realizes he is not heterosexual. And, if you have the courage, and I doubt you do, feel the sting of the tears when he hears the word pervert directed at him for the first time. Watch him hold in those tears and refuse to cry because, even at 13, this young man knows a father should not call his son perverted. Then stare deep and long into the father’s eyes so you can know what hatred looks and feels like. Embrace the wrath and rejection. And, if you truly love this teen’s soul like you say you do, just for one minute watch his classmates’ obscene gestures as they ridicule him, a teen whose only crime is, just like you, he possesses a biological attribute.
Then, as Jesus said, go ahead an remove the ‘plank from your own eyes.’
But please, for the love of God, don’t try to protect any member of the LGBTQ community from Hell because most — even in the Land of the Free — have already been there.
It’s something moral people — both inside and outside the LGBTQ community — are trying to rectify.