Some of you may know, tomorrow is a Big Voting Day in North Carolina as people prepare to weigh in on Amendment 1.
I’ve had this conversation [yes, really]. I’ll bet some of you have, too.
Other Person: Gay people getting married is a threat to my marriage.
Me: Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize you were getting a divorce.
OP: Wait . . . what? No! I’m not getting a divorce!
Me: Sorry, I thought you meant that literally. That your marriage was threatened.
OP: No, I just meant that regular marriage is threatened.
Me: What do you mean, “regular marriage”?
OP: You know, traditional marriage.
Me: Traditional? Like, old-fashioned?
OP: Like in the Bible. Man, woman. They fall in love, they get married.
Me: That doesn’t sound very traditional or Biblical. I was thinking you meant, like, arranged marriages. Or maybe concubines.
OP: Concu…what? Never mind. No, like the way God designed it in the beginning. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve and all that jazz.
Me: You know, that sounds a lot like arranged marriage, actually. Adam and Eve didn’t have much choice, did they? I mean, being the first two people and all.
OP: Whatever. See, it’s those gay people and their agenda. They want to force churches to marry them.
Me: Wow, did something like that happen at your church?
Me: Your friend’s church?
OP: Uh, no.
Me: A church you read about in the paper?
OP: Not exactly.
Me: I’m confused. I thought you said churches were being forced to marry people.
OP: Well, it could happen. You watch, that’s next. First they ruin marriage, then they take away our religious freedom.
Me: I’m still not aware of this happening anywhere. Can you provide an example?
OP: . . .
See, here’s the thing. “Traditional” American marriage is, at least in a certain sense, “threatened.” But what’s being threatened is not your right to marry or stay married. It’s your exclusive version of marriage, where you get your rights and someone else doesn’t because you’ve voted to keep it that way.
Will allowing two men or two women to marry each other lead to having multiple spouses or being able to wed a biological relative? Who knows? I don’t have a crystal ball, and neither does anyone else. The slippery slope is not a reason to deny people their rights. It’s entirely possible that all sorts of things we don’t like might be allowed into the definition of marriage. But this is only in the legal sense. How you, or I, or anyone else wants to define it in the religious or spiritual sense isn’t going anywhere.
I urge those of you who have a vote tomorrow not to use it out of fear. Don’t cast your vote because you’re worried that your rights might be in danger or because you think something else might come up in the future. I understand voting with your conscience and your moral values. However, be sure that it’s those values and not the fear of the future that drives you.
And even if you believe that two men or two women getting married is immoral, try to understand that not everyone shares this opinion. Not even all Christians agree. Agreeing to “live and let live” is not an endorsement of something you find sinful. That’s part of finding the balance between living your convictions and letting others do the same.
As I’ve said before, learn what it’s like in someone else’s life. Find out what it means to people you know personally. Even if you don’t come away agreeing with the other person, you will still have learned something important. I can sit here and type out words and urge you to see things my way, but my rights are not at stake. You need to hear it from someone who can tell you what it’s like for him or her personally.
Don’t let the conversation end here.