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I’ve wrestled for a while with whether I should go all political here. I mean, yaknow, I could lose my one faithful reader.
In the end I decided that this is who I am.
What I don’t want is for this to degenerate into one of those idiotic flame wars. So I’m enabling comment approval. I’ll probably approve your comment even if it is stupid. If I don’t, I encourage you to write your own damned blog and post a link here.
The following started as a status update on Facebook. It’s too long. I’m posting something FB digestible there and on Twitter with a link to here. There are several references to occurrences on FB but nothing overly specific, and the gist easily stands alone. Here then:
So maybe I’ve been a little obnoxious lately. I’ll grant at the very least that I’ve been vocal.
I’m not going to issue a blanket apology, because that would be neither honest nor productive, but I readily admit that I’ve said a few things (or at least said some things in a way that) I regret. I do apologize for any time I have strayed from the truth or said something gratuitously hurtful.
“Gratuitously hurtful” sounds a little overqualified, but I’m of the opinion that change is a painful process and I hope to be a catalyst for change; as such, I kinda want to cause some pain. Think of me as that asshole trainer who you know really likes you even though he pushes you in ways that you don’t think he should. Yeah, that’s maybe a bit self-aggrandizing but it’s more a statement of aspiration than belief.
I care about politics. I was thinking about it yesterday as I was driving with my honey. Just at that moment I saw someone with a Dallas Cowboys bumper sticker and I thought of all of the excesses people go to for their favorite sports teams and all of the noise they make about those teams (sometimes even more about the ones they despise) . . . or cute little kitties . . . or TV shows . . . or mediocre pop music . . . or wornout sayings that used to be clever turned into shoddy looking graphics, etc. Anyway, I feel alright talking about politics.
A few folks I respect have recently confronted me about my partisan posts. While I might disagree with them about various particulars, I want them to know that I’m listening thoughtfully and praying. And for the most part I agree with their concerns–if not necessarily how they apply to me. ;-p Even in that I’m willing to admit that I might be wrong.
I vet the things that I post on my timeline (less so but to some degree still with things that I “like”) and I pretty much stand by them without qualification. If I make a mistake I think I’m willing to own it. In my defense I usually find that I have gone to some pains to say things precisely and that precision is completely ignored for a quick and sloppy misinterpretation. To my discredit, that’s just the way language works and I maybe need to get over it. I make a point of being honest and I try to be fair but I am unapologetic about being partisan. I’m not going to promise to stop or cut back, but I’m going to try to slow down a little.
A couple of recent remarks about “sound bites” have motivated me to do something I’d been thinking of for quite a while.
So much of our conversations about politics amount to talking past each other as we twist the facts to conform to our preconceptions. I admit that I’ve done that. Of course like everyone I like to think that my biases naturally flow from the facts.
Another thing we do is assume agreement over the values behind our political choices. While I like to believe that we’re ultimately all on the same team, I’m increasingly convinced that we’re not all on the same page or even in the same play book.
Here’s what I want to do. Instead of arguing over “Truth,” factoids, sound bites, lies, accusations and innuendo, I’d like to try to articulate as clearly as I can what motivates my peculiar political enthusiasms, loyalties and inclinations. Since this is more of an internal, reflective sort of thing, I’m mostly going to try to avoid proof-texting or citing statistics, editorials or news articles, etc. I believe that my values fit nicely with the facts, with the texts that I consider holy, with sound reasoning. But as I said, that’s everyone’s bias. And it’s far too easy to lose sight of one in the process of uncovering the other. I’d rather try to be clear about the motivating values and get to arguing over the “facts” or even establishing sources later.
As I said, this is something I’ve thought of doing for a long time. Part of what’s kept me back was a desire to be complete, accurate and compelling. Screw all that. I’m just gonna start doing this. I’ll ramble. I’ll miss some things. I’ll misrepresent myself.
I would love to have your help. There’s a kind of help I’d rather not have, but I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll try to be blunt in letting you know when you do it. Someone is sure to.
I don’t know about you, but I try not to think about what other people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms.
Don’t get me wrong–it happens. You know how it is: you see, for instance, a particularly oddly-matched couple. And you can’t help thinking, “Wait. Really? How does that even work?” I’m not saying I’m proud of it, but I go there sometimes, despite my best efforts not to. In my defense, it’s not so much prurient interest as it is morbid curiosity. And, as I said, I try to banish those thoughts and I certainly don’t dwell on them, no matter how innocently they arise.
So, yeah, no offense, but I have no desire to imagine you doing the nasty. I like to think that you’re returning the favor and, yaknow, not thinking about me that way. I mean, c’mon, it’s creeping me out just thinking about your thinking about it. Stop already; you know who you are.
But it seems that too many Evangelicals just can’t get their heads out of other folks’ nether regions, um, metaphorically speaking. At least that’s the best I can figure. Why else are they so concerned about same-sex marriage? Why else, other than, well, the sex?
To their credit, sex is important. What’s more, it’s great fun, and a delightful thing to think about. I just make a point of thinking about sex with my wife and not, for example, sex between a couple of dudes–no matter how buff they are or how sweetly sensitive they seem to be (I’m a big fan of the cuddling and the sharing, and I like to think that others are too).
I’ll go further and say that from my perspective, in accordance with my personal religious beliefs and a variety of values I hold dear, sex is critically important, deeply spiritually significant, even essential. But those are my beliefs. I will express them and live them; I will even advocate for them; but I don’t feel it is my right or responsibility to impose them on you. And, as I said, even though sex is important to me, I’ve decided that it’s not important to me to think about you having sex.
One more thing: I don’t need or want Uncle Sam peering through the curtains or sneaking a peek beneath the sheets either. I certainly don’t want Congress or the Courts regulating my sex life (or the sex lives of other consenting adults). I would think that folks who are always clamoring for “limited government” would agree.
So if we can agree that I don’t need to think about you having sex and you don’t need to think about me having sex and the government doesn’t need to be involved in anyone’s sex life (notwithstanding the occasional scantily-clad census worker fantasy you and your significant other like to act out), what’s the deal with same-sex marriage?
The deal, as I see it, is commitment. Two people commit to care for each other, to radically identify with each other, to pool their resources, to make a life together. The reasonable consequence of that commitment is that those two people are entitled to certain basic rights. The premise being that this kind of long term, committed relationship is good for society and that society should recognize it, honor it and try to support and preserve it.
At least that’s how I see it.
If I had my druthers, I’d reserve the word “marriage” for the sacred, freaky, heterosexual joy I experience with my beloved. But I don’t often get my druthers. And I long ago resigned myself to the fact that “marriage” means something different even to most breeders, yea verily, even to most breeder couples who claim to be “married.” Truly, I’m far less bothered by a loving, committed homosexual couple using the word “marriage” to describe their relationship than I am by, oh, let’s say, adulterer and serial monogamist Newt Gingrich calling what he does “marriage.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Yahweh Himself prefers gay marriage to adultery and divorce.
- from my personal perspective, marriage is, to a great degree, about sex (which my wife and I will enjoy in private; or if in public, at least discretely); but . . .
- from a social perspective, marriage is about commitment; and . . .
- from a public policy perspective, marriage is about the civil rights to which participants in said commitment are entitled.
Those are three things I care about and am willing to fight for–not just for myself, but for everyone. But, I promise you, I’m not interested in your or anyone else’s sex life and I implore you not to ask me to take that interest.
I encourage you to enjoy your sexuality and even to think about it a lot; but if you find that all you can think about is someone else’s sex life, you might consider getting some help–or just getting a life.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the culture wars.
The battle over (ostensibly “for”) marriage is a case in point. On the one side are geniuses who seem to believe that God is pleased when we deny others basic human rights and refuse to respect their basic human dignity. On the other are brilliant minds who don’t seem to understand fundamental differences in human anatomy.
One side insists that marriage be “defended” and its meaning officially defined and delimited by the State. The other demands that that definition be inclusive and accepting, however nonsensical the end result.
Call me a simpleton, an extremist sectarian or rudderless liberal, but I don’t think it’s that complicated. I don’t need the State or anyone else to reassure me.
Marriage is sacred. The sacrament of marriage is sex. And when I say “sex,” I don’t mean to discount various other means of enjoyment, but the act to which I explicitly refer is the copulatory sacrament involving complementary male and female organs. Please don’t make me get any more graphic than that. If, in fact, the singularity and rightness of that exquisite pleasure doesn’t make sense to you, well, you need the kind of help that I’m not going to be able to give you. And truly I pray that you find the help you need.
I implore my conservative brethren to, once and for all, recognize that our feeble–and, let’s be honest, narcissistic–so-called “defense” of the sacred does little other than dishonor precisely that which we pretend to protect.
I implore my liberal brethren to find another word. “Marriage” is taken. I’m all for granting committed couples of every assorted kind (especially those involved in the raising of children) all kinds of legal rights; just don’t expect me to consider them “married,” except maybe in the most diluted, metaphorical sense. And, frankly, there’s far too much dilution of marriage in the heterosexual community, so don’t hold your breath waiting for me to endorse even more of it from the LGBTs. For whatever it’s worth, I’d rather not know what you do in private and I think we can all agree that we don’t want the State poking its nose in your bedroom either.
But y’all go ahead and keep shouting at each other like the idiots and bigots you seem determined to be. I realize that my words are unlikely to dissuade you.
Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to continue celebrating marriage. Please refer back to the aforementioned definition of marital sacrament. I plan on spending the rest of my life celebrating repeatedly, with great abandon and uninhibited joy with the woman who is more beautiful to me each new day than she had been the day before. That, it seems to me, is the best that any of us can do if we mean to express our belief in, support of and gratitude for this greatest of gifts.
Thanks, Chrissy, for being the minister of God’s grace to me–in more ways than I can count, “marital” and otherwise.