Why I Am Unrelenting in My Fight For Marriage Equality
The first time I saw video of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking his dream to the crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I felt an ache like I’d never known. My entire body tingled with the overwhelming desire to be there, among the crowd. To not just witness, but take part in this kind of mass gathering for justice. In that moment I realized I was tired of just feeling convicted, when faced with evil in the world. I wanted to go out, and DO something. Fight the wrong. Become one of the thousands marching, using bodies as tools in the fight for good. That speech, and those people drinking in King’s words, set my heart ablaze.
Since as long as I can remember, there’s been a part of me that burns brightly whenever it comes across a fight for good.
Movies that highlight this eternal struggle of good over evil, with good prevailing at the end, can captivate me like no other. Books that follow a character as he wrestles with his own fears and weakness, only to overcome them for the good of others, will always hold the most special place in my heart. It’s a chicken and the egg thing, to try and figure out which came first, my belief in Christ, or my love for justice. One fuels the other, but which originated first I’ll probably never know. What I do know, is that my love for Christ spurns my deep desire to fight for justice.
Up until a few years ago, I thought my fight would never come.
Then, when my best friend came out, I saw before me an entire struggle for justice that I was never aware existed. This struggle was personal. With dread, I saw that the people who I was closest to, the people group that I was a part of, were largely on the wrong side. Good, honest, God honoring people, were fighting for what they thought was justice, but what I, and so many others, saw was discrimination.
This was no longer a romanticized look at a history I wished to be a part of. This was a hard, difficult choice I needed to make, in regards to the history that was being made, right at that moment.
I had to choose a side.
After prayer, scripture study, time with the Holy Spirit, and many, many life-altering conversations with gay and lesbian friends and family, I chose a side. And I’ve not yet regretted it. Even among constant strife with family, difficult conversations with friends, and a period of time where I felt rejected by church.
I don’t regret it because every time I take the conversation outside of Facebook, and Twitter, and the internet, and into the real world, I see, and hear, with my own eyes and ears, what I’m fighting for.
These people who have been told, over and over again, by Christians, that their rights don’t matter. These people who have been bullied, mocked, fired, harassed, beat up, and rejected because of something they did not choose and cannot change. Here’s the thing. Until you’ve gone out, and talked to these people, eaten with them, and most importantly, listened to them, this fight is not real for you. It’s not about you. It’s just words on a screen. A box to check on a form. Until you, or someone in your life is the one being persecuted over their sexuality, and told their rights don’t matter, gay marriage is just a thing you have an opinion on. Not a fight you have a dog in.
Everything changed for me when I started spending time in the gay community. When gay people became not just people, but friends. That hasn’t clouded my judgement, or view of scripture, it’s cleared my heart. It’s allowed me to open myself up to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and finally, FINALLY, do the work He put me on this Earth for. The work of fighting injustice. Especially injustice carried out in Jesus name.
While I was marching up and down the sidewalk last night, in a sea of people carrying signs, chanting that all they wanted was equal rights, I was filled with joy. Joy is a word I rarely use, because joy is different than happiness. You can be happy over a movie, meal, or fun evening with friends. But you can only experience joy, real, life altering joy, when your soul is engaged in something affirming. Happiness can be superficial, but joy is eternal.
As my voice and body blended into the crowd of others around me, all going in the same direction, fighting for the same thing, I was overcome with that joy for one, pure reason. The side I had chosen was fulfilling that deep longing in my heart for justice. While walking, I silently thanked God, for bringing me there, and being there with me.
I also prayed, that like before, good would prevail in the end.