Sunday, May 13, 2012

Americans, Religion, My Brother, and Me

By Jen Foley. This is a guest post from a good friend of mine. It originally appeared on Facebook and is reprinted here with permission.

I guess I need to put a little background down as full disclosure: my baby brother is gay (I never suspected it growing up because I never thought about who my brother would love or find attractive.  Eww.  Gross. That's my BROTHER.) . My first experience in religion and spirituality was at our Episcopalian church (I've had the opportunity to explore both in many different places since then. I believe.).  And I despise confrontation (except with family - sorry, family).

There is a lot of painful dialogue going on in this country, and on Facebook, right now.  And name calling. I cannot understand how friends can be so hurtful to one another.  Perhaps my words forward will hurt some of my friends, but that is not my intent.  I only hope to explain why I get so emotional about this. Remember, I HATE confrontation, but sitting silently just makes me a coward.  I admire too many people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to remain so. Anyway.  I'm breaking my rule.  I'm saying something political before this November's election is done.  If you want to discuss this with me - that's fantastic.  But if you become cruel, abusive, and will not civilly listen to another person's point of view, I will have to stop the discussion.

I think that making gay marriage illegal is wrong. Marriage is a civil right - by both American and Christian doctrine and standards.

By American standards: The Constitution.

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Not all religions believe that gay people marrying is wrong.  Writing laws from the perspective of one religion goes directly against our very first amendment.


Amendment 14: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I'm not even sure how the law just passed in North Carolina even holds muster.  Not when Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington DC have passed laws saying that gay people can marry.  One version LIMITS rights (i.e. abridges the privileges); the other does not.

By Christian Beliefs:

This gets harder to describe...

Jesus loves.  And Jesus loves love.  And God IS love.  Christianity made its turn when it accepted Christ as its savior: New Testament.  Old Testament informs, but it should not be the primary informant document of the religion. 

And the Bible. It is the Word of God.  But the STATIC word of God?  I was taught it is the LIVING Word of God.  It evolves.  The current version was put together by men (a whole different discussion...) who decided these books were the ones to be included from the many that could have been, and this is after their translation from their original Aramaic on down to our current English version.  Thousands of years of translators, with their own political agendas behind them, can't have warped the original versions?

I believe Jesus would be saddened by the treatment of gay people in our country.  He always stood up for those who needed their rights protected.

And the whole thing about "your marriage being threatened by gay marriage"?  If you were married under the eyes of God the ONLY thing that can threaten that is you, your spouse, or God.  No one else can break that bond.

I realize this is a HUGE debate in the Christian denominations now.  If you can't see it this way, I understand.  All I can do is pray that some day you might.

So there's the short version.

I love my brother with all of my heart.  I watched him grow up.  I watched him struggle.  He didn't CHOOSE to be gay -  he just IS (and when you go through this as a family, you know this to be the truth).  Now he is in a great relationship and I love his partner.  And his partner's 2 daughters.  And his partner's 2 daughters' mother.

So, one day soon, I hope I can go to their wedding to celebrate their love with them (if that's what they want to do - no pressure, guys!). It doesn't have to be in your church, if this is not what you believe.

But please let me celebrate it in mine.

And please let my brother's family have the same rights mine does.  Because it won't diminish your family's rights.

Thanks for letting me break my rule.


  1. Outstanding, the greatest sin is to do nothing when others doing evil are not held accountable.

  2. I good breakdown of the USA and where it stands:

  3. This made my day. I am always dismayed at the number of people who seem to think acceptance of the LGBT community is equal to the abandonment of religion. Likewise, being a devout Christian does not automatically mean being against the LGBT community.

    This is a beautifully written and follows my beliefs exactly. God is love, and we should be free to celebrate that love in all it's wonderful forms.

  4. Thanks Tonyavrba,

    I hope to add my own take/post on this in the coming weeks.

    Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and equal rights.