It started as a normal day. I sat down with a cup of French roast and signed on to Facebook. Once again, the word “bigot” was being hurled all over the place. We see this word more and more, mostly in disputes over gay “marriage.”
The thing I despise the most about this word is not the word itself, but its power to put an end to dialogue. Discussion ends when one party in a debate employs it against the other. Those who use the word believe only their views should be tolerated. Those who use it seek to discredit their opponents and marginalize them into silence.
Do I sound extreme? Maybe. But that is what’s happening. The person accused of bigotry wears a label. The label says this person is now unworthy of being a dialogue partner, because of his prejudice and his hate. Why is it that I am constantly hearing or seeing negative posts about Christians who disagree with gay “marriage” and yet I never hear these same people protest the murder of gay men at the hands of Muslim extremists?
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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What is going on in this country? Why the hypocrisy and double standards? Why is it okay to insist that everyone must agree with the latest fashionable opinions of our cultural elites?
In the early 1990’s when I was actively living as a gay man, I got into many debates with others who would not provide services to a same-sex couple entering a “union.” However, I never saw them as bigots back then, nor did the rest of our society. Yes, there were bigots. However, those who would not provide services at an LGBT “union” because of religious reasons were not considered bigots. This is not to say there weren’t religious bigots. For example, I encountered those who said—in front of me—“gays deserve to die of AIDS. That is God’s punishment to homosexuals,” or “fags are sick.” In fact, as a man who lived within gay culture, I witnessed first-hand many examples of bigotry.
What exactly is bigotry? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “bigot” as:
A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.
A bigot treats members of a group with hatred and intolerance. Allow me to address this idea of intolerance and hatred separately. Most Christians I know do not put down those who disagree with them. Yes, many attempted to stop gay “marriage” from becoming legal. These individuals had every Constitutional right to fight for their beliefs, just like those who fought to legalize same-sex “marriage.”
Gay “marriage” is now legal. Did anyone stop to think why Christians opposed this in the first place? Apart from profound and legitimate sociological concerns regarding the redefinition of marriage, there were concerns about personal liberties being compromised. Supporters of gay “marriage” loudly proclaimed and promised that this would not hurt those who opposed it. I remember hearing statements like, “My being able to marry someone could in no way hurt you.” And yet, these promises and statements weren’t true. What have we seen? We have seen Christian business owners sued or forced to close their shops; even worse, some have received death threats. Is this tolerance? Is this love? The very people who loudly demand toleration deny it to others.
Most Christians I know who believe marriage should be between one man and one woman have friends or loved ones who identify as LGBT. These Christians genuinely love those people. Yes, despite what the media says, one can love a person completely and disagree with them at the very same time. I refuse to allow the media and the PC police to define for me what love means. Nor do they have a right to judge the hearts of anyone. But, unfortunately, it’s not just the media. I am seeing posts and memes stating one cannot love LGBT individuals while opposing gay “marriage.” This is untrue.
Agreement is not a requirement of love. In fact, I do not know anyone, including me, who agrees with every family member one hundred percent of the time. And yet, we still love them. No one has the right to state that, because I disagree with my mother on a given issue, I actually don’t love her. No one has that right.
We should stop throwing the “bigot” word around so carelessly. Those who disagree with gay “marriages” based on their religious views aren’t necessarily bigots or haters. Some might be, but most are not. Are there bigots in the world? Absolutely. These people are genuine haters. One recent notable example is the Westboro Baptist Church whose members pickets funerals with signs that reading, “God hates fags.”
Last spring, the designers Dolce and Gabbana—who are both gay—publicly stated they are against gay adoptions: “The only family is the traditional one.” Does this mean they are bigots? No. However, Elton John took it personally, accusing them of judging others, and made a sarcastic dig about the fashions they have created. These gay designers are not being hateful, but instead are expressing their legitimate opinions. It is Elton John who is being intolerant by insulting them, and calling for a boycott of their clothes. We don’t have to agree with others, nor should we bully people into silence. Elton John and Dolce and Gabbana are all entitled to their opinions. If either tries to squelch the other, then that is genuine intolerance.
As a Catholic man, I believe all of us are called to love each other. As previously stated, agreement is not a requirement of love. I can still love someone who does not share my beliefs. I can even fully love an individual who identifies as being LGBT and accept this person as the valuable, precious individual that God made. I can love that individual and continue to believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. But it is difficult to love when we can’t talk to each other. And when name-calling ends debate, we can’t learn from each other, either.