Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Facebook memes and nice religious folk

Yesterday on Facebook I saw this picture:

On the surface it seems kinda nice.  It does seem compassionate to love people even though they do things you don't agree with and it also strikes me as good to be able to disagree with a person's choices without hating them.  I do both of these things a lot.  The trouble with this quote though is that it is used to justify doing horrible things to people based on their personal lifestyle choices.  Loving someone despite their choices doesn't excuse trying to ruin their life!

This sort of juxtaposition of love and retribution is a fundamental part of Christianity (as well as some other religions, of course).  Jesus loves you but he is going to make sure you suffer eternal torment unless you do *precisely* what he says.  He has decided that there are particular ways in which a person must live and that living outside that box, even when it hurts no one, is unacceptable and worthy of the most heinous punishments imaginable.  Thus it is probably natural for people who buy into this philosophy to feel like it is okay to love homosexuals but condemn their choices and try to force them to live a heterosexual lifestyle.

It isn't okay.

There is a particular point where the quote above does hold true; that being where you personally disapprove of homosexual behaviour but do nothing whatsoever to try to force people to avoid that behaviour.  This is a theoretical point occupied by no real people.  Real people who disapprove of a behaviour work to prevent it or punish those who indulge in it even if they try their best to remain neutral.  Moreover when you live in a time and place where a particular group is marginalized and you take the stance that their actions are unacceptable you support those who do hate them and you support bigotry against them.  This support occurs even if you adamantly insist that you personally contain no hatred.

This is why moderate religion drives me so utterly bonkers.  The people involved support and empower the fundamentalists while trying to condemn the actions perpetrated by the fundamentalists.  If you want to stop bigotry and show people that you are not hateful the first step is not to say "I disapprove of homosexuals BUT I love them!" but rather to say "I disapprove of treating people badly.  All people.  PERIOD."

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