I’ve been reading Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” in bits and pieces over the past couple of months. It’s a GREAT book — very well written, and genuinely inspirational. When I read this book, I have a flicker of hope that we might have a transformational leader coming into the Presidency who wants to be inclusive to all of his constituents. BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT.
There’s one passage in particular that caught my eye this past week… And on the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of the United States, I thought I’d capture it in my blog. Here it is:
“For many practicing Christians, the same inability to compromise may apply to gay marriage. I find such a position troublesome, particularly in a society in which Christian men and women have been known to engage in adultery or other violations of their faith without civil penalty. All too often I have sat in a church and heard a pastor use gay bashing as a cheap parlor trick — ‘It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!’ he will shout, usually when the sermon is not going so well. I believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture. I am not willing to have the state deny American citizens a civil union that confers equivalent rights on such basic matters as hospital visitation or health insurance coverage simply because the people they love are of the same sex — nor am I willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”
Bravo, Mr. Obama. We disagree on the subject of same-sex marriage — your religious views lead you to believe that “marriage” is that special place for the union of a man and a woman, whereas I don’t see why that word is so controversial. But your unabashed support for equal treatment under the law for committed relationships, regardless of the gender(s) involved, is a step in the right direction.
Beyond that, though, your acknowledgment that our laws often selectively enforce religious teachings, when conveniently applied against people not in the majority, is refreshingly honest. The Bible has been used to justify all manner of injustices over the last two thousand years… but laws that discriminated against African Americans a few short decades ago, and against gays and lesbians today, are certainly more poignant examples in my mind. Christians who seem obsessed with the subject of homosexuality, while disregarding Biblical teachings about loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, and helping the poor and the sick, are an embarrassment to your faith.
I have no tolerance for people that insist that the Bible (or any historical religious text) is inerrant, because the inconsistencies and outdated cultural norms in the Bible are patently obvious to any person who isn’t in denial. I have much more respect for people of faith like you, who admit that there are problems with ancient religious teachings in some places, but who try to stick to the overall spirit of their Church and apply its themes to the modern world. ESPECIALLY when they focus on the spirit of brotherly love and being good to one another.
There’s a later piece in which Barack tells the story of a white friend of his who, upon learning that the private club in which he was dining didn’t allow black people, promptly threw his napkin down on the table and left. Our future President said in this passage, “If a young man like Robert can make the effort to cross the current of habit and fear in order to do what he knows is right, then I want to be sure that I’m there to meet him on the other side and help him onto shore.”
Right there with you, sir. I hope you’ll be crossing that current on our behalf, and I’m looking forward to our country moving a little closer to equality for all of its citizens.