SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVEby Bill Champlin
Imagine coming home from work, walking in the house, and turning the TV news on to find out what had happened that day. The lead story comes from the state capitol, Olympia: same sex marriage. The next thing you hear is someone calling you a Nazi, others talking about child molestation, and someone accusing you of having some sort of agenda. You think while cleaning the potatoes, "My only agenda is making a living and getting along." Time to turn off the TV! You think to yourself, "What do Nazis, child molesters and agendas have to do with marriage?"
Now imagine this scenario occurring almost every day of your life. Are you angry yet?
Because of AIDS, we gays have been encouraged to establish monogamous relationships. Now that we want those relationships validated, we are accused of having an ulterior motive. So, which is it?
Some people seem very threatened by the thought of validating relationships that already exist. I think that one of the reasons they have difficulty when confronted with gay people is that, by our mere existence, we represent the full spectrum of sexuality to them. They don't want to face that side of themselves. The lack of acceptance really has to do with that person and the aspect reflected to their inner selves by someone who is gay. That lack of acceptance has nothing to do with the gay person.
If you see something in someone else that you don't like, that is only a reflection of something you don't like about yourself. It always comes back to the individual. That is what all the spiritual masters through the ages have taught.
We live in a society in which hatred and violence are almost the accepted norm, and in which love cannot be easily shared between two people in public because of a fear of what others might think. It seems that we have our priorities backward.
Many of us in this society grew up in a Christian environment. I believe, unfortunately, that Christianity is at the core of much of the difficulty and misunderstanding that gays and lesbians experience.
I treasure my upbringing within Christianity, because it gave me a good base for the spiritual beliefs that are now the underlying foundation of my life. I also abhor the destructive nature of much of what Christianity taught in earlier years, and the profoundly negative effect that it had on me.
It seems that many of this society's current problems in dealing with sexuality come from a longstanding distortion of the Bible. An example is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I've heard this story interpreted as a reference to homosexuality. Upon researching scriptural explanations, one will discover that theologians interpret the story of Sodom and Gomorrah from the original Hebrew language as a story of people's lack of hospitality to other people. Homosexuality had nothing to do with those events, contrary to some misinterpretations.
I've also become more cognizant recently of the fallacies inherent in interpreting the Bible literally. In Romans 1:26-27 it says, "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural and the men gave up natural intercourse with women and burned with lust for one another. Men did shameful things with men, and thus received in their own persons the penalty for their perversity."
Theologians interpret this as a reference to heterosexual temple prostitutes who engaged in sex with people of the same gender. Thus, they perverted what was natural to them, heterosexual relations. So, it is not a condemnation of homosexuality, as some would have you believe.
Also, within that Christian background that many of us have, we were taught the dichotomies; heaven and hell, good and evil, God and the devil, straight as good and gay as bad, goodness and sin, saints and sinners, et cetera. After thinking about it, I became convinced that what we were really learning was to judge.
Within that Christian tradition we were then taught the this-and-that of life. Unfortunately, the oneness of all life was left behind. We were all taught to judge as the basis of our perception of reality, so we grew up judging others, and ourselves, with an arbitrary set of rules. Many took the ball and ran with it, taking up judgment as a way of life. Having been taught how to judge, they have forgotten how to love.
Jesus, the Christ, came to teach us how to love, not to judge. He attempted to teach us that we are all one with the creator, and therefore all life is divine. Many people believe that God judges us. God doesn't have to judge. Obviously, that position has already been filled.
Western theology has created and maintained the false concept of the separateness of God from creation. Creation is imbued with the essence of the source. The idea of separateness is an illusion perpetuated to prevent us from the realization that we, as part of that creation are one - with others as well as creation and its source.
I've wondered lately whether we as a society have gotten so used to finding an enemy to fight that that psychological stance has become the norm. It's a commonly used tactic in warfare to villainize your enemy; in other words, to make your opponent look as bad as possible, or worse than they are, to justify your own tactics against them. Since communism no longer exists as a threat, some may have turned inward to find their supposed adversaries. Instead of realizing our unity, some have nothing better to do than to find those different from themselves in order to create the illusion of separation - a wedge.
It seems to me that these kinds of "us against them" discussions create the illusion of separation, when, in fact, we are all one. As I see it, we are all like candles on a table. All the candles are of different sizes, colors and shapes. This outer appearance of the candle represents the outer person, or body personality, that we have taken on. The same flame lights all the candles. All have the same spark of life within from the same source.
Some find it easy to judge others by this outer appearance, while forgetting the spark of life that is the common unifying force; that is our oneness. Behind the façade of our physical bodies we are pure spirit. Divinity is within each. The spark of life within each is the connection that we all have in common. It is the source from which we each came and to which we each return. I believe in seeing each of us on earth as divine. We truly are. We each contain, at the core of our being, that spark of life that is divine. Therefore we are all part of that divinity we have traditionally called God. I am a sign of that spark of divinity, and you are as well.
As a defense against the reality we live in, some people believe that others choose to be gay, meaning that they can turn it on and off like a water fountain. No one ever woke up one morning as a child to find, above his or her head, a checklist of options for sexual orientation as an adult. No one! Indeed, if that were true, the only people accused of having that option have all chosen to be gay or lesbian. Isn't that interesting?
Another, unique distortion occasionally used is that gays can be cured, or that the Holy Spirit can help "straighten them out." That is to suggest that being gay is somehow a mistake on God's part (What? God make a mistake?) that another aspect of God can correct. What foolishness!
Sexual expression itself can be an outward manifestation of a deeper realization or aspiration, on a soul level, to reach union with an aspect of divinity that we experience in another. Regarding sexual orientation, there is a wide range of normal sexual behavior for human beings. This ranges from one who is totally homosexual by nature, to bisexual people, to people who are entirely heterosexual, and all in between. The challenge for some people is to accept the reality in which we live.
Something else that I believe in is that we are all here to experience harmony. People cause disharmony when they are out of harmony with themselves and the universe. If we could all get back to the childlike quality that we had when we were younger, there would be much more harmony in the world. People would not be trying to orchestrate the lives of others with their own prejudices and hatreds.
For all of us who are gay, I believe that we can use another level to create what we want - legal same-sex marriages - visualization. We have to continually hold that goal of total acceptance in our mind's eye and send that vision out to the universe. It is my belief that by the end of this decade we will have made great strides toward that goal. Visualize it! I believe that we have to identify what we really want - total acceptance - believe that we really deserve it, visualize it, and think as if we already have it. It is our challenge, especially as gay people, to let go of the past through whatever means works for us. Then we can move into the future with expectations that we will reach the goal of total acceptance for who we really are - whole persons - including the right to have our unions socially recognized.
There may be many days ahead when we question if we are going forward or backward, toward or away from those goals. We must continue to hold out that vision very clearly. That is why it seems so important to me to hold that vision, to not return hatred when we encounter prejudice, and to believe in ourselves enough to believe in our future of total acceptance. I believe in a future, not far away, when gay unions are validated and we all realize that we are one.