Does “Can” Equal “Should”?

common-sense-just-because-you-can-doesn-t-mean-you-shouldOn October 10, marriage equality came to North Carolina when Max Cogburn, a federal district court judge, ruled that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Virginia’s case also applied to NC’s Amendment One. For a little while after Judge Cogburn issued his ruling, I had the following thought:

“While we celebrate this good news, we should remember that everyone doesn’t share our joy. For our more conservative brothers and sisters, this is devastating. Hospitality demands that we take their feelings into account.”

Then, I began to see posts from those conservative brothers and sisters that weren’t what you’d call “glowing endorsements” of marriage equality.  Some of them, in fact, were pretty harsh. Reading then, I thought to myself “So, I should take your feelings into account when it seems you don’t give a shit about mine or the people close to me? Seriously?” I’ll be honest with you, after reading them, my zeal to be a practitioner of good hospitality was substantially curbed. In other words, some of you people pissed me off.

Now, I know some of you believe you are honoring God by “maintaining his precepts and Scripture”. No, you’re not. You are maintaining your interpretation of those precepts and Scripture. There is a huge difference between the two. No matter how much you might like to believe otherwise, there is not a consensus on the interpretation of Scripture. In fact, maintaining that you’re right and the rest of us are wrong is actually kind of offensive.

In 1 Corinthians 6, St. Paul says, “I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful”. In other words, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. So, while it is certainly your right to say that people who are LGBT are “sinners” and “abomination” or that the country is going to hell because marriage equality is quickly becoming the law of the land, doing so may not be the best course of action.  Why? Because it hurts people you care about, that’s why.

Look, whether you know it or not, it’s very likely you’re at least friends with someone who is LGBT. It’s even possible that you have a family member who is wired that way. When you say those things, you are attacking people you say you love. Personally, I think that’s an odd way to show it. When you make general statements about people who are LGBT, your friends and family members can’t help think you feel that way about them, too. In spite of what you say to them personally.

I believe it is your right as a free human on this earth to believe what you believe and, even though I might not like it, to state that belief openly. You need to understand, however, that while you are free to speak your mind and practice your belief, you are not free of the repercussions that can result from doing so. What I’m saying iss that someone calling you out for saying something offensive is not persecuting you or violating your 1st Amendment rights. Now, if you want to post this kind of stuff, go ahead. But, do so in the knowledge that it may be hurtful to people you care about. That’s something you might want to keep in mind.