Just when I thought conservative Christians couldn’t treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks any worse, they actually found a way. Since denying them the right of marriage wasn’t enough to force those perverts back into the closet where we could pretend they didn’t exist, several states are working on laws that legalize discrimination against LGBT people. Idaho is considering one and the Kansas House of Representatives passed such a bill 73-49. While it has much more limited support in the state’s Senate, it’s still alive. And, the Arizona legislature has actually passed one. It’s like they all got together and said “This arc’s not bending towards justice on my watch!” (From last night’s Daily Show)
There are some people who take exception to these new laws being categorized as “Jim Crow”, so let me address that right now. It has been said that what the LGBT community has endured is nothing like the struggle African-Americans have dealt with in fighting for equality. From the level of violence directed at each group to the born-that-way/lifestyle choice arguments, some groups really get their back up about this. But, no matter the differences in each group’s struggle for equality, the simple fact is that these new laws do the very same thing Jim Crow did: legalize discrimination.
Don’t see th e parallels? Here are a couple for you: Jim Crow laws were enacted to protect white privilege. The anti-gay laws we’re talking about are being proposed to protect straight privilege. And, the backers of these new statutes claim that unless we protect the traditional way of life, America will self-destruct; the same thing that was said of segregation. It didn’t happen in 1964 and it won’t happen in 2014.
We’ve been having this legal argument for quite a while now, seemingly to no avail. So, let’s try a biblical one. In Matthew, Jesus was asked “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He answered:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being,and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
In Mark, he answered the question this way
“The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
In Luke, it went like this:
“A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?” He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
Now, a little scholarship will show that all three of these passages likely refer to the same incident. So, why did I include all of them? Because it seems some Christians still haven’t gotten the message in one of the last commandments Jesus gave his disciples:
“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
So, let’s get this straight: passing laws that legalize discrimination against others isn’t love. It is, in fact, the exact opposite.